Lisa Cuffe was accustomed to her fingers turning purple when the weather was chilly or the air conditioning was turned up, but she didn’t think her response was anything out of the ordinary.
But in 1997 when she was in seventh grade gym class, she grew concerned. “We were sitting on the gym floor, and it was cold. “When I looked at everyone else’s hands, I noticed only my hands were off-colored,” recalls the 38-year-old graphic designer, a resident of Palatine, IL. “I asked to go to the school nurse.”
The nurse knew immediately what it was. “You have Raynaud’s disease,” she told me. I freaked out when I heard I had a disease,” Lisa remembers. “When I got home and told my parents, they took me to my pediatrician.”
Like the nurse, the doctor was knowledgeable—and empathetic. She was wonderful!” Lisa said. She told me, “I have Raynaud’s too,” and then explained to my parents it was an actual condition, which was very helpful.”
The doctor advised Lisa to always have a sweater on hand, wear gloves, and to turn up the thermostat if possible. “She said if I ended up having any other issues because of it, she could always write my school a letter regarding my condition or talk to anyone else if I needed proof.”
Adjusting the thermostat wasn’t a feasible step when Lisa entered college, however. “I was always cold in my dorm and it became an issue because I wasn’t able to change the thermostat,” she said. From the Raynaud’s Association’s website, she found fingerless gloves that helped to keep heat in her hands, but they weren’t a complete solution. Lisa eventually moved off-campus into an apartment that allowed her to control the thermostat. “It was so much better!” she reported.
Fingerless gloves are very helpful now in her work as a graphic designer. “They allow me to type and work,” she says. “I always have a sweater on hand too.” People with Raynaud’s need to be aware of their surroundings to be sure they have whatever they need on hand to keep warm, she advises.
Lisa credits the Raynaud’s Association for its support and resources, and for giving her the empowerment to know there are many more people like her. Her advice to other Frosties? “Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks about your being covered up when they’re perfectly comfortable. Your health comes first!”
We want to hear about that key moment when you first realized that colored fingers or painful toes just weren’t normal. Here’s more information in our post: Share Your Moment of Raynaud’s Discovery
These profiles are part of our ongoing Member Spotlight series. For more information on our Member Spotlight feature and stories like this one from Lisa Cuffe, here’s the original post: Introducing Member Spotlight!