Imagine living with a reaction to cold, so severe that you have to alienate yourself from your peers. Thankfully, this woman found relief in this simple plant-based remedy.
Suffering from a range of complex health problems, including severe Raynaud's phenomenon – a condition affecting blood circulation, resulting in fingers and toes changing color – Georgie Foster found nights out with friends particularly tough.
“Things were really hard when I was 18," she said.
“At university in Bristol, people would be going on nights out and being very careless, but I couldn't afford to do that. I got a reputation for being a little bit cautious and maybe even precious, but I couldn't stand outside bars all night," Foster added.
“I couldn't take say a pool holiday either, because it triggers the Raynaud's. It was difficult growing up and battling chronic illness, but it was especially difficult being at university and away from home."
Foster first noticed her sensitivity to cold as a child, when she would sit through school assemblies with her hands tucked under her knees to keep them warm.
And by the age of 12, her late grandmother, Pamela, who also had Raynaud's decided to take her to the doctor.
“The doctor told us it was quite normal for young girls to be cold and that there was nothing he could do about it. He also told me I would grow out of it," said Foster.
“When you're 12, you feel invincible and don't think there's anything really wrong, so I just trusted the doctor. My grandmother always made sure I had hats and gloves and my mum, Caroline, always has warm hands, so she was brilliant at warming me up."
Foster's health worsened when she reached 16 and developed endometriosis and low blood pressure.
Georgie with friends (PA Real Life/Collect)
“Low blood pressure is the worst enemy of Raynaud's, because it's all about circulation," she said.
“I knew something really serious was wrong at this point, but again, people kept saying I was young and would grow out of it."
At 18, doctors diagnosed Foster with a benign pituitary tumor, known as a pituitary macroadenoma, which was causing her low blood pressure, as well as giving her menstrual problems and, in turn, making her Raynaud's symptoms more severe.
“Pituitary tumors can disrupt your hormones and cause infertility, which has been hugely difficult for me and ended a lot of relationships," Foster said.
“But in many ways, with all my health issues, I feel happy I can't have children, because I wouldn't want to pass any of this on."
Suffering with a number of chronic health problems has also made forging friendships with other women difficult, according to Foster.
“I've found my poor health, which has also involved having very painful periods, has made it hard to relate to a lot of women, " she said.
“When I do find women who understand and identify with me feeling a little broken, as I don't fit in, it is the most special thing in the world and the female friends I do have are like sisters to me."
Georgie with friends (PA Real Life/Collect)
“But, especially in my teens, I felt that some friends started thinking I was making all this up," she said.
“University was extremely tough for me. My time there was the most miserable three years of my life."
After leaving college, Foster set up a successful handmade online accessories business, but her Raynaud's forced her to give it up, because her hands were too painful to do the craftwork.
Two years ago, she was also diagnosed with arthritis – causing painful and inflamed joints – and a rare and more serious condition called scleroderma.
Scleroderma is an umbrella name for a group of autoimmune diseases that can cause hard thickened areas of skin and sometimes problems with the blood vessels, the muscles and the internal organs, according to the NHS.
“I was diagnosed with systemic scleroderma just under two years ago," she said. “I was so shocked. I'd never heard of scleroderma and had absolutely no idea that was what was wrong with me."
It's Raynaud's Disease Awareness Month! What's your number one tip for managing your #Raynauds symptoms? We'll ret… https://t.co/G4IyHRQ6q0— Raynaud's Disease (@Raynaud's Disease) 1580720830.0
“The doctors told me that was what was causing all my symptoms, including the Raynaud's," she added.
“Life isn't easy, but I don't want to become full of self-loathing. You can get through it, but you need to look after yourself. "
In danger of developing hypothermia and fainting if she is exposed to cold for too long, Foster always has a bag with her packed full of hand warmers, as well as regularly eating hot food and drinking hot drinks.
Georgie on holiday (PA Real Life/Collect)
Finding that the drugs prescribed for Raynaud's do little to help her, she was amazed when someone read her blog about her health struggles and suggested she tried a simple plant-based remedy called Omni Ol. It is designed to ease the pain and discomfort associated with the condition.
Describing the speed within which the remedy, consisting of plant based natural oils restored circulation to her fingers as “mind-blowing."
“As soon I massaged Omni Ol into my hands I could feel them getting warmer, but without the excruciating thawing pain that I normally suffer from. I'm honestly speechless," she said.
Accepting that her health conditions are incurable, Foster is keen to warn fellow sufferers through her blog, to make sure they are checked for other health conditions like scleroderma.
And she is delighted to be able to tell them that she has at last found a non-chemical remedy that has brought her some relief.
“It will, without a doubt, make such a difference to my everyday life," she said.
To hear more about Foster's story, visit her blog at https://www.georgiexoxo.com/.