Massive Heart Attack While Overseas
On Friday, May 19th, three days before returning home to Colorado, Scott suffered a massive heart attack. He and his wife, Ursula, were on a long planned trip to Germany to visit friends and family. Scott underwent bypass surgery at the hospital in Augsburg, Germany but he is still in extremely critical condition.
ABOUT SCOTT & URSULA
Scott Roller and Dr. Ursula Eckert-Peterson, D.V.M. live in Loveland, Colorado where Doc Ursula owns Coppergate Animal Clinic. Scott works as a technician for Denver Water. Scott is also a pilot and has a great love for aviation. For many years he was a Flight Engineer on DC-8s and Boeing 747s for several international airlines, including Olympic Airlines, Cargolux Airlines, and Tower Air. Over the years, Dr. Ursula has been active in many community endeavors, such as the Larimer Humane Society, and the Puppies Behind Bars program which honors and assists wounded veterans, to name a couple. In October, Doctor Ursula was awarded Veterinarian of the Year for the state of Colorado by Colorado Veterinary Medical Association. Despite serious health struggles with Lupus, Doctor Ursula continues to operate Coppergate Animal Clinic on a part time basis.
Those who know Scott and Ursula know what kind, caring people they are. They always go out of their way to help others, whether it is a joke to lift your spirits, an emergency raccoon rescue, or helping a neighbor wash everything in their house after a fire; they're the kind of people who can't help giving back. It doesn't matter how big or small the problem, whether you have two legs or four, feathers, fur, or skin, they are both ready to help anyone in need even when they themselves are suffering. They have lived a life of generosity toward their friends, neighbors, animals, and community.
It was difficult to know what amount to set for the fundraising goal. It isn't known yet how long Scott will be in the hospital in Germany, or if he will even survive. The medical bills, over and above what his health insurance will cover, will most likely be huge. Once Scott's sick leave runs out, there will be no income from his job at Denver Water, which was their main source of income.
Unfortunately Scott's heart attack is just one more hardship added to many that Scott and Ursula have endured over the past few years, the greatest of which is Ursula's deteriorating health. This has made it very difficult for her to continue operating the clinic, but her love of animals and her clients keeps her practicing a few hours a day, even through difficult times. She says it is what keeps her going, even though most of the time she doesn't break even financially.
Besides medical bills, they will need money to pay their mortgage, household bills, and the operating costs at the veterinary clinic which can't be covered with part time relief veterinarians. It is our hope that enough funds can be raised to keep Scott and Ursula from losing their home and Coppergate Animal Clinic. Without help, they stand to lose everything.
Thank you in advance for any help you can give. Prayers and warm thoughts are also greatly appreciated!
Scott is doing pretty well considering how bad the heart attack was. He continues to do physical therapy several times each week, which is helping some. Even though there is progress, Scott still tires very easily and he doesn't have much strength. He can walk very short distances, then has to rest and catch his breath. Unfortunately, his heart will probably never function much more than it does now, which is still about 20%. Amazingly, Scott keeps a very positive attitude and always tries to look on the bright side. He and Ursula are so grateful to all of you who have helped so much and continue to do so.
Scott very much wants to write to everyone and personally thank them for their help. It is rather slow going because he does tire so easily and the heart attack seems to have affected his coordination a bit, which makes it difficult for him to write. As much as he wants to send hand written notes, I told him he may just have to type them.
I will get Scott to help me with a more detailed update soon (including what help is needed for the future), but I wanted to let you all know that Scott and Ursula wish you all a very Merry Christmas!
Scott and Ursula have been home from Germany since mid August. Scott has undergone many tests for his heart since coming home. Several weeks ago he had surgery to implant a biventricular pacemaker / defibrillator. He is on oxygen but the doctors want him to slowly wean himself off.
At this point Scott's heart is still only functioning at about 20%. He began rehabilitation therapy at the beginning of October. At the moment the insurance is covering the therapy but it is uncertain if it will continue to be covered. It will probably take six months or so to know if there will be any more improvement.
There is still a great need to continue with the fundraising. Everyone has been extremely generous already so I feel reluctant to keep asking for more. It's going to take time for Scott and Ursula to find a way to replace Scott's income so that they don't lose their home and are able to continue necessary medical treatments. Here are some notes on what has been done so far:
Denver Water will hold Scott's position until sometime in January, but it is extremely unlikely that he will recover enough to return to his old position which requires a lot of physical labor. When Scott is no longer a Denver Water employee, he and Ursula will no longer have medical insurance.
Scott applied for disability through social security. His first application was turned down, although the reason given didn't apply to his case at all. He is in the process of reapplying. He is also looking into any possible benefits through the VA. It is a slow process at best.
Ursula is applying for a possible free lance position as a German/English medical document translator in order to supplement her income as a veterinarian. This is not an easy position to qualify for so it is uncertain if this will work out although it would be ideal because this type of work could be done even when her health doesn't permit her go to the vet clinic. It will most likely take a couple of months from the time they receive (and hopefully approve) her application for testing and training.
Scott and Ursula's expenses (mortgage, utilities, etc.) are approximately $2,900 per month. This does not include medical expenses. I believe it is possible to cover most, if not all of this with fundraising for a certain period of time. If we could get enough people to consider making a small monthly donation, it would add up and make a huge difference.
So, how can you help? Spread the word about the fundraiser by word of mouth and by forwarding this on to your contacts. Let Scott and Ursula know of any ideas you have for jobs that can be done from home and/or other places to seek help with living expenses. Donate if you can. The GoFundMe.com website has options for one time and automatic monthly donations.
Thank you to all for all the support and prayers you continue to give! There aren't enough words to express how much your help has meant to Scott and Ursula.
Good Day Everybody!
I must apologize for not being a bit more timely in updating you. I don't have any real excuse other than I haven't been feeling real energetic in this high altitude, high temperature, thin Summer air that I've been trying to adapt to. In Germany's cool air, and at Augsburg's elevation of about 750 ft., my body had acclimated to Sea Level. Colorado is another story. Our house sits at 5000 ft. and bakes in the Summer sun. A few days ago I worked out a Density Altitude calculation and found that we were at an equivalent elevation of 8400 ft. This kind of elevation change would be tough on a healthy person. For me, even breathing supplemental oxygen 24 hours a day, this elevation change has been pushing my body's resources to the limit. However, there has been improvement. Two weeks ago I was a pure couch potato inhaling 4 liters/minute of oxygen. I am now down to 1.5 liters/minute and am able to do some chores around the house and have even driven to the store on my own. At the store, however, I take advantage of the courtesy electric carts. Walking more than 100 feet is still very exhausting. It is my hope that by the end of September I will have completely adjusted to the elevation and will be able to say "Good Bye" to the supplemental oxygen. Also, we are installing air conditioning in our house. In addition to cooling, the system has a filter that cleans the air. This will be a health benefit to both Ursula and me.
Most of you already know that Ursula and I returned to our home just over two weeks ago. The flight from Munich to Denver went smoothly, though we did have to overnight in the Washington D.C. area due to a missed connection. I was accompanied by an RN that checked my vital signs before, during, and after each flight. He also insisted that I wear special compression stockings during the flights. I was on oxygen from take-off to landing. Transport within the terminals was by wheelchair. During the time he was shepherding me, he was cognizant of Ursula's condition and did what he could to make her journey easier; something I very much appreciated. The RN even accompanied us to our home, in Loveland, to ensure I was properly hooked up to a pre-arranged home oxygen supply, and to do a final check on my condition. He then departed back to the airport. I called him, at his home in Atlanta, and thanked him for his diligent service.
Since arriving home I've been seen by my Primary Care Physician and my Cardiologist twice each. I feel I am in good hands. Needless to say, I have been subjected to a series of tests that will help them get a more complete picture of my condition and establish a baseline for future diagnostics and treatments. For now they are happy with the pharmacology regimen that I was placed on in Germany. The only significant change was to replace the German medicines with equivalents that are available in the U.S. The Cardiologist was very impressed with the surgical work done in Augsburg, especially under the severe time constraints the surgeons were under due to the criticality of my condition. Talk of my future health, at this time, is speculative. It will be more focused when we can analyze the results of future testing and therapies. What we know now is that one of the two bypasses is not functioning. Also, only 20% of my heart is operational. According to the Cardiologist, depending on my response to future treatments, therapy sessions, and procedures, I could recover anywhere from being homebound, to being an active & productive person. Only time will tell!
Thank you all, again, for the prayers, support, encouragement, and comfort you have provided to Ursula and myself. I feel especially thankful for the continued support you have been providing Ursula. She has been a stalwart of strength, guiding me through my health issues, in spite of her own very serious medical condition. I am indebted to you all. THANK YOU!!!
I'm posting this message sent from our college friends, Lisa and Steve: "Rollhor, what a way to get attention! Now get your rear end out of bed and get home so we can really give you a reason to have a heart attack. We sent a donation directly to Coppergate because we still fly by the seat of our pants and don't trust all this online stuff. Seriously, our thoughts and prayers are with both you and Ursula for healthier days ahead and a safe return home. When you are feeling up to it we'd love to get together for hangar talk and reminisce about the good old days while we watch you eat corn on the cob (one row at time). Love, Steve & Lisa"
We are praying for you both to return home soon. Will forward this to all we know. Love you both. Jessi, Olli, and kids
Thank you so much for your prayers and donations! I'm the sister of Ursula's german girlfriend Bea. Fr die Freunde in Deutschland: Wenn ihr nicht so gerne per Kreditkarte berweisen mchtet, knnt Ihr direkt bei mir Ursulas Augsburger Kontonummer erfahren. Danke. facebook oder firstname.lastname@example.org
You are both in our thoughts and prayers.