By In Family

Crohn’s Disease

Well, I made it to Rio. I would say the city is approximately 63% ready for the Olympics, but that’s an early estimate. And they do have four more days.

I think I mentioned in the last post that I was working on one of the most emotional stories of my life as a writer. It is up now at NBC Olympics. I don’t think there’s much to say about it except that it is about an Olympic swimmer named Kathleen Baker, her battle with Crohn’s Disease, and the effect it has had on my family’s life.

Here it is linked one more time.

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31 Responses to Crohn’s Disease

  1. Stacy says:

    Chronic illness is hard for us to get our minds around, I find—the idea that you can’t conquer something once and for all with hard work and positive thinking. Kathleen’s experience shows the real strengths of chronic illness, though—resilience, adaptability, perseverance. There’s an awful lot of hope in that. Thanks for writing this. Best wishes to your daughter, Joe.

  2. Brian says:

    Do not read this story if you are in a public place.

    You have been warned.

    Thank you Joe.

  3. Aron says:

    Thank you for writing this Joe. Last winter we went through still undiagnosed stomach pains with our 9 yr old daughter, Kate. For a 2 week stretch she woke up nightly and violently threw up. The Dr. thought it might be Crohns. Kate even had an endoscopy and colonoscopy. The tests came back negative though and, for now, the symptoms have gone away. I remember being in the bathroom with her — me telling her how brave she was and what a great job she was doing — her responding, through tears, that she “wasn’t brave at all; that she feared everything; that she even feared the doctor.” Being a parent is hard. Best to you and your family. We follow your stories. And we laugh and cry with you. Thank you.

  4. DjangoZ says:

    My cousin has Crohn’s disease and I have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. They’re nasty and hard for most people to understand. Thanks for writing about this so well.

  5. RHTien says:

    Joe, we had our first babies around the same time, and reading you makes me a better dad and person. I hope I can brighten the world like you, to open my eyes and choose my words. Keep running your race and fighting the good fight.

  6. Travis G says:


    As someone who has dealt with Crohn’s disease for the better part of my life (diagnosed at 13, age 30 now) this definitely hit home for me. I think that Crohn’s is one of those diseases that is invisible to others which can make it even more difficult to understand. I’ve been married for nearly 6 years now, but I still feel like its impossible to explain to my wife what a “bad” day is like and why I just don’t want to get out of bed or eat anything.

    Kathleen Baker is definitely an inspiration and I’m glad that one of my favorite writers was able to shine some light on this horrible, devastating disease. My daughter is 7 months old now and I wake up almost every day just hoping that she won’t have to deal with what I did. After going through it every day, I can’t imagine springing that on a teenage girl.

    • invitro says:

      Well, it was sprung you when you were a teenage boy. How are you imagining it would’ve been much different for a teenage girl?

      • Marc Schneider says:


        Not sure why you needed to make a pointless comment like that other than, that’s just what you do.

        • invitro says:

          Well, I was and am curious about something he said. Is attacking people for being curious just what you do?

          • mark says:

            Because he didn’t have to spring it on himself, his parents had that fun task. Now that he’s a Dad he’s not thrilled at the prospect of having to tell his child — who happens to be a girl — the same news if she develops the disease. This isn’t that damn hard.

  7. Wendy says:

    Hi Joe,
    Thank you for sharing this very personal story. I’m so sorry to hear about the pain that your daughter and your whole family are dealing with. For that reason, I feel I have a duty to point out that your daughter might have been on to something when she said she wanted to become a vegan. There is actually very compelling evidence showing that Crohn’s patients in remission who switch to a largely plant-based diet are much less likely to suffer another attack. Here is a short video explaining the scientific study I’m referring to:
    I hope this information can help your daughter.

      • Marc Schneider says:

        Great link. It supports what I have always believed-any kind of categorical belief is likely to be wrong or at least exaggerated and is often more a matter of ideology than actual evidence.

    • invitro says:

      That’s not a scientific study, moron. It’s psuedoscientific political drivel. You should be ashamed of yourself for putting your political views ahead of the health of others.

      • Wendy says:

        Oh, do you have reason to believe that the World Journal of Gastroenterology is not a reputable academic journal? Or is it just this particular interventional trial that you have found some fault with?

        • JustBob says:

          Wendy, please disregard the comment from the moronic poster known as “invitro”. He’s easily the most negative poster I’ve seen in Joe’s comment section (though, admittedly, I don’t really keep track. This is just a convenient memory, perhaps). In addition to his BR Hall of Fame, he needs to add a “LTBR (Less-than Brilliant Reader) Hall of Fame.

  8. Anthony says:

    Hi Joe,

    That was a very moving article. I was especially moved hearing that your own daughter suffers from crohn’s disease. I personally have been devastated by a similar condition, but I have mostly recovered and I thought I’d respond here telling you what I know and what I did to help myself in case you are interested. I know you wrote that you have done extensive internet searches on the disease, but much of what I am going to write is not easily found on the internet unless you really know what you are looking for – or have worked in the field of molecular biology, as I have. I am a biologist currently working in California for a state agency, and I received a Master’s degree in molecular genetics from the University of Texas-Houston in 2000.

    I once worked with Bacillus thuringiensis (which was the subject of my thesis), the bacteria from which the gene coding for BT toxin was taken and inserted into corn, which may be relevant to your daughter’s condition (the effects of which are further exacerbated by the presence of Roundup – with the active ingredient glyphosate – in many foods).

    Fact: B. thuringiensis is nearly 100% identical to Bacillus anthracis (anthrax) at the chromosomal level. You will never see that advertised on a box of corn flakes, however.

    They used to spray B.t. on many crops directly. BT toxin produced by B.t. is deadly to Lepidoptera (moths), as it destroys their intestinal lining when ingested. This wasn’t so bad for people, though, as you could just wash off most of the bacteria, and it is non-toxic when ingested (not so, anthrax!).

    However, in an effort to ‘save money’, corporate scientists decided to take the gene from B.t. and genetically splice it into corn. The rationale was that people’s guts are millions of times larger than an insect’s, it won’t be a problem! Then we don’t have to spray it with B.t., which doesn’t make us much money; we will just use a broad-spectrum pesticide that we already make a lot of money on: Roundup. And our corn already has genes inserted into it making it resistant to Roundup.

    Well, there was a problem with that. Actually, many problems. First, in order to isolate the BT gene and test it, and also add genetic markers to make it easy to work with, they took that gene and put it into Eschericia coli…which is present in large numbers in the human GI tract. This matters, as I will explain later.

    Second, people eat a LOT of corn. It is the second or third most ingested grain after wheat and rice, after all. So, people get a heavier dose of BT toxin than expected, as corn is in almost everything in one form or another (corn syrup, maltodextrin, food starch, *any animal that eats GMO foods*, etc.).

    Third, nearly all corn these days is GMO. Very little non-GMO corn is produced in the US. And, GMO crops are routinely treated with Roundup, which contains glyphosate…which has just been implicated as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization. Roundup is a pesticide, but it *also* kills other things…such as gut bacteria…

    …but, not E. coli bacteria that have taken up BT toxin DNA from food that people eat, for that DNA came from corn that is ALSO resistant to Roundup, and THAT DNA was also expressed in E. coli for study.

    So, now you have E. coli bacteria in your gut that: 1. are now present in greater numbers, due to the effects of Roundup on your gut bacteria; 2. contain the DNA for producing BT toxin, which they got from corn and which has ALREADY been shown to produce BT toxin in that strain; and 3. this bacteria is also immune to the effects of Roundup.

    So, now, chronic eaters of corn products have BT-producing bacteria factories in their guts. And, this BT toxin destroys the intestinal lining, leading to chronic problems as now complex food molecules can enter the bloodstream directly – molecules that are not natural, and which the body determines is a foreign entity that it makes antibodies to…so, now, when one eats corn their body ATTACKS ITSELF.

    And, this can happen with almost ANY food that one eats a lot of. This is the genesis of ‘Leaky Gut’ syndrome, also known as Coeliac disease (which I suffer from), and may also the cause of many autoimmune disorders, such as lupus, arthritis, alopecia, etc…and, crohn’s disease.

    However, you won’t see any reference to these diseases in connection with Roundup or BT toxin in the medical literature. I won’t open that ball of wax here, other than to point out that the president signed into law a bill that makes it ILLEGAL to label foods ‘GMO’ last Friday. It is a simple matter to add 2 + 2 from there.

    (If you wish to see some articles on this subject, I have a list of links that I can send you. I don’t want to spam your blog with URL’s.)

    As for how I recovered from my own condition? It was surprisingly simple: I took a notebook and noted what I ate every day, then recorded how I felt later. It wasn’t long before I realized that every time I ate wheat, dairy, and especially corn that I had severe symptoms later. So, I eliminated those foods (and others) entirely from my diet. It is a long slog to do so, but it isn’t impossible, as long as one realizes that corn and wheat take MANY forms in modern packaged foods, and also: most livestock, including poultry, are fed GMO foods and eating meat from these animals is just as likely to trigger symptoms as eating those foods directly.

    One other thing that I did: I used supplements to repopulate my gut with healthy bacteria to flush out the bad ones. This proved critical for me.

    So: I offer my insight here in hopes that it provides you a new starting point for your own research into crohn’s disease; but I do want to stress that I am not a doctor, and can not promise that anything I write here will help cure your daughter’s condition. However, I also want to stress that sources other than official mainstream media outlets often have answers that the MSM can not provide, and much of the information I have given here I pieced together not only from my own studies but also articles from two websites in particular:, and, if you wish to research what I have written on your own and form your own conclusions.

    I wish you and your daughter well.

    • invitro says:

      Please keep your pseudoscientific political bullsh1t to yourself. You should be ashamed for putting your political views ahead of people’s health.

  9. Paul Schroeder says:

    Great story, Joe. I hope Elizabeth is able to overcome this and live her dreams. We have dealt with GI difficulties with our daughter, Katie, and I truly feel your pain. That said, this article was posted on one of the most irritating websites I have ever been on. About every 30 seconds an ad would come up at the top of the screen and shift the whole text down, only to disappear and shift the whole text back up about 15 seconds later.

  10. Shonepup says:

    Thank you Joe.

  11. Jeffrey Lindy says:

    I had my Crohn’s start right around that age, and it’s a very tough disease. I was very lucky to get great treatment (especially a surgery when I was 19) that relieved almost all of my symptoms thereafter.

    I hope for the best treatment for your daughter Joe, and wish you the best as well.

  12. Matt Vandermast says:

    Sending prayers and good vibes for Elizabeth and for your whole family, Joe.

  13. Lori Strait says:

    Thank you Joe, I cannot wait until her final tomorrow night and will be routing for her hard. I will let you know though that Crohn’s not only can affect the Colon but can affect the whole digestive tract from where food goes in to where food goes out. Mine affects my small intestines.

  14. Congratulations Kathleen! Silver medal! Joe, thank you so much for sharing this story with us.

  15. Jennifer says:

    Thank you so much for your article on Kathleen and for letting the world know more about Crohn’s Disease. When my son was completing the 8th grade I knew in my heart that something wasn’t right. He had always been an active, hard working student and athlete. Yet his lack of growth and extreme lethargy and complaints of being cold and tired plagued him during his last year in middle school. I recall with sadness a comment I made to him following a basketball game…”It looks like you aren’t even trying out there.” In fact, he was trying, probably putting forth more effort than anyone, yet he was struggling. Fast forward to the summer after his 8th grade year…he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Since that time, he has had colonoscopies, endoscopies, imagings, steroids, pills, and now infusions. My son is now going to enter his Junior year of high school. I’m amazed at how resilient he is and am so proud of him. He is an avid golfer and despite the limitations and problems that Crohn’s disease can present (a golf tournament is not a good place to experience a flare) he is one of the top junior golfers in our state. He has played and practiced through pain so many times.
    Helping others to understand this disease and its impact is so important. We typically find that others don’t really know about it and often don’t want to talk about it. Teaching our teenage son to be an advocate and to be open about his condition has been difficult. It certainly helps that there are gifted writers such as yourself that share this information with the world. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  16. Trish Childs says:

    Thank you for sharing this story. Our seven year old daughter was diagnosed with crohn’s 9 months ago and our one wish for her is that she lives the biggest life she can live. I couldn’t have said it better. Stories like this inspire and give hope!

  17. Jill says:

    Thank you for sharing this story. I have never commented on anything before, but I really wanted to tell you how inspiring this story is. I have ulcerative colitis and go through very similar things and have been through some very difficult times. A disease like this is so hard for someone to understand who is not going through it. I just want to thank you and thank Kathleen for talking about this and giving me strength and hope for a better tomorrow! I will be praying for your daughter and everyone who is going through these challenging diseases.

  18. Phaedrus says:

    Joe, thanks for the story. My brother dealt with Crohn’s for 15 years, and recently passed away at age 42. He tried all the medicines, and nothing worked. He wasn’t eating due to the Crohn’s, which led to a hospitalization, which led to a dr f!&k up, which led to a massive heart attack.

    My brother’s doctor told him that “diet didn’t matter”, and I couldn’t convince my brother otherwise. I hope Elizabeth keeps adjusting her diet, and doesn’t just rely on medicine. The infusions are nasty things…my brother had all kinds of skin cancer pop up due to the immuno-suppressive nature of the drugs.

    I tend to agree with the comment above about the harm done by chemicals, GMOs, etc. I think the author is probably a quack, but you may want to read “Eat Dirt” by Josh Axe.

    I think the most important thing is that Elizabeth has a strong support system. As long as she has that, I don’t think crohn’s can keep her from achieving anything. I wish her all the best.

    Ps. You probably already know this, but David Gerrard (I think that’s his name…played QB for the Jaguars) has crohn’s too.

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