Patrick Diffy

Patrick Diffy

The signs of a heart attack are fatigue, cold sweat, lightheadedness or sudden dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, indigestion, heartburn, abdominal pain, pressure, tightness, pain, a squeezing or aching sensation in the chest or arms that may spread to one’s neck, jaw or back.

On Sunday, December 13, 2015, about eleven in the morning, Patrick Diffy’s elbow began hurting. He lit a cigarette. He felt a pain in his chest. Something was not right. This was serious. He called 911. Fifty-year old, five foot five Patrick was having a heart attack.

The ambulance arrived and rushed him to Northside Hospital in Cherokee County. The examination called for the insertion of a stent. That’s a small mesh tube treatment when there are narrow or weak arteries. It is placed in the artery. The procedure is called percutaneous coronary intervention also known as coronary angioplasty. It was successful. Patrick spent just two days in the hospital. The attack changed his life. Lifting is no longer an option, which effects what he can do in the workplace.

He worked for six and a half years at a local synagogue. He was a maintenance man. The synagogue decided to change its operations, and he was let go without notice. As he put, I was in a “state of shock.” The loss of the job also meant the loss of his health insurance.

He found a job at a car dealership. He was a 1099 employee, meaning he was an independent contractor, i.e., no benefits. He mopped, emptied trash and generally cleaned up. He worked the graveyard shift, 8:00 pm until 2–3 am, six nights per week. He lost that job when he suffered the heart attack.

Patrick was born in Massachusetts. He made it to the ninth grade. His father was an alcoholic. His mother died several years ago. He has a fiancé, who works at a supermarket. She has two daughters, one of whom is bi-polar. That is a disorder where a person has mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs. He tries to help his fiancé with her child. It can be daunting.

Without insurance the cardiologist will not see him and will only communicate through a portal. That means no in-office visits, no personal contact. Patrick simply cannot pay for that luxury. Heart attacks are expensive. The bill from Northside was about $71,000.00. The cardiologist was another $4000.00. Add another $1000.00 for the ambulance.

He finally got insurance through a government program, but it is still hard to pay the small monthly premium. He is in rehab, but the cost of gas to get there takes a financial toll.

Patrick lives with his brother and nephew in Woodstock. He receives food stamps. He is looking for work. He struggles but his attitude is upbeat. And he has stopped smoking.

stan m lefco april 20, 2016


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