One of the most confounding things for many people when they first hear the term lupus is, “Why is it called ‘lupus?’” The name doesn’t resonate with people today; it doesn’t seem to describe any kind of body part or disease process. Or, does it?
The word “lupus” is Latin for “wolf.” Back in the day, in the 19th century, an astute doctor noticed a very distinctive rash across a woman’s cheeks and nose. The woman had a very serious case of kidney disease, too. The doc put the two together, identified a disease process (inflammation) that was manifested in both the rash and the kidney disease, and called it “lupus,” because the rash looked much like the markings common on many wolves’ faces. Moving up into our century, the name “lupus” is still used as a catchword to encompass three major types of the disease:
cutaneous lupus – affecting the skin
systemic lupus erythematosus – affecting one or more internal organs and, sometimes, skin as well
drug-induced lupus – Some medications can cause lupus, however when these medications are discontinued, the lupus usually goes away
There is also pediatric lupus (lupus found in children), and other sub-categories of the above.
During the past several years, as various lupus organizations have tried to raise awareness for the disease, efforts have been made to come up with a descriptive color or even a symbol for lupus. Sometimes, the color orange, associated with the sun, to which many lupus patients are very sensitive, and the color purple have both been used to connote lupus-related activities. The wolf is also used sometimes, as is the shape of a “loop.”
Personally, I find relating to the wolf a bit problemmatic; although it is a majestic animal, as a lupus patient, even one with a malar (red) facial rash, I don’t have anything in common with it (except, perhaps, for occasionally howling at new or stirred-up symptoms)! The “loop” idea also doesn’t really resonate with me, except, perhaps, for the days when lupus brain fog is really pronounced and I, too, feel “loopy.” The color orange is interesting, but personally, I prefer to wear yellow as it doesn’t clash with my reddish wigs. Purple? Doesn’t really relate, unless, as a lupus patient, you’re royally angry about an aspect of said disease.
So, we’ll continue to try to come up with descriptive images and words for this thing called lupus. As you hear more about the disease throughout this Lupus Awareness Month, you might come up with something, too. Let me know if you do!
Blessings for the day,