My friends and I all had plans to go play in the field today. I was very sad to find out that my friend Starr was not there. I asked the other Bunnies if they knew where she was.
Sebastian told me he heard that she was home sick in bed with a Lupus flare. “What is a Lupus flare?”, I asked him. “I do not know”, he replied but added that “Starr is sick quite often with them”. “Sometimes, she even has to go to the hospital”, he said.
“I am going to go visit her”, I told all of my friends. “She must be very sad being home all by herself while we are all outside playing”.
“That’s a great idea”, Dot replied, “Why dont we all go?”.
So all of the bunnies gathered together and hopped along the path through the fields and into the forest to the burrow where Starr lived. When we got there, Dr. Cottontail was visiting with her. He was happy to see us because he knew it would make his patient Starr so much happier to have friends there with her.
“Dr. Cottontail? What is Lupus”, I asked him.
“Well Hope, that is an excellent question. Thank you for asking. Why dont you and the other bunnies all gather around the stump table here and we will talk on it for a little while”, Dr Cottontail replied.
Dr Cottontail asked the group, “Do any of you smart little bunnies know what the immune system is?”. Leo immediately raised his paw, ” I do! I do! That is what keeps us from getting sick!”
“Good answer. I knew you were smart bunnies”, Doctor Cottontail smiled and winked. at the group. He then went on to say “That Lupus is a complicated disease that falls into a group of over 100 different other diseases known as Autoimmune Diseases.”
Shadow raised her paw “What does autoimmune mean?”
Doctor Cottontail responded, “Autoimmune diseases is when the immune system turns against itself. It is when the body goes to war against it’s own self.”
“Oh wow”, Leo shouted “Why on earth would it do that?!”
” No one knows”, Doctor Cottontail replied. “For Lupus it might be easier for you to understand if you think of it in terms of playing Good Guys and Bad Guys. In healthy people, the immune system is the Good Guy and the things that do not belong in the body are the Bad Guys. Things like bacteria, germs, viruses, etc.
The immune system, which we already know helps to keep us healthy, normally fights against things that do not belong in the body that make us sick. With Lupus, the immune system gets confused. For unknown reasons, it thinks everything is a bad guy. Even itself. So it fights with everything. It can sometimes try to kill important parts that the body needs to stay alive like the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, etc”. Every patient experiences Lupus differently. Some have a mild case of it and others have it very badly when the immune system attacks the important parts that keeps them alive.
Sometimes a Lupus flare shows up as rash across the face that looks like a butterfly. We call that a malar rash. A flare can affect how your brain thinks (we call that Lupus Brain Fog), which makes you forget things or gets you very dizzy at times. It feels like there is a cloud sitting on your brain. Some patients end up sleeping a lot because they get very tired (called Lupus Fatigue), others barely sleep at all (insomnia).
The sun is very bad for Lupus. People with Lupus are sensitive to the sun’s UV-A and UV-B rays. That is what we call photosensitivity. The rays of the sun can cause a Lupus flare”.
“How do you get rid of Lupus?”, Sebastian asked.
Dr. Cottontail replied, “Sadly, they do not know yet. There is no known cure for it.”
“That makes me sad”, Hope responded, “Is there anything we can do to help?”
“Sure you can”, Dr. Cottontail stated. “You can be a big help by walking in some of the Lupus Awareness Walks that the Alliance for Lupus Research and the Lupus Foundation of America do each year and try to raise money for Medical Research. You can also wear Purple clothes and wrists bands to help make people know about Lupus. But most of all, you can help by being there for your friend, Starr. She needs to know she isn’t alone in this and that you all care about her.”
“That’s a GREAT idea”, Hope shouted.
** Jerry Pond is hoping to create a series of coloring books dealing with different diseases and helping to educate young children about these diseases in ways that they can easily understand. **