A Walking Miracle - Health Services of North Texas Patient Story

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There are times where life hits you very hard, very quickly – one punch right after another. Toni McNeal experienced this herself firsthand when she suffered from a brain aneurysm in July 2019. When the aneurysm burst, she was still coherent enough to call 911 on her own, but to her the details are fuzzy after that. To save her life, doctors at the hospital had to drill 6 holes in her head to release the pressure on her brain and drain the blood from the aneurysm. When she woke up from the surgery, she suffered a major stroke. And then one last hit, earlier this year, when she found out her blood sugar was dangerously high and was diagnosed as a diabetic. 

In her own words: “I’m practically a walking miracle!”

Toni was born in Columbus, Georgia, but moved to Dallas when she was 2 years old, and has lived there ever since until her brain aneurysm emergency.

“When I got out of the hospital last year, my mom was not able to take care of me properly so I called my daughter and my daughter came to move with me to Denton,” Toni says. “We were looking for a permanent care physician…and we found HSNT on the internet. Dr. Starr was the one I got to see, and he’s just phenomenal. I really like him. I’ve got to give him kudos.”

What Toni loves the most about Dr. Paul Starr is that he truly listens to her. When she came in to HSNT health center on Mesa Drive  for the first time, Dr. Starr was very quiet as Toni explained her situation. 

“Most doctors I’ve had these days, it’s like they’re motorized. When I first when I went to Dr. Starr, he just listened to what I had to say about my overall deal…. Most doctors I’ve seen don’t listen – but he did.”

As she builds a doctor-patient relationship with Dr. Starr, Toni is making sure to learn all she can about how to improve her condition. Just as Dr. Starr listens to Toni, she listens to him, as well.

“When I went to see Dr. Starr last week, I brought my little bag of tricks with me – I have a wrist blood pressure monitor, I have an O2 monitor, a regular thermometer, I got my blood sugar monitor…and I’ve got a little book that I’m keeping all my numbers in. He was really impressed!”

Aside from Dr. Starr, Toni has also been working with one of HSNT’s case managers , CiCie Price, to get the proper medications she needs. Due to the aneurysm and the stroke, she takes blood pressure medicine and seizure medicine, but perhaps most amazing of all was the Hepatitis C medication that she needed.

“I had Hep C for at least 15, 20 years,” Toni says. “I was an IV drug user at one time – I’ll be clean 19 years in November! – and I didn’t have insurance. That medicine is expensive. But CiCie put me in the [Prescription Assistance Program] where those meds only cost me $40 for the three months. I got my blood work back last week and they told me that I don’t have Hep C anymore!”

Toni has nothing but positive things to say about her time with HSNT. From Dr. Starr, to CiCie, to the front office staff, and even to the resident phlebotomist, Toni says she’s had an amazing experience.

“Your resident phlebotomist – she is awesome! I’m a really hard stick and every time I go in there, she just sticks one time and gets it on the first try,” Toni says with a laugh. “You have some wonderful staff there. I’m so glad I have Dr. Starr as my doctor.”