A toddler is called the real-life Elsa from the hit Disney animated film Frozen because she has a rare condition that she battles with daily. Gracie Hughes, 2, has a condition called Raynaud’s syndrome. She turns blue when she’s exposed to the cold.
Those who have the condition have small blood vessels in their extremities that are sensitive to changes in temperature, which interrupts the blood supply to the limbs. When sufferers experience an attack, their limbs first turn white, then blue, and finally red, and then a burning sensation comes when the blood flow is restored. It can cause pain, tingling, and numbness.
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Most patients cope with the condition by bundling up to remain warm. There are some who develop ulcers that can become infected.
Little Gracie has special gloves to give her extra protection during her attacks. Her mother, Laurie, 27, said, “When she gets cold, she turns blotchy blue. It starts in her hands then travels up her arms, feet, legs then face. She has magic gloves which reflect 95 percent of the heat back into her body.”
A condition like this means that doing normal activities can be challenging. The toddler is not allowed to eat ice cream or have very cold beverages. Whenever she leaves the house, she has to dress in thermals, layers, have two pairs of socks, a hat, and scarf, as well as her silver gloves.
During the winter months, Laurie needs to take Gracie’s temperature several time a day to make sure that her temperature doesn’t drop too low. Gracie cannot go outside to play or eat cold foods because her hands will become swollen if she handles cold items.
The heating is always on. There’s also a heated blanket for when they travel in the car.
Raynaud’s attacks can happen to Gracie at anytime, even bath time. People stop her on the street to tell her that her daughter is too covered and may overheat. Like all mothers, she just wants to give her daughter a sense of normalcy, but there are things that Gracie just can’t do.
Laurie has to constantly juggle between giving her daughter the freedom to do the things that other kids her age can do and having the nagging worries at the back of her mind.