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Joe Frank Medical & Recovery Fund – Update 60

Still reeling. Yesterday morning, my phone rang jarring me awake from a sleepless night. It was the surgeon. After reviewing information he’d received late Thursday, he expressed discomfort proceeding with the surgery himself. He suggested that a surgeon who specializes in colorectal surgeries take over. He had thorough notes compiled through the hospital’s online system regarding Joe’s case. He would also speak to the new surgeon. He provided us with three names and, at Joe’s insistence, rated them: A+, A and B. I called Dr. A+ whose office gave us an appointment in the afternoon.

We are fortunate to have a dear friend who also happens to be a doctor (Dr. M) On hearing this latest news, she reworked her busy schedule and offered to come with us to the appointment. I cannot express how much her consistent presence in these repeated crises means to both Joe and me. She’s been there for us to speak to doctors on so many occasions – at appointments, in the hospital, and by telephone whenever needed. With her calm demeanor, she converses with doctors in their Latin-rooted medical-speak and flawlessly conveys the information to us in easily understandable terms.

We arrived at Dr A+’s office, were ushered into a room and, after the precursory questions, a thickly-accented nurse said: “The doctor will be with you soon. Have your questions ready.”

Read More at gf.me/u/cwp29x

With love…

Joe Frank Medical & Recovery Fund – Update 59

It has been a roller coaster ride for a full two months, with the bulk of the whiplash turns, steep climbs, and sudden dives having taken place over the last two weeks. What we initially thought would be a colostomy similar to the one Joe had in 2014, turned out to be a more serious surgery, with added risk. Particularly given Joe’s age and prior medical procedures. Plus, his healing capabilities are more compromised due partially to the extended use of steroids he’s taken for a decade to protect his kidney transplant.

However, Joe has an excellent team of caring doctors, nurse practitioners and specialists who have conducted a slew of tests and all agree this surgery is the best option. The surgeon has a reputation for being “legendary” in his field (according to one nurse practitioner) and all agree he’s very careful, calm, and thorough.

We’ve had three appointments with the surgeon…

Read More at gf.me/u/cvq4g2

With love…

Joe Frank Update: 8/28/2017

We saw the surgeon again and learned that the surgery will be broader in scope than we realized. It is tentatively set for September 19th.

Joe and I are continuing to keep a close eye on his diet to ensure he gets at least 90 grams of protein a day, while monitoring sodium intake. I found a great app (Cronometer) that allows me to scan barcodes of packaged foods. It then calculates everything automatically. It also has a huge database of everything else. So, I plug in the food, and the app enters vitamins, minerals, carbs, lipids and proteins for each item. Throughout the day, we know exactly where he is in terms of reaching his targets.

Read More at https://gf.me/u/cfwz2c

With love…

Joe Frank Update: 8/15/2017

A lot has happened / continues to happen since the last update. At that point, we fully expected Joe to have already undergone surgery by now. After all, doctors said that it should be set as soon as possible. And, although the surgery itself would not be without risk – as all surgeries are – it would be minimally invasive with a short hospital stay. This is what we were expecting to hear when we arrived to meet the surgeon on July 31st.

In the exam room, after reviewing comprehensive blood tests, the surgeon determined that it was imperative Joe receive iron infusions since his iron count was critically low. In addition, Joe needed to increase his protein intake to 90 grams a day. We were also advised to see Joe’s heart specialist, his primary doctor, and check in with his oncologist for the infusions. Bottom line: Joe was not strong enough for surgery. No date was set.

There was a lot to take in, that day in the surgeon’s office. In addition to describing at length the procedure itself, the doctor stressed that complications leading to infection was at 6%. It was a small chance. But still a chance. Plus, the amount of colon to be removed will be determined *during* the operation. The surgeon will need to see how much blood flow is available for the remaining colon.

https://www.gofundme.com/joefrank?u=15505984

With love…

Joe Frank Update

On speakerphone:
Dr. H: “… My gut tells me this is just another speedbump…”

Joe: “…or a huge pothole…..”

Off the phone to me:
Joe: “Well, of course, she said that. What is she going to say? ‘My gut tells me this is — bad. R e a l l y bad.’??!”

Dr. H’s instinct that day was correct, I’m relieved to report.

But, honestly, it didn’t mitigate the damage already inflicted by the stress of knowing he *may* have cancer — and if he did, what was the prognosis? When she called that day, it was only to confirm the biopsy results showed cancer. But she was counting on her gut that the cancer had not spread.

After that call, the thought: “How much can a person endure?” was an unspoken, but heavy presence in our household. After all, this is the fifth time in Joe’s life that he’s been told he has cancer. (One was a false alarm.) Doctors have said to him more than once: “Settle your affairs; you’ve had a good life.” The first time was more than 50 years ago.

Here’s what’s happened over the last two weeks:

https://www.gofundme.com/joefrank?u=15260300

With love…

Until they are gone

And Then - JoeFrank.comWe just came across these bumper stickers sent to us by a Joe Frank supporter awhile ago. We’re putting one in each CD (physical) order until they are gone. (I’d love to give credit to the person who made these, unfortunately, we do not have that information!!)

Joe Frank Recovery Update

Greetings,

Joe’s recovery review:
As most of you know, Joe has spent the past year in and out of the hospital. There are numerous reasons – some serious, some minor, but most occurring simultaneously.

Unexpectedly, in mid-December 2015, Joe was admitted to the hospital. He exhibited symptoms of pancreatic cancer. (Thankfully, we found out a week later, that it was a misdiagnosis.) He had a procedure which went awry and was admitted to the hospital again on New Year’s eve. Among other alarming diagnoses in the ER, cardiologists determined that he’d had a heart attack. He was admitted to the ICU. We learned two weeks later that he did not have a heart attack; however, due to infection, his heart was “working overtime.” An angiogram revealed there was little damage to the heart.

In mid-January, Joe recovered enough to be released from the hospital. He received nutrition through an IV for six more weeks and began with pureed foods in February. This was the first food he’d tasted since early December. His recovery proved to be an extended uphill climb. For the better part of 2016, Joe and his wife have been focused on his health and recovery.

Go Fund Me rewards:
We cannot thank you enough for your continued generosity. Joe would never have gotten the attention he needed without your care and support.

If our emails have gone to your spam folder and you would like a reward, please email joefrankfund@gmail.com and we’ll get it done.

Best,
The Joe Frank Team

7/30/2016 Newsletter

Greetings,

Joe’s recovery:
It is hard to believe that the year is half over and throughout it, Joe has faced ongoing and new health challenges. We are immensely grateful for the generosity of people who have donated to the Go Fund Me campaign ensuring medical bills will be covered. To keep in touch with details on Joe’s recovery, subscribe to the Go Fund Me updates.

In spite of obstacles, Joe continues to work on his next show for KCRW’s Unfictional. He is also resuming work on another project – we’ll keep you posted.

Go Fund Me rewards:
We have sent out emails to all donors to date requesting your choice of CD, download, and membership. Despite our best efforts many of those emails went to spam folders. Please follow up with an email if you have not heard from us: joefrankfund[at]gmail.com, or michal[at]joefrank.com

Meantime:
Quite randomly, we came across this movie trailer Joe did in 2006 for the Russian movie “Night Watch (Nochnoi dozor)”
(The movie is available to watch on Amazon – free for Prime members)

An update on missing masters: Several show masters have been missing for years. We now have some high quality audio files used to create CDs, MP3s and we’ve added to the Membership streams. Even though the bitrate is not as high as the rest of the catalog, it should not interfere with your listening pleasure.

Welcome WAZU, Peoria, Illinois
Tune in Sundays at 10:00 pm

Now available:
Highway’s West
Home – The original full hour featuring Grace Zabriskie
No Show – The original 90-minute live version

Coming soon:
Night – Original Parts 1 and 2 (two hours)
Iceland – Original parts 1, 2 and 3 (three hours).

Best,

The Joe Frank Team

1/30/2016

As many of you know by now, my husband, Joe Frank, became ill in mid-December. Many have asked “What exactly is wrong? What illness does he have?” As this time, it’s impossible to answer that question conclusively.

Throughout his life Joe has suffered from multiple health problems, including kidney failure, cancer (testicular, bladder and colon, with attendant major surgeries and chemo and radiation), and intestinal blockages and serial infections that required hospitalizations. During Joe’s latest hospitalization  a heart problem was discovered and we’ve been told that Joe might have experienced a heart attack.

Joe’s health has been under siege for as long as I’ve known him. And because his immune system is suppressed due to the anti-rejection medications he takes for his kidney transplant, Joe is even more vulnerable to illness.

What on Monday, December 14, appeared to be a slight yellow cast to his skin became by Friday, a disturbing deep mustard color.

After several blood and other tests administered throughout the week, on Friday December 18, Joe was admitted to the hospital. We were told that it was the only way to accelerate additional tests required in order to identify the cause of the jaundice.

After several days, the doctors disclosed their concern: pancreatic cancer. A tumor could be closing off at least one liver bile duct, which caused the jaundice. To definitively determine whether a pancreatic tumor was present required placing a camera scope down into the duodenum to examine the pancreas. During the procedure, however, the scope flipped and tore the duodenum. The doctor quickly aborted the procedure and clamped the tear.

Over the next eight days, Joe was not allowed to take anything by mouth in order to allow the tear to heal and the swelling to subside. After a few more days, soft foods were introduced. Joe was discharged from the hospital and asked to return on December 29th for an outpatient procedure to take a final look at the pancreas and surrounding area and hopefully rule out pancreatic cancer. Doctors provided no explanation for the bile duct blockage other than a tumor. (We were told there could be a tumor adjacent to the liver.)

Two hours after the procedure, I was called into the recovery room. From my prior experience with Joe’s procedures and surgeries, when I was called into the recovery room, I would rejoin Joe as he was waking up. Then the doctor would come in and talk to both of us about what the results were.

This time, the nurse guided me to an empty room where I was told the doctors would see me shortly. After 15 very long minutes, the doctors came in and were jubilant. No cancer – no tumors found anywhere! In fact, the cause of the bile duct obstruction was likely due to a stone that had lodged there – and had been present possibly for years. Once they opened the duct, sludge poured out. That, they determined, had been the cause of the jaundice.

The doctors said they’d never seen anything like it and added, “Happy New Year!”

Joe spent that evening in the hospital to ensure his blood and other tests remained normal, and he returned home the following day, December 30th.

That night, Joe was not feeling well but had only a slightly elevated temperature so we did not call the doctors. In the early morning hours of December 31st, however, Joe started to feel abnormally weak, and later that day began to exhibit alarming symptoms (vomiting and losing consciousness), which left no choice but to return to the ER. We arrived in the early evening of New Year’s Eve.

At the Emergency Room, Joe’s heart was racing, he had a fever, and a blockage that caused his stomach to retain the fluids he’d been drinking all day. He could not sit up without passing out. Nurses hooked him to IVs, his stomach was pumped and we heard several times that he’d had a “major heart attack,” or “major heart event.”

Hours later, with results of numerous tests in hand, the ER doctor declared to Joe: “You are very, very, very sick – and likely have sepsis.” Joe was admitted to the ICU at about 1:00 am, where he was closely monitored.

After several days of treatment and discussions of various types of surgery for a possible obstruction, and an angiogram to place a stent in the heart, the doctors made it clear that Joe’s recovery would take months and that he would remain on clear liquids for a minimum of a week after returning home. We would be able to introduce non-residue fibrous, overcooked and pureed foods (with liquids added) only as Joe was able to tolerate them. He returned home on January 15th, unable to walk, unable to eat and feeling extremely weak. He had not had a normal meal since December 17th.

I started the Go Fund Me campaign for Joe when I learned that he would be sent home on what is called TPN. (Total Parenteral Nutrition – that involves administering through a PICC line the nutrients he needs from a bag I prepare daily consisting of vitamins, minerals and fats. I hook Joe up to the bag and its contents are pumped into his catheter for 12 hours while he sleeps. This process will continue until Joe is completely well and able to eat normal foods.)

After a week of the clear liquids, we pureed some spinach and carrots and added them to a light vegetable broth. We were hoping that as he was fully able to tolerate these types of foods, we would be able to introduce soft foods – creamier soups, banana smoothies, jello, and even rice. The idea is to slowly and gradually move off of the TPN, while simultaneously return to having food orally. This process generally takes a month to six weeks. However, Joe is not tolerating even the slightest pureed food.

Our present concern is a blockage in the bowel. The GI doctor will talk with us Monday, February 1st. If there is no improvement, Joe will need another examination and procedure to possibly expand the area where the blockage appears. The worst case scenario is that Joe will require surgery to address what may be a permanent obstruction in his duodenum. (A feeding tube has even been discussed as a future possibility.)

Regarding his heart: The angiogram showed no blockage, so a stent was not required. The cardiologist and other doctors involved in Joe’s case theorized that the tachycardia and other indicators of heart attack may have been due to the stress placed on the heart because of the infections and the blockage he had on New Year’s Eve. However, they put him on two new medications for his heart and will monitor him closely over the next six months.

Physically, Joe is just starting to walk once or twice a day in our apartment with a walker. A physical therapist will start coming twice a week to help Joe with exercises to regain his strength. We’ve bought a portable wheelchair (to fit into the car for doctors’ appointments which start next week) and ordered a new full-sized wheelchair for around the house.

Please consider helping Joe with his medical bills and recovery costs at

www.gofundme.com/joefrank

We are facing expensive medications, equipment, supplies and home healthcare not covered by Medicare, the costs of which are beginning to mount up. (You can find more details about the expenses in the “Description” section of the Go Fund Me page.)

Thank you,

Michal Story
Joe’s wife

Note:
We have emailed people who contributed to the campaign between January 12 through January 27th regarding their rewards – please check your spam folder if you have not received our email, or contact us.

We email reward information on a weekly basis. Those who have contributed from the Jan 28th through Feb 4th should receive an email on Feb 5th.
Thank you.