Like the Donkey in the Party Game, I Don’t Know Where Lupus Will Pin the Tail

Kellie McRae avatar

by Kellie McRae |

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normalcy, adversity

When I was a kid, a popular party game was pin the tail on the donkey. I don’t know if children still play it, but here’s how it works: A picture of a donkey is hung on a tree or another vertical surface. Players take turns to wear a blindfold. The other players turn them in circles until they are dizzy, then they are handed a tail with a pin in it and tasked with pinning the tail on the donkey in the correct place.

With lupus, it feels that my life has become this game. Once I was turned toward the donkey, the other kids would yell instructions at me, telling me which direction to turn and where to place the pin. I was disorientated and dizzy, so I rarely faced in the right direction. And when several people were shouting at me at the same time, no matter how helpful their words were, I couldn’t hear them.

The person with the pin has good intentions; they want to return the tail to the poor little donkey so that it can go on with its life. However, more often than not, partygoers rarely land the pin in the right place. Lupus is stumbling toward me, thinking it’s helping, while it is poking that sharp little pin into hearts, livers, lungs, and more. I don’t know where it’s going to land, so I can’t prepare or brace myself for its attack.

While lupus pins holes, I get bombarded with advice: go plant-based, drink thyme tea, add more niacin, juice for 30 days. However, many of those shouting about the easiness haven’t had a turn. They don’t know that nailing the donkey in just the right place is much harder than it seems.

Lupus is adding new, permanent pinholes. Many of us are like the donkey: stuck to the tree, wincing in fear, hoping that the partygoer will miss us entirely, trip and fall before they get there, or avoid piercing something that warrants a hospital stay or worse. The party may be fun for most attendees, but not for the donkey — nor us.

Those watching think it’s funny. They don’t consider the holes in the donkey that can’t be repaired. Onlookers believe that though the tail gets stuck in unexpected places, the donkey looks OK, so it’s fair to let the next person give it a try.

Now, pin the tail on the donkey is fun to play. But while in bed, wishing for sleep to relieve my relentless fatigue, I had another horrendous coughing attack. I have never smoked, but I now have a lung disease that has worsened since diagnosis. An unexpected pin that missed the tail by a million miles and I, like the partygoer, was blindfolded and had no idea that it was coming.

Lupus is mean, but it means well. It is trying to fight off things that it believes are harming us, but because it is wrong, lupus has become the enemy — the one causing the most misplaced pins.

I want to move on to bobbing for apples — they are healthy, but wait … I’ll leave that analogy for another column.


Note: Lupus News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lupus News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.