Living with Raynaud's as an athlete; A first hand account by Ryan Tattle — Posted on 05 Dec 17:46 , 0 comments


 When the weather is good, it's good. When it's bad, the game changes

Our extremities turn white, then blue, then bright red as our circulation departs our fingers and toes. In extreme cases, entire limbs can lose their circulation.

 

"There are twenty-eight million of us in the United States alone who deal with this disorder"

It can cause gangrene. It's no joke.

There are people with this disorder who choose to barely live north of the Mexican border.

This is not just a case of just being cold and figuring out why you out of all people are the one always freezing. Sometimes it can actually be indicative of another, more serious underlying condition as well.

Raynaud's is still a mystery to doctors. There are treatments that people use. Some drugs with harsh side effects and some natural alternatives with no real claims. There are definitely some that are better than others) but there is no known cure as of today.

 

 

This is what it is like to live with Raynaud's

As an athlete, living with Raynaud's, especially here in Colorado, is a challenge. 

I have battled the cold both in our mountains as well as Nepal, Kilimanjaro and while kayaking icy cold water.

What works for 'normal' people is woefully inadequate for me. I've been known to spend nearly $400 on a pair of "bomb proof" gloves only to have my fingers freeze inside them. 

Mittens are marginally better but dexterity is a joke. As a horseback rider, they are useless for handling reins. 

I dearly want to go dog mushing in the far north.

Really? Imagine the challenge I'm going to have to get a team of Huskies hooked up with my fingers completely frozen. And once they are, there is no warming them back up inside glove. (If only I could have Husky below to help me along the way...)

Gloves and mittens only hold in the warmth that you bring with you or you can generate.

Battery-operated gloves work fine for a few hours, especially on a high setting. however if you're in the backcountry like I am for weeks, trees don't come with electrical outlets.

Sometimes we're reduced to jamming our frozen fingers into our armpits, which results in the one-legged Masai stork dance. (You know the one I mean) It may warm hands for a few minutes but has to be repeated regularly. Not functional if you are in the middle of an actual sport but hugely entertaining to anyone standing nearby.

 

What works for 'normal' people is woefully inadequate for me. I've been known to spend nearly $400 on a pair of "bomb proof" gloves only to have my fingers freeze inside them. 

Husky warming up my hand

 

What else are we told to do to 'help' the cause?

Among the other rather useless pieces of advice given to those of us athletes who deal with Raynaud's is "stay inside." "Move your arms around." "Wear mittens." "Wear a hat outside." "Wear layers."

Um yah, ya think? We all know that already. And no, we're not going to stay inside in the cold. It's one of the most lovely times of the year and besides, who wants to miss out on all that scenery? Not me.

Training in cold weather is part of life. Living with Raynaud's is just part of my being an athlete. 

Raynaud's did not keep me off the Everest Base Camp climb. Nor did it prevent me from summitting Kilimanjaro. It didn't prevent me from riding for hours on the windswept mountainsides of Patagonia by the Chilean border.

I might be damned uncomfortable at times but like other athletes, I'm also indomitable.

We deal.

I'm not moving to Mexico nor am I staying inside when the snow starts falling. 

I may head out looking like the Michelin Man but, I am heading out. And one of these days that will include hooking up those Huskies.

 

"Raynaud's did not keep me off the Everest Base Camp climb. Nor did it prevent me from summitting Kilimanjaro."

 

Way to Everest Base Camp Sign

 

Article written by the amazing:
Julia Hubbel
Warrior Woman Travel
The Galloping Gaia Adventure Travel Consulting
Prize winning auther of WordFood: How We Feed or Starve our Relationships
and Tackling the Titans: How to Sell to the Fortune 500