Triumph Over Trauma: Local Cyclist Pays it Forward

As the year comes to a close, our minds often turn to reflecting on all that we have experienced and are grateful for. What comes to mind for Scott Busch, a Colorado native in his early 30s, is the simple yet extraordinary fact that he is alive.

In 2017, Scott was hitting his optimal cadence—he was in iron-man shape and well into a successful career in software engineering. Aiming to complete his first full-distance Ironman in the summer of 2018, Scott was inspired to add running and swimming to his workout regime, complimenting the nearly 150 miles a week he logged in cycling.

Not only was he physically active, he also made a point to be philanthropically involved: He regularly volunteered at local Ironman events, donated blood and platelets as often as he could to the Children’s Hospital, and volunteered every Sunday at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley.

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Scott, a regular volunteer at local Ironman events, stands with his colleagues

But October 20, 2017—a day that started and progressed like so many days before — will forever be etched in his family’s memory. But not Scott’s, for there is nothing of that day that he can recall.

According to the police report, Scott was riding home from work on his bicycle, a typical occurrence in his world, when a driver of a pick-up truck made a left-hand turn from the main road into a neighborhood. The driver, who was neither intoxicated or using a cell phone, turned through a gap in oncoming traffic and struck Scott, having not noticed him riding in the bike lane. 

Scott was rushed by ambulance to the Emergency Room at Good Samaritan Medical Center. While undergoing surgery to relieve the swelling in his brain, his family waited in the wings for updates.

“We didn’t know if he was going to wake up,” said Carrie, Scott’s sister-in-law and longtime friend. “The ER nurse that cared for Scott was great. She let us know what was going on, what they were doing—it was very reassuring. I just kept telling myself that he’s going to be okay. That he’s going to pull through this.”

Following the surgeries, Scott went on to spend the next month in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU), where he would be cared for by a coordinated team of specialists. As recounted by Therese Heaton, RN, Trauma Care Manager, Scott, who suffered a traumatic brain injury, initially had minimal response to his environment those first few weeks in the ICU. But then, he started to open his eyes and track movement in his hospital room. After this milestone, his condition began improving exponentially.

Rarely venturing far from Scott’s side, his family was moved by the care the nurses, physicians and entire care team provided. According to Carrie, “The doctors and nurses helped break things down so we could understand; they truly cared for Scott as a person.”

Once Scott’s condition improved, he was transferred to a long-term acute care hospital for specialized rehabilitation. With his recovery progressing so well, Scott received the green light to spend Christmas at home with family. After hearing this news, the family immediately shifted into high gear to prepare the house to accommodate a wheelchair and train on how to help Scott in and out of the car. In reality, though, he ended up needing none of this support. “It was amazing to have Scott home for the holidays; two months prior we didn’t know that it would even be possible,” said Carrie.

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Early in the New Year, Scott and his family reflected on his care and thought about how they might “pay it forward” as a token of their appreciation for the compassionate care Scott received at Good Samaritan.

The family decided on a great way to give back to those that did so much—a scholarship to the Good Samaritan Foundation to support education and training for nurses. “The dedication nurses bring to their work in caring for strangers is overwhelming,” said Scott. “Even though I don’t remember my time at Good Samaritan, it’s important that I express my appreciation to the nurses that saved my life, and we, as a family, have a way to give back to a community that helped us so dearly.”

The family hosted a ceremony at the hospital to mark the presentation of this scholarship and to reunite with the caregivers. “It’s so rare for us to see how a patient is doing after they’ve been discharged,” shared Melissa Fuller, one of the ICU nurses that cared for Scott. “It’s so kind and considerate for Scott and his family to come back and meet with the care team and I’m beyond thrilled to see his progress!”

Over the coming months, Scott pursued therapy sessions with the same focus and perseverance he brought to training for an Ironman race. According to Scott, though, his biggest challenge has been being patient: “I like to stay busy; I’m not good at relaxing.”

What’s next for Scott? “Not chasing who I was before the accident, but learning my limitations and adapting my goals to best account for my new situation.”

With that said, he is still pursuing his goals with the same determination, focus and passion for giving back that he was known for prior to the accident. In addition to joining the Good Samaritan Medical Center Foundation Board, Scott is on the path to getting back to full-time work, training for a future triathlon and volunteering at the Humane Society in Boulder.”

For now, though, Scott and his family are very much looking forward to spending Christmas together this year and reflecting on all that they have to be grateful for.

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