We wanted to share this essay written by Sarah Elizabeth Turner.  It tells of her living with Raynaud’s, fighting the cold in the Midwest, and her physical and emotional struggles in dealing with the condition.  There’s much in her experiences we can all identify with!


Cold FeetIt starts with a tingle. At least, that’s what I’ve heard. I don’t really remember anything but the cold.

“Sorry, my hands are cold,” I said for perhaps the thousandth time in my life upon meeting someone. I was shaking hands with a new acquaintance at an outdoor evening reading at the end of July and had long ago learned I should apologize for my frigid grip. It wasn’t that cold outside, but I was in short sleeves and had been drinking from a glass with ice in it.

At a similar encounter in the middle of December, my heatless handshake caused someone to recoil, as if I’d bitten him with my below-body-temperature touch.

“Your hands are so cold,” he said, shrinking away from my grasp in terror. Or possibly disgust. You should feel my feet, I thought, but I expressed sincere regret instead.

Usually, I would acknowledge the issue immediately, before the person had time to comment, but in that moment in December I forgot my manners. I haven’t made the same mistake since, and often people just laugh off my comment in that awkward Midwestern let’s-not-talk-about-personal-issues sort of way, not acknowledging that it’s weird to have cold hands––especially in the summer––so I was surprised by the response to my preemptive apology in July.

“Are you a fellow Raynaudian?” my newest acquaintance asked.

I paused a second before saying, “Yeah, I am.”

I have Raynaud’s Phenomenon, a name that sounds ridiculous to me, like I’m some freak side show act, Come see the wondrous sight known as Raynaud’s Phenomenon. My friend Krisanne refers to it as “Rainier’s Disease,” and I don’t correct her because I prefer that somewhat self-explanatory name. Rainier’s sounds like a mountain-climber’s condition, something exotic that affects only those who have faced treacherous climates and battled insurmountable odds. Raynaud’s (ray-nodes), in contrast, sounds like part of an x-ray machine.

There are two types: Primary Raynaud’s or Raynaud’s Disease, which, I think, is really what I have, and Secondary Raynaud’s or Raynaud’s Phenomenon. The disease version is an affliction in and of itself; the phen