Dear Morrissey: What Rings True

If you haven’t  seen the story in the news, here’s a little background.  The Duchess of Cambridge (formerly Kate Middleton) entered the hospital with a condition of pregnancy called Hyperemesis Gravidarum.  (I wrote about Hyperemesis just prior to the pregnancy announcement by Prince William and Kate.)  An Australian radio show then decided it would be amusing to prank call the hospital and attempt to get private medical information on the duchess.  They succeeded.  Shortly thereafter, the nurse who they duped committed suicide.   Morrissey, a British musician, decided to weigh in on the media circus with his own opinion. 

Dear Morrissey,

Recently, you made disparaging comments regarding the Duchess of Cambridge’s bout with Hyperemesis Gravidarum and her hospital nurse’s suicide. 

“There is no blame so far placed at Kate Middleton, who was in the hospital, as far as I could see, for absolutely no reason.  She feels no shame about the death of this woman. The arrogance of the British royals is staggering. Does she have a health condition? Is it anorexia or is it pregnancy? So much hoo-ha and then as soon as this woman dies she’s out of hospital? It doesn’t ring true.”

Mr. Morrissey, I am not a “royal watcher”, nor do I have any prior opinion of you whatsoever.  What I am is one of the 1% of women affected by Hyperemesis Gravidarum – a condition you clearly know nothing about.  Yet, despite your obvious ignorance of the subject and your lack of access to the Duchess’ medical records, you have decided to place blame on her for the suicide of a woman she doesn’t know?  Really? 

Since you have not taken the opportunity to educate yourself before this somewhat sad attempt to gain attention, I would like to take a moment to address your commentary.

  1.  Hyperemesis is not anorexia.  Pregnant women of any size can suffer from it.  During both of my pregnancies, I was more than 50 pounds overweight.
  2. Hyperemesis is a “health condition”.  It is not, as you appear to assume, simple morning sickness.  It is an extreme form of nausea and vomiting that causes dehydration and can lead to kidney failure, pulmonary embolism, and even death.  (Charlotte Bronte is thought to have died from the condition.)  It is a condition that, if not able to be eased medically, sometimes requires terminating the pregnancy to save the life of the mother.  That is rare, but it happens.  For that reason (and for the health of both mother and child), it is vital to rehydrate the mother and provide her with intravenous nutrition until she is capable of holding down food. 
  3. A typical hospital stay for an acute case of Hyperemesis is between one to a few days.  It is rare for a woman to be hospitalized for the duration of her pregnancy.  Usually, the hospital puts in an IV and administers and antiemetic (such as Zofran) until the mother is rehydrated and the vomiting under control.  Then she is released.  Often, continuing antiemetic medications is enough to keep her from becoming

    A PICC line

    dehydrated again.  Sometimes, it becomes necessary to administer a PICC line for the remainder of the pregnancy to deliver nutrients and hydration.  To attempt a correlation between the nurse’s death and the Duchess’ release is both ignorant and cruel.  The length of her hospital stay was quite typical for Hyperemesis. 

  4. You denigrate the Duchess for not feeling shame.  Why should she be ashamed for becoming ill?  She didn’t make that phone call.  And, having had the condition myself, I can assure you that she has little opportunity to process the event in between gagging and retching.  How was she supposed to predict such a series of events? Does her celebrity negate her right to hospital care? 

The only arrogance I can see in this situation, Mr. Morrissey, is yours.  Having checked out your biography on Wikipedia, I can find no evidence of your medical training.  And, considering your scathing indictment of the Duchess, I suspect you are not well-acquainted enough to be privy to her personal medical file.  Therefore, I believe the only thing that “doesn’t ring true” is your ill-conceived opinion.  Unfortunately, you have already done some damage.  There are people out there who will read your comments and assume this condition is not real.  Instead of doing good with your celebrity, you have chosen to publicly invalidate an already little-recognized, under-researched, and dangerous medical condition affecting thousands of innocent women and their babies.  I would suggest there are greater uses for your fame than this.


Flappiness Is


10 thoughts on “Dear Morrissey: What Rings True

  1. Kermommy

    I have to say, I hadn’t heard about Morrissey and his ignorant comments. I don’t know why he bothered to say anything considering he has no connection or clue. I hope he loses fans and friends over this.

  2. Nancy

    Well written as usual. I think the press is also to blame here. They usually call it a ‘serious case of morning sickness’ rather than ‘Hyperemesis.’ I wouldn’t have known there was a difference had I not read your posts.

  3. Rosie Jackson-Kilham

    Well said. I was a midwife in the 70’s and 80’s and still remember the distress and hurt this condition caused to the women that suffered with it.

  4. Moira

    I like what you wrote. The only thing I would say is that women here are NOT allowed to go home with any form of ‘home healthcare’ like they do in the States. If a woman needs fluids, or any other form of IV treatment, she WILL be hospitalised. Unfortunately that either means women are hospitalised for long periods of time, or the condition is under-treated (more common) and badly cared for throughout the pregnancy.

    I also don’t understand why so many ‘famous’ people get involved and make stupid comments, without doing any research. It only shows their ignorance

  5. Molly

    Thank you so much for this post! The sheer ignorance of this entirely debilitating condition continues to astound me. I don’t know whether to consider myself cursed or blessed with it. It’s a curse because of the physical and emotional toll it takes on me every day. It is a blessing because through this illness I hope to be able to help others better understand and be a support system for women who develop HG. I am amazed by the support of the HG community. It makes me cry how the media have twisted this into “just morning sickness” and ridiculed people as being anorexic or bulimic. No pregnant woman wants to be hospitalized and lose control of her entire life! To suggest the Duchess didn’t need to be hospitalized is to say you wanted her to die!! I just got out of the hospital after four days of constant IV drip with dextrose to make sure my kidneys didn’t fail and my baby and I didn’t die. This is no joke, as any woman who has suffered AND her family will gladly tell you. Duchess Kate has no reason to feel guilty for the death of that nurse. The person/people who should feel remorse is/are the Australian radio show who prank called and tricked that nurse. They alone hold responsibility for her tragic death.

  6. Shelley

    I don’t think whether or not the Duchess had a “serious condition” is even relevant in this case. People go to the Dr. all the time with mild to severe symptoms that often result in diagnosis that might or might not match the severity of symptoms. There is absolutely nothing wrong with going to the Dr. for any reason at any time, thought some may cross the line to being a hypochondriac (which is itself an issue that needs treating). Would Morrissey take the blame if the Duchess lost her life or baby for deciding not to go to the Dr. for fear of the shame that people like him would try to put on her? His entire argument is absurd in every possible way.

  7. Sally

    I was hospitalised with Hyperemesis Gravidarum during both my pregnancies. It’s a terrible illness and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. That said I hoped, on hearing such a high profile celebrity had it, that it would get wider recognition. Thr

    1. Sally

      Throughout my pregnancies I faced people’s disbelief and belittling of my symptoms. Morrisey is expressing what most people think that “everyone gets some sickness in pregnancy, you shouldn’t make a fuss about it.” Even people who saw me at my worst, dropping weight, unable to keep water down, hospitalised, still said things like that. The papers still call it “severe morning sickness” rather than recognising it by its medical term. I have no idea how to change this perception, but i hope your well chosen and beautifully written words will help. Thank you xx

  8. christa

    Excellent article!! I am an obstetrician and a huge Smiths and Morrissey fan – it’s the only music I play in my office and OR. Most of what I hear out of Morrissey I steadfastly agree with. Not so with his remarks in the New Zealand interview. I am disappointed at the ignorance displayed around the condition of hyperemesis gravidarum. I would not wish this condition on my worst enemy. It is wretched and anyone who suffers from it deserves our empathy… no matter how you feel about the royal fetus/family. It’s sad to see such a lack of circumspection from the revered Moz.

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