Survivor of the year 2021 Scott Cooper Shares his unbelievable story of courage and survival.
John: Scott this is John Dowling the publisher of Model Citizens Magazine. I would like to congratulate you on being nominated as Model Citizens Magazine Survivor of the year 2021. Please starting with that horrific hit and run, please share what you have been through.
Scott: In 2011 my wife and I me were going to Arizona. We were going to North Carolina before heading there to say goodbye to her sons. On our way in Virginia getting gas, we were in a car accident on a head on collision. It was a lifted pick-up that hit us. We were stopped and not moving, when they it hit us. They were drunk and it was a woman driving. They hit-and-run, but we were lucky that my wife took a picture of their license plate. We called the police and they were able to find them and it found out that she was a armed robbery and she was out on parole. We had to take a tow truck to take us to Charlotte. After we said goodbye to the boys, we had to take a rental car to take us to Arizona. When we got there, we went to the ER and they said we had to go to see a spine specialist. Luckily my wife wasn’t hurt but I was lucky that I wasn’t paralyzed. The doctor found that my spine was compressed from my 2nd to the 7th vertebrae. I needed surgery and to have them fused. Since that time, I am not able to work anymore. We got an attorney and after 6 months in Arizona, we needed to go back to Charlotte. Thankfully, we still retained the attorney. I got disability but it did not kick in until 2015. In November 2017, I had a stroke that hit aortic heart went to the left side of my brain. Then a week after, I had a second stroke. I was sent to rehab and I was there for about a month and a 1/2. In February 2018 I had a seizure and I was dead for about 2 minutes. The ambulance brought me to the hospital. Since the rest of that year, I had 8 more seizures and I am on blood thinner and many other medications. The doctors had a few months until they were able to control my seizures. Since then, my strokes and my seizures have stopped. I have a very problem with my speech and my balance and confusion. Since the strokes and the seizures, I am not allowed anymore to drive myself. I am home bound, I now to have depend friends or Ubers to take me back-and-forth for doctor appointments. Recently I had a bad fall. I was coming down on the stairs to and hit my door and cracked it with my head. Obviously, I no longer allowed to go on stairs.
John: Scott I’m so sorry to hear all that you have been through. How has this terrible injury and the subsequent seizures and strikes affected you emotionally?
Scott: Well, I often suffer from depression, anxiety, I am prone to be very emotional and lashes at family near me at times angry. I am tired all of the time so I sleep a lot. While it may not be very macho, now I cry easily. In short I’m completely dependent on my family. I cannot do most of the things I used to be able to do. I was very independent before all of this I am completely dependent and that makes me uncomfortable.
John: Your very brave and I know from experience it takes time to heal, especially when your facing continuing long term consequences of such a major injury. How would your life have been different if you never had been hit by that criminal driver to begin with?
Scott: Well since Christine and I both love Arizona I do believe we would still be living in Arizona. I would have a job, and even possibly a second one. I often feel very sad knowing that my wife is carrying the majority of the work load with me being so limited and unable to work, or even know from day to day if I am going to have a seizure or another stroke. In many situations like mine where I am going from hospital to hospital and specialist to specialist trying to survive or at least improve the quality of my life, I did not really realize the impact on my wife at the time.
John: How has this impacted your family and your wife? And how do you make it work so well with all of the challenges your facing?
Scott: I am very lucky that my wife, my family, and my friends are extremely supportive of my situation. They are very patient when I need them to understand what I am trying to say. Of course my speaking skills have been affected tremendously. My family started calling it “Scott’s language”.
John: A demonstration of their true admiration and love for your courage and the love within their hearts for you. But you do have good days as well as bad. Share with us what continues to make life beautiful and joyful despite the sometimes anguish and pain?
Scott: I am very lucky that I have a great family and friends that are so awesome supporting me and everything I do or try to do. I do have good days and bad days and if it wasn’t for them I don’t know how I would get through it. I am just extremely grateful for everything they do. That’s a good part of why I get so emotional, being dependent on others for you life is not something I am used to, people truly caring and making sacrifices for me on a routine basis.
John: How do you manage to cope with the emotional aspects personally? Because for a man who has suffered and lost so much you have an amazing positive attitude towards life, that makes everyone who hears your story enchanted with your courage and how you live in gratitude.
Scott: I have my routines that I do feel help things around the house, caring for the dog and cats, domestic chores when I am up to it, and helping with preparing meals. I no longer can drive and can’t take stairs because I have problems with my balance. I can’t work outside, so it’s work I do around the house that provides some sense of contributing to my wife Christine’s efforts and to my home.
John: What were your dreams for your future before the accident? How have they changed?
Scott: I would have had a interesting well paying job and been able to share the cost of taking care of the house and expenses. I’d be able to take some of the pressure off of my wife so she would not have to work as much, and so she could relax a little bit. Unfortunately now my wife is a the sole provider and she has to put in a lot of hours working. Before we would have most certainly been able to retire early, but now that’s not it’s a possibility
John: That is unfortunately the life of many families and individuals with long term health challenges or disabilities. How would you like to see the USA change its policies on health care or a more sustainable basic income for those who have these issues? I believe personally disabled Americans should get at least twice what they get now. Minimum! What type of ongoing therapy are you getting and do they help?
Scott: I get physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy once a week. I also have a psychologist and a psychiatrist. My neurologist takes care of all the medications and I will probably be on the medications for the rest of my life. These are ongoing issues and events so I do live with fear and uncertainty even though I do try to have faith in the entire system that supports me from the medical community to my own local community.
John: That’s great news Scott. So where did you grow up? And what brought you to North Carolina?
Scott: I grew up on Long Island NY. I moved many times since then, but I have settled now in Charlotte.
John: What would you say to others going through similar circumstances?
Scott: All I can say is persevere and don’t give up. There is help if you need it, but you have to make the first move.
John: Scott thank you for your candor, honest responses, and again congratulations on your nomination as Model Citizens Magazine Survivor of the year 2021, your courage and outlook on life truly inspires others who have yet to overcome their own obstacles and challenges. I am very proud of you, and for those reading this story, just note that Scott is my brother-in-law for over 13 years and has always had a heart of gold and is loved by everyone, most of all by my sister Christine. Christine has also been awarded a Model Citizens Magazine Award for her loyalty and for always paying it forward. Of course the nominations came from myself, but were universally voted on and seconded more times than any other nomination.