He was once a great math teacher at Jordan School District in Utah, having taught for over three decades, until he started losing his memory last year. His family first saw the signs in September 2017 when Mac Frischknecht, 56, experienced “dizziness and a slight tingling in his face.”
Mac Frischknecht and his family sought doctors’ help immediately after the symptoms occurred, but the physicians told him that he might just be stressed from working hard, especially since he works even after office hours. He did get some time off from work so he can rest as advised by the physicians, but according to his son Tyson, his condition only got worse as the days passed. Just before Christmas, the father of five started to have problems with reasoning, and couldn’t do anything but sit.
Tyson told People that his dad’s cognition weakened and he would sometimes become hostile, although there are times that he remembers some things about his family. Mac Frischknecht would tell his son to take care of his sisters and mom, something that gives him hope that his dad would get better. He went on to say that sometimes his dad would tell him that he wants to get out of the hospital as he knows how pricey it is.
“We didn’t see a huge change until right around the holidays. He was really having a hard time reasoning with anything. My mom would ask him to do the bills, and he would just sit there. It’s so unlike him to not be on his game. He’s the kind of guy who likes to have a list and check things off.”
The doctors diagnosed Mac Frischknecht with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a fatal brain disorder that includes memory loss, behavioral and visual changes, and lack of coordination to most things. Statistics show that roughly 300 Americans are diagnosed with this condition every year. Unfortunately, there is only a 10 percent chance for the patient to survive this rare but deadly brain disorder.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is believed to be caused by a protein called prion, which infects all other normal proteins, although there is a 7 percent chance that CJD is inherited from parents. To confirm this brain disorder, the patient must undergo a brain biopsy. Tyson said that while doctors are certain that Mac Frischknecht is suffering from CJD, they are still awaiting lab results to confirm this.
The family is seeking financial help to support his dad’s hospital bills. Tyson created an account at GoFundMe for his dad, who he describes as the “most selfless person you’ll ever meet.” He also wants everyone to remember his father’s blood type — it’s “B Positive.”