Raynaud’s phenomenon is a common condition, thought to affect approximately one in 20 people. The condition causes small blood vessels to become narrower, affecting the blood supply to certain parts of the body (usually the fingers and toes). It’s often referred to as Raynaud’s syndrome, Raynaud’s disease, or just Raynaud’s.
There are many symptoms of the condition and, depending on the severity of those symptoms, it can greatly affect daily life – particularly in the winter months.
Hypnotherapy Directory Team Member Becky shares her experiences of living with Raynaud’s.
My family always used to describe me as a warm-blooded child. No matter what the temperature, it could be fairly much guaranteed that I would have bright red cheeks and warm hands. I’m not quite sure when that changed, but it did change – and dramatically so.
I first became aware of Raynaud’s when I found out that my Grandad suffered with it. It wouldn’t have to be a bitterly cold day, but you would always find that his hands were icy cold. As a child, there was something quite disturbing to see hands that lacked blood flow and appeared corpse-like. But, perhaps the worst part was seeing that it was clearly causing him a fair amount of discomfort.
I noticed that problems with my circulation worsened as I reached my later teenage years and early twenties. At first, numbness in my fingertips would be triggered by exposure to the cold, so I found that I would have to make extra effort to wrap up warm in cold weather.
But, it did get worse – and I would find that this feeling would seemingly be triggered of its own accord, sometimes even when I was indoors and felt warm. I’m lead to believe that this may have been down to stress – but knowing this didn’t help me to feel any less stressed. It wouldn’t stop at my fingertips either, but pretty much my whole hand would turn white, feeling dead and useless for anything from five minutes, up to an hour.
It can be infuriating at times. It can often mean that I have little to no use of my fingers – which can make simple tasks like texting, or even driving, a lot more difficult. I also find that I am generally a ‘cold person’, and am very aware that my pleas to turn the air conditioning off might seem tiresome – but I genuinely am freezing, I’m not exaggerating. Getting dressed in the mornings during winter turns into a “but will I be warm enough in this?” rather than, “ooh, this outfit looks nice”. (Big sigh from a girl that loves impractical fashion).
At the moment, I am content that I know how to deal with these symptoms – my main priority is to generally avoid cold environments, and to carry a scarf with me wherever I go. I also make sure I exercise regularly – in a bid to improve my circulation. But, if my symptoms are to ever get any worse, I would definitely reach out for help, or speak to my GP about getting some medication.
But, for now, I am now comforted by the old saying, ‘cold hands, warm heart’.
For more information and advice, visit Scleroderma & Raynaud’s UK (SRUK) – the UK’s leading charity for people affected by the condition.