By now, the story of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard, the real mother-daughter pair who inspired the new Hulu series The Act, is well-known. Dee Dee was a perpetrator of Munchausen by proxy, in which a caretaker or parent fakes, exaggerates, or induces an illness to attract attention. Her daughter Gypsy realized that she wasn't actually sick, and plotted with an online acquaintance to kill her mother.
For years leading up to the murder, Gypsy was confined to a wheelchair, took several medications, and ate through a feeding tube, all at her mother’s wishes. Doctors who worked with her recalled to ABC News that Gypsy never spoke in appointments; Dee Dee was the mouthpiece that described various symptoms and ailments. On top of that, since the family had lived in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina, Gypsy's medical records and birth certificate had been destroyed.
Now, we know that Gypsy's lengthy list of medical conditions was all a lie. So, what did Gypsy — and doctors — think she suffered from? Here are all the health conditions that Dee Dee alleged her daughter Gypsy Rose had.
Of all the conditions that Gypsy supposedly had, leukemia, cancer of the white blood cells, was the one that she was truly believed she had. "I did believe my mother when she said that I had leukemia," Gypsy told ABC News, explaining that Dee Dee had her on medications for cancer. But part of Dee Dee's manipulation included making sure that Gypsy looked as sick as she said she was. She would shave Gypsy's head, explaining that her hair was going to fall out anyways from the leukemia treatments.
When the pair was still living in New Orleans, Dee Dee had Gypsy tested for muscular dystrophy, an inherited disease that causes muscle weakness and loss. The test came back negative, but Dee Dee insisted to all of her later doctors that she had it, and she made Gypsy use a wheelchair, despite being able to walk on her own. "I remember having her stand up, and she could hold her own weight," Bernardo Flasterstein, MD, a neurologist who treated Gypsy told Buzzfeed News. Later, Dr. Flasterstein noted that he suspected "a strong possibility of Munchausen by proxy" in Dee Dee.
Epilepsy is a neurological condition that causes people to have recurring seizures. At a very young age, Dee Dee told doctors that Gypsy was having seizures, so she was placed on an anti-seizure medication. As it turns out, some anti-seizure medications do have oral health side effects, which could have caused Gypsy's dental issues — although Dee Dee alleged that Gypsy was allergic to sugar. (She also numbed her gums so that she would drool, and convinced doctors to have her salivary glands surgically removed.) As Gypsy grew up, Dee Dee said she had brain damage from the seizures.
Dee Dee alleged that Gypsy had sleep apnea, a disorder than causes people to stop breathing or to use shallow breathing during sleep, when she was just 3 months old. Then, she claimed she had severe asthma, a chronic disease that's common in children, and causes the walls of someone's airways to become inflamed.
Vision and hearing impaired
The one ailment that Gypsy truly suffered from was a lazy eye and poor vision. She always wore thick glasses to correct it, and even had eye surgery to attempt to strengthen the muscles of her eye. "The only thing I had wrong with me is I have a little bit of a lazy eye. Not all the time, but I have better vision in [my left] eye than I do [in my right] eye," Gypsy told ABC News in 2018. "That’s it." But Dee Dee also said that Gypsy had hearing issues due to muscular dystrophy, which she never had.