Column: Dan Patrick’s new game plan in fight against illness includes alternative medicines
Dan Patrick has engineered a new game plan for this week.
After he finishes his syndicated sports talk radio show in Connecticut on Thursday morning, he and his wife, Susan, will fly cross country to LAX. He will meet up with his daughter for a SoulCycle fitness workout. He may seek out sportscaster Jim Gray to see if he can cash in a standing invitation to play a round of golf at Riviera Country Club, where Gray is a member.
Saturday, it’s a drive to Ventura to meet for the first time with a renowned homeopathic doctor to ask about new ways to combat polymyalgia rheumatic, an autoimmune disease that Patrick has been dealing with the last seven years.
“If you told me a year ago I’d be looking forward to working out, going golfing, seeing some alternative medicine doctor … there’s no way,” Patrick said Sunday night from his home. “But this is how far I’ve progressed.”
The 62-year-old took a leap of faith to open up on his show last Thursday about his battle with PRM, the side effects of a prescription medication that led to many dark psychological moments, and how a new chemotherapy treatment has been effective but comes with headaches and memory loss that affected his ability to do his job. Had he not done that, this week’s journey likely wouldn’t have happened.
The son of the doctor that Patrick plans to see heard Patrick’s admission and began the visit process. “The Dan Patrick Show,” which airs 6-9 a.m. in Southern California on KLAC-AM (570) and streams on DirecTV’s Audience Network as well as the Bleacher Report’s BR Live, also was heard by comedian Nick Swardson, who recommended the same naturalist physician.
Sign up for our daily sports newsletter »
Comedian Will Ferrell reached out, just to tell Patrick his own father suffers from PMR, and offered support. A former producer Patrick worked with at ESPN said his wife had been bedridden with the condition for the last five years and asked for recommendations on how to attack it.
“That’s probably as naked as I’ve ever felt in my life, but it was the right thing to do,” Patrick said. “It was gut-wrenching. It was emotional. I had no idea what the reaction would be, and I really wasn’t thinking about that at the time. But it’s been very humbling.
“I’ve been slipping up. The more I thought about it, the more I decided I wanted to explain to listeners what was happening. If I’m making mistakes, I don’t want to be laughed at. I ended up sharing some very intimate details that I hadn’t shared with my own (four adult) children, because maybe I was afraid they would have talked me out of (going on the air with it). I had been trying to shield them from all this. I didn’t do a good job of that.”
Patrick said he did not provide much detail to his on-air team — executive producers Paul Pabst and Todd Fritz, technician Patrick “Seton” O’Connor and Sports Illustrated editor/writer Andrew “McLovin” Perloff — so they also were hearing for the first time about his bouts with depression and suicidal thoughts that came from extended use of the drug prednisone.
Patrick’s reliance on Pabst to remind him about things he had been talking about — things he might already have forgotten during a commercial break — were weighing on him.
“He knew I was having problems with my cognitive skills, and it was all those side effects,” Patrick said.
For the last seven months, Patrick was getting what was called “light chemo” IVs at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, which specializes in treatment of rheumatologic conditions. The hospital was referred by a doctor at the Stedman Clinic in Vail, Colo., a sports medicine facility he visited while on a trip to see one of his daughters.
“Since I have a family tree that has alcoholism, you have to be careful with self-medication,” Patrick said. “You don’t know how deep you are into something until you have someone remind you.
“I wouldn’t wish PMR on my worst enemy. I’ve had surgery on my knee (replacement), shoulder, hand and eye, but nothing compares to this. I don’t want to glorify having suicidal thoughts. I don’t want to be any sort of martyr. But you can get really, really low.”
Patrick, who says he has probably taken 30 blood tests over the last seven years because of a misdiagnosis of Lyme disease, credits his wife’s persistence on him thinking outside the box on treatment options.
“I’m just like anyone else, feeling lost and searching and hoping, and I finally got to the point where I have to start asking questions,” Patrick said. “Kind of funny how I’ve made a career out of asking questions, right? But for too long I choose to accept things and not question them. I’d be a fraud if I didn’t start questioning this whole thing now.
“I was just talking about this again with my wife. She said, ‘Maybe this is your legacy, talking about this, not just saying ‘en fuego’ on SportsCenter.’ I never thought of it that way until just now, but she might be right.”
Tune it in
Did NBC set some sort of live TV sports precedent when it busted in on the closet where stewards at Churchill Downs were holed up during a 20-minute inquiry at the conclusion of Saturday’s Kentucky Derby? The network gave viewers the actual array of camera shots they were using to eventually overturn the victory by calling an obstruction on Maximum Security.
One might naturally assume access to that high-level decision-making process would be a breach of maximum security.
By whatever means NBC decided it was important enough to tap into that feed, may it also be emboldened to do the same during an NFL officials’ review on “Sunday Night Football.”
Tune it out
USC’s distressed decision to partner up with chatter-based KABC-AM (790) for the next five years on football and basketball broadcasts, following a 12-year run attached to all-sports KSPN-AM (710), must prove that misery needs company.
KABC, part of a depleted media company coming out of bankruptcy, pushing 6,800 watts and on par in the L.A. ratings at 0.5 with Persian language KIRN-AM (670), is the same station the NHL’s Kings blew off after a four-year relationship, deciding it was better off broadcasting games over a phone app.
If this were a Monopoly board, the Trojans just slid their thimble piece onto Marvin Gardens and act as if they were laying rebar and concrete on Park Place. KSPN management is said to be openly pleased the lease came up with the subprime tenants who weren’t keeping up with fellow tenants such as the Lakers and Rams.
Sure, USC has no more air-time conflicts and can boast that it will “the main sports property for KABC.” That’s like if Baskin-Robbins suddenly started offering Coors Light.
Get our high school sports newsletter
Prep Rally is devoted to the SoCal high school sports experience, bringing you scores, stories and a behind-the-scenes look at what makes prep sports so popular.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.