Yes, I wear gloves

Published 10:23 pm Tuesday, February 11, 2020

By Nathan Rice

I was taking groups of kids with whom I work to the arcade on varying days, so I was visiting the arcade for the second time in as many weeks. The associate taking my credit card said, “I remember you. You’re the guy with the gloves.” “That’s me,” I replied.

I hear frequently, “Why are you wearing gloves?” “Are you that cold?” and “What’s up with the gloves?” I don’t mind the questions. I know that wearing gloves inside stores, at the arcade, in the movies, shopping at the store, at church, inside my home, and at work is different. It’s not something you see all the time.

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I’m not trying to make a fashion statement, and I’m not trying to avoid the flu by covering my hands. I have a condition called Raynaud’s disease.

Raynaud’s disease is an auto-immune disorder that affects blood vessels, typically in fingers or toes, causing them to overreact to temperature or stress. Doctors say the disease causes vasospasm, which means that blood flow is reduced to the affected areas. I’ll explain what it does to me in non-medical terms, but there are plenty of internet sites that you can visit if you want to know more about the medical ins-and-outs of the disease.

The simplest way to explain it is that my hands get cold very easily! My hands will begin to turn blue if the air has even a slight chill. Something as simple as holding a cold beverage will begin to cause numbness and pain as my hands react to the cold temperature. The best way to describe the pain is to compare it to the pain that you would feel if you stuck your hands in a bucket of ice water or dipped them in snow for an extended period.

The disease can also cause sensitivity to my fingertips. There are days when pushing buttons through each of the buttonholes on my shirt causes a great deal of discomfort. You can understand this pain by thinking about how it feels when you bump a bruise on your arm or leg.

It also causes some swelling, discomfort and weakness that is akin to arthritis. This symptom affects my entire body, but my hands have taken the brunt of this as well. I can no longer fully straighten my hands, and I unable to touch my palm with my pointer finger.

Like all auto-immune disorders, there is no known cause and no known cure. There is treatment, and I am grateful for the medicine that has helped me keep the disease under control. I take pills every morning and every evening, and they have been a tremendous help.

I have learned to adjust to this new condition. I wear gloves throughout the winter to keep my hands warm. I buy the gloves they sell at Dollar Tree in bulk! They are inexpensive gloves that don’t last long, but these gloves are just tight enough that I can wear them while typing on a keyboard and working on a computer. I also have gloves that can be heated, which I use when I will be outside in colder conditions or when dexterity isn’t as required. Basically, I own a lot of gloves!

If you’ve ever seen me in my office typing away while wearing gloves, walking around the neighborhood with gloves on even when it doesn’t seem that cold, or saw me at an indoor business wearing gloves, you now know the reason.  If you do see me around, make sure you say hello. I’d love to shake your hand. Don’t worry – it’s not contagious.


Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at