'I killed Mad Coyote Joe'
Gastric bypass changes life of Valley celebrity
By Nicholas K. Arena
Originally in the (AZ) Puma Press (shared here by "Fair Use" Title
|Photo courtesy Joe Daignealt
Appearing at the end of his driveway draped in a prominently blue
poncho and brown knit cap pulled snuggly past his ears, Joe Daigneault
(pronounced Day-no) stands ready to tell his story. Taking determined
but noticeably less than strong strides towards some metal porch
chairs, Daigneault is eager to open up.
“It has always been food for me,” he says as he crosses his legs in
the chair revealing blue and white striped overalls under the poncho.
One foot dangles exposing fair skin snuggled in a black slipper.When
Daigneault started cooking at the mere age of 6 he had no way of
knowing the success he would encounter. But in the years to come his
love of food would take him to owning a spice company, donating time
to charity events and eventually to his own television show. But not
all that laid ahead was to be roses for the man that would come to be
known as “Mad Coyote Joe.”
Delving first into business with the Mad Coyote Spice Company, which
produces various seasonings, Daigneault found his way into charity
events as a means to promote himself. For example, he would volunteer
at a charity auction at his church under one condition, the name Mad
Coyote Joe had to be used.
After appearing for a cameo on a never aired pilot television program
for ABC 15, Daigneault was later called back to attempt his own
cooking show. “Sonoran Cooking” became a huge success totaling 131
episodes and an Emmy win. The Mad Coyote drew more of an audience than
the news. Deals to write cookbooks followed. Life was indeed good for
this native of sleepy Cave Creek, Arizona.
Despite all the fame and money that had come his way, Daigneault was
becoming increasingly despondent about his size. Recalling being over
weight his whole life, Daigneault says the first thing people would do
to him as a youth when he had done something wrong was to call him
“fat.” That grew in his mind as the years progressed to mean “I was
fat, and fat was bad,” he says.
Complicating matters was his persona as the funny, heavy set guy that
barbeques. “(But) I wasn’t the guy on TV,” says Daigneault, “(The)
real me is a little more somber.”
On the day before Thanksgiving 2002, Daigneault’s daughter had gastric
bypass surgery. By all appearances she was fine afterwards and seemed
to be recovering in a normal healthy way.
Daigneault also started realizing that with each passing year he was
gaining more and more weight and he did not want to end up like his
grandfather. Even though his grandfather was a man that lived to be
93, the “last 15 years of his life was spent in a chair.”
At this point, Daigneault says that he began to look at gastric bypass
surgery as the solution to his life-long struggle with obesity. The
thought that “I can do this and not be fat anymore” kept on
reappearing in the Mad Coyote’s mind.
“I didn’t take into account (that my daughter was) 19 and I was 45,”
Daigneault says, now thinking back on the decision that would forever
change his life.
|“(Gastric bypass) is not
like getting a tooth pulled or having breast enhancements.'
Daigneault went in for his own gastric bypass surgery on January 6,
2003. It was at that point “I killed Mad Coyote Joe,” he says.
Making the move to match his exterior man to who he was inside was not
the smooth transition that he thought it would be. Daigneault knew
almost immediately after coming out of anesthesia that something was
wrong because he felt an unnatural bulge in his stomach. He felt
something rip inside his abdomen and told the doctor so. But his
physician said it was all right and they would check on it in a few
The mesh gauge that was meant to hold together Daigneault’s small
intestine had torn. Since the doctors chose to wait infection set in.
Another surgeon did corrective surgery to repair the damage to his
small intestine. The mesh did not hold two more times after that and
additional procedures were required.
On Sept. 27 Daigneault began vomiting blood and suffering intense pain
in his belly. He was taken to Scottsdale’s Mayo Clinic for treatment.
It was there doctors informed Daigneault that his small intestine
actually flipped inside his body. While resting in the hospital
waiting for it flip back Daigneault’s small intestine died.
When surgeons went in to operate, gangrene had set in. Numerous
infections followed including a deadly blood disease. Daigneault’s
kidneys stopped working and doctors feared for the worst. Around this
time his wife and children were brought in to give their final good
byes. But he again persevered and lived to tell the tale.
Most of the illnesses Daigneault has suffered since then have been
caused as a result of the scar tissue, he says, rather than the
original procedure. Including in the past three months he has gone
into Septic shock three times.
Nowadays Daigneault takes a massive amount of painkillers that make
him feel like he is dying at times. Another surgery is scheduled for
June that will undo the gastric bypass by reattaching the diminutive
remaining piece of his small intestine. If that works his body will be
capable of naturally absorbing nutrients again. With that said
however, he will still have to receive vitamin injections for the rest
of his life.
“(Gastric bypass) is not like getting a tooth pulled or having breast
enhancements,” Daigneault says. “They don’t tell you about the side
Recently, Daigneault was searching through his office for something
when he accidentally stumbled upon an old picture of when he was full
size. He held up the picture, displaying it for his wife who was
nearby. Calling to mind easier times, Daigneault pointed to the old
photo in which he is playing guitar in the back yard, and he asked his
wife, “Remember him?”
“Yes,” she responded.
“I miss him,” Daigneault said.
“So do I,” she said, “so do I.”