'My name is Tiana Pereira, currently 29 years old, and I was first diagnosed in 2007 with Raynauds Disease at the age of 17.
It started when I put my hand in some cold water and noticed that my one finger went white and numb. I didn’t think anything of it until this became a frequent thing. I went to my GP who diagnosed me with Raynaud’s disease. He referred me to a Rheumatologist in order to explain this condition. I was prescribed some medication such as Cipalat and was even advised to take Viagra to increase the dilation of my capillaries. I was told that there is no cure for this condition but the only thing you can do is to manage the symptoms. It has now progressed to a point where my entire hand and palms go completely numb (turns white, then blue then red) as well as my entire foot.
An attack is usually triggered by changes in temperature, most frequently cold weather or environment and stress. I have found that the best preventative measures are: layering up with tight under layers, keeping ears and head warm with beanie, wearing gloves where possible, wearing thick long socks, keeping your room a constant warm temperature (radiators on low), and being active every single day as this helps with circulation. Also doing things to minimise stress such as addressing negative issues/things in your life (mental state), or exercising, or meditation etc.
I would recommend that you do yearly check ups with your GP or Specialist to manage your symptoms and in my case sometimes heal chill blains on the tips of my fingers. The GP can check your anti body blood count which can give them an indication of any secondary auto immune disease. I have been diagnosed with CREST syndrome with Raynaud’s disease being one of the symptoms.
Raynauds is a condition that can easily put you in a bad space mentally, but it is something that you have to speak about to your family and friends so that they understand what you are going through. It can cause you not to socialise and to feel sorry for yourself, but at the end of the day you have to accept it and think about how you are going to change your mindset to appreciate what you can still do with your life. My view has always been ‘there are worse things in life than what I am going through’ and people survive worse conditions or diseases so therefore I just need to deal with it.
The most important thing is to BE HAPPY mentally and then you will be able to deal with this disease and get through it day by day. I am lucky to have a job, a roof over my head, I walk to work to back to keep active which has helped my circulation a lot and I go to gym 5-6 x week.
There are times where I can hardly do basic tasks such as: holding a cup, dressing myself, running etc because of Raynaud’s attacks, but I have accepted that these are the symptoms and by using preventative measures such as layering up it really helps with the frequency of these attacks. I have found that the medication does not really have a noticeable affect for me short term but I guess in the long term it will help and prevent the condition getting worse.
For anyone out there suffering with this disease, know that you are not alone. I feel like there is not enough awareness out there for this condition, and we need to all support and help each other by sharing advice as well as being a support network for anyone struggling to deal with their disease and it’s symptoms.'
Author credit: Tiana Pereira