PHOTO: Entertainer and academic
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – An unfunny thing happened on the way to the commencement podium for
Heide delivered the address all right at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, but the event took place within days of his release from the hospital after life-saving surgery.
“I had appendicitis the week before,” Heide said in an interview with me last summer. I saved running this piece until now to time it with the next winter commencement that is coming up Saturday, Dec. 14, at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts on the UWGB campus.
Heide is a UWGB graduate. The commencement gig was a big honor for him and, vice versa, someone with added luster for the university ceremony. In Heidi, UWGB had a commencement speaker from the academic world and the entertainment world at the same time. And a homegrown product. Today, Frederick J. Heide, Ph.D., teaches at Alliant International University San Francisco and does research in clinical psychology. Also, he is co-founder of
For a report on Heide’s commencement appearance, see http://news.uwgb.edu/log-news/news/12/15/frederick-heide-commencement-speaker/.
Here’s the story of what else was happening surrounding the event, which took place on a Saturday:
“My appendix burst when I was still out in
“Once we got in the hospital (in
“Of course, when you’re in the hospital, you’re not eating all week, you’re just being given fluids intravenously. So it was not really the way I intended to prepare for the speech – in a hospital bed trying to memorize this thing without any food in my stomach. But it was such an extraordinary privilege. I feel really honored.”
How was burst appendix discovered? Through X-ray? Ultra sound? Screaming when the spot was touched?
“That was actually it,” Heide said with a laugh. “We (he and his wife, Jody) went in there Sunday morning. The thing had burst on Thursday, the way we figured out. I started feeling sick on Thursday in
“We go to the hospital in
Even after Heide gave the commencement speech, he still had to deal with illness.
“I was very lucky. Because my appendix had burst, all the e-coli was leaking into my system for four days. That’s why I got much sicker than you normally would, and I had to go back into the hospital two more times to drain all that stuff.
“I had to go back in on Christmas night because I got sick again. That time, I got out on Thursday night, and I got on stage the following night for our (annual) ‘Home for the Holidays’ show. So that was also a real bizarre turnaround. But it was wonderful.
“This is the great thing about the small community: The surgeon who had done my appendectomy came to the opening night of ‘Home for the Holidays,’ and I was able to thank him from the stage. That was lovely.”
Along with continued research, Heide is at work with writing partner Lee Becker for a follow-up to their popular musical “Belgians in Heaven.” Next summer, American Folklore Theatre will present their “Packer Fans from Outer Space,” along with the popular show Heide helped dream up, “Guys on Ice.”
You may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Watch for my on-air features on WFRV at 6:45 p.m. Thursdays and every other Sunday between 6 and 8 a.m. (usually around 7:45 a.m.)