To the Medical Photographer Who Took Nude Pictures of Me


Recently, I had the opportunity to get my picture taken. Well, they were not exactly glamor shots, but medical photography as visual documentation of my rare medical condition.

I was diagnosed with probable Dercum’s disease last year and I have been working with my health care providers to find answers. On the day of my surprise photoshoot, I consulted with a plastic surgeon, chair of the department at a renowned teaching university. I wanted to see if a minimally invasive procedure could be done. The surgeon explained that problem with lipomatosis is that it often returns when surgically removed.

One of my legs has an area that is the size of a large softball that would require a large horizontal incision to remove the masses, and would leave a scarring indentation. With a major scar and several weeks of recovery, it could return. I wasn’t amused but I appreciated his honesty and expertise.

Sometimes, I cling to hope even when deep down I know there are few answers. Ultimately, he advised me to wait on any procedures because I previously had surgery for another issue. At the end of the visit, he told me that he wanted to have pictures taken.

“Sure, why not?” I thought. Then, I was introduced to Carolyn, the medical photographer.

She shook my hand then led me down the hall to a room was set-up with special lighting. It was really something from a movie set. Part of me wanted to crack a joke about doing a catwalk, but I wasn’t sure if it was really appropriate.

But, I was about to be even more surprised.

I had to what? Take off my underwear and lift up my gown?

“It’s a good thing you’re compassionate and female,” I thought as I smiled and agreed to bare my naked backside and front to someone I had known for five minutes.

Normally, I’d be ashamed, but I really wasn’t this time because I knew that Carolyn understood it wasn’t an easy thing to do, and that I was living with a challenging medical condition.

It was her kindness and gentle spirit exceeded my anxiety. She was truly meant to do that job because she had her heart in the right place. In fact, I would say that people like Carolyn belong in the medical profession. I’ve had many horrible days prior to and since diagnosis. Yet, she made my otherwise unfair day a bit easier to bear.

At the end of my photography session, I told her that having lipomatosis has made me less judgmental of appearances. But, what I didn’t tell her is that so often I judge myself. I hate my body, I think that no person would want to ever be with me intimately and that I am worried for my future. Yet, I believe she knew it because she agreed with my sentiments.

I hugged her after she walked me back to my room. I wanted to tell her that she had awesome legs (I am always a bit envious but happy for others with great legs), but I wanted to be tactful.

Rare diseases are unforgiving, as can be the world, but as I left the clinic that day, I thought of how blessed I was to meet a kind person who of all things, took pictures of my naked, deformed body, without judgment.

Thank you, Carolyn, for being kind, for keeping me together when I wanted to cry, and making a difference in what you do.

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Thinkstock Image By: Wavebreakmedia

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