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When You’re Unable to Feel With Raynaud's Disease

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Sometimes I can feel and sometimes I can’t.

No, I’m not being dramatic.

Sometimes I genuinely can’t feel objects or temperatures.

I must admit, it’s a weird sensation that still baffles me to this day. I have Raynaud’s phenomenon, something I was first diagnosed with when I was seven years old. Those with Raynaud’s disease lose circulation in their extremities. It’s usually triggered by cold weather and coming into contact with cold objects. I’ve spoken before about the psychological effects I suffer from Raynaud’s phenomenon, yet there are also some physical effects that you can’t necessarily see — but rather feel.

These days, I find more and more people are now familiar with the condition. After all, it’s actually quite a common thing to have. But from my own experiences, some people were shocked to find out how Raynaud’s disease doesn’t just turn your hands blue. It can make you experience both chronic pain and complete and utter numbness in a short space of time.

There are days when I might, and I have more often than not, accidentally run my hand under hot or boiling water for too long. I won’t instinctively pull my hand away because if you can’t feel it burning your skin, why would you? It’s like some second-rate superhero power I have. I can’t feel the pain but I’ll still get burned in the end.

There are other days when I take something out the freezer and my hands seize up with pain. And even though I wear gloves when dealing with low temperatures, that barely stops the attacks.

It’s like one way or another, I’m doomed.

And honestly, I can’t tell which is worse. The pain can be excruciating to the point where I can’t hold objects, but the same happens if my hands go numb too. Everyday chores become a problem for me, like chopping vegetables and washing the dishes. I can’t do anything about the pain, I just have to wait for my circulation to return. It can take a while for that to happen. Those of us with Raynaud’s disease have to just sit back and ride it out.

I figure my body needs constant attention. Over the years, I’ve learned to listen to it. I wrap up warm, I am careful with exposing myself to extreme temperatures and I try to stay calm. But I’ve also learned that all the vigilance in the world can’t stop my Raynaud’s attacks.

So no, I’m not being dramatic when I say I can’t feel anything.

It’s just a regular occurrence for us Raynaud’s sufferers.

Photo Credit: Carmel Jordan

Originally published: November 5, 2019
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