There had been signs for years. My buddies always thought I was hungry, as my stomach growled so often and so loudly. On camping trips the guys in the next tent would comment on the noises coming from my tent. Then there was that mysterious illness that kept me out of school for a couple of weeks when I was about thirteen. The small town doc in Jamestown, North Dakota in the early sixties wasn’t able to give us a good diagnosis.
My first ten years at my new job in Rochester were medically normal. Then minor trouble, diarrhea the morning after an evening meal of popcorn. That was a problem, as I was playing a lot of league racquetball in those days, which often meant missing the regular dinner. A huge bowl of popcorn was a perfect substitute for a balanced diet. It was just the morning after that was an issue.
Other foods began causing trouble, too. Then one night we had ribs for dinner. Wonderful, greasy ribs. They were great! Until the next morning. Oh, my, maybe it wasn’t the popcorn, it was all the butter I put on the popcorn? It must have been a big deal, because this thirty-something man went to the doctor to talk about a pooping problem.
He sent me to several humbling tests and eliminated a lot of easily treated problems. He finally got to the point where he suspected Crohn’s disease. I had no idea. Confirmation of the diagnosis would come from a barium follow through X-ray. This is where I discovered the serendipitous benefit of living in Rochester, Minnesota with the Mayo Clinic.