Thursday, April 17, 2008

Raynaud's disease

*4/6/09 Update: I have found that a lot of people are coming to this post by googling Raynaud's Disease. If you want to see pictures of a foot during a Raynaud's "attack", go here to another post I did on the subject"*
So I have a disease. No worries, nothing contagious. But it's weird.

A little over two and a half years ago I got bit/stung on my toe by something outside my grandparents house at 4 in the morning on my way out to work (yeah, don't ask me why I was carrying my shoes instead of wearing them, I get it from my mother). I personally think that it was a black widow. Well, it hurt real bad but I was in a hurry so I went to work, put my shoes on, and thought nothing of it. But by the time I got home it had swollen up pretty badly and the next day (luckily Saturday) I couldn't put shoes on and my whole foot would turn purple unless I kept it elevated. So I called my mom (conveniently for me, an emergency room nurse) and she put me on a regimen of allergy pills, anti-inflamatories, and pain pills; plus told me the signs I should be watching for that would signal that I needed to go to the emergency room immediately. That weekend I was endearingly dubbed "fat foot" and "elephant foot" by my grandpa and cousin respectively.
Well, it ended up healing (after having to miss Monday work).
But a couple of months later people started asking me why I was limping. I personally hadn't noticed it so I thought they were nuts, until it progressed far enough that even a thick-skulled person like me could not deny it.
So, a couple months after that (wow, I really am stubborn), after much persuasion from my mom and Curt, I went to the doctor. Long story short, I had to do many tests (which never really found out what was wrong, I think that I had the beginning of a bone infection like I had in my knee when I was 9, resulting in emergency surgery); and one particularly painful test involving my feet, a bucket of ice water, a lot of time, and some oxygen sensors, found out that I had Raynaud's. I ended up having surgery on my foot, resulting in the beautiful scar you see on my foot below.
*And yes, I know that I have the most square feet of any person I have seen*

As another side note, my mother is so wonderful and supportive that she bought a plane ticket to Orlando to be my nurse (I had a pick line in; a line that is run inside your arm and down to your heart to dump in drugs your veins can't handle safely, so she had to administer the drugs and keep the pick line entrance sterile) since I was competing on the BYU NAHB competition team just days after this unexpected surgery. She was the only reason my doctor let me go and compete.

So, what is Raynaud's?
Well, on it's section under heart disease on it says the following:

"Raynaud's disease is more than simply having cold hands and cold feet, and it's not the same as frostbite. Signs and symptoms of Raynaud's depend on the frequency, duration and severity of the blood vessel spasms that underlie the disorder. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Sequence of color changes in your skin in response to cold or stress
  • Numb, prickly feeling or stinging pain upon warming or relief of stress

During an attack of Raynaud's, affected areas of your skin usually turn white at first(check). Then, the areas often turn blue and feel cold and numb(check), and your sensory perception is dulled(check). As circulation improves, the affected areas may turn red(check), throb(check), tingle(check) or swell(not me). The order of the changes of color isn't the same for all people, and not everyone experiences all three colors(I do).

Occasionally, an attack affects just one or two fingers or toes(sometimes it's just the two toes nearest my scar, sometimes just my left foot, sometimes both my feet, and then every once in a while the last section of my fingers). Attacks don't necessarily always affect the same digits. Although Raynaud's most commonly affects your fingers and toes, the condition can also affect other areas of your body, such as your nose, lips, ears and even nipples(afraid not for me). An attack may last less than a minute to several hours."

I guess the reason I am blogging about this is because I had an "attack", as they call it, last night. It's pretty unnerving to look down and see your foot look like it belongs on a corpse. When this happens I usually make Curt sit on my feet or rub them, but sometimes I have to break out the heating pad, and a couple times the only thing that has worked is to take a really hot bath (it's scary not being able to feel when you poke your foot).

So, there you go. More than you ever wanted to know about a disease you never knew existed.

*Updated: if you want to see pictures of my feet mid "attack" go here.

The End.


MAma said...

May I ask, what this contracted because of the spider bite or was it something you gradually developed with age, or was it something you were born with? Just wondering. Thank you for a very informative and interesting post.

Carmen said...

This was something that I was apparently born with, but it was only diagnosed because we were checking out my feet because of the spider bite. From what I understand of Raynaud's, it usually doesn't show up until late teens/early twenties.

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