HAWMC 2013 Day 8: When you hear hoofbeats; think Okapi and not horses!!


Welcome to the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge brought together by WEGO Health – a social network for all health activists.  Again, I am participating in the annual Writer’s Month Challenge in which I will be writing about my health activism and health condition based upon prompts given.

Today’s prompt reads as follows:

If your health condition (or the health condition of a loved one) was an animal, what would it be?  Is it a real animal or make-believe? 

If my health condition were an animal , I would compare it to the Okapi.  A real animal that is closely related to the giraffe, and which resides in the Ituri Rainforest, in the northeast region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  It is thought that there are only 10 to 20 thousand still living in the wild, and therefore the sight of one is rather rare since they are close to being endangered.

The Okapi
The Okapi

I have chosen the Okapi as a metaphorical representation of my condition, as like the Okapi, my condition is also rather unique and rare.

Often, with doctors when they hear symptoms, they often “think horses, not zebras.”  Perhaps this is the reason for many misdiagnoses, and waiting, often for years for the correct diagnosis when dealing with rare or unusual conditions.  Doctors assume the symptoms are the result of a more common illness or disorder; such as when people assume hoofbeats are caused by horses, and not zebras.  Therefore, when considering an animal as a representation of my condition, it has to be one which is rare and unusual, and one in which others are not likely to consider.

Furthermore, as a result of my condition, the symptoms that I experience, such as the dizziness and vertigo, can also be found in many different conditions as well as my own.  The Okapi, is very often said to reminisce with another animal also – the markings that it has, bares similar similarities to that of the zebra, and therefore often mistaken to related to it, although the Okapi is said to be closely related to the giraffe.

What would I name the animal?  For this I would have to go for ‘Bambi’ – yes, I know Bambi is famously a deer, but with the weakness in my legs, and the problems with the balance, I do look like Bambi a lot of the time.  Imagine in the film when Bambi is trying to get up and walk – that is very much like me when my legs are weak; often unable to support me, and so legs collapsing just like Bambi’s is a regular occurrence for me!

My own ‘Okapi’ then would be extremely clumsy and off-balance to represent the weakness in my limbs; and would sleep for hours on end because of extreme fatigue.  However, the ‘Okapi’ would also show strength and stubbornness as like with everyone battling chronic illness both of these traits are needed to get through each and every day.

So, next time you hear hoofbeats, think of the Okapi and not horses!

If your condition was an animal, what animal would you choose?  Have fun with it; and let me know!  Comment below!


3 thoughts on “HAWMC 2013 Day 8: When you hear hoofbeats; think Okapi and not horses!!

    • Thank you so much for your kind comment. It’s always lovely to hear positive feedback on your writing and truly appreciate today as it’s a bad day. Thank you for cheering me up x

  1. What a great representation of your condition. I had never heard of the Okapi (much like your diagnosis), but it is a beautiful animal.

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