Lisa Satchfield's Why

Before Lisa Satchfield had a stroke in 2007, there were indications that something was wrong — her left side went limp in the shower, she had tingling in her left arm and hand and a migraine that lasted two days. She contacted her doctor, who’d recently seen her and said she sounded OK over the phone, telling her, “Just take it easy.”

That night, June 2nd, she had a massive stroke in her sleep. When she woke up the next morning, her left side was completely numb. She could not stand and her speech was “gibberish,” according to Brendan, her son, 8 years old at the time. Her daughter Madison, age 9, tried to comfort her 44-year-old mom by putting her head in her lap and stroking her hair. Brendan toasted her a waffle.

Fortunately, her friend Sandi happened to call. “I couldn’t talk. Only one word: stroke,” Lisa recalled. Sandi telephoned 911.

“It felt like an out of body experience, saying nothing, looking at the eyes of the paramedics. I knew it was bad,” Lisa said.

She managed to indicate that she wanted to go to Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, California, where she worked as a senior accounting manager. The hospital had just hired a stroke specialist.

Doctors determined she’d had the stroke six hours earlier caused by dissected carotid artery. It was too late for tPA. “I stayed one week in the hospital and two months in inpatient rehab,” she said. Her doctor there said it was unlikely she would ever walk again, but she worked hard to prove him wrong. “In rehab I learned to talk and write and read and mostly walk … again!” She later discovered that her mother had had heart problems starting at age 55 and died of a stroke and heart attack. Her maternal aunt had died of a brain aneurysm at 45.

But there were more struggles to come. Her right side was (and is) affected. She could not return to her corporate job and eventually lost custody of her children, when her ex-husband claimed she was an unfit mother.

Unable to work or be a mother, Lisa began questioning what her purpose in life was. At the end of 2007, five months post-stroke, she received a mailing from the American Stroke Association. “The flyer had info about training for a marathon,” she said. “I thought to myself, ‘I can do this.’ I read it again and thought ‘I’m doing this.’ My friends and family thought I was insane! I told them ‘I am walking for me and stroke survivors who can’t walk.’”

She joined the American Stroke Association’s Train To End Stroke (TTES) program. Training strengthened both her body and mind, and she walked her first half-marathon (13.1 miles) on February 1, 2009, in Huntington Beach. After that she completed 21 half-marathons, always coming in last.

When the American Stroke Association eliminated the TTES program, Lisa took on another challenge, public speaking despite aphasia. Sponsored as a “passion speaker” by the ASA, Lisa shares what it is like to live with a disability. “My life is full and my goals are simpler now,” she said. “I would love to hug my kids (now 18 and 19) with two hands, walk without a limp, wear high heels.

“My stroke taught me to look for the silver lining. As a result of my stroke, I lost weight, and then because of TTES, I gained muscle mass,” she said. “And I always get the best parking space!”

Lisa tells her audiences what her sister, Denise, a speech therapist, told her: “’Never give up! You have to fight for yourself. Nobody does it for you. Just you.’ I’ve learned to take charge of my life and my health,” Lisa said. “I consider myself lucky. I know from rehab it could be a lot worse.” Adapting to life with only one hand is an apt metaphor for how she navigates life after stroke, always improvising.

Her why? “I love encouraging stroke survivors plus I get to watch my kids grow up. My life is good.”

Everyone has a reason to live a longer and healthier life. TELL US YOURS.



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Stroke Rehabilitation

Making the Best Decisions at Discharge After Stroke

The type of rehabilitation and support systems a survivor receives at discharge can strongly influence health outcomes and recovery. In this, the first part of a two-part series on stroke rehab, we offer guidance for the decision-making process required when it’s time to leave the hospital.

What to Expect from Outpatient Rehab

After stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type of rehabilitation. Outpatient therapy may consist of Several types of therapy. Whether a patient is referred to inpatient or outpatient therapy depends on the level of medical care required.

What to Expect in Stroke Rehab

Following a stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type rehabilitation. In this second of our two-part series, we want to alleviate some of the mystery, fear and anxiety around the inpatient rehab part of the stroke recovery journey.
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AHA-ASA Resources

The Support Network

When faced with challenges recovering from heart disease or stroke, it’s important to have emotional support. That is why we created a network to connect patients and loved ones with others during their journey.

Caregiver Guide to Stroke

The Caregiver Guide to Stroke is meant to help caregivers better navigate the recovery process and the financial and social implications of a stroke.

Stroke Support Group Finder

To find a group near you, simply enter your ZIP code and a mile radius. If your initial search does not pull up any groups, try

Tips for Daily Living Library

This volunteer-powered library gathers tips and ideas from stroke survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals all over the country who’ve created or discovered adaptive and often innovative ways to get things done!

Stroke Family Warmline

The Warmline connects stroke survivors and their families with an ASA team member who can provide support, helpful information or just a listening ear.

Let's Talk About Stroke Patient Information Sheets

Let's Talk About Stroke is a series of downloadable patient information sheets, created by the American Stroke Association, that presents information in a question-and-answer format that's brief, easy to follow and easy to read.

Request Free Stroke Information Packets

Fill out this online form to request free information about a variety of post-stroke topics.
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Stroke & Parts of the Brain

When Stroke Affects the Occipital Lobe

Our occipital lobe, the smallest of the four lobes of the cerebral cortex, controls how we visually interpret our world.

When Stroke Affects the Cerebellum

The cerebellum contains 80 percent of our neurons. Its job seems to be to make things better. We talked with neuroscientist Jeremy Schmahmann about how stroke affects the “little brain.”

When Stroke Affects the Parietal Lobe

The parietal lobe helps us make sense of sensory information, like where our bodies and body parts are in space, our sense of touch, and the part of our vision that deals with the location of objects.

When Stroke Affects the Frontal Lobe

Of the four lobes that make up the cerebral cortex, the frontal lobe is the largest. It plays a huge role in many of the functions that make us human — memory, language, movement, judgment, abstract thinking.

When Stroke Affects the Temporal Lobe

The temporal lobe has several functions, mainly involved with memory, perception and language.

When Stroke Affects the Brain Stem

The brain stem serves as a bridge in the nervous system. It sits at the top of the spinal column in the center of the brain. When a stroke happens there, it can cause a few different deficits and, in the most severe cases, can lead to locked-in syndrome.

When Stroke Affects the Thalamus

The thalamus can be thought of as a "relay station," receiving signals from the brain’s outer regions (cerebral cortex), interpreting them, then sending them to other areas of the brain to complete their job.
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Helping Others Understand

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Support Showcase

Our new department highlighting the good work being done by stroke support groups from around the nation. If you are part of a successful support group we should consider featuring, let us know!