Frank Fritz is using part of his newfound celebrity to become a public face for Crohn’s disease, which he was diagnosed with about 25 years ago.
“Crohn’s is a terrible, terrible disease,” he said. “It’s a disease that affects so many peoples’ lives and their family members.”
Crohn’s, an incurable chronic disease of the intestinal tract, has symptoms that include abdominal pain, weight loss, fever, rectal bleeding, skin and eye irritation, and diarrhea.
For Fritz, it also can include an urgent need to use a restroom. The “American Pickers” producers accommodate him by bringing along a recreational vehicle to provide portable facilities and to give him and co-star Mike Wolfe a place to rest.
On the road, Fritz adjusts his eating schedule to concentrate most of his meals at night, eating very little during the day.
He is the cover subject this month of a magazine for Crohn’s patients, photographed in his Davenport home and with his motorcycle collection. Other well-known people with the disease have included “Beverly Hills 90210” TV star Shannen Doherty, Pearl Jam lead guitarist Mike McCready and the late President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Fritz said he wants to make the public aware of the disease.
“I’m trying to show people that regardless of the adversities ... and the social situations, the awkwardness, accidents, that you can live a productive life.”
Fritz is part of a Crohn’s support group in the Quad-Cities, where he’s learned how to handle the disease.
“It’s a tough hand I’ve got dealt to me in my life, but you can still do stuff out there,” he said. “It’s about planning and nutrition and making provisions to yourself for your health and safety.”