Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Winter is coming

Game of Thrones fans will know what I mean when I say:  winter is coming.  But when I say winter is coming the meaning is a lot more sinister than a bunch of wussy white walkers.

You see, I have Raynauds.  It is an auto immune condition that doesn’t just sound weird, it IS weird.  It was discovered by a French physician in the 1800’s so it has been with us for a very long time.  The cause is unknown, and all it means is this:  I am allergic to cold.  Yes you heard right, at the age of 47 I developed a severe reaction to cold weather.  Bummer, I guess New Zealand was the wrong country to move to… when placed in cold conditions my blood circulation comes to a stop.  My body revolts and reckons hell, who needs circulation anyway, it is over rated.

When this happens my hands and feet change colour in a spectacular way:  my fingers will be snow white, my knuckles purple, and the rest of my hand bright red.  I use it to scare the neighbour’s kids whenever they stray onto our property.  If I don’t get into warm surroundings it will spread to my toes, they go black and be so painful that I could swear they are about to fall off.

Should I still ignore these warning signs I will become nauseous.  The blood vessels to my stomach will shut down, and rolling waves of nausea are my reward.  Next step is the slowing down of my thinking, brain freeze is the real deal here, and I struggle to remember my name.  Yeah, that is my excuse anyway.  Normally a sure sign to find a warm spot somewhere.

For a long time I felt very alone with this condition:  most people I speak to have never heard of Raynauds.  Allergic to cold?  What are you, a freak?  Yet as time went by more and more people contacted me to let me know they too suffer the same discomfort.  Imagine spending most of your winter feeling nauseous, weak, and your toes and fingers in pain.  Lucky for me we have inventions like puffer jackets, heat pumps and alcohol.  They all do a great job of making me feel more comfortable.

I practice combat sports where bare feet are expected.  Not a problem, we have a solution for that as well:  my kickboxing trainer allows me to keep my shoes on in practice, and in ji-jitsu I can keep my socks on.  I wear thermal socks that are normally used in sea kayaking, and possum gloves for my fingers.  Three layers of thermal or a puffer jacket for the rest of my body, sorted.

Raynauds can be managed, and a semi-normal life lived in winter.  I may look like the abominable snowman but I’m warm and happy!

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