This is Bryan’s #RealLifeHS story

hs hidradenitis suppurativa

My name is Bryan Wickham! I’m 36 years old and I’m living in Norfolk, VA. I’m an artist with my parents in a group labelled Off Hand Gallery. 

School Days

Starting in middle school I dealt with acne as a teen. By high school had the ‘pizza face’ that some often go through in their adolescence. I started getting abscesses and lesions on my face that were painful and then I was diagnosed with cystic acne around that time. Toward senior year it got progressively worse with lesions on the back of my neck.

Life After School

I joined the Navy in 2014, a year after graduation. I had a few lesions that would occur in the sternum area or a Pilonidal cyst on the lower back. But it wasn’t until 2017 when I started having issues in my armpits that started my Hidradenitis Suppurativa.

I developed painful abscesses on my buttocks that made it difficult to sit and function in my military work. I would deal with fevers from the issues and no support from my wife at the time. So, I would be temporarily excused from my duties or SIQ (sick in quarters) I’ve had reoccurring lesions, cortisone shots, lancings, and surgeries that would leave open wounds that I wasn’t able to keep properly dressed because of military obligations and personal issues.

(It’s not my) Weight and Hygiene

Every time I went to the doctors, I was told that it was or wasn’t acne-related, I needed to lose weight, or my hygiene needed to choose a mild soap. My weight fluctuated and I tried to lose 40lbs to hopefully help the condition and also get deployed to Iraq. 

HS in Iraq

In Iraq, my condition worsened and I had more abscesses in my armpits, buttocks, and a pilonidal cyst the size of a golf ball. I spent 2 weeks in the hospital in Kuwait prior to returning to the US in July 2009. I re-enlisted in 2010 and changed to a new command in Washington DC. My weight and abscesses continued to be issues and I was medically retired in 2012. I’ve been prescribed medications like Accutane, Humira, and Remicade in these 20 years. 

Where I am Today

Today, I’m a video creator for social media since many opportunities for jobs have failed because of medical issues and the frustrations caused by them. I have earned my Associate degree in graphic design and worked towards my Bachelors up until the COVID-19 pandemic and home remodelling had gotten my attention. Since then, I am on a Ketogenic diet and have dropped weight from 235 to 197 and still working on my weight loss journey to 160lbs. I’m still a video creator on social media and also an amateur keto chef at home.


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