“When you hear hoofbeats behind you, don’t expect to see a zebra.” Dr. Theodore Woodward
In the 1940’s Dr. Theodore Woodward coined the term “zebra” for any rare medical condition. He taught his University of Maryland medical students common conditions are commonly seen and not to expect to see a zebra. While exotic illnesses exist, these are highly unlikely and the simplest explanation is usually the best. However, rare conditions, like exotic zebras do exhibit. I am a zebra.
In February 2016, my neurologist diagnosed me with Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis, a rare neuromuscular “zebra” condition that causes episodes of paralysis or severe muscle weakness. These attacks occur suddenly with little warning and may last for hours or days. Periodic Paralysis has a prevalence of 1 case per 100,000 population.  By the grace of God, multiple medications, physical therapy, and avoidance of triggers (which is not always possible) my attacks have lessened in duration and severity.
Dusting off the cobwebs in biochemistry, I’ve studied the Krebs cycle, action potentials, skeletal muscle movement, and dabbled in genetics. Taking a break from genetic mutations, I veered into zoology and began to study zebras.
Zebra fact: A zebra possess a unique stripe pattern similar to the unique fingerprint pattern in humans.
Zebra fact: Immediately after birth, the mother zebra will separate the foal from the herd for two or three days. During this time, the baby zebra studies the mother’s scent, the sound of her call, and memorizes the mother’s stripe pattern.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” (Jeremiah 1:5, NIV)
Separated from the herd, my Heavenly Father set me apart for this season, to memorize His patterns, to examine His character traits, to recognize His voice over the chatter of the world, and to study His chronic presence in my periodic paralysis.
Staring down on at the zebra printed tank top; a familiar verse rises to the surface of my mind: “By His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5, NKJV).
Staring at the stripes Christ bore for me on the cross, I am thankful my medical zebra status, is only temporary. “By His stripes we are healed” for all eternity, and it is well with my soul.
~April Dawn White
© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved