Holy Name Medical Center - This Place is Different
Holy Name Medical Center - This Place is Different

Patrick McCoy

"Talking, eating, walking - my whole life was dictated by my knee pain. Yet in the middle of a pandemic, they got these knees going again."

Patrick was made to move. He was a former athlete who grew up playing football, running track and wrestling. Even as an adult, he stayed active by working as a school custodian and joining a softball league. But all of that physical activity had wrecked his knees.

By the time he was in his early 40s, Patrick sought a doctor who would perform knee replacement surgery. He was living with constant pain and had developed bowed legs and a wobble when he walked. Soon, his gait was so unstable, he fell several times at work, – including a very scary fall down a flight of bleachers.

To his surprise, his two knees felt better immediately after surgery than they had in more than a decade.

Finally, in 2017, Patrick was 54 and a physician near his home in Paterson agreed to perform the surgery, but only on one knee at a time, though Patrick wanted both done at once. The refusal ended up being a blessing. When he woke up from the surgery on his left knee, he was in horrendous pain that never went away. Physical therapy was excruciating, and he felt worse than he did before the procedure. He vowed to never have the right knee replaced. He'd live with the pain rather than exacerbate it with another surgery.

"Talking, eating, walking – my whole life was dictated by my knee pain," Patrick recalled. "17 steps – from my bed to the bathroom and I'd wait until I had to go to work at 3 p.m. rather than make that trip down those stairs."

Patrick's wife, who was bearing the emotional toll of seeing her husband struggle, had heard about an exceptional orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Mark Hartzband at Holy Name. Though Patrick had sworn he would never go through surgery again, she convinced him to see this new doctor.

Patrick was skeptical. Then Dr. Hartzband showed Patrick images – of a proper knee replacement and what Patrick's left knee looked like. He had a piece of metal that was rubbing every time he moved. His surgery had been botched and he needed to have it repaired.

Dr. Hartzband promised he could fix both knees at the same time and Patrick agreed to have the surgery in a few months. It was scheduled for late spring 2020.

He laughs as he does a snazzy two-step to show how well his legs feel. His life is better than it has been for so long, Patrick still marvels at the difference.

But by then, COVID-19 was rampant. Patrick feared his surgery would be postponed since he knew Holy Name was at the epicenter of the pandemic. Most hospitals had cancelled elective procedures but for Patrick, this surgery wasn't elective. It was essential.

Dr. Hartzband agreed and to Patrick's relief, the team at Holy Name called to ask if he still felt comfortable coming in for surgery. It was still scheduled for the same day.

"I had to do it, I was in such pain," Patrick said. "And I knew I would be safe at Holy Name – they took such precautions to keep their patients safe."

Patrick's double knee replacement went much better than he expected. To his surprise, his two knees felt better immediately after surgery than they had in more than a decade. He got out of bed that same day, and with help from his nurses, walked down the hallway a bit.

Today, Patrick's life is completely different – he no longer counts the steps to the bathroom. Instead, he averages 15,000 steps a day. His smile has always been infectious and now his wife said she's seeing it more than ever.

He laughs as he does a snazzy two-step to show how well his legs feel. His life is better than it had been for so long; Patrick still marvels at the difference. For that, he credits Dr. Hartzband and Holy Name. "In the middle of a pandemic, they got these knees going AND got my spirit going again," Patrick said. "I'm so thankful.'

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