Young, Sick and Invisible

My illness has shaped me,
But it does not define me.

Well…Why Don’t You Just Move To A More Temperate Climate?


Sunrise

“For what cannot be cured patience is best."

- Irish Proverb

Several people have brought the solution for me to move somewhere warmer up when I’ve explained my Raynaud’s to them. Or when my hands are purple/blue/white/dead looking or when I’m bundled up like the Stay Puffed Marshmallow Man in the middle of summer. The only person who’s ever used the term “temperate climate” though is the only person who was actually being a bit snide or patronizing about it. And she wasn’t really asking either; she was the barn manager at the stables where I was boarding my horses before and she was clearly aggravated when I was trying to explain to her why I was leaving and moving my horses somewhere else. She was the only one I can remember who didn’t seem well meaning though. Everyone else who has brought up me moving has seemed to be genuinely wondering, wanting to help, or at least wanting to find something to say. When what can they really say? I don’t have a good answer and when I put myself in their shoes I understand the question better.

I try not to get frustrated, irritated, upset, or discouraged when people ask me “why don’t you just move to a warmer climate?” I don’t tend to get that way easily with people anyway, but I think having Raynaud’s is frustrating in itself and hate feeling like I can’t find the words to explain myself well or help people understand. But then again how could anyone really understand unless they have it or have been through it?

Meme

The problem with what seems like a logical solution is almost just as simple. That moving to a warmer climate isn’t just that simple and it doesn’t really solve the problem when you think more about it. Yes being somewhere without winter and where the temperature outside is always sweltering appears to solve the problem of feeling cold- hence having a Raynaud’s attack- there are several factors I know people don’t consider when they offer the “moving option” as a solution to my constant battle with my own body.

First of all…air conditioning is a HUGE problem. It’s like my kryptonite. I grew up visiting the east coast of Florida about twice a year and I know where the weather is warmer they tend to blast the air conditioning indoors. Sure I can control the temperature and air conditioning where I live, but what about grocery stores, malls, doctor’s offices? I could dress like a normal person outside but then I’d have to carry a bunch of layers with me anyway because the minute I step into an air conditioned building I’m going to have an attack. And it’s not like I can avoid those places forever. Stress can also make my Raynaud’s worse and if I’m stressed even a little variation in temperature can trigger me. Eating or drinking something cold is another trigger and something I have to prepare for and work around.

Second problem with moving is my family is here in Colorado. I left my home here, where my Mom, Dad, sister, and now brother-in-law, niece, and pretty much all of my brother-in-law’s family is, to live San Diego for four years to get my undergrad degrees. Not only was San Diego a lot colder than I anticipated (I thought it was going to be like Florida) but I also realized I missed my family terribly. It wasn’t until I experience trauma there and moved back that I really grasped how important my family is to me. That not being able to hop in a car and see them was something I didn’t want to do again. Even if I was able to have a second home somewhere warm (I can dream right?) I would always want my primary home to be close to my family. Especially now that my niece is here. She is one of the biggest blessings I’ve ever had and I don’t want to miss a minute with her if I can help it. Life is too short.

Meme

Third, moving isn’t cheap, easy, or fast. I guess it can be if you have the money saved or don’t have any stuff and just pack your car up and go. But I have a lot of stuff (My depression pushed me to go from a collector, to a pack rat, to a borderline hoarder and now I’m trying to come back from that. It’s a whole separate post of emotional baggage though…). Plus there would be the logistics and expense of moving my horses.

I know it must be hard for people to understand and know what to say when they’re confronted with my Raynaud’s. I have tried to put myself in their shoes and I know I’ve been in the same position when I’ve been talking to a family member or friend who has a condition or illness I don’t have. I feel terrible, can’t really imagine what it would be like, but want to say something that might help. If Raynaud’s has helped me with one thing though it’s helped me be more understanding and think more about both how I approach someone who might be dealing with something I can’t fully understand and how I react to those who are discussing my Raynaud’s with me. I guess it comes back to trying to understand, being patient with each other (whether you’re explain or asking in this case), genuinely caring about each other, and being there for each other whether we can ever fully understand or not. Plus…at least there’s always this!

Until next Friday,

Amy L.

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