clinic in the
Dr. Chaim Brickman
RUTH LITTMANN STAFF WRITER
Barbara Bush suffer from Grave's disease. Their son Mar-
vin has Crohn's.
The earlier autoimmune patients begin treatment, the
better their survival chances. The problem, as Ms. Shaw
found out, is that autoimmune diseases are difficult to di-
Two Sinai Hospital physicians are trying to make the
process easier and more effective. Dr. Steven Rabinove,
chairman of the department of medicine, and Dr. Chaim
Brickman, director of the lupus and immunology program,
Dr. Steven Rabinove have spearheaded the nation's first autoimmune diagno-
sis and referral clinic. They are working in conjunction with
the American Autoimmune and Related Diseases Associa-
anet Shaw, 42, of Southfield could barely comb her hair.
"I could not cook. I could not clean. I could not take care of my kids," tion in Detroit.
Based In Sinai's Hechtman building on Telegraph Road in Bingham
Ms. Shaw's disease eluded doctors. One physician asked her if she had Farms, the clinic brings together physicians with special expertise. By
pooling their knowledge, they expect to pick up signs of autoimmune prob-
seen a psychologist.
"The thing that's so tough," she says, "is when you feel sick and you're lems, then work with patients to develop proper care regimens.
"A thoughtful, standardized approach to patients with autoimmune
going from doctor to doctor and they're insinuating that it's all in your
illnesses has been needed for a long time," Dr. Rabinove says. "These dis-
mind. You begin to think you're going crazy."
eases cross standard medical specialty lines and patients have difficulty
But Ms. Shaw wasn't crazy. She was sick ... very sick.
Bouts of fatigue, which had started in her teen-age years, were followed with the medical system."
Ms. Shaw can vouch for that. As her fatigue and pain worsened, the
by spinal problems. In four years, she underwent three back surgeries. She
Southfield woman became increasingly frustrated. One evening, she saw
had joints replaced. She won a battle with cervical cancer.
Doctors considered her wide-ranging difficulties as separate incidents Dr. Brickman in a television interview. She sent him a letter describing
her problems. Two days later, Dr. Brickman, a lupus specialist, responded
of medical bad luck.
Finally, in 1988, a doctor put it all together and diagnosed Ms. Shaw with a telephone call.
"He talked to me for over an hour," Ms. Shaw says.
as having systemic lupus, an autoimmune disease. These illnesses affect
The conversation was followed by an office visit, plus therapy and med-
one in five Americans, mostly women. There are 67 autoimmune illnesses,
including multiple sclerosis, Crohn's, pernicious anemia, juvenile dia- ication designed for Ms. Shaw's condition.
"Finally, I'm able to start walking again without crutches and a cane
betes, myasthenia gravis, and Grave's.
Common to all persons with such illnesses is a hypersensitive immune — up to a mile a day," Ms. Shaw says. "I try to swim a couple of days a
system that causes the body to attack itself Although causes for these week to keep my joints moving. I've got good balance now." ❑
diseases remain unclear, bad genetics is suspected.
Autoimmune diseases generally manifest themselves in several forms,
either in families or individually. Former President George Bush and