District of Columbia Superior Court Chief Judge Lee Satterfield Says GW Hospital Was Key To His Recovery Following His Stroke
Washington, DC (May 6, 2013) – As the Chief Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, the Honorable Lee F. Satterfield is a man constantly on the move, and is extremely passionate in his commitment and service to the court. However, on Nov. 28, 2011, as determined and committed as he was to maintaining his work schedule, his life would be put on hold as a result of a stroke that was quickly detected by his colleagues inside his chambers.
“I knew it was going to be a difficult day,” recalled Satterfield. “I took my mom to a doctor’s appointment and I was scheduled to give a eulogy at a funeral for a former Chief Judge in Silver Spring, Md. It was during the funeral, I came down with a headache, which only got stronger as I was delivering the eulogy. Once the funeral was over, I drove back to Superior Court for an afternoon meeting. It was during the meeting that my headache got stronger, and the left side of my body did not feel right.”
It was also during that meeting that a colleague noticed something unusual with his speech. “Upon conclusion of the meeting, I returned to my office,” said Satterfield. “However, my colleague, and several other staffers entered my office to check on me and it was at that time a decision was made to call 911."
“My staff knew right away something was wrong,” Satterfield said. “We called the paramedics and they arrived at my office fast. After stabilizing me, one of the attendants asked what hospital I wanted to go to. I told him GW Hospital, because my cardiologists are there. He said ‘let’s go’ and we were on our way to the Emergency Room.”
Upon his arrival, GW Hospital’s emergency team was ready and waiting for him when the ambulance arrived. Recognizing stroke symptoms, the team sent him straight away to have a CT/CTA (CT angiography) scan. When the results came back, the patient was administered tissue plasminogen activator (TPA), a drug that breaks up blood clots, a common cause of strokes. Since there was no immediate dramatic improvement, he underwent endovascular thrombectomy, using a special PENUMBRA device (vacuum clot extractor) which resulted in a complete reopening of his occluded vessel followed by complete recovery from stroke symptoms.
During Satterfield’s 10-day stay at GW Hospital, he was impressed with the level of care he received and how everyone smiled and said hello to him. “I was amazed at how everyone was so cheerful and said hello to me, and that was really critical to my recovery,” he said. “Because everyone was so nice, I decided that our motto at the Superior Court in 2012 would be ‘more smiling, less complaining.’”
Satterfield returned to his work at the Superior Court two weeks after his departure from GW Hospital. While he still maintains an important work load, he and his staff keep a watchful eye over his schedule. “I am surrounded by wonderful colleagues that look after me,” said Satterfield. “When I am at work, I do things with a purpose and my focus is getting things done. However, when they sense things are ramping up, they will make sure I slow down and pace myself.”
Satterfield has been symptom-free since his stroke. However, it is something that he still thinks about. “It does cross my mind from time to time, what happened and could it happen again,” he said. “But you can’t dwell on it, you have to move forward and that’s what I have done.”
With the support of his wife, a son and a daughter, Chief Judge Satterfield is proud of his work, proud of representing the Superior Court and the residents of the District of Columbia. He is also cognizant of two things following his stroke and recovery. “What I learned the most from this experience is time loss is brain loss, and making sure that people around you know the symptoms of stroke,” he said. “I was fortunate that day to be surrounded by people who knew the symptoms and to be cared for by such an amazing team of physicians and nurses at GW Hospital. I could not have asked for anymore help.”