A working holiday, filming then surfing in South Korea, set off a chain of events that left Daniel Satchell with a stroke and the discovery of a hole in his heart that he never knew he had. It shows, even at 42, fit, active and healthy, a stroke can affect anyone.
Today, Sunday 29 October, World Stroke Day, Daniel shares his story.
“I went over to South Korea, to Seoul, in September. I was working, doing some filming. Five long days. And when that was over, I spent another five days by the coast surfing.
“I was pretty whacked when it was time to come home – a direct flight from South Korea to Heathrow. I’m normally aware that I need to get up and about on a long haul, but I was just so tired. I stayed in my seat watched some films and slept. My leg was stiff and sore, but I thought nothing more of it.
“A couple of days later I was in a cafe in Hove with my wife Suzi and I was saying to her how my leg was feeling worse, hot, aching. She googled straight away, and we thought, ‘This could be DVT [Deep Vein Thrombosis, a blood clot in one of the leg veins].’
“I went to A&E in Brighton and sure enough they made a diagnosis that it was DVT. I was given an injection with instructions to run a course of injections over the next seven days to thin the blood and recover.”
During this time, Daniel, made his usual trip to his local gym. And that’s when things took a turn for the worse.
“When I came back from the gym I didn’t feel right. I remember running up the stairs when I got back, and I was really out of breath. I went to meet a friend in Brighton and when I got there, I was slurring my words, and I couldn’t really think straight, I didn’t really recognise what was happening. My friend got me a taxi and I was back in A&E again.”
And this is when Daniel was first told that he may have had a stroke – and he may have a hole in his heart.
Ingrid Kane, Consultant Stroke Physician at the Royal Sussex County Hospital and one of the clinical leads in the Sussex Stroke Integrated Delivery Network, takes up the story.
“Daniel had been diagnosed with a DVT but then came back to the hospital as he had some symptoms of a stroke after going to the gym.
“He was seen in A&E and referred to the Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA) clinic where we assess people who are thought to have had a TIA or a minor stroke. After assessing Daniel’s condition and arranging for him to have several tests, he was diagnosed with several small strokes.
“It is unusual to have stroke caused by a blood clot in the leg, because these parts of the circulation are usually separate. Daniel’s symptoms made me think that there might be a hole in his heart, which allowed the blood clot to travel from his leg to his brain where it caused a stroke.
“And it turns out that this was the diagnosis. This was a good outcome for Daniel, as we found the cause of his stroke quickly and can sort out his treatment to prevent it happening again.
“It just shows that a stroke can affect anyone – even young, fit, active people like Daniel.
“Daniel came through the system very quickly, was assessed and investigated promptly, and appropriate treatment was started.”
Daniel had never been so happy to hear he had a hole in his heart.
“Once I realised I’d had the small strokes, and they were investigating why this had happened I really wanted it to be linked to a hole in heart I never knew I had as they said if it wasn’t then it could be something more serious.
“I know it is not 100% the reason but I have been given the all clear and just need to sort the heart out now! The care I received was great, the clinical staff there, the doctors, everyone, were so good with me.
“I am fit and well and will be 100% recovered from the DVT and the stroke soon enough. I can’t thank the hospital enough. I won’t be surfing for a while and next time I fly long-haul I will be up and about most of the flight!”