Real-Life 50 First Dates: Husband Wooed Wife Repeatedly After Seizures Stole Her Memories

Hannah Wallace was 16 years old when she had her first seizure.

Growing up in Whitewater, Kansas, she was initially treated for epilepsy and put on medication. But her seizures continued and she began to have odd lapses in her memory. After having an episode, “I’d forget what day it was, the year,” she tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue.

If Hannah had a larger grand mal seizure, the gaps could be frightening. “I’d be like, ‘Oh my God, how did I not even know my own [step]mom!” she says. “I’d forget my friends so it was really hard to keep or maintain a friendship sometimes.”

Cody Reinert remembered Hannah. Friends from preschool, the pair reconnected when both enrolled in Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, Kansas, after high school. But after a seizure, Hannah, now 25, would sometimes have no recollection of them spending time together. “She would have this look on her face like, ‘Who are you?’” Cody recalls.

For more of Cody and Hannah Reinert’s love story, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

After a while, Cody, 24, adapted to Hannah’s memory loss. “I was fine starting over but it could get annoying,” he admits. “Just because you’ve spent time trying to get to know this person.”

 

But he also learned to playfully use it to his advantage. “Like the next day after she had a seizure, I knew she wouldn’t really remember me so I brought over some cheesecake, which she had told me was her favorite,” he says. “I would take her to her favorite restaurant because I knew what it was. She would say, ‘How did you know?’ And I’d say I just had a hunch.”

Over time Hannah’s seizures began to lessen and doctors eventually determined they had been stress-induced episodes known as psychogenic nonepileptic seizures. Hannah had her last one a month before they got married in July 2018.

Now their life at home in Hutchinson revolves around work and spending time with their dog, Baloo. Cody also started putting together a montage of videos and photos of their memories together, just in case Hannah ever forgets how much he loves her. “I’m hoping that I’ve done my best to have it ready,” he adds. “So she’ll know.”

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