February 21, 2019

A Higher Standard: Teamwork helped Lucille McClure Survive A Stroke

Having a stroke is a scary and confusing experience. During such a disorienting time, your life is in someone else’s hands. When those hands also happen to be capable and caring, it can make all the difference in your outcome. Lucille McClure of Highlands, and her husband, Richard, said that was definitely the case when she had her stroke in October 2017.

A Surreal Experience

“I woke up that morning and felt like I had vertigo,” Lucille remembered. “And when I moved my arms and legs, it felt like they kept going away from my body all the way across the room.”

The 73-year-old retiree had this experience while her husband was out on an errand. Somehow, she was able to make it to her living room to call her sister-in-law for help. To this day, she has no idea how she was able to get to the phone or make the call. “It was a God thing,” she said.

Medical professionals recommend dialing 911, rather than friends or family, during an emergency — especially in the case of a potential stroke, during which time loss leads to brain loss. Fortunately Lucille’s sister-in-law made the call when she arrived.

Lucille said the EMS crew arrived quickly and whisked her to Angel Medical Center (AMC). They also administered Altaplase, which helped Lucille until she could receive additional care.

“Altaplase is a lifesaving medication that attacks the blood clot that causes an acute ischemic stroke,” explained Lori Smith, Acute Stroke Ready team leader at AMC. “This medication is used to dissolve the clot and help restore blood flow to the brain.”

A Team Approach

Richard was able to get to the hospital just before Lucille arrived. He said he was impressed with the care they received there and from Mission Hospital, via video conference. “The neurologist in Asheville was there on video and could see everything that was needed and give instructions,” he said.

This is the type of seamless care patients can expect, said Smith. “AMC is an Acute Stroke Ready Hospital that works hand-in-hand with Mission Hospital, which is a comprehensive stroke center,” she said. “Together, we are able to provide prompt treatment at AMC, as well as comprehensive treatment options at Mission. On-site and telehealth resources are available 24/7 at both locations to better serve western North Carolina.”

AMC’s Acute Code Stroke Certification means the hospital has increased standards to support better outcomes for stroke patients. “AMC has gone through many steps to ensure patients are receiving top-notch care,” said Smith.

From the consultation at AMC, Lucille was taken to Mission Hospital to have a stent put in. The Altaplase was able to help her remain responsive most of her time at AMC and throughout the trip to Asheville, but as she arrived, she was regressing again. After the procedure, Lucille remained in the hospital for six days. She said she doesn’t remember anything about recovery until she entered CarePartners. There, she said, they kept her busy with physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy from the time she woke up each morning until she went back to bed each evening.

“She had therapy of all kinds there, and she responded really well,” said Richard. “Her speech came back fast, and she was able to write as well she did before. She always has had the most beautiful handwriting.”

Going Strong

Lucille has had an excellent recovery. She gets tired sometimes and needs to rest, but for the most part she’s back to life as normal, which includes engaging in her favorite form of physical and mental therapy: weed trimming.

Lucille also has fibromyalgia, and she had discovered that using a weed-eater had a therapeutic effect on her shoulder pain. She said it helps her focus her mind, too, and has been a favorite activity of hers since her stroke. “It’s kind of therapy for me,” she said. “I do a lot of it, and I love it. We have a big farm, so there’s a lot for me.”

Tending the farm is a long way from where Lucille was a year ago, but she’s thankful for all of the people who helped get her here. From the couple’s prayer group at Pine Grove Church to the EMS workers who took Lucille to the hospital to the staff members at Angel Medical Center, Mission Hospital and CarePartners, the McClures said all were integral in getting Lucille where she is today.

“She’s doing great,” said Richard. “As far as care goes, we couldn’t have asked for any better. From the time she left the house that day, to the time she returned, everything was taken care of. Because everyone did everything they were supposed to do, everything went well and smoothly.”

Time Matters

Lucille McClure’s amazing recovery from a stroke last year is due to a number of factors, but her husband, Richard, said one thing continues to stand out in his mind: timing. When it comes to stroke, quick treatment is a matter of life or death. “Stroke care is time sensitive,” said Lori Smith, an Acute Stroke Ready team leader at Angel Medical Center. “It’s estimated that each minute a stroke goes untreated, the patient loses potentially 1.9 million neurons and ages the brain by over three weeks. It’s very important to seek treatment immediately upon any unusual symptoms appearing.” Smith said AMC uses the BE FAST mnemonic to teach people to quickly identify stroke and get help:

  • Balance
  • Eyes
  • Facial droop
  • Arm weakness
  • Speech difficulties
  • Time: call 911 at onset of symptoms

Lori Smith is an Acute Stroke Ready team lead at Angel Medical Center.

To learn more about stroke services at Mission Health, visit missionhealth.org/stroke.