“Patrick, you are officially my sickest patient”

Update posted by Patrick Franc On Sep 01, 2019

It's my birthday today, and I've turned 49 years old - wow. There were moments this year where I honestly thought I wouldn't see this birthday. Thankfully, those dark and dire thoughts have passed. It's been just over two months since I posted my last update, "Never Surrender," following a Corey Hart concert we saw at the Bell Centre. A lot has happened in those two months, which is why it's taken this long for me to write another update! I went back to that post and re-read it to see where I left off. Believe it or not, I was hospitalized a 2nd time for an IBS crisis on July 2nd, about two weeks after the first hospitalization! It was by far the most horrible experience of my life. I was in a state of absolute despair and struggling with physical discomfort like nothing I've ever experienced before. My wife was driving me to the hospital, and I was moaning and groaning the whole way there. I was counting the seconds and wishing I could be teleported into the E.R. because the drive was taking too long. We ended up missing our exit from the Décarie expressway, which delayed our arrival by an extra half hour! I was going insane, and my poor wife was doing her best to keep it together and get us there safely - which she did, God bless her. Unfortunately, the triage nurse was really unpleasant. Despite me pleading with them that I needed a bed, telling them that I could not sit for an extended period of time due to my prosthetic hips, they had me sit in a wheelchair for over an hour waiting to be seen by the doctor. Anyhow, I was eventually seen and treated, and then sent home later that night - like the last time.

IBS has ruined my life. Literally. I have become a prisoner to this condition. There are days where I can't leave the house because of it. My entire life revolves around chronic abdominal pain, bloating, constipation or diarrhea, and daily enemas. It's a nightmare. I can honestly say that living with IBS is far worse than living with Psoriatic Arthritis and Ankylosing Spondylitis. With what I've been through, i.e., the surgeries and comorbidities that have come along with those diseases, I think that says a lot about how bad IBS can be. The sad news is that gastroenterologists don't know what to do. I've seen several over the past two months.

None of them had answers or suggestions for treatments. The G.I. who initially diagnosed me two years ago had nothing much to offer either except to say "Diet and exercise" but with no specific dietary recommendations - what good is that? I'm doing my research online, and I'm part of a few SIBO/IBS Facebook groups where I can learn tips and trick from others who are in the same boat. One of the possibilities that I am seriously researching is a Fecal Microbiota Transplant. We have investigated Fecal Matter Transplants as a treatment for IBS. Although they are ONLY treating C.Difficile in Quebec, my doctors agreed that it was certainly something I should seriously consider. My wife and I have reached out to doctors across Canada who do this type of treatment, but so far, we have not had any responses. One of my doctors is working on getting back to me regarding some clinical trials taking place in Québec City and British Columbia. My endocrinologist and I are also working on a lead we have in Edmonton to be seen by Dr. Dina Kao, who specializes in FMT.

There is also the DIY at home option. People all over the world have been doing it and curing themselves of various intestinal disorders and other conditions. Check out this informative article: https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/news/201...

My challenge is finding and gaining access to a donor sample that I can use. But I'm working on it. This company (https://www.openbiome.org) in the U.S. provides doctors who treat patients with FMT with the safest donor samples. But you need a doctor to order it. I'm going to see if my doctor can do it for me!

Below is a link to an interesting article on other conditions that are being treated with FMT.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/1901...

All I can say is: what a saga 2019 has been so far. Without question, it has been the most difficult, challenging, and emotionally draining year of my life. That says a lot given all the challenges I've already had to face in my 49 years which have all taken their toll, but none quite like the challenges I faced this year.

Having said all that, it's my birthday today, so I want to move on and write with a positive tone. I'm going to share some beautiful moments I've had as well as some recent good news with all of you!

• KRATOM - I FOUND SOMETHING THAT WORKS

My brother in law, David, who had a very similar neck fusion surgery to mine a year ago discovered something for managing pain that he passed on to me. It has changed my life. It's called "Kratom." It's similar to cannabis in that it is extracted from a plant (the botanical name is Mitragyna speciosa). It comes in three strains - one for general well being (GREEN), one for pain (RED), and one for stimulation and an energy boost (WHITE). This stuff really works!! And it works FAST. Within 15 minutes, I start to feel better - all my pain goes away.

There is a lot of controversy over it at the moment, but I can tell you that millions of people are benefiting from it. It's not been legalized for human consumption yet by the FDA, but like cannabis, people have been using it regardless of whether for not it's legal. My brother in law was able to go off his opioids overnight, and so was I! I've been off opioids now for three weeks - no more Nucynta or BelBuca. For me, it's proven to be much more effective than cannabis for controlling pain and anxiety. If you are interested, I buy my Kratom here: http://www.madamkratom.ca

• NEW THYROID MEDICATION

After seeing my doctor about five weeks ago, I switched to another form of Thyroid medication that my cousin Lisa was taking and recommended I try. It comes from desiccated pig or cow thyroids, and it was an overnight game-changer for me. I suddenly found myself having more energy and less chronic fatigue. I no longer start sweating profusely for no reason. I'm able to work physically and not break out in a sweat and have to stop and catch my breath every 5 minutes. It's really been incredible. Despite still coping with many other symptoms from other conditions such as Sjögren's syndrome, this has made such a difference in my quality of life. My wife still can't believe the change she has seen in me.

• THE FODMAP DIET

I recently adopted the FODMAP diet, and it has made a difference in my IBS. Symptoms have been much less severe. I have two reminder sheets on my refrigerator door. One that reads HIGH FODMAP FOODS and one that reads LOW FODMAP FOODS. So far, it's been helping!

• SOCIALIZING AGAIN

These latest improvements in my health have allowed me to do more and get out of the house to see people and socialize, something that had become virtually impossible. I was able to attend an annual family gathering on my wife's side of the family this past week, one that I missed last year because of my IBS). It was such a nice feeling to be around people, enjoying good company and good food in a lovely and cozy back porch setting. When you've been as sick as I have, it's the simplest pleasures that become so incredibly special. A couple of weeks ago, I was also able to go for coffee and spend an evening with our favorite neighbours Ray and Sherill. Again, it was just a simple basic pleasure that meant so much to me.

• THE BEST HAIR CUT I'VE EVER HAD

About four weeks ago, my son came over for a visit. He and I had previously talked about him using a clipper to shave the sides and back of my head to give me a more updated "2019" look, and we finally got around to doing it! My son cut my hair and did a fantastic job! My son has never cut anyone's hair before. This was a first for him. He morphed into a hairdresser right there on the spot! He was so attentive and meticulous; it was something to see. I can honestly say that it's the best haircut I've ever had! And, for the first time in my life, in keeping with the "style," I shaved off my Elvis sideburns! Sherrie took pics and recorded some video. Below are the before and after pics!

• GODPARENTS TO A MONARCH BUTTERFLY

On August 11th, we started watching over a caterpillar that turned into a chrysalis right before our eyes! Every day, we would come out to see how it was evolving. It took 16 days for it to emerge. It emerged last Tuesday, August 27th, which was Sherrie's grandmother's birthday. Her grandmother passed away many years ago, of course, but she still observes her birthday. The birth of the butterfly was a lovely way to commemorate it! Sherrie had named her "Mona" before she emerged, and it turned out to be a female Monarch!

I had set up a tripod and was lucky to capture the emerging process with time-lapse photography on my iPhone. They usually emerge midmorning, which is precisely when this one appeared, somewhere between 9 and 11 am. What probably took about one to two hours to record is condensed into a 30-second clip. It's amazing! As we ate our breakfasts out on the front porch, we watched as the Monarch took it's time to let its wings dry completely. It was preparing itself for its first-ever flight. I had to leave for an appointment, but Sherrie was able to stay with it until it finally flew away. It will be heading down to Mexico shortly to escape the cold weather. The monarch migration usually starts in about October of each year but can start earlier if the weather turns cold sooner than that. Monarch butterflies are the only insect that migrate to a warmer climate that is 2,500 miles away each year.

I’m seeing this caterpillar turning into a butterfly as a parallel to my current transformation. This past year, I’ve had no choice but to accept the changes that have occurred to my body over time and accept that I have, in a sense, become partially disabled and dependent. I’m using the nickname “Patrick 2.0” to represent that evolution.

Below are the photos showing the evolution of the chrysalis and a link to time-lapse photography video!



• GRATITUDE

I have several friends who are also suffering from various chronic health issues as well as some who are also fighting cancer. They are facing some serious health problems, even life-threatening in one case. I think of them every day, and it helps me to cope. It doesn't change my situation, but it helps me keep things in perspective, which is what gets me out of bed every day. You know who you are. Thank you for inspiring me to keep on going.

Patrick 2.0 - Your Friendly Neighbourhood Bionic Man

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Update posted by Patrick Franc On Jun 28, 2019

Hi everyone,

We had tickets to see Corey Hart on June 15th at the Bell Centre. Great seats on the floor about midway back from the stage. Little did I know, when I purchased the tickets back in November of 2018, that I would end up being be hospitalized two days before the concert. Yes, an IBS crisis again - one of the worst ones I’ve had.

Sherrie drove me to the Jewish General Hospital emergency ward after being in a full-blown IBS crisis for three days. I was in terrible shape, suffering from extreme nausea and gastric distress. I hardly ate or drank for three days because of nausea, and as a result, I became so weak I could barely walk. I was breaking down emotionally several times a day from how much distress I was under. It was dreadful.

They did all their testing (C.T. scan came back fine, but blood work showed that I was quite low on potassium, so they gave me three supplements to take each an hour apart). They treated me with Zofran, a very effective anti-nausea medication, as well as morphine for the pain. Both of those medications were beneficial and allowed me to settle down and rest peacefully - well as calmly as you can when laying down on a hard hospital gurney. I also met with two psychiatrists who were there to help me work through the dark thoughts that arise whenever these episodes happen. We also reviewed which medications I was taking to treat my depression and made some adjustments. I was told that I would stay overnight and meet a G.I. doctor the next day, but they discharged me at 12:30 am!!! Sherrie had already gone back home after spending the entire day with me at the hospital. So, I started to gather my belongings but could not find my pants, my shirt, or my hoodie! I assumed Sherrie had perhaps brought them back in one of her bags. So I walked out of there wearing nothing but a hospital gown that always somehow manages to stay open in the back, and a sweatshirt that had stayed behind. (Turns out my clothing had been tucked neatly underneath the gurney.) I walked down to the lobby and decided I would take an UBER home rather than call a regular cab. But this would be my first ever UBER ride, so I needed to download the App and create an account before I could send the request for a ride. It took about 15 minutes to get it all setup, and the driver showed up in just 5 minutes! The young fellow, a student at Concordia, was polite, courteous, and easy to chat with. I called Sherrie from the car to let her know I was coming home and she flipped out! She was outraged that they had discharged me after telling us that I would be staying the night in order to see the G.I. the next day. And she was right to be angry. I was just happy to be going home.

So while I was on my way home, Sherrie called the hospital and spoke to the discharging doctor for 20 minutes and got him to give us an appointment with a G.I. the following morning at 10 am! We did not get to bed until 2:30 am, so it was a short night before heading back into the city (It’s a 45-minute drive from St-Lazare). We checked in at 10 am and met with him around 11:30. Having heard my story as well as review all of my supporting documentation, he said, “There is nothing I can do for you. We haven’t found anything that we can treat specifically. The causes for IBS differ from one person to another, which makes it nearly impossible to treat. IBS ruins people’s lives.” I responded and said, “Yes, my life has been ruined.

I spent most of the day there doing more tests and ended up also seeing an infectious disease doctor who did not seem concerned with all of the bacteria, fungi, and parasites that have been found living inside my gut. However, he and the G.I. both asked that I submit stool samples, looking for other possible pathogens I suppose. The G.I also sent me for a food sensitivity allergy test, which I did just two days ago. They test more than just food, and it turns out I’m only allergic to dust mites, cats, and dogs - something I already knew.

It’s now Friday, the day before the concert and I’m still uncertain if I’ll be able to attend. I was also coping with a very painful knot in my back, adjacent to the fusion surgery. It had been plaguing me for two weeks and would not let up. It’s now Saturday, the day of the show, and thankfully, my IBS is relatively stable, I’m not in a crisis, and I feel well enough to attend, but the knot is still there. I must confess, it was so painful that I broke down again while getting ready to head into the city. I could not believe that after six months of holding on to those tickets, I would have to see a show that I was very much anticipating, with a knot in my back! Anyhow, we went to the show, met up with our friends Mylène and Nathalie Nociti, and had a great time. I wore my wayfarer style sunglasses most of the evening as a tribute to Corey’s biggest hit “Sunglasses at Night,” which he performed in the encore! And we all thoroughly enjoyed the opening act: Glass Tiger! Lead singer Alan Frew was mostly recovered from a stroke he suffered about two years ago, but was also up on stage after having broken his neck just two weeks prior! I was unable to find any details surrounding the accident, but you could see from his body language that he was favoring his head when walking and turning around. So he and I had something in common - we were both nursing our cervical interventions.

It’s now Thursday, June 27th, and since the concert, I’ve had two more crisis states come upon me, including one just two nights ago. It was another “off the charts” IBS evening for me - and my wife. These episodes are so acute that I am immediately thrown into a state of absolute and utter despair. Feeling hopeless and helpless, I breakdown and sob uncontrollably. The degree of discomfort is hard to describe without actually living it, but I can say that it is by far the worst I’ve ever felt in my life.

I’ve seen several G.I. doctors since this first started back in October of 2016. None of them have been able to help me. And this is what just about everyone who comments in the SIBO Facebook Groups has to say as well: “My G.I. could not help me.” So, I’ve decided to tackle the SIBO/IBS on my own by following a protocol that I found online. I did a lot of research before deciding on a particular person/approach/program. I chose the “SIBO Breakthrough Program” and started on St-Jean Baptiste day. It’s a customized Paleo diet supported by a variety of supplements that are to be taken at various times of the day, with or without meals, etc. I’ll keep you all posted as the days go by to let you know if I see results.

Oh Lord, please, please, let me see results!

There are days where I just want to give up and die. The only thing that keeps me going is music. So in the meantime, I’ve started listening to “Never Surrender” every day to help pull me up when I’m down.

Patrick 2.0 - Your Friendly Neighbourhood Bionic Man

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Update posted by Patrick Franc On Jun 03, 2019

Hi everyone,

This will be a short and sweet update! I skipped posting last week because I did not have anything new to report. It’s June 3rd today, a day that I always remember to celebrate. Why? When I had my first hip replaced, back in 1997, after my two-week stay in the hospital, I was strapped into a wheelchair, put on a medical transport bus, and taken to a rehabilitation hospital. It was a beautiful sunny summer day, and I was the only one on the bus. The bus driver had the radio on, and just as we as we were departing, Corey Hart’s song “The 3rd of June ” came on the air. It was the middle of July mind you, but the song’s mellow, summery mood comforted me and gave me hope. Every year since then, I’ve played the song on June 3rd. When my wife wakes up, I’ll do as I do every year, and surprise her by playing the song and we’ll end up slow dancing to it in our living room. (Slow dancing is all I can manage now!)

I did get the report back from the X-Rays I had done of my ribs following the incident that took place a couple of weeks ago. I have a fracture of my left 4th rib with mild displacement. Thankfully, I’m not in any pain. There is some mild discomfort only when pressing on it.

In February of 2018, I slipped on some black ice in my driveway and ended up with a “subacute “ fracture of the 12th and 9th ribs. Those hurt for a long time! They are still sensitive to the touch.

On another note, in keeping with me reinventing myself, I decided to have some fun and have my hair dyed. I was looking for a light, sandy brown colour and even sent photos to my hairdresser a week before my appointment. However, she messed up, and I ended up with muddy “suicide blonde” hair with a tinge of ginger! Although my normal hair colour appears to be dark brown, I also have red highlights in my hair. Those of you who know my sister know that she is a real redhead! So it’s in our genes. Anyhow, the hairdresser made three attempts at rescuing it, but to no avail - my hair would no longer respond. I was supposed to return one week later to have her fix it, but during that time, it grew on me, so I decided to keep it!

Wondering why I always have sunglasses on? It’s to hide the deep dark circles under my eyes that make me look tired and sick – because I am tired and sick! Although, you'd never know it by looking at these photos would you? That's called living with an invisible disease.

Thanks for reading.

Patrick 2.0 - Your Friendly Neighbourhood Bionic Man

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Update posted by Patrick Franc On May 21, 2019

THE GOOD
This past Friday marked seven weeks post-op and one week free from wearing my neck collar. I was surprised to see how easily the transition went from collar to no collar. I was expecting to have more pain or difficulty holding up my head, but quite to the contrary, I found myself experiencing very little pain or discomfort. My neck feels solid now; it's less rickety with no more of the "crunching" that I used to feel and hear when I moved my head from side to side or up and down. As far as the range of motion, I had been told I would lose about 6º to the left and the right; however, I really can't say that I feel that. And to his credit, the doctor did say that it would be imperceptible. It almost feels like I can turn more than before if you can believe that! I think it's because there is no more pain when I turn my head, although my range of motion is still limited compared to a healthy non-fused neck. I was also able to go for my first massage in almost two months and found that I could comfortably place my head in the padded horseshoe without any discomfort in my neck. Before my surgery, I was always uncomfortable laying on my stomach with my head in the horseshoe, and lifting my head up and out of it after a half hour or so was difficult and painful. I've also been able to get back to driving my car, which is great. So as far as my recovery from surgery, things are going quite well, and I'm really pleased with the progress and the results so far. I've also discovered that the hump I had where my cervical spine meets the thoracic is gone! And, my head is no longer being pitched forward – my posture has improved. That's the good news!

THE BAD
I'm still battling severe IBS symptoms which are at the worst they've ever been. Some of you may already know that I had become dependent on daily enemas for about eight months going back to June of 2018 because of my chronic IBS. After being hospitalized in late January 2019, I was able to kick the habit and had been enema free for about three months, something I was quite proud of. Bowel movements continued to be a challenge, but I was managing to get by. However, recently, I have found myself in a state of crisis and have had to go back to daily enemas. It's disappointing, depressing, and obviously, time-consuming. I had quite enjoyed the extra time that I had when I was enema free, although I was still – and still am – more or less chained to my home to be close to a bathroom. Severe IBS ruins people's lives. I can't tell you how many posts I've read on IBS Facebook groups where people share their very personal "living nightmare" experiences, something I can attest to. Like others on Facebook, I have been driven to suicidal thoughts due to the symptoms of IBS – that's how bad it can get. When it's at its worst, you really do wish you were dead. A new survey found that one in 10 IBS-D sufferers have suicidal thoughts. I'm one of those 10.

AND THE UGLY
I have had several severe emotional breakdowns recently, including one last week that took me over the edge. I was riddled with all sorts of various chronic symptoms such as: joint and muscle pain, abdominal discomfort, extreme bloating, nausea, manifestations of Sjôgren's Syndrome (itchy watery eyes and dry mouth), cramping in my legs and feet, swelling in my legs and feet, hip pain, symptoms of Eosinophilic bronchitis and Eustachian dysfunction (blocked ears) etc. I finally lost it. I was lying face down on the bathroom floor sobbing – my wife Sherrie by my side consoling me as best she could – when I suddenly got up filled with anger, frustration, bitterness, and an overwhelming urge to smash anything in sight. I slammed open one door with my hands, and then ran my shoulder into another door like a hockey player does when checking a player into the boards, essentially breaking down the door. I ended up destroying one of the frames and the latching plate. Imagine? Me, with all of my physical limitations and frailties, ramming my shoulder into a door with no regard for the consequences. I injured my ribs and have been nursing them daily since then, but thankfully, my neck is fine. That's how crazy I got. I went from mild-mannered Bruce Banner to The Incredible Hulk in a matter of seconds. Then I collapsed on my bed and continued sobbing uncontrollably. I had reached my limit. My mind had been warped to the point of reaching a Momentary Lapse of Reason. As a pacifist, I'm against all forms of violence, so I'm not proud of this. But there is only so much a person can take all at once before they go stark raving mad. It just goes to show how much it can affect a person's mental health. I wasn't sure if I should share this episode, but I realized that if I didn't, I would be doing a disservice to anyone following my story. I am committed to sharing the truth as it evolves, no matter how ugly it may get at times.

Thanks for reading.

Patrick 2.0 - Your Friendly Neighbourhood Bionic Man/Incredible Hulk

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Update posted by Patrick Franc On May 10, 2019

Well, folks, I made it! I'm at six weeks post-op today, and that means one thing - I'M FREED FROM WEARING THE NECK COLLAR!! WooHoo! The funny thing is, I'm sitting at my desk writing this, and I'm still wearing it! It's become a sort of "love by comfort" thing for me at this point. It provides comfortable support for my head and neck when I'm at the computer. (Okay, I just took it off! I have to get used to holding up the weight of my head again.)

I had my first therapeutic massage yesterday after two months of absence (I go every two weeks). I was able to lay face down on my stomach with my head in the horseshoe-shaped padded cushion without any pain or discomfort. And when it came time to lift my head out and flip onto my back, for the first time in years, my neck did not "crunch," and I had no pain. It was a big deal for me to see that the surgery had corrected a problem that has been dogging me for so long. As far as the range of motion goes, I don't feel like I've lost any, which is also a big deal. My cervical spine feels like it's been solidified and made safe to use again if that makes any sense. I continue to have neuropathic symptoms in my arms, hands, and feet, but I'm told that they should hopefully, pass with time.

My IBS, which is a significant obstacle, and can be quite debilitating at times, continues to be my biggest challenge. I can honestly say, without a shadow of a doubt, that coping and living with IBS has been harder than living with Psoriatic Arthritis and Ankylosing Spondylitis. Hard to imagine eh? Before my IBS, I was able to live a reasonably normal life. I could manage my invisible diseases with medications and lifestyle - hence: "being invisible". But now, the IBS has ultimately jeopardized my quality of life. I am more or less housebound because I never know what to expect. I'm doing a lot of research at the moment, especially on dedicated IBS/SIBO Facebook groups to try to find what works for me. Diet is the most crucial consideration. However, it's tough to figure out what foods are trigger foods. Now that I'm "collar-free", I'm going to take an appointment with a lab in Ontario to have a food sensitivity test done which will undoubtedly be quite helpful.

I recently submitted swab samples of my GUT, NOSE, SKIN, GENITALS, and MOUTH to a private lab: www.ubiome.com. They found two elusive bacteria in my gut, one of which is called Rahnella and is pathogenic in humans. Not good. I'm currently waiting to hear back from my Infectious Disease doctor to see what can be done to eradicate it. From previous tests that were done last year, I also have other harmful bacteria, candida, and parasites in my gut. This is what makes managing the IBS/SIBO so tricky. Anyhow, with my surgery behind me, and a big chunk of my recovery out of the way, I can now dedicate more time to finding a solution to this terrible IBS condition. If you are someone you know suffers from IBS and has any tips, please reach out to me and share! The more information I can gather from people living with it, the better.

I thought I’d close this with a happy moment. My massage therapist had these cool looking plant holders in her bathroom. I had no idea what they were. She told me they were called "Groots," and that they were Marvel action heroes from the movie "Guardians of the Galaxy" which I've never seen! Anyhow, they just really looked so friendly and happy, I had to post the pic!

Thanks for reading!

Patrick 2.0 - Your Friendly Neighbourhood Bionic Man


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Update posted by Patrick Franc On May 03, 2019

I'm at five weeks post-op today! Just one more week to go before I am freed from wearing my neck collar. I've seen a significant improvement over the past two weeks. No more "sunburn" feeling on my neck, shoulder blades and trapezoids, less tension and stiffness, and more comfortable range of motion.

I've been able to take on some easier household chores like doing dishes. I also continue to walk on my treadmill, or outside if the weather permits, for at least a half hour a day, and up to an hour at times. Aside from my IBS, which is a significant obstacle and quite debilitating at times, my neck surgery recovery is going very well in my estimation.

My neuropathic symptoms in my arms and hands seem to be improving which is reassuring. And my scar is continuing to look better and better each day aside from some redness on either side which, from experience, can take several months to vanish completely. All in all, just good news to report at this time which is lovely!

Patrick 2.0 - Your Friendly Neighbourhood Bionic Man


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Update posted by Patrick Franc On Apr 25, 2019

I saw my neurosurgeon, Dr. Golan, at the J.G.H. this past Tuesday for my post-op follow up. I had some concerns about new neuropathic symptoms I developed shortly after coming home from the hospital. However, they have improved considerably in the past ten days thankfully. He was not too concerned and suggested that there is likely still ongoing inflammation around the vertebrae that were fused and also possibly some irritation perhaps caused by a small remnant of the herniated disc that remained. He feels that my symptoms should pass with time.

He looked at my incision and said that it had healed nicely - and I agree, it has. When I told him where it was that I felt the “burning” sensation in my neck, he commented by saying, “Yes, that’s where the muscles were cut”. Ouch! Up until yesterday, the pain was consistent every day. But it seems I’ve turned a corner. The past two days have been much better.

I asked him if he would kindly show me the images of the CT scan I had done shortly before leaving the hospital. I wanted to see my “new neck”! Well, here they are. It’s really rather incredible to see. I’ve got 2 rods and 10 screws holding my neck together now. Unbelievable.

Patrick 2.0

a.k.a. Your Friendly Neighbourhood Bionic Man


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Update posted by Patrick Franc On Apr 21, 2019

Something unbelievable happened to me yesterday morning. I was alone at home, and I decided that I would sit at the kitchen table to eat my breakfast rather than in the living room where I usually sit. I was going to sit in my usual spot, but I changed my mind and sat on the opposite side of the table so that I could see outside and admire our funky psychedelic cat poster.

I removed my neck collar, as I always do when I eat. I was sitting there, eating, while holding an ice pack to the back of my neck, when suddenly, the chair collapsed under me and I fell on my right side (thankfully) on to the tile floor - without my neck collar! I was in shock. I could not believe that the chair had just suddenly crumpled beneath me! These are wooden chairs that I purchased with a kitchen table at IKEA seventeen years ago when I first moved into my apartment shortly after becoming a bachelor. Since developing Cushing’s Syndrome 2 years ago, which causes the body to store excess fat, I’ve gone from my average weight of 155lb to 195lb. But I never thought a chair would collapse beneath me!


Thankfully, I was not seriously hurt. Other than some mild scraping on the inside of my legs, a twinge in my right knee, and some soreness around my hip and shoulder that bore the brunt of the fall, I’m fine. My neck did get a jolt though, and I did feel some discomfort in my spine after falling.

So what is the take away from this experience I asked myself? Well, two things: 1) I could have been injured or done damage to my new fusion, but I walked away unscathed. And 2) I’m so glad it didn’t happen to mother-in-law, who is coming here on Monday for Easter despite being almost housebound now due to health complications. Who knows what could have happened? A broken arm, tailbone, wrist, or hip?!

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, here is the latest update on my recovery.

Friday, April 19th, marked precisely three weeks post-op. I’ve got another three weeks to go before being set free from the collar! My wife drew a numberless artsy calendar on our chalkboard for me to keep track of the days and mark them off as I go along.


Last week was tough; I found myself more than once breaking down emotionally because I was so overwhelmed with multiple symptoms from the various illnesses that I have. I do not just have to deal with the recovery from surgery, which in and of itself is quite difficult, but also dealing with chronic IBS, hip pain, Sjögren’s syndrome (dry eyes and mouth), neuropathy, joint pain, etc. Having said that, the last 4 days have been much better. I’m having less and less pain it seems in and around the area of the surgery, and my neuropathic symptoms have improved as well. Although, I continue to have an intermittent burning sensation in my neck and shoulder blades and on-and-off weakness and tingling in both arms and hands. Following an email I’d sent out the week before to my doctor sharing my concerns about the symptoms I was having, the pre-op nurse called me last week to see how I was doing. I had an appointment on the 30th, but, based on our conversation and the concerns I have, she moved me ahead to the 23rd. So I’ll be posting another update next week after I’ve seen my surgeon!

I want to close this update with a positive tidbit. Last Thursday, I was able to attend “Alegria,” the Cirque du Soleil Show in the Old Port that has been resurrected due to its popularity. I had seen the original version about 20 years ago and remembered how fantastic it was. My wife and I were joined by another couple and a close friend of Sherrie’s, and we all were mesmerized by the show. I’m so grateful that I had a “good day” that day which allowed me to attend and enjoy the majesty and wonder of this magnificent show. I’ll be dedicating my next chapter to it on my BLOG at www.beinginvisible.ca.

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Great perspective on the chair breaking incident! Love the numberless calendar. I have to build that into my life somehow!

Monique Franc

Update posted by Apr 21

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Update posted by Patrick Franc On Apr 14, 2019

Here's a quick Sunday morning update. This past Friday marked two weeks to the day post-op. The CLSC nurse came by to remove my staples, and it went smoothly with minimal discomfort. The incision has healed beautifully, and I think that it will hardly show once it has completely mended. Kudos to my surgeon for closing me up so nicely.

I was also given the green light by my doctor to use my therapeutic hot tub. I've been in twice now, and it has helped relieve the tension that had accumulated in my upper back, i.e., neck, shoulder blades, and trapezoids. I still have "burning" pain that comes and goes depending on the position of my neck while wearing the collar. I use Xylocaine, a topical medication used to numb tissue, which helps reduce the burning sensation considerably.

In addition to managing and coping with the recovery of my neck surgery, I've had several challenging days this past week as I struggle to deal with other compounding health issues like severe IBS, Sjögren's Syndrome, Eosinophilic bronchitis, and Eustachian Tube Dysfunction.

Yesterday was dreadful. I was unwell all day. But today is a good day, which is why I'm at my desk this morning working on an update. I'm also going to be graced by a visit this afternoon from two band members, Bryn and Pat, that I used to perform with and whom I've not seen in a few years. The past five years have beaten me up. I'm not the same guy they once knew; I've been changed physically and mentally by chronic debilitating diseases that have wholly robbed me of the life I once had. I'm in the process of reinventing myself and working at accepting what has happened to me. So they are going to see Patrick 2.0 for the first time today!

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Update posted by Patrick Franc On Apr 04, 2019

I had my Posterior Cervical Laminectomy & Fusion surgery done last Friday, March 29th at the Jewish General Hospital. According to my doctor, Dr. Jeff Golan, and his colleague, Dr. Couturier, who both saw my CT Scan results, and based on my symptoms post-op, the surgery was a success. That is such a relief! I now have 10 screws in my neck holding everything together. The post-op recovery was brutal. I awoke in the middle of the night in excruciating pain and quaking with shivers. I was in Dilaudid withdrawal; the pain was on par with a kidney stone attack I had several years ago that I have personally rated as the most painful experience of my life. In a state of total panic, I called the nurses to come and see me. I was told to press on my clicker to give me a dose of Dilaudid via IV, so I did that. The problem was that I had to click it every 7 minutes to get a dose. How can you sleep if you are supposed to press on a button every 7 minutes?! I explained that I needed something that would have a slow release long-acting effect, but I was told that the doctor would need to prescribe it! I also called my wife and asked her to come and be there for me to make sure that my needs were met. She got up at 2:30 AM and drove from St-Lazare to be there with me. It was such a relief knowing she was there. The next day I started receiving the slow release long acting dose which really helped. I was also prescribed Flexeril, a muscle relaxant which also helped a lot. Thanks to those additional meds, the following nights were much better, sleeping right through till the morning. I came home 5 days after the surgery and have been doing reasonably well. Today, the nurse from the CLSC came by to change my bandage. She will be back on April 12th to remove the dressing and the staples.

My wife Sherrie has been incredible. She slept at the hospital 3 nights in a row on a couch in a lounge area just down the hall from me! I was quite compromised; eating was almost impossible due to the pain I had when I was sitting - a searing burning sensation down my neck and trapezoids that was unbearable. So I had to lay back on my bed and be spoon fed by my wife. I’ve never been spoon fed before, but I can tell you, it’s quite humbling. She made several trips to coffee shops and restaurants to bring me some “good” food and some treats. I’m so grateful to have had her there to take care of my needs. And I'm so thankful to all of you who have contributed to my crowd funding page.

Patrick 2.0

a.k.a. Your Friendly Neighbourhood Bionic Man

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Keep up the good work Patrick! I wish you a quick recovery.

Felix Shum

Update posted by Apr 05

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Thank you Kelly for your kind words and support! It really means a lot to me. Patrick 2.0 - Your Friendly Neighbourhood Bionic Man

Patrick Franc

Update posted by Apr 04

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Oh My Gosh Cousin, that is So Crazy! You are so Incredibly Brave to Survive so Much! Hugs and Get Well Wishes!

kelly hounsell

Update posted by Apr 04

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Anonymous

Backed with $500.00 On Feb 14, 2020

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I ‘m sorry it isn’ more, I read Elvis’s medical report, the Dr who wrote it believed he was suffering from autoimmune disease as well as many other things. God Bless! Oh try “Indica “ marijuana for sleep.

Tawny Goodman

Backed with $10.00 On Jan 19, 2020

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Anonymous

Backed On Dec 31, 2019 Amount Hidden

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Happy birthday Pat! Keep up the good work! :) Marla and Cliff

MARLA BENDEROFF

Backed with $75.00 On Sep 01, 2019

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Anonymous

Backed On Jun 14, 2019 Amount Hidden

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Only the best of luck to you both as you find you way through this all too significant challenge. Love you both Ray & Lorraine

Raymond & Lorraine Hounsell

Backed On May 01, 2019 Amount Hidden

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Pat, you are an inspiration! We wish you better days ahead and joyful moments that outweigh the pain on those tough days. Keep sharing the good and the bad stuff, so that we can share in your joy and perhaps be a shoulder to lean on in the hard times. So happy that your wife started this campaign. Keep reaching out and let family and friends help wherever and whenever they can - be it moral and/or financial support. I am sure any amount helps, so c'mon everybody, lend a hand and give what you can! In loving friendship, from Susan, Vic and Kyle

Susan Tierney

Backed with $150.00 On Apr 23, 2019

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I wish you all the best Pat! Please keep me posted. Take care.

Norm Zabala

Backed with $100.00 On Apr 21, 2019

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Anonymous

Backed with $50.00 On Apr 21, 2019

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Anonymous

Backed with $750.00 On Apr 21, 2019

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Patrick Franc

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