Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Health Writer's Month: Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad, Wolf?

Today's Health Writer's Month topic is: Health Mascot. Give yourself, your condition, or your health focus a mascot. Is it a real person? Fictional? Mythical being? Describe them. Bonus points if you provide a visual!

It seems we've been here before.

Lots of people use butterflies on their sites (in fact I use a lovely one my daughter designed for me) to symbolise lupus. This comes from the "butterfly rash" that many lupus patients have across their nose and cheeks.

The butterfly is sweet and delicate.  It is perhaps a good symbol for lupies - for the same reason as it is sometimes used as a symbol for resurrection at Easter... The caterpillar emerging from the cocoon as a beautiful butterfly is a symbol of new life - life overcoming death, disease, the things that would oppose it. The butterfly's a great symbol for lupies, as we try to make the most of the life we have, despite our sometimes-failing, often-painful, bodies.

When I think of lupus itself as something living, it's a wolf. Lupus got its name from the wolf - that butterfly rash was thought to look like a wolf bite. And I can tell you, even without a butterfly rash, lupus does indeed bite.

Lupus is dangerous, threatening. It's our primal fear, the monster of fairy tales. The big bad wolf isn't just at the door, he's made it inside. Like the monster dressed in Grannie's clothes, he's already infiltrated a trusted space - our immune systems.

But we read our fairy tales, and we know the big, bad, wolf can be beaten, eventually. Sooner or later the woodsman with the axe will come and rescue us - of course the woodsman is wearing a white coat in a lab somewhere. In the meantime, who's afraid of the big, bad wolf? If I'm going to be honest, I quite often am. Sometimes, I'm just angry and defiant.  Sometimes, I try to find ways to outwit him. But always, I know I have to respect him.

Never under-estimate the big, bad wolf, because if you build your house out of straw, you know he's going to blow it down.

This post was written as part of the Wego Health Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge.

If you like either my "It's OK to love a lupie" butterfly or my "lupus bites" wolf, you can find them both available on shirts, mugs, etc at irisshirtshop.toctopus.com

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