Chronic patients must adapt to different doctors
As a 30-year Crohn’s Disease patient, I’ve met every conceivable type of physician and encountered them on probably their (and my) best and worst days. With such a complex and seemingly “personalized” disease, I’ve learned there’s rarely a doctor-patient “comfort zone” such that they “take you at your word” when you articulate your symptoms, as rare or strange as they may be, or when you convey your surgical scarred-substantiated veteran thoughts. But that’s the gig with a chronic, incurable, autoimmune disease like Crohn’s so you must learn to adapt to the different personalities you meet along the way in order to quickly and effectively communicate to obtain the best possible medical care. When you are diagnosed at the relative young age of 21, the process of adapting also most assuredly includes difficult school, work, family or life relocation decisions which translates into even more “new” doctors with whom to meet and get along with. This was all true for me but unbeknownst to me at the time, I was lucky; my first Crohn’s doctor turned out to be “THE” Crohn’s Disease doctor.
Sometimes the “first” doctor is the “best” – who knew?
Ironically, it was my first gastroenterologist, Dr. Mark L. Chapman, who instilled in me the necessary courage and confidence to leave his “care jurisdiction” by making those life relocation decisions strictly “on the merits” and not in any way, shape or form influenced by the fear of having to find another Crohn’s Disease doctor with whom I could communicate so intimately; all because we had developed such a uniquely mutual trusting rapport. By necessity, I tried to re-create this relationship in different parts of the United States, at different times of my life, and its been 30 years, but I’ve never found another Crohn’s or IBD doctor like Dr. Chapman who is so adept at being able to identify and treat so many of the Crohn’s “curve-balls” which initially make me bend at the knees but then wind up painting the corner of the plate as painful, frustrating or disabling strikes which disrupt my life and make me take notice of their potentially pervasive effect on my life or lifestyle.
*“From Tuscon to Tucumcari, Tehachapi to Tonapah” – “Willin'”
Even though my life’s journey has thus far included prolonged residence in, and visits to, wonderful cities like Boston, Los Angeles, Portland, Oregon and Paris where I encountered compassionate and expert doctors, and in my travels I’ve had bizarre Crohn’s Disease obstruction complications from the high altitude of South Lake Tahoe, California, the almost perforating pressure inside a small airplane ride from Dothan, Alabama to Atlanta and in Portland I woke up with a Delayed Anaphylactic Reaction to my last infusion of Remicade in New Jersey, I always wound up seeking Dr. Chapman’s advice because no one else could scientifically explain what had happened to me. I also frequently encountered rare complications from my Crohn’s Disease and unprecedented side effects from the Biologic Drugs and each time they too ultimately led me back to Dr. Chapman because he was the only GI doctor with a global track record of effectively identifying such problems and devising successful treatments. Mind you, I would extensively research these Crohn’s Disease issues trying to seek a second such opinion but the road always led back to Dr. Chapman. **“Send lawyers, guns and money. The shit has hit the fan.” He’s THAT doctor.
Treating severe Crohn’s Disease is a number’s game
My 100% belief in Dr. Chapman is based on logic because obtaining an accurate diagnosis and successful treatment for a challenging and incurable disease like Crohn’s whose “medical textbook” treatments for the most severe of flare-ups often causes even worse side effects is akin to a “number’s game” and the New York City Gastroenterology (GI) Practice in which Dr. Chapman is a Founding Partner has likely treated more Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) patients over the past 30-50 years than any other private GI medical practice in the world. Moreover, Dr. Chapman’s GI medical practice is the type people turn to from all over the world when the complexities of their case befuddles their local then regional then national IBD experts.
Even when TV asked, I recommended Dr. Mark L. Chapman
I always thought Dr. Chapman resembled the great character actor Brian Dennehy and for some strange reason which has nothing to do with science, that brought me great comfort whenever I was hospitalized and saw him approach my room during morning Rounds. We would joke about it but then in 2001 when my book, “Confessions of a Professional Hospital Patient,” landed me on NBC’s “Today Show,” MSNBC contacted me about producing a “patient segment” and they wanted to interview my Crohn’s Disease doctor.
They said I could choose any doctor in the United States. While it does suck to have Crohn’s Disease, it was an incredibly cool feeling the morning Dr. Chapman had to shut down his very busy New York City GI Practice so he could talk about treating ME for Crohn’s Disease to an MSNBC Reporter under the lights with the pre-Interview makeup ritual which he seemed just a tad too at ease with.
That’s the superficial background on Dr. Mark L. Chapman’s credibility as a Crohn’s Disease and IBD expert. So when a few well-intentioned but rather intense people on a Crohn’s Disease Facebook Group once challenged me on some Postings I made about a Documentary my Charity is producing about Crohn’s and IBD, I thought the best and most efficient way to answer their “comments” was to go directly to the “Source.” That Source is Dr. Mark L. Chapman and he was kind enough to indulge me in my attempt to share his Crohn’s/IBD wisdom in healthcare social media. To that end, below is Part One (1) and Part Two (2) of my September 10, 2013 Interview with New York City-based Gastroenterologist, Dr. Mark L. Chapman, arguably one of the world’s foremost authorities on Inflammatory Bowel Disease (“IBD) based on his 50+ years of practicing Gastroenterology in one of the world’s busiest and most well-respected GI medical practices.
Note: This is NOT Medical Advice
Part 1 – In this portion of the Interview, Dr. Chapman provides succinct explanations for the differences between diagnoses of Crohn’s Disease, Colitis, Ulcerative Colitis and even “Crohn’s Colitis.” Dr. Chapman also explains the serious symptoms associated with having “Severe Crohn’s Disease.”
Part 2 – In this portion of the Interview, Dr. Chapman opines on the role played by the somewhat controversial medical specialty of “Pain Management” insofar as treating Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Dr. Chapman also explains what many patients believe is a strange phenomenon regarding their disease flare-ups occurring at the same time of the year; year after year; inferring some type of environmental factors might be involved with triggering Crohn’s Disease flareups.
*“Willin'” – lyrics by Lowell George
**“Lawyers, Guns And Money” – lyrics by Warren Zevon