What has become a tradition for some 20 years, local radio personality Scott Schuler will welcome country music acts Sara Evans and Sawyer Brown to the main stage at the Linn County Fair this weekend.
Little may most of his audience know, six months earlier Schuler’s heart had stopped.
That was the “old Scott,” said Schuler. Late last fall, a blood clot hospitalized the 49-year-old.
This journey began when Schuler started feeling his heartbeat fast at home one evening after working his multi-hatted job with BiCoastal Media in Albany. Schuler, the station’s program director and on-air voice, broadcasts shows in both the Willamette and Rogue River Valleys on KRKT and KRWQ.
Schuler sought immediate medical care at Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital. There, staff were able to shock his heart back into a normal rhythm.
“It kind of worked for a few days and then the issue came back,” Schuler said.
This prompted Schuler to do his own research, leading him to believe he had a blood clot.
After conferring with his doctor Schuler returned to the hospital for imaging. The results confirmed his suspicion. He had a blood clot in his leg. Returning home was not an option as his care team was concerned the blood clot would move. With COVID-19 filling up the beds of the 25-bed critical access hospital, staff searched the area and found a room at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis.
“It was the best place for me because I coded,” said Schuler. “They performed CPR and got me back.”
For nearly a day Schuler remained on life support. On Dec. 18 he had improved enough to be removed from life support.
“Dec. 18th was also his birthday,” said his wife and radio co-host Angie Foster-Schuler. “So now we call it his re-birthday."
After that incident, Schuler lay recovering in the ICU with blood thinners helping control the clots. He hadn’t seen his five children since being hospitalized, it would be nearly a month before he had a chance to see them again.
Each day Foster-Schuler, would stop by for a visit and then head to their Lebanon-area home to take care of their children.
Due to his prolonged hospitalization, Schuler missed Christmas with the family. The evening after Christmas it had snowed, Foster-Schuler was home preparing the house for his return home the following week. Schuler’s sister was visiting with him in the ICU.
“She was really worried, so she was hanging out with me” Schuler said. “We were in conversation, and I was talking. I started saying weird stuff.”
Schuler was having a stroke. His sister immediately got the attention of the ICU staff.
“They figured out it was a stroke really quick and gave me the medicine right then,” said Schuler. “Again I was in the right place to have a stroke.”
In total, Schuler spent 28 days in the hospital. Now, more than six months later, Schuler is back on the job with minimal side effects from his stroke. Three times a week he is out in the community meeting Cricket Country fans with live remote broadcasts.
“I don’t have a limp. I don’t have a cane. I don’t have anything like that,” Schuler said. “But there’s little things with my speech. I used to be able to just wing it, and now I have to stop and figure out exactly what I’m going to say.”
“I have to take a little more time, to find the right words,” Schuler said. “But it’s been a great therapy tool going on the air.”
After returning home Schuler used a walker for less than a week. He started a daily rehab routine with the assistance of physical therapists.
“Physically, I had to bounce back from being stuck in the hospital,” said Schuler. “The muscle atrophy that I went through is terrible. I’m still dealing with it.”
Now the “new Scott” walks daily with a goal of 8,000 to 9,000 steps. He has lost 70 pounds off his 6-foot-6-inch frame. He eats healthier and has eliminated alcohol and most caffeine from his diet.
“I was way too big, I’m still too big,” Schuler said. “I’m losing weight and it’s just a slow process.”
Now on anticoagulants, which help prevent blood clots and strokes, Schuler adds frequent blood checks to his routine.
“I can’t say enough good things about how great the pharmacists are at the Lebanon anticoagulation clinic,” Schuler said.
After the Linn County fair wraps up, Schuler will be out in the public doing live events three times a week. On the last Sunday in July, Schuler will be back on the main stage to introduce Old Dominion at the Oregon Jamboree in Sweet Home.
Reflecting back on his hospital stay Schuler is grateful for the care he received. “I remember the faces and the people, and I got to know them pretty well,” Schuler said. “The nurses and staff were all awesome.”
Learn more about stroke care at Samaritan Health Services.