Cold Feet

Good day my dear Readers. Cool picture eh? It’s called Dishonest Heart. It fits many of our plights all too well.

It’s Teddy again.

Right-oh, to start off the post I wanted to give a radio station recommendation. My favorite station of all time is called Zeilsteen Alternative Radio. It describes itself as playing the Killers, Muse, Coldplay, Radiohead and more. It streams from the Netherlands and you can find it on the iTunes list of stations. Listening to it right now, and it’s pretty splendid.

My topic for today is circulation and cold extremities. The summer I fell ill with POTS an odd phenomenon occurred. I was cold, at the most inappropriate times (reflexively, I was also hot whenever I was dizzy, but we mistook that for being feverish). The chill was odd in itself because it was a pleasant warm summer. My hands and feet were most affected and they soon because a nuisance. Flips flops were impossible, and hands soon made a burrow in my pockets. It wasn’t so much that they were cold, as what that caused. If they were chilled for say, half an hour, they began to itch, swell, and grow hard. My feet would become too swollen to walk upon and my hands would stiffen and become a hindrance in themselves.

My dad has Raynauds syndrome, so we assumed it was a precursor to it. This was well before we went to the Mayo clinic, so all we knew was that my body was going nuts. It hasn’t gone away over the years since, but it has lessened in severity. When I mentioned it to my doctor, he wasn’t surprised and mentioned it was probably due to bad circulation. It sucks, because POTS has so many seemingly random symptoms that it is nearly impossible to figure out what causes what. If you research cold hands and feet, you come up with hundreds of potential life threatening illnesses that serve only to alarm you. So don’t look them up. Ask your doctor in person and show them what you mean. It will save you a lot of anxiety.

Speaking of doctors, my father (who would like to be known as Dr. Papa) explained to me in depth what causes the swelling itself. He says that the autonomic nervous system is responsible for many things, one of which is the circulation lymph. Lymph is a clear to milky white fluid that is in your blood. Blood isn’t one liquid by itself, it’s made of many different proteins. Lymph carries the white blood cells throughout your body. It also tends to leak out of veins and tissues and needs to be pumped by peristalsis (the contraction of muscles). Peristalsis is controlled by the autonomic nervous system. So there you have it, it collects in feet and other places (hands). I may have butchered that, but he promised to write a paragraph in doctor jargon to follow up (which I am holding you to, dad!).

Anyways, if I have it and the wikipedia article mentions it as a symptom, I can’t be the only bloody one in the world with it. So I want this post to assist those of you have to deal with itchy feet. They’re just practical suggestians, but they are useful.

1. Stick your head out the window and see how cold it is. Anything under 70 degrees, wear closed toes shoes. I am not kidding. I could feasibly wear flip flops over 6 months of the year. But I don’t because swollen feet that hurt like heck simply are not worth it. I mean, you don’t even have a cool story to go along with why you’re limping in the first place. “What did you hurt yourself or something?” “Nah, my feet just swell up at odd moments” Great way to make people give you a weird look. So don’t be a soldier and take precautions.

2. Know your classrooms/workplace. Some rooms are downright colder than others. For some reason they roast the math students at my school and freeze the biology students. It’s just how it goes. So try and remember which classrooms are which temperature. It would be a disaster to wear a long sleeved shirt to calculus class. I tried that once. Nearly passed out. Learn from me.

3. Have an arsenol at your disposal. “But Teddy,” you whine, “aren’t sneakers enough?” Nope. No such luck. For example, my favorite sneakers (converse) have holes and little vent thingies in them. Which makes it really, really cold on an off day. I have warm closed toe shoes and colder close toed shoes. I wear them both equally, but the latter need a little bit of help. Lets start off on the easy shoes.

Uggs. You’ll only get weird looks if you wear shorts with them. They’re hard to see under jeans and cords. Plus, they have so many adorable types it can be downright fashionable to wear them in the first place. Also, my favorite invention that Uggs made are the Ugg sneaker. Oh yes, they look like a low top converse and are surrounded by fluff and warm things inside. SUCCESS! That way you won’t be so self conscious. I wear these puppies:

But there are a ton of different colors. These are just the originals (which I POUNCED on a few years ago). You can also buy fluffy inserts to put in your regular shoes.

Leather boots. Yeah, I’m the worst vegetarian ever. But I mean, leather retains heat quite well and boots are really, ridiculously fashionable right now. They help me when I go to the theater with my family and need to dress up. If you haven’t noticed, it’s quite difficult to find closed toed women’s shoes that are dressy. They generally have something peaking out. The ones above are just fun, I don’t actually own a pair. I’m not cool enough to wear them.

Regular sneakers like Toms, Converse, etc. are definitely better than sandals, but I still am affected in them. I have to wear thick wool socks and/or my anti-embolism stockings under them. Plus, socks are wicked fun to slide in. I personally like sliding around in the hallways late at night when no one can see me : ) So thick socks guys ok? I don’t think I’ve ever had an “attack” while wearing the anti-embolism stockings, so you should try them if you can.

By the way, some things to avoid are stepping in puddles, wet grass, and humid days in general. They make everything worse and I don’t know why.

One way to protect your hands is when you go on a run to wear gloves. I generally get too warm half way through the run and take them off, but they help on cold afternoons.

But sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you still get cold feet. Whether you’ve been sitting in a position too long, or misread the weather, your feet and hands just hate you some days. One thing that doesn’t work are anti-inflammatories. Advil, any allergy medicine, etc. do squat for our extremities. What makes them hurt less is a warm bath! 

It doesn’t make the swelling go down any faster, but it stops it from hurting. A cup of tea helps warm up your body too. For some reason whatevers in my belly makes the rest of me change temperature.

Exercise doesn’t help, and running on swollen feet is very painful. So don’t try it. Do you guys have any methods that help? If so, shoot us a comment. I hope your feet are nice and toasty tonight!

Be Well,

Teddy

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2 comments on “Cold Feet

  1. Kayla Mason says:

    You are the only other person I’ve ever heard of who has swelling in their hands and feet when they’re exposed to the cold. I just was formally diagnosed with POTS today (tilt table test) but we’ve been pretty sure I’ve had it for a couple months. When I play soccer outside when it’s cold my hands triple/quadruple in size and we never knew why! Is there seriously any way you could get your dad to explain this if he knows what is happening and how I can get it to stop? Please.
    Thanks

    • Hey Kayla! Sorry for the late reply. So, my dad has a couple theories. He personally has Raynauds in his hands which inhibits blood circulation. Initially we thought that perhaps the swelling was a genetic variation. Raynauds is pretty darn different from what we experience though. For one thing, his don’t swell, they just turn white and numb due to reduced blood flow. Mine turn red, swollen, and itchy, so blood flow isn’t the problem. They do tend to focus around the joints and inhibit range of motion. Does anyone in your family have something like this? It would be interesting if it really was connected. The long and short of the matter is I don’t know, and the doctors don’t really either. There’s something odd with our circulation (what else is new right?) and it occurs in more chilly and damp environments. I’ve had consistent trouble with grass (which considering you play soccer makes it sound like you deal with the same!) and in slightly cold temperatures, like in a room with AC. So I wear lots of socks and try to move around quite a bit. The GOOD news is throughout my recovery it consistently has improved. Seriously, I barely get it anymore. It started the year before I became ill, (so 6 years ago) and the only time its happened this year was when I was in Scotland (compared to past years where it would happen several days a week). So the prognosis is good! And thats awesome you can still play soccer, I know its really hard to feel your body slow down when you’re super competitive by nature. I hope you’re figuring out what makes your body feel the best and starting to get the hang of this crazy POTS life. Good luck Kayla 🙂
      Be well,
      Teddy

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