A Mature Love
By Roxanne Furlong
How does a marriage survive when complications make it doubly difficult to go on? When sex all but dies?
When Stacey and Duane first met in 1991 — they were 27 and 32 respectively — Stacey was working in a kite shop on the beach of touristy Marina del Rey, Calif. “My buddies and I had been invited to fly kites on the beach for a magazine photo shoot when we stopped in to buy supplies,” Duane says. “I thought she was cute. I paid with a check and she asked for my ID and goes, ‘Oh my gosh! Our birthdays are the same day!’ I knew then, she’s the one. That was the first time we met face to face.” She was dating someone else at the time, says Duane, “But I knew he wasn’t going to last.”
Duane invited Stacey to watch the photo shoot and noticed it was difficult for her to walk in the sand. “I just thought it was hard for her because she wasn’t a real muscular person,” he says. “I could see she really concentrated on what she was doing. She’d say, ‘Don’t talk to me while I’m walking!’”
They began dating right away. One night, while having dinner, he just came out and asked her why she walked the way she did. Stacey told him she was diagnosed at 16 with facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy. The most noticeable symptom was foot drop, but it was more complicated than that. She explained what FSHMD was and told him about the surgery she had to fuse her scapula to her ribcage — to give her better range of motion in her shoulders and upper arms.
“That really intrigued me because I’m a mechanical guy,” he says. “I was like, ‘Wow, they can do that?’”
They were married in 1993. Over the first 10 years of their relationship, Stacey went from walking on her own to using a cane, then a