I am fifty-one years old and suffer with Raynaud's, bipolar affective disorder, high anxiety and phobias for which I am unable to take medication due to severe side effects. I am slim for my height, which is 5' 10". During the late fall, winter and early spring seasons I experience extreme cold, aching and pain in my hands, arms and lower legs in an ambient temperature of anything less than 65 Fahrenheit (18 Celsius). This is often made far worse when I am in a state of depression or anxiety, when my body temperature can drop by a degree or so.
Any sudden upset can leave me shivering with cold, my fingers going white, even when the ambient temperature is reasonably warm. I have noticed that when ambient temperatures are cold at night I wake up with a temperature of around 95 F (35 C), and I feel more comfortable than would be expected. This sensation goes as soon as I take warm food or fluid, and I start to feel the normal pains in my limbs, along with shivering.
I have found that the only cure for this is to increase my blood temperature either by strenuous exercise or by bathing in water that is not too hot. Bathing can take as long as thirty minutes before I feel comfortably warm, and this comfort can soon go if the ambient temperature is not very high.
My doctor has recommended in the past that I take a holiday in a warmer country, such as Spain or Italy during the coldest part of winter, but this has not always been possible. I suffered the same symptoms as a child, during which time I was at a private boarding school in England whilst my parents lived in the tropics. I suffered very bad chilblains as well as the symptoms I still experience throughout the colder months. These symptoms would disappear as if by magic on landing in South America; the chilblains disappearing within a day or so.
In order to ease the discomfort experienced when the ambient temperature is low, I wrap up as warmly as possible, wearing as many layers as possible, especially on my limbs. I try to avoid going out when outside temperatures are lower than about 40 F (4.5 C) or if there is a severe chill factor in the wind.
I try to remember that I will feel much better come April, but the pain of feeling cold can severely add to my depression. I would be very glad to hear from anyone else who shares similar problems.
Email: [email protected]
Story submitted: 12-11-02
Story posted: 1-2-02
Story Editor: Judith R. Thompson
ISN Senior Artist: Sherrill Knaggs
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