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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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.
- 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.