Archives For Diseases

You’ve no doubt heard of Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory disorder of the bowels.  My heart goes out to people with Crohn’s because it can be very debilitating and difficult to live with.

However, there’s another condition with a very similar name, and this is the one I want to talk about today.  It’s not easy to discuss, but I need to face my fears and tell my story.

My friends, I suffer from Crone’s disease.  I don’t have full-blown Crone’s yet, but it’s just a matter of time.

Medical literature on the subject is scant; patients generally present with very vague signs and symptoms.  Because there are no tests for Crone’s, proper diagnosis can be made only when the disease is already advanced.

I vividly remember when I noticed the first symptom.  I was at a bar and the music was really loud.  Probably no louder than the music at other bars I had been to, but on this night the volume really bothered me.  I was seized by the overwhelming urge to tell the bartender to “turn down that fucking noise.”  This was accompanied by a strong desire to reflect loudly and at length on how much better the music was when I was in high school and college and how “bands today all sound the same.”

I had never experienced anything like that before.  It scared me.

Several years later, another alarming symptom reared its ugly head.  I was out with some friends.  We had a great time carousing but after so much debauchery I needed to call it a night.  I looked at my watch.  It was 11pm.  That can’t be right, I thought.  It’s got to be around 4am.  My watch must have stopped.  How could this be, that after only a few hours I was tired and wanted to go home?

I didn’t know it then, but I was in the early stages of Crone’s.

Other symptoms emerged recently. Not long ago I used the phrase, “Kids today have NO IDEA.”  I sometimes mutter under my breath at loud groups of young’uns in their 20s and 30s.  And when people discuss celebrities, I frequently have no clue who they’re talking about.  Blake Lively?  Who’s he?

I babble about how U2 was really great “back in the day.”  I bemoan the fact that people born in the 80s and 90s are co-opting The Breakfast Club and calling it a movie for their generation.  Yeah, well, I’ve got news for you, you little punks:  you can’t possibly know what it was really like back then.  I was there, bitches.  So why don’t you just run along and play with your Xbox or something?

Doctors don’t talk about prognosis when it comes to people with Crone’s.  But I’m not stupid.  I know what’s in store for me.

“Get off my lawn, you rotten kids!”

I’ll start saying “I’m too old for this shit” more often.  My joints will make odd cracking noises, like an old house settling.  It will take me ten minutes to get up after sitting on the floor.  Certain foods will no longer agree with me but I’ll insist on eating them anyway and complaining when my stomach hurts and I can’t sleep.  My glasses will crap out and I’ll be forced to read stuff by holding it either really far away or right in front of my eyes.

I won’t even get into the visible manifestations of Crone’s disease because they’re too numerous and horrifying.  But I will say this: grey hair is associated with an increased risk of Crone’s.  As you know, I already have a touch of hag.  My future is grim.  Eventually I’ll have to accept my fate.

For those of you who think you might have Crone’s, please know you’re not alone.  You shouldn’t suffer in silence.  Instead, you should bitch and moan to anyone who will stand still long enough to listen.  It’s the only way.

Yes, yes, I know. Disease isn’t glamorous. You know that, and I know that. But tell that to the people in other centuries. Even though most diseases were regarded in history much the way they are today, some ailments had cachet.

So which ones could theoretically allow the sufferer to convalesce attractively in a day bed?

Gout. A very painful type of acute arthritis brought on by excess consumption of rich foods and alcohol. Gout was called “the disease of kings” because it was something only wealthy people had—they were the only ones who could afford such delicacies. If you had gout, you were obviously a privileged person. And thus, glamorous.

Consumption. This was what they used to call tuberculosis—a deadly and deeply unpleasant disease. But how many stories, paintings, and operas have there been in which our heroine died from consumption? Plenty. In fact, consumption was called “the romantic disease.” That’s massively glamorous.

Melancholy. Better known as depression. Theories on its causes ranged from demonic possession to an excess of what was called “black bile” (which was thought to be produced by the spleen). Starting in the 16th century, melancholy was actually seen as a desirable thing because it marked the sufferer as especially sensitive and thoughtful, and often, more creative. Very glamorous indeed.

The Vapors.  Not technically a disease, more of a symptom. And curiously, the vapors were always suffered by women. Because, you know, the “fairer sex” was just more prone to dainty fits and fainting spells. Fever, fatigue, anxiety, and PMS, among other things, could all be ascribed to the vapors. The classic Victorian image of a woman with the vapors is one in which she’s swooning on a couch. How much more glamorous can you get?

On the flip side, men often used the vapors as a diagnosis for women who were headstrong, didn’t obey their husbands, or were somehow “too emotional.” Which is not just unglamorous, it’s also misogynist crap.