The courage behind the eyes of Patrick Hearn is strong
Like a puzzle, the pieces come together as a team, but each piece has its own individual personality.
Patrick Hearn, assistant director of Recreation and Facilities Scheduling Contact, is an important piece to the puzzle that is the athletic department at Keene State College. Hearn has been with Keene State for over two decades, working side by side with both recreational teams and competition teams.
Hearn had an unexpected medical situation occur late last year, taking him out of the game for a while. “I had a diagnosis of diabetes, which was unbeknownst to me at the time. I developed a sore – or open wound – on my foot and that turned into an infection, long story short. The initial surgery was to – they took part of my leg,” he said.
He continued, “I was going to wound care at Cheshire Med[-ical Center] and that type of thing, and it wasn’t completely healing [after the first surgery]. They did an MRI and found a little bit more infection, so what they call it is a revision surgery – so they went in and…my surgeon started talking to me about a couple options, about going an inch or two still below the knee or going above the knee. I talked to the woman – Francis Kaiser – who does the prosthetics and she said ‘You’re better off going below the knee.’”
Hearn, faced with this decision, decided that he would be more comfortable having the surgeon cut below his knee, making it easier to work with a prosthetic when the time came for that. If cutting above the knee, the patient and medical team are tasked with working with a prosthetic ankle joint and knee joint, rather than just an ankle joint if they’re staying below the knee.
Hearn said, “So, I called my surgeon back after a couple days – I had gone home in between the surgeries, was home for about a month, maybe six weeks – I called him, I said, ‘I want to do the revision’. And, after talking to Francis [Kaiser]…[my surgeon] said he would work his magic. And so I went in, and, for the second time, came out of it. So [my surgeon] said it went as well as could be expected. And it was awesome.”
About two and a half days after his second surgery, Hearn was sent home. “…I missed pretty much the fall semester. But it did heal, and obviously I’m back at work and things look good. I actually just got in a little while ago, and I just got a checkup with Francis [Kaiser] for the prosthetic. And, yesterday, I went to [physical therapy] for the first time. So that was – I think people think I’m weird – but that was kind of fun, to kind of work with the prosthetic and that type of thing. So yeah, it’s been a lot of appointments, but they’ve slowed down considerably,” he said.
Hearn continued, “But I found it exciting. It was a long road for five and a half months and getting the prosthetic – and it’s still below the knee. And you know, it’s just kind of getting used to that. And I’ve had it for about… coming up on two weeks.”
Hearn mentioned that his son, Ryan Hearn, who also works for the athletic department, was a huge supplier of support during this uncertain time. “He’s just been absolutely amazing. He took care of his dad and – it was kind of funny the last week or two ago, and I think – with the prosthetic – he goes, ‘I’ll take you and we can practice driving’. And, like in the perilous parking lot, which is a big parking lot, I go, ‘This is kind of a role reversal from about 10 years ago and I took you to drive’. So it’s kind of come full circle in that regard,” he said. Additionally, Hearn said that he could never say enough about how much the staff at the athletic department helped him through this time.
Having things come out of left field can be tough to adapt to. When asked if he had a hard time dealing with the situation he was put in, Hearn responded, “I’m not gonna lie, the first part of it was, you know, getting acclimated to, ‘Okay, you lost a quarter of your leg’…there were some dark days for sure. And then it got to the point where, you know, ‘You’re gonna get through this, you’re going to get a prosthetic’. I’m not a very patient person and, in the medical field, you kind of have to show some patience. You know, my friends were telling me, ‘You gotta be patient, it’ll come, it’ll happen.’”
He continued, “Now I’m kind of reaping the benefits of that patience. Right now, I have the prosthetic on and I use a walker. My next step is to use a cane, and then after that I get rid of both the walker and the cane, and I’m walking; and, you may be seeing me and not even recognize that I might have a quarter prosthetic on my right leg. So yeah, there were some…I got more cabin fever after I got over all that. Even with all the COVID stuff, and the restrictions and stuff, which makes it tough for everybody, including [students] and my staff, I still missed it. I still miss the action with the folks in this building.”
While the healing process was long for him, Hearn returned to work with the Owls on January 4. When it came to getting back to work and normal day-to-day activities, he said, “And now it’s almost like – just like riding a bicycle. You know, you get back on the bike and there’s a lot of catching up to do, but it’s going well.”
Piper Pavelich can be contacted