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Showing posts from May, 2006

Living With Crohn's Disease

About this time last year I tried to put together an article for Reader's Digest on Crohn's disease, but the editor I was working with eventually turned it down because it wasn't a life-and-death illness. Having lived with it for 18 years, I can tell you it sure feels that way sometimes.

What is Crohn's disease?

It's a chronic, gastrointestinal disorder caused by an overactive immune system that attacks the harmless bacteria in the digestive tract causing inflammation in its deepest layers. It was named after Dr. Burrill Crohn, who with his colleagues, Dr. Leon Ginzburg and Dr. Gordon D. Oppenheimer, published a paper about the illness in 1932.

Dr. Crohn's old office is still in use on Manhattan's east side. I was there for an upper G.I. series, drinking some chalky-white barium, when a doctor with a God-awful toupee told me I was on hallowed ground. I tried to imagine how the place might have looked 70 years ago when Dr. Crohn was in his prime, but the tec…