For many years now, I have watched The Bachelor(ette). It’s a far cry from my usual fair of Masterpiece Theatre, and while it has nothing to do with the reality of most relationships, I am still highly entertained by most seasons of it. A few years ago, I found out that a high school friend of mine was a closet fan as well, and so we now virtually watch it together, having a great time making fun of its absurdities.
This season (Chris Soules, “Prince Farming”) has been entertaining, to say the least. However, there have been several things in recent weeks that have left me frustrated in how they were handled on the show. One such incident occurred in week five after one of the women, Jade, fell into the Rio Grande during a rafting excursion (shown on the YouTube video below). Jade describes that she has “a condition where my body goes into hypothermia at … normal temperatures it shouldn’t which causes … my hands and my feet to lose circulation.” It really bothered me that either she didn’t name this disorder or that ABC edited it out. This health issue is called Raynaud’s Phenomenon, and it’s estimated that millions of Americans deal with it. By naming this disorder, in just a few seconds, ABC could have given legitimacy to a true health issue that many people suffer from rather than making it seem like Jade was simply seeking attention. Of course, the latter is clearly their goal since controversy and strife make for better ratings.
I’ve dealt with secondary Raynaud’s personally; it was a side effect of Lyme Disease. For me, it usually only manifest going between major differences in temperature such as outdoors in winter (35F) to indoors in the heat (70F) or outdoors in summer (100F) to indoors in the AC (75F). The sudden rapid temperature change is what triggered the symptoms in my extremities. There was no visible change in my skin on my hands and feet as there are for some people as demonstrated in the photo above. Instead, it “just” hurt like holy heck, sort of like an extreme version of a burn, a cramp, and pins and needles combined. However, when removing my clothing in my cold bathroom during winter to shower, the temperature change would cause my nipples to sometimes get very painfully hard and very white, not something most people around me would get to see. The only thing that really helped eliminate the symptoms of Raynaud’s was time as my body slowly acclimated to the change in temperature. Most of the time my hands and feet were too painful for someone to touch or rub.
As with many invisible illnesses, there are doubters and naysayers when someone is truly suffering. One of the other women on the show, Kelsey, very uncompassionately saw Jade as strategically using her disorder to get more attention from Chris Soules. Kelsey announces repeatedly in an exasperated voice “I’m fine!” because she is upset she doesn’t have something to use to get extra attention from the Bachelor. If Kelsey only knew how painful the experience Jade was going through, she might not have been so jealous of the extra attention, and Kelsey might actually have been saying a prayer of gratitude that she is fine. Her disgust at someone else’s pain and need for assistance was reprehensible at best.
After Chris finished rubbing Jade’s feet for her, another bachelorette jokingly asked, “Alright, are we forming a line?” Chris jokingly replied as he laughed, “Ok, who’s next?” That kind of joking around the incident felt healthy and normal. It acknowledged that many of the other women would love a foot rub (as many of us do!), but at the same time it didn’t demean Jade’s pain in any way.
For me personally as I watched this incident, one of the biggest revelations for me was the realization that I no longer deal with Raynaud’s. That may sound strange, but I don’t know when in the past few years I stopped having to deal with it. At some point, my health improved enough that this was no longer one of my body’s many problems. However, given how many other symptoms and pains I deal with on a daily basis, I didn’t even notice when this major one disappeared. I am so grateful that I can say that I have healed enough that Raynaud’s is no longer an issue for me, but I still feel a great deal of compassion for those who suffer from it’s annoying and extreme painfulness.
© 2015 Green Heart Guidance