The number of people in my life affected by Inflammatory Bowel Disease keeps climbing, so I’ve been reading more about IBD and just finished the book The First Year: Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis by Jill Sklar.
While reading about the inner workings of our guts, and what happens when things go wrong down there isn’t the most enjoyable past-time, Mrs. Sklar makes it relatively so. The First Year: Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis primarily covers the “traditional” medical approach to treating IBD but doesn’t dismiss alternative therapies as completely irrelevant as many in the medical profession do. Mrs. Sklar seems at times to be angry that she has Crohns and she has a right to be: it’s really not a fun disease to have and it sounds like she’s had a rough time with it. But despite, (or perhaps because of), her anger she has managed to include sections that remind us of the human side of life, and these special moments outshine other, angrier, moments. For new IBD sufferers who may be angry themselves, realizing that they are not alone in their anger may actually help them feel better.
I spent some time reading the Amazon reviews of The First Year: Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis and they range from “Very misleading book” to “Best Crohn’s Book Available.” While I’m still looking for the “best available” IBD book, (something that gives full consideration to both traditional western medicine and holistic, “big-picture” treatments including alternative, natural, therapy and diet), this book is very good, and I don’t think the science exists yet for my utopia of an IBD book, (and treatment plan). What was included in this book that has not been in other resources that I’ve discovered was information on the cutting edge of medical science related to IBD, including medicines that were not quite approved yet when the book was published, (2007 for the revised edition that I read), information about how new medicines are created and tested, and how to stay informed about the most recent developments in research into the causes and treatment of IBD including environmental and genetic factors. This is a far cry from the “IBD has nothing to do with diet. Take some anti-inflammatory drugs and prepare for surgery” approach that I’ve seen elsewhere, and also far from the “drugs don’t work” approach that many natural medicine proponents preach. In my limited exposure to IBD, I’ve seen both natural and medical methods succeed and fail, and it really does seem that more research needs to be done to figure out what’s actually going on in there, and what can be done to set it right.
So what’s the final verdict? The First Year: Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis is packed with good information and worth reading. Even if you don’t believe in the traditional western medical approach to treating IBD, the resources and methods for coping with the disease in your, or your loved one’s, life make it worth the read.
For more information and support: Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of Canada or Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America.