el cortez hotel las vegas

This is NOT where we stayed.

Remember that trip I made to Las Vegas after the New Year?

The one that didn’t go so well because of our accommodations?

Well there was something else going on that also made it rain on our parade. A torrent of tears.

You see, I have Raynaud’s. Which is a circulatory disorder.

Basically it means that when I’m someplace cold, like in the snow covered Alps or the freezer section at my grocery store, my blood vessels constrict so that no blood gets in them. And they turn white. And I have no feeling in them at all. I hate that feeling. My toes do the same thing.

Which are ten of the reasons I live in South Florida.


My physician said he could prescribe something, a vasodilator, to prevent this from happening. It’s a daily pill that you take when you know that you’re going to be somewhere cold. It works by keeping the blood vessels open so the blood can flow freely.

Not to take for your bi-weekly trip to the grocery store but to visit say, Las Vegas in January when the average low temperature is 30 and the average high is 50.

To have my blood vessels not constrict? To be able to feel my fingers and toes when I’m outside hiking in the cold? I had visions of all the new adventures this would mean for me: like going on a ski trip or visiting NYC in the winter. Things I haven’t done in years.

I was sold.

I took my first pill right after our plane landed at McCarran Airport. We took the bus to get our rental car. We went to lunch and checked out some of the sites. And then later in the day, we walked around Fremont Street, near where our hotel was. I didn’t feel too cold. And, other than the quality of the hotel, I enjoyed most of our first day there.

I took my second pill the next morning. I was feeling really bummed out because the hotel was such a shit hole. And these feelings were coming in waves. By the afternoon, after a phenomenal breakfast and a hike out at Red Rock with no extremity problems, I couldn’t understand why I was feeling so negative. I should be happy. The medicine was working.

I thought I was letting the state of our hotel room get to me. I kept trying to give my self pep talks. Like “It’s just a hotel room. You roll with things better than this. Stop being such a baby.”

After a nice dinner, that I only sort of enjoyed, we went back to the hotel and got ready for bed. I took a sleeping pill because I just felt like I would never be able to fall asleep. (Though that could have been the noise from the Greyhound Bus Terminal below us.)

The next morning I took pill number three. As my husband and I were walking to the little neighborhood coffee shop, I said to him, “There’s something wrong with me. This isn’t me. I feel way off.” He was empathetic. Then he tried to distract me, which worked for a while.

But by the time we got to lunch, at my favorite Thai restaurant in the whole wide world, I was inconsolable. With a steaming hot plate of Pad Thai in front of me, and a bottle of Singha by it’s side, tears just kept rolling down my cheeks.

Not me. Not me at all. And to make it worse, I was starting to get nervous that something was really wrong with me.

After lunch, we went back to the hotel and laid down. We started talking about how I was feeling and more tears started flowing. I was embarrassed. I pride myself on being able to control my emotions.

And all of a sudden he looked at me and he said, “It’s the medicine.”

I jumped up and ran over to my laptop and started Googling the name of the medicine. And it’s many side effects.

None of the common side effects pertained to me but some of the rare side effects? Depression, loss of one’s own sense of reality or identity and, the all-encompassing, mood changes.

I felt a glimmer of hope. Somebody has to be the person with rare side effects. Somebody has to be the outlier.

The tears kept flowing off and on for the rest of the day but I felt better knowing that I could pin my feeling emotionally out of control on to the medicine. And hopeful that it would get out of my system quickly.

When I woke up the next day, I felt spent. Like how you feel after a good long cry. But I felt more like myself.

And we still had two days left. Plenty of time to turn the vacation around. And we did.

The thing that sucks, other than feeling like I lost an opportunity for large quantities of hotel sex vacation time, is that the medicine worked. My blood vessels didn’t constrict. My fingers and toes were fine.

F*&k it. I’d rather be cold. Or go to Las Vegas in the summer.


Hand graphic via the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute