Understanding Crohn Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

Understanding Crohn Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

Understanding Crohn Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

Understanding Crohn Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

Excerpt

When I left full-time newspaper work in 1981 for a career as a freelance writer, a former journalism school professor gave me some good advice. [Write about what you know,] he said. In my earliest discussions with the editor of this series, Miriam Bloom, I suggested a number of possible books, but told her I would most like to do a book on inflammatory bowel disease. She agreed.

I later told Dr. Bloom that I had been diagnosed with Crohn disease in 1988, and that the physician I had chosen to assist me as a collaborating expert author was the gastroenterologist who has provided my care since then.

My recollection of broaching the subject of working together on this book with Dr. Ronald Vender is vivid. It was December 1997, in an examination room in his new office. Since the previous February I had been fighting the worst flare-up of Crohn disease I had ever experienced. We had tried to beat back the attack with high doses of my standard mesalamine drugs—Asacol and sulfasalazine, three different antibiotics, steroids, and immunoregulators.

During the previous ten months I had been hospitalized twice for medication-induced pancreatitis; had endured weeks of liquid diet and canned nutritional supplements; had undergone barium X-ray studies, a CAT scan, and an ultrasound; had struggled with the pain, fatigue, and precipitous weight loss of the disease and then with the bloating, weight gain, and mood disorders of steroid treatment. My family had suffered with me.

Low-dose steroids had not held the disease at bay; at this meeting we were bumping the dose up again, and Dr. Vender advised me to schedule surgery to relieve the obstruction in my ileum that was the cause of the immediate crisis. I asked him to pull research materials for me as quickly as possible, so that I could work on the project while recuperating from my surgery.

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