I have Crohn's disease and the day after Christmas I passed out in the bathroom at work. I drove myself to the Emergency Room and started the process that would admit me for five days on high dose steroids to get my condition under control. What I didn't expect was the diagnosis of sepsis. After multiple bags of antibiotics, my numbers finally improved and I was released from the hospital.

The scoop on Crohn's disease

As many as 1.3 million people in the United States have Crohn's disease. While it is still somewhat rare, the numbers are increasing.

Researchers believe it is part genetic and part environmental. In my family, we have a plethora of inflammatory bowel diseases. I have Crohn's disease, my daughter has Ulcerative Colitis and my son Diverticulitis. The genetic link is clear, the environmental not so much.

Genes are either off or on. Just because you carry the genes for Inflammatory Bowel Disease doesn't mean you will get it. Something must turn the gene on and what that is, has yet to be determined. There are hints though, such as smoking, an urban lifestyle, city vs country living, fresh food vs processed. I am guilty of abusing all of the above.

With Crohn's disease, inflammation can strike anywhere in the digestive tract. Aphthous ulcers have taken up residence in my mouth, stomach, and even my duodenum, which is the opening from the stomach into the small intestine.

The ulcers in my colon tend to be much larger, far more aggressive, and make me septic fast.

It is important to note that IBS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and IBD, Inflammatory Bowel Disease are completely different conditions. IBS does not cause ulcers, fevers, or inflammatory changes and is centered on contractions of the bowels, not disease.

Is a cure on the horizon?

Scientists have discovered a bacterium, known to cause illness in cattle, that may cause Crohn's disease in some people. The keyword is may. Testing is on an antibiotic regimen that can cure the illness. Unfortunately, the regimen doesn't help all people with Crohn's disease, only those who have contracted the bacteria from cattle.

This last attack was the first time I've experienced Crohn's in the descending colon. The pain was extreme and the only comfort I found was in morphine. As they jammed IV steroids into my veins, I turned from a normally happy individual into a crazed, rapid talking, encyclopedia who had opinions on everything.

After meeting with the doctor today, it was decided I was to go back on Remicade as soon as possible. Remicade is a biologic treatment that takes three to four hours to complete. The medication is administered through IV at the hospital and after the initial loading doses, relief should come fairly quickly, but that's only if it works. Sometimes, it doesn't.

So far, there isn't a cure for Crohn's disease.

Treatment is focused on reducing symptoms and pain control. Remission is possible with the new biologic treatments, but all IBD sufferers face an immunocompromised future and must rely on other people to respect their workspace, their condition, and their limitations.