Ah, winter is fast approaching and it is not the chill in the air warning me but the chill emanating from my very skin. It is once again that time of year where le boyfriend eyes me warily while attempting to keep a safe distance from my icy hands while also worrying about how cold I am.
I have started keeping an eye on my fingers to watch them go from a normal healthy colour then fluctuate between a weird reddish, purple and a finally a funky yellow as the blood drains from my fingers and they become painful or go numb.
Let’s put it this way, recently le boyfriend’s brother’s fiance (wow a mouthful there) bruised her foot. My feet in summer were the same colouring as her bruise. We were standing next to each other at the time and could easily compare. Yeah, my blood circulation sucks at the best of times. So what has this got to do with anything? Well in winter, when I say I am cold, I am not just cold.
Usually, when I am cold it is accompanied by burning pain and I need to get warm, slowly. Once my feet are cold that means I am not going to get to any form of sleep because the cold will not allow me to. I do not warm up if I stay under a blanket, and wearing socks does not help. Sometimes the socks trap the cold in making it even harder to warm up. I even invested in a pair of thermal socks which help keep the cold out but does nothing for the cold that originates from within my own body.
Once one foot is cold I need to keep it away from another part of myself otherwise the cold just spreads. Rather than huddling up to spread the warmth I end up spreading the cold. Wearing extra layers does not do much other than making it uncomfortable and hard to move. As it is, I wear leggings, jeans, thermal socks, two shirts, two jerseys and possibly a jacket when I venture out. What more layers do you want me to wear?
When I catch my fingers or knock them against something there is an immense and sharp pain, kind of like slamming your finger in a car door. When I warm my hands up too quickly I suffer from chilblains. This can cover holding a hot drink, suddenly climbing into a hot bath, getting to close to a fire or le boyfriend blowing on my hands in the attempt to warm them. Warming up too quickly is also painful.
When I finally warm up a little and can be considered ‘warmish’ and my blood starts flowing properly again the pins and needles then kick in. There are also the times where it is so cold that your body curls in on itself because all your muscles are pulling tight. To straighten out is difficult, not to mention, that this too is painful.
When I am cold, I am in pain. This is a reality I live with and always will. When I say I am cold or try to explain how cold I really am or how cold I can get, I am not seeking any momentary amusement and/or attention, I am simply trying to explain that for me being cold is a painful reality which occurs every winter and occasionally in the summer too.
True it is often amusing to see the reactions, mostly disbelief when I tell people how many blankets and duvets are on my bed and how much the cold affects me but mainly I just wanted to let you know, that being cold is an actual painful affliction.
Sure I can exercise, which does help improve my circulation a little, but it still does not have a big effect on how Raynaud’s affects me. I have medication to take but I only use it sparingly, when the pain really gets to be severe and I am basically unable to function due to the thick fingers and numb hand feeling.
I have only mentioned one aspect so far, there is also the swelling, stiffness and tightness that comes too but that is a minor effect in comparison to the overwhelming cold.
So what is Raynaud’s?
Raynaud’s is a disease that causes some areas of your body, such as your fingers and toes, to feel numb and cold in response to cold temperatures or stress. With Raynaud’s, arteries to your fingers and toes go into vasospasm when exposed to cold or stress, this means that the blood vessels swell and temporarily limit blood supply to parts of the body. Over time, these small arteries can thicken slightly which further limits blood flow.
Sadly doctors don’t completely understand the cause of Raynaud’s attacks, but blood vessels in the hands and feet appear to overreact to cold temperatures or stress. For most people, Raynaud’s disease isn’t disabling, but it can affect the quality of life.
Basically, being exposed to cold temperatures usually triggers an attack. Meaning that something as simple as putting your hands in cold water, taking something from the freezer or being in the cold air, is most likely going to set it off.
Thank’s to my family history (I am looking at you mother) I too now suffer from Raynauds which only kicked in during my high school years.
Each year I try to raise a little bit awareness about Raynaud’s as it has been my experience that many people do not know a thing about it and when explaining it I get faced with a lot of disbelief and get negative reactions. It seems when I try to get the person to understand that I am in actual physical pain, I get told I am exaggerating or that I am not wearing enough layers. It is hard to describe the unique feeling of being so cold it burns. I usually sum it up to ‘have you ever touched dry ice?’ That burning cold sensation is what I feel throughout my body. Sometimes it goes from my toes, then my feet and slowly rises up my legs to my knees. The same for my arms. It starts with my fingers and then the cold creeps up my hands and then up my arms.
Honestly, winters suck for me with most of my thoughts focusing on how to keep warm, how to shorten the time spent outdoors or in the car. I have had it where my legs are emitting so much cold, that the air just above them is colder than the actual winter air. Do you suffer or know anyone who suffers the cold in a similar way to what I do?
What do you think of Raynaud’s? (^^,)