My Struggle With Hidradenitis Suppurativa
Hey, Y'all! Today I'm gonna talk about something kind of embarrassing. I've never really talked about it publicly before so this is gonna be a huge thing for me, so bare with me.
I have HS, which stands for Hidradenitis Suppurativa. The technical definition for it is according to Medscape, "Hidradenitis Suppurativa is a disorder of the terminal follicular epithelium in the apocrine gland-bearing skin." In simpler terms, I develop very painful pea to marble sized lumps in my skin where two areas of skin rub together. The lumps are caused because my sweat glands getting infected (by just existing, my body attacks itself), this can cause open lesions that bleed and drain liquid. Personally, my breakouts are under my arms, and under my breasts, but it can technically happen anywhere there is a sweat gland, which is pretty much everywhere.
The most common places for HS to appear is:
- Groin area
- Under the breast
At this point, they do not know what exactly causes this to happen and the symptoms vary person to person. Some of the general symptoms according to Johns Hopkins Medicine are:
- Severe itching
- Pain of the infected area
- Recurring infections
To be completely honest, it is awful. It hurts to shave, Deodorant burns, Underwire bras hurt when there's an outbreak, and it smells kind of bad sometimes, mostly in the summer. So, no wonder depression is a symptom, and I suffer from that greatly.
The worst part is? There is no known cure. I have tried so many things like:
-I've taken 1389334575 different types of antibiotics
-I had huge needles stabbed directly into the open wound
-I've gotten silver nitrate pressed on them to see if that would seal it over
I've even tried more natural things like coconut oil and it still did not help.
Sometimes when there's a really bad outbreak the lumps under my breast grow to the size of ping pong balls and there's absolutely nothing that can mask the pain. When this happens I go to my local patient first, they numb the area completely, go in and remove all the infected tissue, and then pack it with gauze. When this happens it ends up leaving ugly, nasty scars. I'm usually out of work for 2-3 days after this procedure because they give me very strong pain killers.
I've gone through that procedure 3 times.
HS is not contagious, but it's probably my biggest insecurity. I can't wear tank tops in public because of the scars, and the open wounds under my arms (those never seem to heal) and it's just all around really terrible. Some have it worse than others, and there are certainly people who have it way worse than me.
The scariest part is that this can cause more serious issues such as cancer.
I would also like to point out that having HS does not negatively affect my sex life, and if you have HS, you should not let it impact yours either.
It took a LOT to tell my boyfriend about my disease when we first started dating, and he was very open to learning about it and did not act freaked out at all. It's to the point now where I openly discuss my issues with it with him and he offers bounds of love and support. It's nothing you need to be ashamed of.
I've heard from all of my doctors that eating healthy and getting active can really help the symptoms. This was one of the contributing factors in my decision to become a vegetarian.
Since becoming a vegetarian and eating healthier I haven't noticed any improvement. However, it hasn't been very long. I've started going to the gym daily as well to see what kind of changes my body makes. My hope is that I can fight this because it can get worse, and if it does, more serious problems could emerge. Sharing this experience with the public is still very nerve wracking, but I hope some confidence comes along with it.
If you would like to learn more about my disease, visit: http://www.hs-foundation.org/
As always, you can Facebook us at The Smoothie Vegetarians, or on Instagram @smoothievegetarians or Twitter @smoothievegies! Comments are welcome as well.
Stay healthy, stay positive and stay happy!!
~Until next time~