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Young, Sick and Invisible

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

Not Alone: A Raynaud’s Encounter of a Different Kind

Cracked Ice

“Isn’t it amazing how a person who was once just a stranger, suddenly meant the world to you?”

I’m used to public encounters involving strangers asking me if I’m cold or balking at me wearing lots of layers being a certain way. Me somewhat on the defensive, feeling awkward and out of place, trying to find the best way to explain without sounding like an idiot or drawing more unwanted attention to myself. Especially after this last encounter with the guy asking if his eight year old son could pray over me. I think I’m more on guard and ready for these types of exchanges. Especially when it’s almost 100 degrees out in the summer, like it is now, and I’m wearing pants, Uggs, and often a jacket especially inside in the air conditioning (my KRYPTONITE).

So when I was getting out of the car at the grocery store around dusk the other night and reached around to put on my jacket I heard a woman’s voice and inside immediately I was cringing. I was ready…”Raynaud’s…yes always cold….neurovascular overreaction….air conditioning in the store…don’t want to have an attack” I was ready to spew that all out and get into the store. But when I turned to look at the woman who’s voice I heard my demeanor completely changed. She was kind of smiling at me knowingly. She said “you’re cold to huh?”


I was frankly completely stunned. It was almost 100 degrees out that day and just beginning to cool slightly with dusk starting. I was wearing lounge pants, Ugg slippers, and putting a winterish jacket over a long sleeve shirt. I never expected anyone to ask me if I was cold TOO….TOO!! She was cold?? She was wearing a long sleeve shirt and pants. It took my brain a minute to recover from being totally stunned but I smiled gratefully at her and said “yes I’m always cold! I have Raynaud’s condition. It seems like no one else gets cold in this heat except for me.” She smiled back at me and I felt like she looked grateful too. She said “Yes me too, I have a thyroid condition and I’m ALWAYS cold”. I can’t find words that seem good enough to express how comforting this encounter with a total stranger was for me. Having support and those who truly understand online is helpful, but actually having a “real world” spontaneous encounter like that stuck with me. I suddenly didn’t feel awkward, or on guard, or defensive, or strange/weird/out of place. She UNDERSTOOD! Part of me suddenly wanted to rush over and hug her.

I don’t know why this incident touched me to such an extreme degree. We both were smiling at each other and I told her to “stay warm” as she sat down in her car to drive away. I felt more a peace inside for some reason. As hokey as it might sound it really felt like the universe was sending me a comforting message through my brief chat with this fellow “frosty” stranger, telling me that I’m not alone. I can’t help feeling that calm peace when I think about it.


Until next Friday,

Amy L.

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