Don’t Be Stubborn Like My Grandpa – Don’t Wait too Long to See Your Doctor

Ally Maloney adores her 83-year-old grandpa Patrick Maloney. Growing up, Ally, a self-confessed “tomboy,” considered herself part of the pit crew when her dad and grandpa worked on their team’s racing car. That tight relationship — and lessons learned from competitive racing — shape how Ally sees his current medical journey.

“When he’s having a tough time, I say to him ‘it’s only a set back now, you have to go out and finish the race.’”

And Ally’s had to say that to her grandpa a few times recently.

Patrick had a double-bypass and aortic valve replacement at Deborah three years ago, but as a former smoker his lungs were compromised, and he had a difficult and extended recovery. Four months later, after a stint in rehab, he went home. Ally – waving a checkered flag — was there to greet him. Two years later he ended up back in the hospital with congestive heart failure.

“When I got the call I drove as fast as I could to Deborah. That was the longest hour-and-a-half ride,” recalled Ally, who drove from her home in north Jersey. This time when recovered and was sent home, he was very careful about using his pulse ox to monitor his oxygen.

Then COVID-19 happened.

“I didn’t realize that grandpa began cancelling his doctor appointments,” said Ally. “He was too scared of the virus.” But finally on Memorial Day, out of breath and with no appetite, he had no choice he was too ill and needed medical care. He came to Deborah. When Patrick’s wife Beverly called Ally from her Cedar Glen Lakes home in Whiting, Ally was frantic.

“He waited too long to go to the doctor,” Ally said. “They probably would have been able to help him sooner.”

Back at Deborah, another blockage was found and Patrick needed a stent. But an infection, low blood pressure, and erratic kidney function made Ally think the worst.

“I had to come to the hospital, but there were no visitors allowed. It was so hard.”

But Patrick rallied just in time to celebrate his birthday on June 4.

“The nurses were great! My uncle, grandma and myself drove his 1930 Model A ‘Old Nell’ to the hospital. The staff decorated his room and taped a message to us from his window. They moved his bed over so he could see us and his car and helped us face time him. It was wonderful!”

Ally, who fully expects her grandpa to be her ring bearer — and her grandma to be a flower girl — at her wedding in October, has some advice for patients too scared to go back to their doctor: “Even if you feel nervous, don’t hesitate to make a call. If it weren’t safe, the hospital wouldn’t be open. This could potentially save your life.”

Mark Moshiyakhov, MD, Director of Deborah’s Medical Intensive Care Unit agreed: “We are worried that we will see more patients like Mr. Maloney who waited too long to get their care. We urge our patients to make their appointments now, before their conditions get worse.”

And from Ally’s point of view? “Don’t be stubborn like my grandpa. Medical care doesn’t just involve the patient, it involves the whole family.”

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