In late February, Jay Marvin, morning host for Progressive Talk AM 760, had his gallbladder removed -- surgery that's generally considered to be rather minor. But almost two months later, he still hasn't returned to the microphone, and while substitutes such as nationally syndicated columnist David Sirota have done an able job filing in, his impassioned, idiosyncratic presence on the airwaves is definitely missed.
Unfortunately, Marvin's return isn't imminent. According to Mary Marvin, Jay's wife, he's scheduled to undergo a series of tests at this hour that are intended to identify a large mass near his spinal column -- one of several serious health concerns that have surfaced since the initial procedure.
Mary says that on February 28, Jay began exhibiting flu-like symptoms -- and in the days that followed, "his right side kept hurting more and more. Then, on the night of the 3rd, I brought him in to the emergency room. They did all these tests and removed his gallbladder. It was enlarged and full of stones."
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Jay remained in the hospital for a week after surgery before returning home. But Mary notes that in short order, "he was in a lot of pain. The pain was much different and it got much worse." As a result, he returned to the hospital, where Mary says he was diagnosed with hepatitis. "The second day in the hospital, he turned totally yellow," she adds. "So they did a liver biopsy." When bloodwork didn't identify the particular type of hepatitis that was afflicting Jay, Mary goes on, the biopsy was sent to a facility in New York. Shortly thereafter, doctors determined that Jay was suffering from Budd-Chiari syndrome, an ailment caused by "a blood clot and some blocked veins," Mary says.
As if this discovery wasn't distressing enough, physicians subsequently found what Mary describes as "a mass on his spinal column that's three inches by three inches by two inches." At this point, doctors speculate that the mass is either an infection related to Budd-Chiari syndrome or a tumor of some sort -- and while the former sounds preferable to the latter, it would hardly qualify as a cakewalk. "An infection like that is very hard to treat, and it takes a long time to get over it," Mary allows. "First they have to find out what kind of infection it is -- and being on the spinal column makes it even more difficult." Today's tests, which are slated to get under way at 11 a.m., are intended to help define the problem, but results aren't due back for at least 48 hours.
Even before the spinal mass was located, Mary says, Jay's doctors extended his disability for two more months. Now it's anyone's guess how much time will pass before he's on the job again. He's hardly eaten more than a bite of food in the past week, and Mary says he's in such agony that he's on a constant dilaudid drip. "He can carry on a conversation," she points out, "but sometimes the pain is so bad that he just closes his eyes and tries to talk as little as possible. It's been heartbreaking to watch."
Nevertheless, Mary emphasizes that she's coping with Jay's illness "pretty well" and continues to be optimistic. Best wishes from listeners have helped: She says Jay has received "a ton" of communication through his Facebook page, and AM 760 producer John Turk has forwarded her lots of e-mails from fans as well. At this point, Jay is too ill to respond, but she says he appreciates the positive thoughts. As for her, she says, "I'm hoping for the best."