Nipomo High School dual-athlete Mackenzie Bland learned about her Raynaud’s disease diagnosis six months ago.
“It’s kind of frustrating and a little embarrassing, not going to lie,” Bland said.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Raynaud’s disease is a disorder marked by brief episodes of vasospasm, which is a narrowing of the blood vessels. Vasospasm of the arteries reduces blood flow to the fingers and toes. Bland says cold weather causes her hands and feet to go numb, turning them blue and black.
“I can’t even wear sandals to school anymore because people are like, ‘Oh my gosh, look at your feet and hands’, yeah I know… and I put them in my pocket,” Bland said.
Raynaud’s can be problematic as an athlete. It’s manageable, but only because of the senior’s mind over matter mentality. “Sometimes at practice or when I’m running on my own on a cold day, I literally can’t feel my feet or my hands,” Bland explains. “And I think mentally, it kinda messes with me.”
Fortunately, as a second-year track and field team captain, Bland carries experience managing challenges.
“I’m in the mindset of this isn’t a big deal. I can handle this and take on this challenge because it is not going to slow me down,” Bland said.
“She’s a trooper. She does her workouts hard,” said Lawrence Rucker, Nipomo track and field head coach. “She’s always in front of the girl’s group, leading them. So with that, I don’t really see it slowing her down. I see her rising to the challenge and accepting it, and not letting it stop her.”
The ability for Bland to rise to the challenge is based on her mentality of the situation.
“I’m very optimistic about the situation and so when I was told, ‘Oh you have Raynaud’s disease,’ it’s like okay but look at all these other things going well in my life. This isn’t going to be something that stops me from being successful,” Bland said.