Raynaud…Foe Not Friend


Dear Raynaud, 

I know its a bit startling to hear me call you by your full name. My apologies, but I am a bit annoyed with you and wanted to make sure I got your attention. Also, I wanted to let you know that I am now fully informed on what you are. Now that I have your attention, I can rein in some of my venom and call you by your nickname…”Ray”. Ray, we’ve been hanging together for quite some time. As my grandmother would say, we’ve been thick as thieves since I was a kid. You have been on me like white on rice for what, 35 years now, right? Where has the time gone?  

For years I thought I was special, and the only person in this world that could call you “friend”. As a kid I actually thought that your presence was pretty cool. I mean seriously, what kid wouldn’t want limbs that can change colors when cold? As an informed adult though, I see that I’m not your only friend. Turns out Ray, you get around. I routinely come across people that have the terrible misfortune of knowing you. Typically, you are accompanied by one of your buddies Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Crohn’s, or Scleroderma, which makes your presence even more unwelcome. You see, your presence is actually not a good thing. In fact, it is a great indication of an unwell body…particularly an overactive immune system. I personally can attest to that, having known you and two of your buddies. You, Ray, are an evil, intrusive, and disloyal foe disguised as a friend. 

Now, before you get all defensive, let me say that I am annoyed with you but not mad. While your presence has been challenging, our time together has not been all bad. We have definitely had some laughs old foe. With your help, I have successfully pulled off many practical jokes. I’m sure you remember last December when my husband fell asleep on the couch by the fire, and I stuck my ice cold hands down the back of his pajamas and touched his bare booty. Man, you talk about a rude awakening. The way he jumped off the couch…EPIC! He yelled so loud and is STILL convinced that I threw an ice cube down his pants. 

Oh, what about that time in third grade when we worked together to freak out my teacher, and get out of eating the vegetables with my lunch. You remember right? I held my chilled carton of milk with two fingers for ten minutes to allow them to turn bright white and go completely numb. When they did, I slowly walked over to my teacher and said I was having an asthma attack while waving my hand with the frozen fingers in front of her. To confirm the “asthma attack”, she inspected my nails to see if I was getting all my oxygen. I can still hear her say “I used to be a CNA and I know if someone is not getting enough oxygen because their fingers will change colors”. Lord, the look on that woman’s face when she saw one finger was purple and the other bright white, next to my other fleshy pink fingers. HA! I crack up just thinking about it. Fun times dear foe, fun times.  But, I gotta say though, our plan actually backfired. While I successfully got out of eating the vegetables, I also got a trip to the emergency room and a strong lecture from my parents.  

See there old foe, I can’t act as if your presence has been all bad. Its been useful a few times. But, I have to be honest with you. While we have shared some good times and great pranks, they were not good enough to outweigh our bad times. Specifically, your insistence on going everywhere I go has become quite intrusive. Lately, you have shown that the good times with you come at a significant cost. For example, when you accompanied me to the grocery store that same December when we pranked my husband, my trip to the store was painful and short. I prepared for the trip to the store in advance by packing gloves and an extra jacket, and it all turned out to be useless. 

As soon as I hit the produce aisle, my fingers and toes went number and I became unable to pick up or hold anything. I tried to ignore your rapid intrusion on my trip to the store, but it seemed like that only made you fight harder to be recognized. Within minutes, my fingers ached and throbbed with intense pain. My toes went number within seconds, which made my attempts to leave the coldness of the produce section futile. When I stuck my fingers in my pocket to warm them up, that worked but was extremely painfully. As each finger defrosted and regained circulation, it felt as if dozens of sharp tiny knives were stabbing me in every finger, over and over again. I balled up each hand in each of my pockets, and prayed that the intense pain would pass quickly as I rapidly opened and closed each hand to regain circulation…it didn’t pass quickly. Every time I opened and closed each hand, the throbbing and stabbing pain intensified. After 30 minutes, blood flow finally returned to my fingers, and I then went to work on defrosting my toes.  I think this example demonstrates enough so I won’t even discuss what happened when we hit the frozen food aisle…the memory is still too fresh anyway. But, we both know that my trip to the store that day resulted in me avoiding the grocery store for years. 

You are likely reading this letter wondering where our relationship stands. Well, whether I like it or not, we are stuck together forever. Yes old foe, this is sad but true. While I can never get rid of you, I can change the impact of your presence. While the very nature of what you are requires you to be omnipresent, if you will, I can still influence your impact. So, this is your notice that I intend to set the parameters of this relationship. Like my relationship with your buddies Crohn’s and Rheumatoid arthritis, I will harshly discipline you every time you get out of line. Now that I know what I am dealing with, I plan to act accordingly…aggressively. Be concerned old foe.


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