Lena Dunham was snapped by the paparazzi leaving her home with a cane. She later went on Instagram to reveal that she has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a chronic illness with no cure.
The photos show Lena in a navy blue housedress with a gray cardigan and slippers–a far cry from her glam appearance on the red carpet. The writer and actress also seems to have a brace wrapped around her hand.
And oh yeah, she’s carrying a cane.
Lena explained why she needs the mobility device by revealing her EDS diagnosis: “An Ehler-Danlos syndrome flare means that I need support from more than just my friends… so thank you, sweet cane!”
Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is actually a collection of related disorders caused by abnormal production of collagen, a protein that affects the skin and joints.
People with certain types of this disorder may have super stretchy skin, unstable joints, frequent scarring, or even severe and life-threatening heart problems.
Sadly, there is no cure for this genetic disorder. People living with EDS treat symptoms with a combination of vitamins, physical therapy, and assistive devices like Lena’s cane.
In typical Lena Dunham fashion, she wrote an essay about her diagnosis for her 2.9 million fans on Instagram:
“I could choose to be embarrassed by these paparazzi pics- I mean, that’s probably the point of someone publishing them in the first place- but I’m really not. I could lie and say it was an early Halloween look (Don’t you get it? I’m going as a con woman leaving a Florida Keys jail after being acquitted of murdering her husband, and now she’s trying to get disability license plates.)
“But the truth is just: This is what life is like when I’m struggling most with chronic illness. An Ehler-Danlos syndrome flare means that I need support from more than just my friends… so thank you, sweet cane! For years, I resisted doing anything that would make my physical situation easier, insisting that a cane would “make things weird.” But it’s so much less weird to actually be able to participate than to stay in bed all day.
“And yes, you’d better believe I’m wearing my nightgown. I was walking four feet to the car to go to the doctor and I wanted to be full cozy. I mean, didn’t Bieber wear hotel slippers for like five years? Yeah, so I can wear my glamour nighty for two hours. And then an hour later, I’m in a meeting look tackling the job I love.
“That’s the two-fold life of a woman with chronic illness; we still rock our dreams and goals and passions (and fashions) and we live many lives in one day. Tell me about your day!”
While EDS sufferers are frequently found in sideshows thanks to their hypermobile joints and stretchy skin, an increasing number of people have come forward to reveal their diagnosis.
Both Sia and Jameela Jamil have milder forms of EDS, while Coronation Street actress Cherylee Houston uses a wheelchair because of her illness.
Last year, Lena also revealed that she’d had surgery to deal with her endometriosis.
She’s more than comfortable talking about her health problems because, as she told Us Weekly last November, “I think, we have to be reminded again and again and again that we’re not alone,”