Friday, February 03, 2012


There's a little known physical twist to me that makes it possible for other people to gauge the weather outside.
Specifically, after my mid-day pipe smoking break, you can look at my fingers to find out whether you need a jacket, a jacket and a sweater, or a jacket, a sweater, and someone else's stolen thermal underwear.

'Rainaud's phenomenon'.

According to Wikipedia, this is a "vasospastic disorder causing discoloration of the fingers, toes, and occasionally other areas. This condition can also cause nails to become brittle with longitudinal ridges. Named for French physician Maurice Raynaud (1814–1881), the phenomenon is believed to be the result of vasospasms that decrease blood supply to the respective regions. Stress and cold are classic triggers of the phenomenon."

Presently it's the middle of winter in San Francisco.
So my pipe break is a frigid affair.
Most of the time when I come back inside, two or three of my fingers look like they were fished out of the East River. Sometimes the vaso-constrictive pallor has progressed to cyanosis of the tips of one or two fingers.
They still look like corpse digits, but blue is a NICER colour.

Yes, I could wear gloves. But I need to be able to manipulate pipe, tamper, cleaners, and matches. Gloves interdict that effort, decreasing dexterity and digital sensitivity all around. Which is also why I never wear gloves when handling Habanero chilies either.
That has on occasion lead to some unfortunate moments - especially that one time when I reclined in the bath tub for over an hour with a bag of ice emptied over my private parts - but I'm all about sensations.
Texture and stuff.
Gotta feel things.
Tingly fingertips.

"Stress and cold are classic triggers ... "

Besides, if I wore gloves, my co-workers would NEVER know how cold it is.
One finger, two fingers, three fingers......
First digit, second digit......
White. Or blue.

I'm a public service announcement.
It's my altruistic streak.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


Tzipporah said...

Oh dear. My father has Renaud's disease and it's so uncomfortable. At least you live in San Fran, and not somewhere it snows.

The back of the hill said...

Apparently they're experiencing the coldest winter in several decades in the Benelux right now. Actual skatable ice on the canals and fens.

They're even looking forward to the traditional eleven cities race in Friesland.

I am so glad I no longer live there.

Anonymous said...

Smokers ailments?

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