Sometimes, it’s our own personal battles that inspire our greatest successes.
In the case of Suzanne Moloney, it was her own Hidradenitis Suppurativa diagnosis that led her to create HidraWear, which are dressings specifically designed for people with HS.
Throughout her journey, Suzanne has found her own strength in trying to help others along the way, and as she says, make the HS community “proud.”
There’s no doubt she’s done that, and is encouraging all of us to find the opportunity in every setback, the possibility in every problem, and the silver lining in whatever life may bring.
Thought Catalog: What is your personal experience with HS? When were you diagnosed, and what was it like?
Suzanne Moloney: I noticed the first signs of HS when I was 12 years old and I was diagnosed when I was 22.
It started mild. I tried to treat it myself and told no one. When I was around 17, I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I had to confide in my Mum. She took me to the doctor and that’s when the very long path to diagnosis began.
I was prescribed endless antibiotics, steroid injections and what felt like every other medication under the sun. I had surgeries to remove the damaged skin and was misdiagnosed countless times before finally, a doctor recognised it as HS.
Even since my diagnosis, it hasn’t been an easy road. I’ve had more surgeries, tried more medications and quite often find myself educating my healthcare professionals about HS.
It was hard. I am not one to dwell on the bad things in life. I try my best to be a positive person and to make the world a positive place but sometimes HS does everything in its power to make this difficult. For me, the worst part is not being able to do the things I once loved. As a child, I was very sporty. Sports are pretty much out of the question for me now. But instead of dwelling on that, I have taken up yoga and love it. I am very entrepreneurial and passionate about my work. Before this, I owned and worked in my own commercial bakery. There were periods when I had to take prolonged leave from work because I was recovering from surgery; they were the hardest for me.
I am a person with a lot of ‘get up and go’ and sometimes when HS fatigue creeps in, I simply can’t be the person I want to be which is frustrating. However, I’ve accepted that HS is a part of me, and I make the most of what I have.
I have replaced the things I can no longer do with new passions and hobbies and have built myself a job where I can work from home if needed.
While I have accepted it and adapted to it, I am always dreaming for a cure.
TC: What inspired you to start HidraWear?
I got so frustrated with the current dressings available. They were so time-consuming to put on and to change. When they stayed on, the adhesive would damage my skin, and often they wouldn’t stay in place and leaked.
I got to a point where I was spending too much of my life trying to dress wounds, trying to find wound dressings or worrying about it.
The idea for HidraWear came to me and it seemed simple, yet no one was doing anything like it. I’ve always been entrepreneurial, so I decided to take it into my own hands. I founded a wound care company called HidraMed Solutions, and HidraWear will be the first in what I hope to be a long line of products that will make a difference.
TC: What is HidraWear?
SM: HidraWear is the world’s first adhesive-free garment and dressing solution specifically designed for people living with HS.
TC: How can other HS sufferers invest, or purchase it?
SM: HidraWear is not yet available to buy but we hope to launch it very soon. When we do launch, you will be able to order it on www.hidrawear.com but until then you can subscribe to our email list and we will let you know as soon as is it available to order.
TC: Why is HidraWear different than standard wound care?
SM: HidraWear is different for several reasons. The biggest one being, it is the first wound care garment specifically made for the needs of people living with HS and it was created by a HS patient. We have surveyed hundreds of people living with HS and are currently going through our trialling phase, so you know that all along the way, HidraWear has been created with HS patients needs and feedback in mind.
It is adhesive-free which makes it very skin-friendly. It’s very easy to use so changing a dressing will no longer be a tedious task. The dressings are highly absorbent and secure, so the likelihood of leakages is reduced, and it is body conforming to allow for comfortable and flexible movement.
TC: What do you think are the biggest misperceptions about HS?
SM: For me, the biggest one is that ‘it can’t be that bad.’ My HS occurs mainly on areas of my body that are covered like my armpits and groin, so no one can see there is something physically wrong. But it’s not just that, people forget about the mental effects of HS too. HS can cause extreme pain and fatigue which can affect your lifestyle habits such as cooking, exercising and socialising. All of this can lead to poor self-esteem and self-confidence and increase the risk of developing depression or anxiety. It’s a vicious circle that isn’t apparent to the naked eye and can often be overlooked.
TC: What do you ultimately hope your company accomplishes long-term?
SM: Our primary goal is to make a meaningful difference in the lives of people living with HS.
We believe the HidraWear garment will do this, but we don’t just want to sell a product. We want to advocate for people with HS by raising awareness, increasing knowledge and reducing the stigma around chronic illnesses.
We are also funding research into HS. There is a lot we don’t know about it and still want to find out.
On a personal level, the ultimate accomplishment would be a cure. If HidraMed Solutions can fund research that may get us a step closer to a cure, then we will sleep knowing we have done the HS community proud.