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Chuck Pellegrini had a problem. Terrible pain in his ankle and a fear of seeking medical treatment threatened to keep him from participating in his youngest daughter's wedding. It was only three weeks away (after a yearlong COVID-delay from its original date in September 2020). Everything was set, including the song that Chuck and his daughter Melissa would dance to – My Girl by the Temptations.
It was osteoarthritis in his ankle, a complication from an accident nearly 50 years earlier, that made it almost impossible for him to walk. And medical anxiety had kept Chuck away from hospitals and doctor offices for the better part of 25 years. Now at 76, just entering a medical facility would trigger serious anxiety. This kept him from having ankle replacement surgery for several years.
Chuck didn't share his medical anxiety with many people because it was a difficult to talk about, even with a physician. It was only the thought of not being able to walk his daughter down the aisle or dance with her that convinced him to visit Dr. Thomas McAndrew, an internal medicine physician he had seen only once before. On that previous visit, Chuck was pleased with how quickly he connected with Dr. McAndrew. Maybe it was their shared military background. Dr. McAndrew had been a flight surgeon in the Air Force and Chuck had served as a medic in the Navy. Or maybe it was just the doctor's easy-going manner. The caring, friendly personality of medical assistant Adrienne Sindoni also helped reduce his anxiety.
"I was so comfortable, I was able to talk to him about my fears," recalled Chuck. "He was a military doctor... He understood exactly where I was coming from. He didn't even have to ask a lot of questions."
"He prescribed the right medicine [for my foot and my anxiety]. In his mind it was a simple solution. In my mind it was a gigantic solution."
On September 24, 2021, Chuck walked Melissa down the aisle and danced (carefully) with her to their special song. He had now walked all five of his daughters down the aisle. The wedding photos show a happy father fully participating in a joyous family occasion.
A few weeks later, Chuck had the surgery that would put an end to his ankle pain. In a letter to Dr. McAndrew, Chuck wrote, "I credit you with overcoming my fears. Your caring and compassionate treatment allowed me to be at ease and tolerate the entire procedure."