IBD Patients Reveal Their Lonely Childhood Stories

Talking About Intestinal Illness and Symptoms Others Don't Want To Hear

Don’t Tell Anyone: Jonathan Vatner, pictured at age 29, was diagnosed with Crohn’s at 13. His parents told him not to tell others.
jonathan vatner
Don’t Tell Anyone: Jonathan Vatner, pictured at age 29, was diagnosed with Crohn’s at 13. His parents told him not to tell others.

By Linda Kriger

Published August 11, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 3)

Martin shares the concerns of many other parents whose decisions on behalf of their children take them to dark places.

“IBD shakes up your life really profoundly,” she says. “I have to live with the guilt that my daughter has been on toxic medications for years. I feel terrible.”

The association of Jews with IBD continues to create confusion, especially outside of urban areas.

Kevin Anderson, now 36, was 15 and a high school sophomore in Lafayette, La., when he developed severe stomach cramps. In the emergency room, doctors diagnosed gas and sent him home. After multiple visits with the same results, Anderson, who is African-American, threw a fit.

“When the doctor did X-rays, prescribed Mylanta and said I just had a pocket of air in me, I couldn’t take it any more,” he says. Anderson knelt down, wrapped his arms around the doctor’s knees and wouldn’t let go until he agreed to perform surgery. Anderson had a complete bowel obstruction.

Had he been sent home again, he says, “there was a strong possibility I would have died.”

One doctor was “a Jewish guy from New York and he talked about me maybe having Crohn’s disease,” Anderson says. “The local doctor said no way possible, because I was black and I was male. The Jewish doctor explained that it wasn’t just diagnosed with Jewish women.” The local doctor still refused to do a colonoscopy, perhaps because Anderson’s family had no health insurance, he says. After more emergency room visits, a colonoscopy was performed six months later. Anderson was finally diagnosed with Crohn’s.

“It was really hard. That’s why I was suicidal at the time. It was really stressful on me. I didn’t want to socialize with other kids. I didn’t talk to them about what I was going through.” One high school rumor had it that Anderson had AIDS, he says.

Today, Anderson has come to terms with his Crohn’s. “I didn’t choose this life, but I have to deal with it,” he says. Every time someone asks how he’s doing, his answer is “As long as I have a heartbeat, I’m not complaining.”

Contact Linda Kriger at krigergutfeelingbook@gmail.com


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.