The easiest way to tell he’s back to normal is to talk football with him.
On Feb. 4, the Philadelphia Eagles scored an underdog Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots, but Bridesburg-based real estate agent and lifelong Eagles fan Gary Dydak did not get to see it.
“I slept to the Super Bowl and my 50th birthday,” he said.
About a week before the game, Dydak went to the doctor for a routine colonoscopy. Everything went wrong.
At the colonoscopy, Dydak aspirated all the contents from his intestines into his lungs. He briefly passed, and had to be revived.
Dydak was medevaced to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center in West Philly, where he was put on dialysis and life support after falling into a coma.
“He’s blessed because this was not something that was planned,” said insurance agent Cindy Moffitt, one of Dydak’s close friends whose office is located in the same building as Dydak’s real estate office. “So he was thrown into whatever doctor’s hands were on duty that night. Lucky for him, he got the cream of the crop.”
Moffitt is referring to Sean Harbison, the doctor who took care of him. According to Dydak, Harbison referred to him as “the Miracle Man.”
“I told him, ‘I’m not the Miracle Man, you’re the Miracle Man,’ ” he said. “You’re the one who saved my life.”
Doctors didn’t think Dydak, who ended up losing a few toes and fingers, would be able to walk again, or possibly even survive. Turns out the Eagles weren’t the only underdogs that winter.
With the help of physical therapists at Abington’s Brookside Rehabilitation Center, where Dydak was transferred to in April after he left Penn Presbyterian, he proved them wrong.
Dydak spent much of his time at Brookside in the facility’s ZeroG machine, a contraption that helps patients carry their weight as they work on regaining motion in their extremities.
Eventually, Dydak would recover in time to attend the beef-and-beer benefit in his honor on Sept. 15. Almost 450 people showed up to the event at Polonia Hall.
“To see all them people extremely overwhelmed me,” Dydak said. “It was extremely emotional.”
Dydak wasn’t the only one overwhelmed.
“It was a good indication of how many people genuinely care about him,” said Moffitt. “We had over 122 raffle prizes that we didn’t have to beg or borrow or steal for. I mean, people just donated from the goodness of their heart because they were repaying for a favor that [Gary] had done for them, you know what I mean? Because like I said, this guy takes care of everybody. He’s always the first one here for everybody else.”
Nowadays, Dydak is almost back to normal. As of two weeks ago, he’s back to working at his real estate office on Orthodox Street, albeit only part-time. He has only one more surgery to go through in October, a colostomy reversal, which will reconnect his large intestine and remove his colostomy bag.
The easiest way to tell he’s back to normal is to talk football with him. Thanks to Carson Wentz, he still thinks there’s a legitimate chance he’ll get to see the Eagles win the Super Bowl sooner rather than later.
“Look how he ran the clock last week,” Dydak said, referring to the Eagles’ 20–16 win over the Colts (the interview took place before the team’s 26–23 loss to Tennessee). “You have to hand it to him. They could have lost but he ran that clock down and he knew exactly what and that’s a smart player.”
In July, the Dydak family hosted a Super Bowl party, where Dydak and his friends and family re-watched the Super Bowl and parade down Broad Street and the Ben Franklin Parkway.
“Everybody can tell you how great of a game it was, but it’s not until you see it,” he said about the Eagles’ championship win. “And that was a great game.”
The Eagles’ underdog playoff run was impressive, sure. But the people of Bridesburg know who the real underdog is.