Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Living with Raynaud's

In 2008, I was diagnosed with Raynaud’s Syndrome. Raynaud’s is a blood and circulation disorder that, in my case and generally in others, affects people’s fingers and toes (in rare cases I think it can affect a person’s ears).

Raynaud’s is when the small arteries that supply blood to your fingers and toes narrow, therefore limiting circulation to them. It is especially painful in cold conditions and when under stress, because they say that is when a person is most likely to have a Raynaud’s “attack,” meaning the arteries narrow more and more, cutting off more and more circulation.

So basically, my hands and feet are always cold, and when I’m not wearing gloves or when I’m really stressed out, they ache, are freezing, and turn color – first white, then blue - and when they finally warm up, beat-red.

It is very uncomfortable and embarrassing. I always have to wear gloves, even in the office - and obviously some people are going to look at me funny when I’m sitting in the office on a nice warm summer day, blasting my space heater and rocking fingerless arm gloves.

It’s also very confusing for the rest of my body. I feel like I am always cold, when in fact the rest of my body could be perfectly warm and sometimes event hot – so my hands could literally be freezing cold while sweat is glistening on my forehead.

I was teased a lot in high school for having "dead hands."

Everyone is shocked when I first meet them and shake their hand. I can tell they are surprised at how cold my hand is.

I can't hold new babies unless they are wrapped up, because my cold hands will scare them.

The specialist told me that if I don’t take care of my condition, it could eventually lead to amputation.

That sounds a little terrifying to me.

In efforts to manage my condition, I don’t drink coffee. I take extra vitamins and supplements – including Vitamin E, Coenzymes, garlic pills and cinnamon, to help increase circulation. I am an active person who exercises about 4 times a week, but no matter what, my hands ache and are always cold.

Sometimes when my attacks last for an extended amount of time, I get swelled bumps on my joints. Sometimes they've been so bad that I can’t even tie my shoelaces, my fingers hurt too much.

I don't know why I'm writing about this. Maybe because I just had a skin biopsy done this week to see if there is anything else, aside from Raynaud's, that is wrong with me. Maybe I just wanted to share it, put it in writing, and see if anyone else suffers from the same condition. Maybe there is someone out there who can share tips with me about how to increase circulation and blood flow, that doesn’t include drinking a glass of red wine.

When I get the results back from my skin biopsy, I will write again about this.