The Coveted Cork Award

Recently I was hospitalized for yet another new (new to me, at least) Crohn’s-related side effect — in this case a nasty blood infection. Unlike most of my Crohn’s issues over the last several years, this wasn’t something I could simply rearrange my life around. I ended up spending five days in the hospital, followed by two weeks where every single day I am going to the hospital’s outpatient infusion clinic to receive IV antibiotics.1

The bottom line is that I’ve missed a chunk of work, as well as been completely out of training for the Napa to Sonoma half marathon. (I’m running the Napa to Sonoma race with Team Challenge in order to raise both awareness and research funds for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.) It will be a challenge to jump back into training and be ready for the half marathon by July 17, but after this recent setback I am more committed than ever to doing whatever it takes to wipe out these diseases.2 

Cascading Complications
For those who have been living with Crohn’s disease for an extended period of time, any new complication can have effects that cascade through all of the other aspects of disease management. In this case, I was scheduled to receive my current Remicade3 infusion at about the same time that the blood infection began. Since Remicade dramatically suppresses the immune system, however, taking Remicade during a severe infection is a really bad idea. Thus my Remicade is on hold until after the infection is cleared.

But that leads to yet another problem. Remicade is the medication that keeps my Crohn’s disease in remission and every additional day I go without it increases the risk that my Crohn’s will become active and flare again. So during these weeks while I’m fighting the blood infection, my doctors are watching me extremely closely for any signs of Crohn’s activity.4 Overall my current treatment requires choices among various bad options, with the goal of choosing the “least bad” option and reducing risk as much as possible.5

About the Video
One of the training traditions of the Wisconsin Team Challenge group is the weekly “Coveted Cork Award.” The Cork Award is presented to the person who has done the most during the previous week to either train or raise funds for Team Challenge. I was surprised and flattered to learn that I was given the Cord Award at yesterday’s practice (despite the fact that I’d obviously been neither training nor fundraising for the last several weeks). Ironically at the same time (about 8:15 AM CT) that Becky was announcing that I had won the Cord Award, I was in the infusion clinic receiving Sunday’s dose of antibiotics.

  1. My course of antibiotics should be completed in another week on May 21. []
  2. To find a cure for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, we need your help. You can support my Team Challenge effort here. []
  3. Remicade is the trade name for Infliximab, a monoclonal antibody used to induce remission in Crohn’s and to treat other autoimmune diseases. Unfortunately Remicade is only effective for about 30–45% of people diagnosed with Crohn’s. I am one of the lucky people for whom it works. []
  4. If my Crohn’s does start to flare before the blood infection has cleared, the doctors will use other medications — such as a short burst of steroids — to try to control the disease until I can safely resume Remicade. []
  5. There is also a dose of irrational belief in luck thrown in for good measure ... essentially hoping I’ll be lucky this time and that the Crohn’s won’t reemerge before I’m back on Remicade. []

About the author

I am a writer, marketing practitioner and astronomer-in-training. My interests include science, technology and the future of just about everything. You can learn more from my Bio page.