Fat and Not Afraid

Respect and love are for EVERY body.

header photo

Hidradenitis Suppurativa & Fat

October 14, 2011
At the risk of turning this into "Fat and whines about medical problems",  I'd like to talk about Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) which is a condition I have had since puberty, but took nearly 18 years to diagnose properly.  I would expect that most people are unfamiliar with this disease, so here is a link to the basics:
Everyone back from reading that? Awesome! Moving on.  The reason that I want to discuss HS is because of the stigma and shame that goes along with having the disease.  It is not a disease exclusive to fat people, however, doctors often recommend weight loss as a way of treating the condition (though this is extremely ineffective).  The reason weight loss is suggested is because HS lesions are often found in areas of the body where there is skin to skin contact: groin, breasts, armpits, buttocks etc.  This often gives me a chuckle because I think, quite literally, I would have to be dead to lose enough weight to not have skin to skin contact in these areas. As I was saying, HS is not a disease exclusive to fat people, however, there are a significant portion of HS sufferers who are fat, which often complicates the matter.
My personal experience with HS was that it set in around puberty (which seems to  be a common thing).  It's something I remember both my Dad and Mother and sister all struggling with (genetic component anyone?).  I felt extremely embarrassed by the lesions.  I mean, here I am, just starting to think about my body as a sexual body, and I end up with infected, painful,  ickyness in all the areas that are suppose to be "sexy".  Doctors prescribed a never ending parade of various acne medication, suggested weight loss, and even suggested that I was simply dirty!  This, unfortunately, is a common experience for HS sufferers.  If they are brave enough to go to the doctor, the doctor's ignorance on the issues of HS often leave to the patient leaving feeling shamed, dirty, and possibly even responsible for their condition. "If only I wasn't fat! If only I didn't have so many dirty skin folds! If only I took better care of myself, ate less exercised more!"  These are all thoughts I have had myself, and thoughts I have heard expressed by fellow HS sufferers.  We are told that eating the wrong foods makes it worse.  Lack of exercise makes it worse. 

And let me just rant on that point for a moment - have you ever tried exercising when you have a searing hot golf ball of pain between your thighs, or under your breast, or armpit?  Oh yeah, let me just tell you that it is not a super motivating factor to worry about whether, if you can manage to suffer through the pain, you may inadvertently pop your alien golf ball and end up with a pussy mess in the middle of the gym.  And I would also like to point out that the sweat generated by exercise (or even mildly warm weather) can often exacerbate a flare up.

Let me just highlight a few important points about HS
  1. There is no cure
  2. HS is not the result of poor hygiene (though poor hygiene could exacerbate the condition)
  3. HS is not exclusive to fat people
  4. Awareness of this condition needs to be raised to help destigmatize and support those of us who have this condition
So this blog post is my way of coming out of the HS closet and saying: I'm here! I'm lumpy! I'm still awesome!!

Go Back

Comments for this post have been disabled.