Being an avid skier living in Canada, Pam Weller is determined to do the things she loves despite her Raynaud’s.
Now 39, Pam is typical of the vast majority of Raynaud’s sufferers—a woman of childbearing age with the primary form. “I was in my mid 20’s when I started noticing the cold affected me a lot more than before,” she recalls. “I would wrap myself in layers of clothes and gloves, while others on the slopes didn’t even have jackets on.”
In her early 30’s, she noticed her fingers turning colors. “’When I began to notice it, there wasn’t much pain,’ she said, ‘but over the years the pain has gotten worse in my fingers as the warmth returns.” Pam was one of the few – only 10 percent – of Frosties who sought medical attention. Her family doctor diagnosed the disorder.
“I am not on any medications, as the main one used here in Canada can lower blood pressure (and mine is already low enough),” she said. “I keep gloves with me almost year-round. I also have a large inventory of the single use hand warmers and I have invested in very good winter clothing.”
When she told others of her diagnosis, almost no one knew what Raynaud’s was, noted the former veterinary technician. “Most seemed to think it was something made up, or not really of any concern—until they saw it first-hand,” she said. “My boyfriend had never heard of it before we met, but he’s been great at making sure I always have extra gloves packed and my hand warmers are always stocked up. My family is also understanding, helping where they can.”
Many of Pam’s former co-workers at the veterinary practice were very supportive, handling the animals’ winter walks for her so she could stay indoors. In the pet store where she currently works, however, the situation is different. “Everyone loves to have the air conditioning blasting all summer, but I’m the only one who doesn’t, so I lose the vote to change the temperature,” she says.
She has to do the stocking of the frozen food at the store, which is difficult, but she talked the manager into purchasing good quality freezer gloves for her. “They help a little, but I still can only handle the frozen things for short periods of time.”
Although Pam still finds many people are unfamiliar with Raynaud’s, she makes it a practice to raise awareness about the condition. “It’s not so rare, I’ve learned,” she says. “On Halloween last year, a rainy, damp and chilly day, we met our new neighbors. I was constantly rubbing my hands together and had to keep going inside. It turned out my neighbor was doing the same thing because she has it too!”
Pam is grateful for the resources and support she’s found via the Raynaud’s Association. Her advice to fellow Frosties? “Mittens!” she says. “I’ve found they’re so much better than gloves. Also invest when you can in good quality winter wear (I usually buy off-season when the sales are on.). A good thermal mug is great for the days when you’re caught out without gloves or mittens. Hot chocolate, coffee, tea or anything warm is a lifesaver to hold onto.“
Pam’s best advice? “Don’t let this ruin your life and stop you from enjoying things that you once loved.”