I want to share a great article from The Daily Beast on Lady Gaga’s recently canceled tour and announcement of her diagnosis of hip pain and synovitis–a fancy way of saying she has inflammation and arthritis. This article lays out the ramifications of her diagnosis and why she chose to use the word “synovitis” in lieu of “arthritis” which we all know very well carries with it stigma, judgment, and the very archaic idea that “only old people get it.”
I’ve read a lot of comments on Facebook groups, Twitter and articles in the past week since Lady Gaga’s announcement. My immediate thought when she first announced her “injury” and canceled a few concerts was that she was dealing with the initial symptoms of lupus. I still believe this may be true.
I speculate that her recent weight gain may have been due less to overeating and more to prednisone. She certainly overuses her joints like any major athlete and will likely see injuries early in her career. As a fan of her music and talent, I’m saddened that she may have to face a severe disease such as lupus. I am also saddened by the harsh comments I’ve read.
Many fans and non-fans are disappointed that she has not come out and “announced her diagnosis already” as if she owes the arthritis population. Yes, I believe there is a certain responsibility that comes with the limelight but I also firmly believe that every human being should be allowed the grace, silence, and privacy to weigh and meditate on the sacrifice, costs, and ramifications that come with a devastating diagnosis.
We, more than many chronically ill populations, know that it can take many months, even years, to come to a firm diagnosis of a rheumatic disease and Lady Gaga may be traveling this road right now. And, because she is on the public stage, she would not want to announce an incorrect diagnosis. Were she to do so now, prematurely, she would be attacked just the same as she is now for what she is not doing. If she is going to champion the cause of those with arthritis, I am sure she will want to do so in a well thought out manner, with the same care and design she has applied to her artistic career.
Billboard reports that her tour cancellation is costing her north of $25 million. And before you whine that she is rich and can handle it, consider the losses to the ticketing agency, the staff who support her and that $25M is still a huge chunk of change and a major percentage of her earnings. I would venture to say that she is taking her health very seriously by canceling her tour and apologizing to her fans–an example that we should all be very proud of and support. As members of an illness community that is not well understood, with diseases that are often misdiagnosed, and impact and severity that is under reported, it would behoove us to hold up this superstar with prayer and kind words as she seeks to heal and understand the mystery illness ravaging her joints. If we can’t support the most public among us, how can we expect her to support us?