In the Stacks – Support Your Local Butterfly

Last year, I wrote a blog about the love o’ my life having Lupus. Lupus is an auto-immune disease which translates to your own body, for whatever reason, physically attacking itself. It leads to massive infections, organ failure, and horrible skin lesions just to name a few symptoms. Did you ever wonder why the artist Seal has those horrible marks on his face? Yeah… it’s because he has what is called Discoid Lupus. There are several forms of Lupus which can affect human beings in several different ways, and not one of them is in any way curable or not major in the damage it causes you and your loved ones.

My fiancé has battled this terrible illness for about seven years now. She deals with so much and yet still maintains a full time job and is the primary parent to her twelve year old daughter. That is a miracle in and of itself. I seriously do not know how she does it. I was thinking just this morning about what subject I should write about for my next blog, and like fate, I received a notification on my phone. It was for an email from the Lupus Foundation of America to which I have subscribed to for years now. They said May is Lupus Awareness Month. Talk about a light bulb going off in my head! And where am I taking this new blog? Do you know that about 16,000 people are diagnosed with Lupus each year in America? Now there have been many breakthroughs recently about how to properly diagnose Lupus. Truth is… it’s complicated. It is extremely complicated. There are countless occurrences when people are diagnosed with Lupus who in actuality, do not have it. And there are even more occurrences when people have Lupus, and is never detected through medical testing. The illness itself is some kind of mystical anomaly in modern day medicine. And what happens when certain people hear about things that they just don’t understand? Well… isn’t the old saying that ignorance is bliss?

So hopefully this will grab your attention, I know in my last blog I mentioned some big celebrities that were said to have Lupus: Toni Braxton, Seal as I mentioned above, and Nick Cannon is a big name nowadays. Nick Cannon just recently started showing his support for Lupus by walking in Washington DC with thousands of DC residents to “End Lupus Now”. That was just a couple of weeks ago. Did you know that close to that time last year, he was still making public statements that he felt he couldn’t address his diagnosis to anyone for fear he wouldn’t have a job anymore? He’d probably lose his America’s Got Talent gig. Can’t have a man who could be out on sick leave indeterminately now can we? In this last year, it was further determined Lady Gaga has tested positive for Lupus. Here’s another big name for everyone… Selena Gomez is battling Lupus as we speak. Now have any of them gone out and said they want to stand up for this horrible illness? No, and why? Because they are afraid; they are scared. And really, who can blame them?

When your body attacks itself, you are left hurting from the inside. You can’t move and your joints are severely inflamed. I’ll bet you that a lot of times, Lupus patients would pray to only have something like Rheumatoid Arthritis or Cancer even for that matter. Because how can you expect anyone to look at you and believe you can be in such a horrible state, when it isn’t physically showing itself on your body? Normally, people in severe Lupus flares can only show that they are in a flare if they present the infamous mark on their face: The Butterfly Rash. Basically, both cheeks light up a bright red, and that is how you can tell more often than not. People can easily mistake it for sunburn I’m sure. Is it fair? It doesn’t seem that way, but that is life in this day and age. Without awareness and true understanding, that is all anyone can expect.

So this month, I think we should honor all of those who have lost control of their own bodies. Here in the Library District, there are hundreds if not thousands of resources available to anyone interested in learning and understanding this illness. And so you all know, the national symbol for Lupus is the purple butterfly. So support your local butterflies this month! Or just wear some purple if you feel so inclined. Lucky for us staff… we are getting ready for the Summer Reading Program and our shirts we wear to promote the program are in fact a nice, dark purple. So ha! We all get to support by default. Until next time dear readers… stay classy… stay reading… stay understanding. 🙂  – Steve

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