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Friday, August 19, 2011

PART II: Living in a constant state of sweat


Hyperhidrosis isn't life-threatening, but it can affect every aspect of someone's life, and the effect on his or her psyche can be devastating. The worst part may be that while some triggers -- like spicy food or hot weather -- can be avoided to a greater or lesser extent, hyperhidrosis doesn't need a trigger. It can happen at any time with no warning at all.

It's no surprise that people with hyperhidrosis often report depression, social anxiety, decreased confidence levels, difficulty forming close relationships, frustration at daily activities, reduced work performance and a 

self-imposed isolation.

Furthermore, the same social embarrassment and anxiety someone with hyperhidrosis may get from sweating can cause them to sweat even more, creating a vicious cycle that seems impossible to break.

  Getting ready for work or school and having to change clothes before you even leave the house ...because you've already sweated through your first shirt..... (and you were really excited to wear your new shirt).

After carefully padding the armpits of the new shirt with small washcloths.. try to prevent sweat from drenching it, you make sure to bring a few spares so you can change later in the day.

Breakfast proves to be a challenge when the warm mug keeps slipping from your sweaty palms, and keeping a grip on your fork is a challenge. 

You start to sweat more because of the warmth of the meal. Wiping your upper-lip constantly (Thus removing your makeup you tried to perfect this morning).  Phew... thank goodness you didn't accept the breakfast invitation from your co-workers!  This is unbearable in front of other people. 
The  c o n s t a n t  state of worry internally -robs you of your sanity- ...trying to conceal your sweating, only further induces the condition.

Off to work you go! ugh... its only 50 degrees out, but your sweaty hands make it difficult to grip the steering wheel, so you must drive extra cautiously. By the time you arrive at work, your socks and shoes, back, armpits, and pants are soaked with sweat. Time to reach into your brains file cabinet of excuses and pull one out. 
And so, sitting down at your desk, you sigh and begin the struggle of getting through another day.
Exactly like the day before.

Growing up, I never thought much of my sweating... until about 3rd grade.  My first memory was when my teacher returned my school work, asking why it was so sloppy; pencil lead smudges scattered about, the lines on the paper almost worn off. I Realized at that point, I was sitting on my hands, soaking the sweat up on my pants. I was crippled by this moment.
This was the beginning. 

I was terrified to go to school.  Everyone loved playing those hand clap games *...please don't ask me to play with you.. please......* I thought in my head. "ewwww why are your hands so wet?!" 
..I made sure to go with my mom when she bought notebook paper, I knew exactly what brands had ink for the lines that would not smudge.  
I was terrified of being asked to open a door, a bottle, a handshake, a high-5.  
I subconsciously developed many techniques to alleviate my sweaty situation.  Sitting on my hands, or putting them in between my legs.  Wearing gloves, even during the summer.. and making excuses that I was "cold". Even though I was burning up in the 80 degree weather. Keeping paper towels in my pockets, towels in my armpits.  I developed friction burns on my feet and hands from constantly rubbing them against my pants to wipe off my sweat.  
I was terrified to be asked to the front of the class... the pRoJeCtOr.  My sweat drips would be magnified.  My face would explode with heat, I could literally get it to drip within minutes.  
My hands would swell up from sweating so badly, that the skin had no more give.  Eventually it would crack and bleed.  At times when my hands weren't sweating, and *gasp* I felt a patch of scab or dryness... I was so happy! I was happy to have a rough dry patch on my hands. I couldn't wear nail polish; my hands felt like they were suffocating. I remember playing basketball in middle school; my hands got HUGE. "omg! whats wrong with your hands!? they're soo swollen!"  I came up with the clever idea to say I was allergic to the rubber in basketballs. It worked. 

My groin would get soaked sitting. I had to make sure to test my pants with water before wearing them, to see how dark they would get when wet.  I discovered white Hanes undershirts' for men, and wore those as often as possible. I wouldn't dare wear a colored shirt.

I never had friends over, nor attend birthday parties or usual young girl activites. the less human interaction, the better.
Home was my sanctuary. 
Where I developed a deep connection with horses.
 They didn't care how sweaty I was! I spent all my spare living and breathing horses. My room filled with books, toys, clothes, and tack.  
Any opportunity to go to a barn, a drive, a feedstore, a tackroom -anywhere I knew I'd get to satisfy one of my sense with this amazing animal- I took up. Horses were my outlet, my medicine for this disease that kept me from living like a normal human. To feel pretty like a girl..

Dating... what was that? Dances?!?! SPORTS?! no no and NO way! 
I avoided PE, dating, dances, any form of social interaction that I knew exposure of my disease would be inevitable; I avoided.  I dreaded labs in chemistry; test tubes' glass would get foggy, I'd slip my grip... contaminate the experiment. I mastered calling in sick. I dreamed of what it felt like to hold someones hand... to have a boy hold me
to give someone a high-5. To be able to give a speech in front of an audience without saturating my clothes in minutes. To write on a piece of paper & feel the dryness of the paper whisk on the dryness of my hand...

-Next up-
Part III
Treatment Options & the route(s) I took...


  1. Beautiful Leana... your posts are so interesting. You truly have made me grasp hyperhidrosis more. You have talked to me about it multiple times but it never hit me as hard as reading this. Oh the things we share! Your worrying about sweat and me worrying about the drop foot drag all the while making it worse! Gosh how difficult it can be to suffer from a rare misunderstood disease. Well spoken and I cannot wait to read part III!

  2. Thank you! I really appreciate it! It is hard explaining in a few minutes to anyone... as I'm sure you've run into this problem MULTIPLE times.... "no... not muscular dystrophy..." .... "no... not scoliosis...." We will further educate the public on these crippling misunderstood diseases through our own suffering, thus hopefully shedding light and bringing forth more HOPE for others in our water logged, right-oarless boat ;-)