My Aunt Margaret, who is as crazy and blunt as I am, had a premonition something was wrong with me. She called her daughter, who called my mother. My mother told her some of what was going on, and my cousin said, "I think she has Crohn's disease."
Her sister's husband had Crohn's disease, which was all I knew about it. In all my scouring of books to try to diagnose myself, Crohn's disease wasn't something that came up. But my cousin was sure, and she knew a lot more about it than we did.
I'll never forget my first appointment I had with my internist. He sat down with me for what seemed like hours and asked about everything under the sun. He didn't act offended when I'd pipe up with things I thought he needed to know. After his extended examination, he called my mother into the room with us.
"I think you have Crohn's disease. All I need to do now is prove it."
We were stunned. Not only was my cousin right, but a doctor actually knew what the hell he was talking about! He even told us the name for the knots in my legs and (now) my arms: erythema nodosum.
The tests started at this point: xrays, small bowel series, blood tests. My blood tests results were classic for Crohn's disease...and about a million other things. The doctor was not phased in the least; he ordered a colonoscopy.
If you've never had a colonoscopy, let me tell you: the prep is millions times worse that the test itself. Why? Because you are so sedated during the test you actually black out! I remember showing up for the test and having the administering doctor call in a room of medical students. I had all the classic symptoms of Crohn's, and he wanted them to know what that looked like if they ever saw it again. I was more than happy to oblige.
The next thing I remember is seeing my mother and the doctor in the doorway, and, still stoned out of my mind, I started whistling calling them over, saying, "Hey, you can't talk about me without telling me what you're talking about!"
They came over and told me I had Crohn's disease throughout my colon. I was so relieved to have a name to go with my condition. Later, my mother told me the doctor said it was one of the worst cases he'd ever seen; he didn't know how I was still walking around.
We went back to the internist, who handed me my first prescription for prednisone, 40mg a day. He was so kind to me, explaining everything that had happen and would likely happen. He didn't sugar-coat, and he didn't treat me like an idiot.
Six weeks later, I found out that he was leaving Huntsville for a practice up north. All told, I think he had a practice here all of 3 months. My family is convinced he was my guardian angel, sent here just to make sure I'd be okay. I don't think they're wrong.
Dr. Wheeler Dale, wherever you are, thank you so much for helping me. I will be forever grateful.