Fall has descended, and the leaves are changing into their colder weather coats. Beautiful colors of orange, red and fiery yellow begin to dot the landscape around us. It is officially Fall.
And yes, I have officially cried over that. For those of you who are familiar with my angst over the colder weather returning, this is not new news. Perhaps an explanation is in order.
I was born with a circulation disease called Raynaud’s Syndrome. It is a circulation disease that was passed down genetically through my mom’s side of the family. My mom had it quite severely, for as long as I can remember. But it wasn’t always that way.
In my youth, I recall being extremely happy with the sunshine, and finding my frowny face visiting more often with the colder and gloomier temps. Chalking it up to just liking the sunshine, I didn’t think much of it until I got into my teens.
During this time of adolescence, I began to pay more attention to the health of my mother, and her extreme disposition toward being cold. Like, really really really COLD.
When I was old enough to put two and two together, I asked her what was up with her white hands and coldness factor. Why all the thermal underwear and down jackets once October rolled around? The heating pad was traded like a gold commodity, and I’m fairly certain she hid it from us kids to make sure she could find it again.
She explained Raynaud’s Syndrome to me, as a circulation disease, that basically makes her very cold and hard to heat up once she reaches “the point of no return”. Her disease increased in severity to the point of it being the most extreme of cases. Mom’s hands were at risk of frostbite, just from falling in a warm lake during the summer.
As my brain matured, and I began to put two and two together, I realized that I was also exhibiting signs of Raynaud’s Syndrome. It was a relief for me, because my symptoms were nowhere near as bad as my mom’s, so I thought I got off the hook.
Just a few short months before my mom suddenly passed away, I asked her if the disease got worse with age. I had noticed that my extremeties were horribly cold and my fingers were turning white at times. (Which means there is no circulation in them.)
Mom shared that the disease progressed with age, and that she was fairly certain I had the same severity.
After having my son about nine years ago, my symptoms have increased dramatically, and all of my friends and family just “know” that I usually have cold hands (and feet and nose).
A few months after her death, I was diagnosed with an Auto-Immune Disease called Spondyloarthropathy. Basically a family of long-term (chronic) diseases of joints. These diseases occur in children (juvenile spondyloarthropathies) and adults. My pain started manifesting in my late teens and early 20’s, and wasn’t successfully diagnosed until two years ago by Seattle doctors.
Part of the attached symptoms of having a spondyloarthropathy is Reynaud’s Syndrome. Bells and light bulbs began to go off, as I realized even though I could never ask mom again about her pain (and see if she too may suffer from the disease I have) she answered the question through sharing her journey with Reynaud’s.
In a nutshell, I’m now on the road to finding pain relief and managing my Reynaud’s in a way that is proactive and keeps my fingers from turning into ice blocks.
If you’re constantly cold, and you are mostly active, but still experience freezing cold extremeties that are hard to warm, perhaps you should speak with your doctor about Reynaud’s. Or, fly to Hawaii and pack me in your carry on…..
Since flying to Hawaii is out of the question for most of us, perhaps it’s just time to find those sweaters that we really love wearing, and invest in some super warm fuzzy socks that will grace our feet all Fall and Winter.
The Pacific Northwest is usually blessed with sunshine along with our fall leaves show, so let’s get out there and make the best of the good weather. Oktoberfest festivals are plentify, both inside and out, and the walking trails at the lake or along the dikes simply beckon you to grab the kids or a friend, and take a stroll.
Crunch some leaves, while you’re at it, and laugh! This is one of my favorite memories of my mom, walking on the road or path, and veering off the path in order to crunch a deliciously and perfectly formed leaf, or pile of leaves. The giggles that would pour out of her invited us to get in on the fun. Now my children follow in my footsteps of hunting for those crunchy leaves, and crunch crunch crunching them to our hearts content.
Until next month,
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