The seasons are beginning to change once again, and as I witness the transformation I can’t help but be a bit saddened. You see, while the rest of the world is ushering in the changing season with glad cries and thoughts of colder weather activities, I am preparing myself for the most difficult part of the year… the dreaded winter. I have a condition called Raynauds, and it causes me to be unnaturally colder than everyone around me. If the temperature dips below 75 degrees my body thinks that it is freezing. My hands and feet are both affected. When an attack happens, I lose all color in my extremities and my hands and feet appear as if they belong to a corpse.
As I write this, I am sitting in my living room under a heating blanket in Florida, where we are having our first cold snap of the year. Most people would not even consider the early morning temperature of 55 degrees to be particularly cold, but for me living with Raynauds, it might as well have been blizzard temperatures. I dread the coming cold, and as I dread what’s coming next everyone else is celebrating the end of a very hot summer.
My kids make their jokes about it and some of my family members have taken to calling me Elsa the Ice Queen. My menopausal mother has hot flashes and I have what I call cold flashes. We have a good laugh about it as that’s really the best way to deal with an all-around crappy situation. I always joke saying we’d both be so happy if we could meet in the middle!
I do have many people in my life that help me make the necessary adaptations to my aversion to the cold. I work at Subway and a big part of the job is going into the cooler and freezer for various reasons. Most of my coworkers help me by doing the colder prep for me. My husband usually pulls food from our freezer and refrigerator at home so I don’t have to. The store clerks will put my milk and other cold items in the carts for me. I’ve kind of become the pain in the butt old lady at the grocery store that needs help with things. Sometimes that part bothers me, other times I accept it.
I don’t leave my house without my gloves or sweater at least in the car with me. Even though we’re just coming out of Summer and I live in Florida where it’s not particularly cold any time of the year, the constant air conditioning stores and businesses can cause an attack. I’ve been the recipient of some strange looks, but so far nobody has said anything to me about it. I don’t go grocery shopping alone anymore. I can’t touch any of the cold items that need to go into the cart. I always have an extra pair of hands with me, so to say.
This will be my first Winter officially diagnosed with Raynauds, so I’m hoping that the knowledge and education of this disease will help me to be better prepared. There are many products on the market that are specifically designed for Raynauds sufferers, so I’ll certainly be looking into those. In the meantime, here in the Sunshine State I shall watch the turning of the leaves, the changing of the colors and enjoy every moment that I can, while I can.
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