“When you hear the sound of hooves, think horses, not zebras.”
This is a phrase that is referred to often when medical students are in medical school and the term “zebra” is used in reference to a rare disease or condition. Doctors are taught to expect common conditions, versus incorrectly diagnosing patients with rare conditions.
However, we know that “Zebras” DO exist. And because of this, obtaining a proper diagnosis and treatment can be more difficult when the condition you have is considered rare, yet in truth is rarely diagnosed, patients are often misdiagnosed. The identity associated with a Medical Zebra was adopted in order to bring our community together.
It has been suggested that we are not Medical Zebras, but horses of many different colors, instead.
The following stems from a presentation by Dr. Heidi A. Collins in reference to horses:
“A horse of a different color metaphorically represents something that may be completely separate from what one originally expected. Frequently, a horse of a different color may be a complete surprise, an unexpected truth or a feature that seems somehow out-of-place.” ~Idioms Unpacked”
Even though the Zebra represents all rare conditions and EDS is in fact, not-so-rare, the EDS community seems to like it and wants to stick with it. The Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation recently unveiled their new logo, which included a Zebra (see left).
So, if we are more like horses of different colors, but we are sticking with the zebra, maybe we are really Zebras with different color patterns of stripes?
Or, rainbow unicorns, as we like to be referred to as in the Facebook group – Ehlers-Danlos Athletes.
The written content, “Why the Zebra? And what does it mean?” was copied with permission from Our Stories of Strength – Living with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.