‘Chronic’ Explores Life With Crohn’s Disease

"chronic" by Christine M. Rich

“Slow down” is the constant chorus by Christine M. Rich’s “Chronic”. The life story of the Akron resident with Crohn’s disease, an autoimmune disease that affects the digestive tract; symptoms include diarrhea, bloody stools, and weight loss.

As a teenager, Rich received constant praise for her appearance, and especially for being thin. She was routinely subjected to sexual harassment during her after-school jobs, but did not feel confident enough to protest. Medical tests were inconclusive until her diagnosis when she was a high school senior; it was then that she began her practice of consistent denial, ignoring her symptoms and saying, “I’m fine.”

Rich is explicit in her descriptions of barium enemas and unexpected bowel movements, which contrasts with the grace of her writing. After an investigation put her in the hospital for more than a week, Rich met a young man with an ileostomy whose personal life had been devastated by the disease. Then she was faced with the option of either taking drugs that could cause her cancer or having a large portion of her digestive tract removed.

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