When Sports Animal Radio Network personality Jim Traber is absent from his show because of illness, his network colleagues normally poke fun at him and his battles with gout.
However, his recent three-week absence due to diverticulitis, an intestinal disorder, barely produced a snicker from Al Eschbach or his other cohorts. "I think they were afraid they'd start making fun of me on the air, and the next thing you know, I'd be dead,” Traber said. "Then they'd look ridiculous.” About 10 p.m. March 12 after Traber had packed for a trip to Kansas City, Mo., to cover the Big 12 basketball tournament, he said he felt an excruciating pain as though something had exploded in his stomach. His wife, Julie, rushed him to Norman Regional Medical Center, and the next afternoon, Dr. Rick McCurdy, performed emergency surgency on his colon. Fortunately for Traber, the attack occurred that night and not the next day when he was his scheduled to drive by himself to Kansas City. Jim's older brother, Dr. Peter Traber, president and CEO of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said Jim would have died if surgery had not been performed right away. "He had a perforated intestine and infection throughout his abdominal cavity,” said Peter Traber, who as a gastroenterologist is familiar with the illness. "If it wasn't taken care of, it would be fatal.” Peter Traber, who like Jim was a standout athlete — playing tight end at Michigan — flew to Oklahoma City the next day to help comfort his brother's family. The long recovery process, including nine days at Norman Regional, has tested Jim's patience. He said he also has passed out three times, which he said was due to medication lowering his blood pressure too much, and will face another surgery in two months when the colostomy bag is removed.