First off: Hidradenitis Suppurativa is not caused by being overweight, being obese or even morbidly obese. It can, like many other conditions out there, be exacerbated by weight gain, and helped, but not cured, by losing weight.
Hmm, let’s go ahead and repeat that again for those medical professionals in the back of the room that might not have heard me: Hidradenitis Suppurativa is not caused by being overweight nor can it be cured by losing weight!
I know, I know – a lot of you out there are going, “Yeah, duuuuuhhhhhh, everyone knows that!”
Well, apparently not everyone – because, ladies and gentlemen, I hold in my very hands a letter from an aforementioned Endocrinologist that reads, and I quote, “I suspect that a lot of this patient’s problems are all caused by obesity.”
A lot of my problems?? I only went to him for two things: hirsutism and HS!
So, then the next question that comes to my mind is: just how did he come to his diagnosis of ‘obese’?
Well, easy – he used an antiquated, unreliable system of ‘measurement’ called the BMI (Body Mass Index, but I like to call it Bad Math Inducer), because using an arbitrary formula developed almost 200 years ago in modern medicine is always a good idea!
The actual formula was developed by Adolphe Quetelet around 1830 and, get this, it wasn’t even developed as an indicator of an individual’s health! Nope, it was originally meant to be used as “a simple means of classifying…populations, with an average body composition.”
Even the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute acknowledges there are limits to the BMI!
So, I have to ask, why on Earth is an antiquated system of population measurement still used to evaluate an individual’s health, even though it’s been debunked by various medical institutes?
Sigh…who knows…or dares to dream…?
Yes, ok, fine, I will admit that I’m pretty angry at the letter he sent. And for various reasons. Number 1: I’m angry at the ignorance of HS, as well as the use of a horrible system of measurement to classify my health – but most of all I’m angry because being labeled ‘morbidly obese’ means that I don’t have a voice in the medical community. For whatever reason, doctor’s only listen to skinny people.
A lot of you out there understand where I’m coming from. In fact, I’ve known someone who went to a doctor complaining of inexplicable back pain. She was told to lose weight and sent home. The back pain only got worse, so she went back to the doctor, who told her again to lose weight and sent her home. It was only a few months later when she was able to procure an MRI that it showed that she was suffering from a broken back! (A broken back, by the way, despite the medical advice she was given, can not be cured by losing weight.)
It is infuriating. It is shameful and it defies the Hippocratic oath, which is: Do no harm.
Hippocrates didn’t just mean, “Do no harm physically.” Doing no harm includes not fat-shaming and not refusing to treat people of certain sizes.
Plus, the very idea that there is a portion of our society that has been deemed ‘not good enough’ until they change their appearance speaks very ill of our civilization – especially when we are taught, as children, not to judge a book by its cover.
It also defies generations of prior thinking. See, for so many eons, before our current modern era, a person with a thicker outer layer was seen as the picture of health. Artist painted women with soft, bulbous features and it was very common lore, up until almost a generation ago, that keeping a certain amount of heft prevented you from being emaciated whenever you became ill or had to visit a hospital for an extended amount of time.
I suppose that way of thinking is outdated – but if we’re hell bent on using the BMI as an indicator of health, and it was developed nearly two centuries ago, then why can’t we use the traditional thought that carrying a little more weight is actually a healthy thing? (Granted, I am speaking of people who may be overweight but do not suffer from obesity-related issues such as diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol – which are actual indicators of health.)
I am who I am. A healthy individual, both mentally and physically, who happens to suffer from a debilitating condition that is not my fault! I did not cause my HS and I refuse to be shamed or blamed into feeling like I did. If the medical community can not find the cause or cure for Hidradenitis Suppurativa that doesn’t reflect on me, or my lifestyle, but on them. I hope one day that someone out there sees the lack of patient care with regards to HS, and feels the need to change things, but until that happens I’m afraid I will continue to take what the ‘medical professionals’ say with a grain of salt.
(Now, if you want a sorta fun exercise in the perception of healthy weight, etc – take a look at this site. In my opinion the photoshopped ‘modern’ women look frail and easily breakable, while the originals look healthy and strong – but maybe that’s just me and my perception…)