Stroke Survivor, Skip Batchelder, Finds Motivation for Recovery in Everyday Angels
Skip believes different people are angels who have come into his life to support him at different points during his stroke and recovery. The first stroke angel, Skip encountered was Samuel the window specialist from Home Depot where Skip also works as an Ambassador and Home Improvement Consultant. During their consultation in his home, Skip lost control of his hand and knew something was wrong when he began to collapse. Samuel called 9-1-1 right away, one of the main reasons the outcomes of Skip’s stroke were not more debilitating or deadly. When a stroke strikes, every second counts. Paramedics were with Skip within 10 minutes, and he was treated in the emergency room within 25 minutes.
At the hospital emergency room, a medical response team sprang into action. Skip underwent a CAT scan and an MRI which identified the location of the bleeding in his brain and the extent of the damage. By the time he was evaluated, most of his symptoms had resolved by themselves, but a diagnosis was key to beginning prevention measures to reduce the risk of a second stroke event. Skip spent the night in the Emergency Room and was visited by a doctor who was pessimistic about his short-term and long-term outcomes. Hearing this greatly affected Skip’s outlook and he spent a sleepless night feeling hopeless and depressed.
However, his attitude changed after Skip was moved to the stroke unit and met with a new doctor who gave his recovery a more positive diagnosis. This is also where Skip began to realize that for his recovery to be successful, he had to be an active participant on his team.
“I observed that everyone is on the team. Everyone working in the stroke unit all had each other’s back. By lending my own efforts to my recovery, I was a vital part of that team,” says Skip.
After Skip was transferred to acute stroke rehabilitation in Vallejo, CA, he felt as if he was now on the “varsity team.” He describes acute stroke rehab as being like “bootcamp,” where he would have therapies four to six times a day, seven days a week. He credits prioritizing time to rest and having a positive attitude as the keys to his success. Here, Skip formed meaningful relationships with his recovery team. When he was transferred, much of the staff gathered in his room for a proud send off.
Now an outpatient, Skip discovered another angel in his physical therapist Michael. Michael worked with Skip’s caregivers; wife Roberta, son Brian, and sisters Twinkle and Michelle who took turns being his angels of recovery at home.
As his health and strength improved, Skip was inspired to share his journey to help other stroke survivors with their recovery and to teach people how to reduce their risk of having a stroke. He created the “Stroke Angel Project” which consists of two programs. One program focuses on stroke prevention and the other focuses on helping stroke survivors and caregivers. Skip has written informative guides for these groups that are available online. He is also interested in conducting roundtable discussions with caregivers to learn more about how The Stroke Angel Project can best support their needs.
Today, Skip continues to focus on his recovery and is exercising regularly to build his strength with a new angel, his personal trainer Sarah. He looks forward to getting back to the activities he loves including gardening, fishing, and wood working as well as simpler activities many people may take for granted like driving a car. “Driving is part of my DNA. I’m a product of the sixties, “ says Skip of his desire to drive again.