When Ann Horton visited her doctor for a routine physical, she learned that her painful fingers, toes and nose—and how they changed colors when she was cold or stressed—were not normal.
“I didn’t know there was something wrong,” says the 49-year old Texas resident. “I had these issues for as long as I can remember, probably since first or second grade. I thought it happened to everyone.”
Her doctor observed the color changes during a check-up, telling her that it was not, indeed, typical. She was diagnosed with primary Raynaud’s (not a symptom of an underlying disorder). “Beyond the diagnosis, my doctor didn’t tell me much else. I did my own research on the internet, where I found the Raynaud’s Association,” Ann recalls.
From the Association and other Raynaud’s sufferers, Ann has received comprehensive information about the disorder and has found support and advice from other Frosties and medical experts. “I don’t take any medication,” Ann says. “I just make sure I have warm clothes and shoes and avoid the cold as much as possible.”
Before the pandemic, when she was working at a children’s hospital as a manager of information services, Ann found fingerless gloves to be especially helpful in the office. She also had blankets to put on and take off easily. Space heaters weren’t allowed. “Now I work at home, so I can control the thermostat and be more comfortable,” she added.
“My color changes aren’t that extreme, so most people don’t even notice,” she says. The person who notices it the most is her massage therapist, who covers Ann’s feet with a warm towel or heated pillow during sessions.
Although Ann’s primary form of Raynaud’s is not usually “serious” like secondary Raynaud’s can be, the pain and discomfort she endures has intensified over the years. “If I take tomatoes out of the fridge and then hold them to cut them, it really hurts!” she exclaims.
“I’ve learned so much from the Raynaud’s Association,” she concludes. “I know there’s no cure yet, but I’m hopeful that all the awareness building they’re doing will lead to better treatments and a cure.”