Patient credits neurosurgeon, nap for saving her life | Ascension

Patient credits neurosurgeon, nap for saving her life

An hour before driving from Pensacola to Panama City for a vacation with her five-year-old grandson, Terri Lyons decided to lie down to relieve a throbbing headache. Terri said the nap saved her and her grandson’s life.

“When my husband walked into our bedroom, he noticed that the left side of my face was drooping,” Terri, 58, recalled. “Also, the words that were coming out of my mouth didn’t match what I was hearing. Luckily, he recognized the signs of a stroke and called 911.”

Terri was taken to Ascension Sacred Heart Pensacola’s Comprehensive Stroke Center, which has the highest level of certification in Northwest Florida because of its specific abilities to diagnose and treat the most complex stroke cases. 

Terri had suffered a stroke caused by a blood clot blocking an artery leading to the brain. Neurosurgeon Dr. Maria Toledo performed a thrombectomy, a procedure where a tiny mesh tube is routed through a catheter in the groin to extract the blood clot blocking the blood vessel in the brain. With blood flow restored, Terri regained movement to the left side of her body. 

Terri is grateful that everything was stacked in her favor that day. She said if she’d had her stroke while driving to Panama City with her grandson, it could have been disastrous.

She said receiving the right care at the right time contributed to her excellent recovery. 

“Dr. Toledo saved my life. I couldn’t have asked for better care; the doctors and nurses were amazing,” she said.

To learn more about Ascension Sacred Heart’s leaders in stroke care, visit