After receiving reports about the plight of Irish expat Declan Fitzpatrick, now a patient in Hua Hin Hospital, the Royal Coast Review has been getting to know him and his circumstances. In our interview Declan spoke about his situation and the difficulties that can follow serious illness.
Strangely enough the first advice we received was through an article published in an Irish newspaper; ‘Kilkenny People’. The article was prompted by Declan’s daughter Aisling, clearly a very determined young woman who has been very active in doing all in her power to help her Dad in his hour of need, including to start an online fundraising platform, ‘GoFundMe’.
Declan, or ‘Deccy’, as his daughter and friends best know him, has been a patient in Hua Hin Hospital since early December after a series of medical emergencies and hospital admissions, commencing in Koh Samui where he hosted a bar until three years ago.
Prior to his Koh Samui days, he was the face of ‘Fitzpatrick Jewellers’, a Kilkenny city business. Deccy says he moved to Thailand “to live a simpler life. In Ireland I was watchmaker and jeweller; a Rolex technician and certified gemologist. I worked for over 40 years in the business.” Deccy had also been a ballroom dancer as a teenager and a weightlifter.
“He used to deadlift the back of the Ford Cortina sometimes as part of his training,” says his daughter; “no joke.”
Life as a Samui bar owner was far from quiet. He says “the bar was open from 6pm to 4am, crazy hours, but I did it for 10 years until health became an issue.” Deccy was in in and out of hospitals in Samui and had a heart stent fitted 14 years ago. He then decided to move to Hua Hin to have for a more relaxed life, but soon ended up in Bangkok Hospital.
He says he changed his lifestyle, taking better care of himself and exercising, but then suffered a stroke and found himself in emergency at Hua Hin Hospital in March 2019. He stayed in hospital for ten days, not knowing if he had permanent brain damage, if he would walk again, talk again or recover.
It was later discovered that Deccy had actually suffered an undetected minor stroke a few months previous to this stroke.
After a recovery from that event, more medical problems followed. In December last year, he became very weak and was rushed to hospital with breathing problems.
The Fitzpatrick family then reached out to the Irish Embassy in Thailand and was provided some much-needed assistance. This included arranging an interpreter who could call Deccy’s doctor and relay the latest medical information on his condition back to the family. After considering the need for another stent, an operation to fit a pacemaker was the necessary solution to control an erratic heartbeat.
Deccy now remains in hospital, being monitoring with his condition stabilising but his medical expenses spiraling out of control.
These frequent hospital admissions have taken a huge toll on Deccy’s finances, especially with the refusal of his insurance company to meet the latest expenses. He’s been told this is because of his prior medical history. Deccy says the company agent knew about the previous stent operation and he was told that was “too long ago and not an issue”; but now it has become an issue, a big issue!
Deccy’s been negotiating with the hospital to pay off his medical bills and there has been a response to the ‘GoFundMe’ platform, with 4,000 now raised of the 11,000 Euro target, however the final bill is likely to be more like 18,000 Euro.
“People and friends have been great giving me support; something we think can never happen to us. But life sometimes throws a curve ball in” he says.
This story may strike a chord with Thailand’s expat community who can empathise with Deccy and his family’s plight. Some may be thinking, ‘OMG, that could be me’. To make a donation, visit the GoFundMe Page ie.gofundme.com/f/286j4kurhc