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11 April 2013 @ 01:29 am
Freezing  
One of my ongoing complaints is that I am habitually cold and that my fingers, toes, and nose often get cold enough to actually hurt. I've long blamed it on a thyroid defect, but after years of thyroid replacement without a resolution to the issues, my doctor packed me off to the vascular surgeon to investigate whether there could be something more going on.

The tests themselves were pretty cool - they line up tons of blood pressure cuffs along your arms and legs (even itty bitty ones on your digits!) and then inflate/deflate the cuffs while taking Doppler readings of your blood flow. I found it hilarious that I was hooked up to all these elaborate tubes and bladders like some sort of giant mutant octopus attached to super expensive computer thing... and then they attached the little blood oxygenation monitor with about two cents' worth of double sided Scotch tape! I actually really found the process very interesting - that the tech was a cutie didn't hurt, either (too bad it is inappropriate to hit on your medical professionals ;P) - and it was sort of affirming to actually have objective measurements showing that my vasculature is sort of screwy. The poor fellow had to hold the probes *just* right in order to get any sort of reading off of me and had to switch to a different probe altogether to even find my subclavian veins.

The visit with the specialist was very short, as these things tend to be. He looked at my tests, poked my hands and feet, asked about venous stasis ulcers and then proclaimed a mild case of Reynaud's phenomenon. This did not particularly surprise me as it was on the short list of things I thought could be causing my issues. The exacerbating conditions are cold and stress, so his recommendation was that I quit my job and move to California. :P That's not likely to happen and, since there really is no good treatment options unless the condition becomes severe, the only real answer is to try to keep extremities warm and try not to be a stress ball... Also not terribly likely to happen, I suppose! :P SO! For those of you over the years who have commented on my being unnaturally cold, I at least have the defense that I am, in fact, pathologically cold.

Since the diagnosis took about three minutes, I also asked him about this weird phenomenon I first noticed while in India - periodically, I get really prominent bright blue veins on my breasts and upper chest that look like someone drew them on with a Sharpie. Sure, I am pale enough to be mostly clear, but it's not a permanent thing - it comes and goes with no pattern I had been able to identify. He poked at me a bit, again looked at my tests and determined that based on where my subclavian veins are, carrying heavy things on my shoulders (like, you know, a backpack full of Indian goodies) restricts the blood flow, leading to distended veins and the bright blue lines. Unfortunately, that's not just cosmetic, it can lead to clotting and then strokes and PEs and other Very Bad Things, so PT, posture training and no more heavy bags for me. Next time I travel, I guess I'll just have to go even lighter than I usually do already and take aspirin the whole time, not just around the flights.

And now you know more about my vasculature than you wanted to know. :P I'm just actually so pleased to have some sort of answer after so many times of being the medical mystery that I don't really care that there is not actually any treatment available to me!
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Ulfhildr: natrually.yuri_shoujo on April 11th, 2013 08:10 am (UTC)
One of my mother's friends has Raynaud's, and she actually was able to get a handicapped parking pass to keep her from having to walk too far in the winter :P Sooo some perks if you ever want them, hah.

Also a good excuse to spoil yourself with lots of wool stuff. And make other people carry heavy things. Look at all the silver linings! ;)
eithni: Yummy!eithni on April 11th, 2013 04:09 pm (UTC)
Hm. I'll think about the permit, maybe, if it gets worse. Right now it's just a suck it up sort of situation. But the wool, you are 100% correct about the wool. :)
Cat Dancer: fedorapixel39 on April 11th, 2013 05:03 pm (UTC)
Maybe you could get him to prescribe a hot tub for you? Soaking in hot water is good for the circulation, just ask Orlaith (who also has Raynaud's).
eithni: coldeithni on April 11th, 2013 05:07 pm (UTC)
I already have a wooshy tub in the bathroom, I just don't use it very often. I always feel guilty about using that much water and time on myself. :p

DameJ: Grand Canaldamej on April 11th, 2013 12:39 pm (UTC)
I don't travel light, but I don't use backpacks and rarely use shoulder straps (I have back and shoulder issues).

I manage pretty well with wheeled suitcases that I occasionally have to pick up and lug by the handles (like over the stepped bridges in Venice, where I had about three times as much luggage as most of the tourists). The four-wheeled "spinner" bags are much more useful than two-wheeled bags.
eithni: jumpingeithni on April 11th, 2013 04:12 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the suggestion, but I loathe real luggage for adventures. I have a little spinner for posh getaways, but for adventures when I literally want to hit the ground running, I'll just pare down further.
Albredaalbreda on April 11th, 2013 12:47 pm (UTC)
Might sound woo, but I've known folks to have really good results for Raynaud's from meditation and biofeedback. </p>

Glad you got answers, and ways to prevent problems!

eithni: Namasteeithni on April 11th, 2013 04:15 pm (UTC)
Hmmm. That does sound a little woo, but also plausible. I'm an Evidence Based Medicine kinda girl, but I've seen good, solid results from biofeedback and meditation studies. I've been meaning to give yoga a whirl anyway. :)
Albredaalbreda on April 11th, 2013 04:31 pm (UTC)
I'm all about the evidence, also. I've seen most success with biofeedback for specific areas of Raynaud's, and meditation for overall stress reduction.
Evil Imperial Barbariancarrot_khan on April 11th, 2013 06:02 pm (UTC)
Oh by the gods, don't move to CA. If I had a dollar for every Midwesterner I know who moved to CA and started to spout off like it was the damned promised land and so superior to the Midwest I could pay the water bill for that whooshy tub of yours.

I'd like to take the moment to point out none of these obnoxious converts ever lived in Chicago and thus they felt it was all as small minded and culturally bankrupt as whatever little town they grew up in.

No, not holding a grudge. No, not me. Not ever. ;)

In other news, sherling slippers and a glass of red wine with dinner is probably cheaper than whooshy tubs. ;)
eithni: greeneithni on April 11th, 2013 06:52 pm (UTC)
Eh. I actually like living in the Midwest. The people are nice, the natural disasters are limited, we have pretty scenery and all four seasons. Madison is particularly nice - between the UW and the Capitol, we get more neat stuff than a town this size warrants. With Mileaukee and Chicago 2 hours away and Minneapolis four, there's very little I want for and I'm certainly not above hopping a plane from O'Hare to NYC for special events. :) But the weather, I do envy California their weather.
Evil Imperial Barbariancarrot_khan on April 11th, 2013 07:05 pm (UTC)
I have to agree with you on the natural disasters. Every time I hear about a hurricane or earthquake or wildfire or mudslide I think "Meh, tornadoes aren't so bad in the grand scheme of things."

Although San Fran in the summer is unusually chilly I discovered. At night at least, the days not so much. I went there in July thinking it was going to be hotter than Chicago at 90+ degrees. Thank god I dressed for a chilly air conditioned plane ride. Fog takes on a whole new meaning there. Left all of us Midwesterners feeling like touristy chumps (there for a convention of course :) ).
Roxelanaroxelana on April 11th, 2013 09:12 pm (UTC)
I have almost no ability to take a can of soda out of the fridge and carry it to my desk anymore. I didn't realize how bad it had got until I had to put my gloves on at the grocery store to get a couple of tv dinners out of the freezer. Stay away from the snow!
eithni: coldeithni on April 12th, 2013 10:08 am (UTC)
Eeek! Not that bad yet, thank goodness!
reneekytokorpireneekytokorpi on April 12th, 2013 02:00 am (UTC)
I'm glad you have an answer. Knowing what this is can help you cope with it better and let you know when you need to pamper yourself to stay healthy. :)
Kareinakareina on April 12th, 2013 03:05 am (UTC)
Sherpas?
If wheeled luggage isn't for you, could you support the local economy by hiring a travel companion to carry your bags for you whilst you adventure?
eithni: Pictisheithni on April 12th, 2013 10:07 am (UTC)
Re: Sherpas?
Depends entirely on where those adventures take me. India, certainly an option. Scotland, less so.
Kareinakareina on April 12th, 2013 02:38 pm (UTC)
Re: Sherpas?
I don't know--my friends in Scotland report that jobs are still scarce and hard to come by. I can think of at least one friend who lives there who might be willing to carry your bags on adventures around the country in exchange for your covering expenses and providing a little pocket money, too. Let me know if you ever want me to ask him...
eithni: greeneithni on April 17th, 2013 03:56 am (UTC)
Re: Sherpas?
Maybe... though if I was footing the bill for travel expenses, I'd prolly just bring a minion from home. I have LOTS of friends who would love a chance to explore Scotland but don't have the cash. Granted, there's a certain advantage to a local guide, but it is easier to share a room with someone who is a known quantity.
EllieSamelliesam on April 15th, 2013 05:43 pm (UTC)
Yay for answers, even though not necessarily solutions.

Thought: I feel like I saw some backpacks online that put most of the support on your hips, rather than shoulders. Must look again.
eithni: greeneithni on April 15th, 2013 05:57 pm (UTC)
Yep. I have one of those. Just need to actually use that feature now. :)