Thursday, September 02, 2010

On twenty years with Crohn's disease

In 1990, I was about to get married, and I knew there was something wrong with me, but didn't know what. I went to see old Dr. Shaffer, who referred me to a gastroenterologist, who figured out that I have Crohn's disease, and who has been my good friend and doctor for twenty years. The Crohn's diagnosis was more than confirmed in November 1996 or thereabouts when a Bristol surgeon removed eighteen inches of bad guts, that were tormenting me.

Over the years, I've taken some medicines that were gentle and did nothing, steroids that made me gain a pound day, other medicines that say on the label they can kill me, I've endured iron shots with the big needle, given myself B-12 shots with the little needles, munched on chewable children's vitamins, shared yogurt with my dogs almost every day. So far I've taken a pass on Remicade and Humira; maybe I get too many advertisements for plaintiff's products liability seminars.

Probably the last 150 pizzas have given me cause for regret, but I'll eat one every now and then. Green peppers, raw onions, orange juice, chocolate, bearnaise and hollandaise are all taboo, but I break bad and have some sometimes. My weight has fluctuated between 145 and 205, and so there are both fat boy and skinny man suits in my closet. I eat too fast, and often have dessert. On the upside, my blood pressure and cholesterol levels are no problem at all.

I've met some lawyers and witnesses with the same problem, and they are always relieved to find out what we have common. "Oh, I don't have to tell you about it," they say - about for example the perils of sitting around in a deposition for hours. Say, I flew to Europe and back a couple of times, imagine that. They could. One of my cousins has it. She and her lawyer husband Steve just flew to China and back to meet their new baby. When I heard this news, I thought about that plane ride.

I've been to a few meetings where the stomach rumblings were so loud I was surprised they were not made a part of the official minutes. ("... and Mr. Minor said grklbklmrkmogl.") One such occasion was at a VBA board meeting, when I was seated by Cheshire Eveleigh, who merely turned and gave me her broadest, crinkliest smile, leaving me no choice but to smile back. In this (and all matters, by the way), I recommend following her example.

A lot of my lawyer buddies or courthouse friends or even clients whom I see just every once in a while keep me up to date on how I'm doing, or at least whether I look better or worse than the last time they saw me. My assistant generally schedules my hearings and depositions for the afternoons, since the mornings are the iffiest part of the day (and I was a night owl even before). When I heard that a friend of mine's son was diagnosed with Crohn's, I said tell him it hasn't been fun but it hasn't held me back from doing what I wanted and going places. There are still some days though when the bad guts flat out betray me, like last November, and today, which gave me the notion to write this post.

1 comment:

James Young said...

I have two lawyer friends with the same affliction: one was my best man, and was diagnosed in college; the other is a childhood friend now doing drunk-driving defense in Hawaii, and subject of a Honolulu paper's article on the affliction.

It's a tough disease, but I'm glad to hear you're prospering notwithstanding.