Background picture taken Nov 1999 by Al Meservy 9 months after the stroke

STROKE by Frances M. McCrory-Meservy 1999

On Feb. 19, 1999 in Wichita, KS I had a major stroke.

My blood pressure had been too high and I kept getting really bad headaches at the base of my head every day at 6 PM. I thought they were stress headaches. The doctor increased my blood pressure medication and finally double it to no avail.

I went back to the doctor on 19 Feb at 1 PM. My blood pressure was 210/140. I told him my right hand and arm felt strange and I did not feel right. He prescribed a new medication. On the way to the pharmacy, Al and I stopped at Sears to look at a new computer system. While there, my right hand and arm went numb. My right leg wouldnít work correctly and I started walking sideways. I began to feel lightheaded. I was really hungry and thought I just needed to eat.

We went home and ate peanut butter and banana sandwiches. I felt a little better but not much. Al went to work.

At 3 PM the phone rang and our daughter Stephanie said she needed a ride to the hospital. Evidently her husband, Darryl, had gone to the hospital with chest pains.

I picked Stephi and our 3 grandchildren up. We dropped the kids off with Hope and dropped off my prescription at Dillonís. I began to feel slaphappy. I took Stephi to Wesley Medical Center and dropped her off.

At 4 PM I went back to Dillonís and picked up my prescription. I decided to get a few groceries for Alís Mom and myself while I was there. Suddenly I felt like I was drunk. My face and lips went numb. At that point, I realized I was having a stroke.

I began arguing with Jesus about having a stroke. I said, "Lord, you know I have too much to do to have a stroke or get sick." Then I began to list all the things I felt like I needed to do. Jesus said, "You donít have to do anything."

I stopped in my tracks. "I donít have to do anything?" That was news to me. No one ever told me that. Wow. I felt as though the weight of the world lifted off me & felt totally free. I quit shopping, paid for my prescription and got in the car.

I still felt falling down drunk. As I headed home, I prayed that the Lord would have his angles get me there safely. He did.

I took my medicine as soon as I got home (4:30 PM) and 30 minutes later (5 PM), my blood pressure was 130/70. I ordered a pizza for my grandchildren and called Hope. She sent the kids to my house & we pigged out at 6 PM.

Hope came by a little later and said, "Fran you look awful. Iím taking the kids." She left with the kids and I went to sleep on the sofa. Stephi woke me up an hour later. I told her where her children were and she informed me I looked awful and that I was acting crazy like I was drunk. I told her I felt drunk. She told me to stay lying down and she cleaned my kitchen while waiting for Hope.

Stephi was right, I thought everything was funny and laughed constantly. I made a joke out of everything and if Iíd had the energy would have been dancing. My Lord must have driven the car for me. I was certainly too drunk to do it.

Hope brought the kids back and everyone went home.

When Al came home at midnight, I told him how I felt and went to bed.

The next Morning, Al looked up my symptoms on the internet, found out I had a stroke, dragged me out of bed, helped me get dressed and took me to the doctor. The doctor said I had all the symptoms (I was still numb and drunk) and sent me to Wesley Medical Center for a cat scan of my brain. It came back that there was no bleeding. We went home.

Monday morning I saw my regular doctor and he set me up for an MRI of my brain, ultrasound of my heart and ultrasound of my carotid arteries. I had the tests done a week later.

I saw Dr. Klafta, a neurosurgeon, at Wichita Clinic. He did a neurological exam and said I needed some tests done. I told him I already had about two weeks previous.

He left and came back with the test results and MRI. He put the MRI pictures on the board and showed us where I had the stroke.

I had the stroke just left of my spinal column at the base of my brain. It took out 3/8 of an inch of brain cells. The Dr. said most people who have a stroke in that area (left Pones) die. The ones that donít die are on life support. My heart was clear & so were my arteries. He didnít know how to explain me. He said the stroke should have affected every muscle and organ in my body.

Since I had headaches for several weeks in the area where I had the stroke, he determined that I blew an aneurysm and the bleed out caused the stroke. Probably because of the high blood pressure.

It had been 3 weeks since I had the stroke and to look at me Ė he could not tell (except I was extremely pale). I had trouble finding words, tilted when I closed my eyes and could not walk a straight line. After his neurological exam he could tell I had a stroke but did not realize how bad until he saw the MRI.

I still had some numbness in my fingertips and had no energy to speak of. I asked him if I could re-train another part of the brain and he said it was impossible because of the area where I had the stroke. I asked him how long it would take to recuperate and get my energy back. He said, "I donít know, lady, you are not supposed to be here."

The Dr. says I am just a lucky lady. I believe Jesus did brain surgery in Dillonís and now I just have to recover. He must have because I should have fallen down dead in Sears or Dillonís. Yet I never stopped moving until two hours after I got home.

I was manager of 2 Manufactured Home Communities (193 lots). My assistant manager, my neighbors and friends did whatever they could do to help me. They did not want me to quit work. In April the Dr. made me quit anyway.

God provided me with a lot of wonderful people. Our neighbors brought food over and took care of our home and me for about 6 months.

For about 3 months I felt like it was a battle to stay in my body. After that it only occurred off and on for about 6 months. I understand why people who donít have a reason to live just give up and go. Thatís the easy thing to do. It can be hard work to stay.

My husband and friends were so patient. They would wait for me to find the right word instead of finishing a sentence for me. That helped me recover and communicate a lot sooner than most. All the words were in my head, I just had to find them and put them with the correct picture. At first Iíd call a car an airplane, etc.

The stroke caused me to be dyslexic. I had to learn to read all over again. After 3 weeks, it started to flip back and forth. I spent most of my time typing on the computer and trying to read. Thatís all I could do except answer the phone and go to the bathroom. After about 6 months, my sister-in-law in Maine wrote me an e-mail saying she knew I was getting better because I was making fewer typos.

My husband had to help me shower because if I closed my eyes, I would tilt and fall.

Some friends took me to see Jessee Duplantis in Hutchinson, KS. We had to sit in the youth center and watch him on a big screen. It was really crowded. He asked everyone to stand up and close his or her eyes while he prayed for us. I did as he said. Tammy caught me as I tilted and said, "Donít listen to him, keep your eyes open." I sat down and closed my eyes.

When I finally went shopping (about two months) after the stroke, I walked through and was standing in line to check out. I felt light-headed and the checkout girl wanted to call and ambulance because I evidently went white as a sheet. After that I used the electric carts in stores so I donít scare folks. I still have to do that and itís 2008.

When I got up to walk, it felt like I was having earthquakes. It literally felt like the ground was moving under my feet and then it would jerk and Iíd have to grab something to steady myself. Six years later, I still had earthquakes off and on.  This year (2008) the earthquakes are rare.

After we moved to MS, I had an earthquake sitting down. That was weird since it had never happened before. Turned out our area did actually have an earthquake. It wasnít me that time. Good thing we donít live in CA. I wouldnít know what was real or imagined.

A year after the stroke I could drive off and on. If I feel the least bit off, I do not drive. I can drive most of the time now.

Three years after the stroke I could button my blouse. I got silly excited. We donít realize how much little things matter until we lose them. Being able to button my blouse meant I could sew again. Coordination was getting better.

At first I had to take about 10 naps a day. After about 6 months, it was down to 2 a day. Up to about 5 years after the stroke, I would fall asleep typing, reading or talking to someone at least once a day. Now I just take a normal nap occasionally.

I feel like Iíll never get my stamina back even though I have come a long way since the stroke.

A stroke is not painful physically. It is painful emotionally because itís hard to communicate and so much changes so fast and you are never the same. I was extremely independent and now I am dependent. That is hard for me.

I feel like I am a burden even though I can take care of myself. Fact is, I was used to taking care of other people and there is a huge difference in being the caregiver and the care receiver. Fighting off depression is a constant battle. I keep having to ask God for an attitude adjustment. I have so much to be thankful for.

I used to hate cleaning house. Now I relish the times I am able to. On good days I get a lot done. Then I have to rest a day or two.

One major thing I know. If it is not time for me to die, I will not die. If it is time for me to go, no one can prevent it. God is in control and until he says come home, Iíll still be here. And when the time comes Ė a stroke is not a bad way to go. No pain!

Prov 9:11 For by me your days will be multiplied, And years of life will be added to you.

1 Kings 20:35-43 God determines when a man should die.

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