Tuesday, April 25, 2006

My attempt to rejoin the human race

Sweat stains under your arms. Hearing the dreaded comment: "Why are your palms so sweaty?" Slipping out of a pair of sandals because your feet are so damp...or avoiding sandals completely, wearing shoes with socks all year round (even when you live in a swampy, steamy climate and would like nothing more than to wear a nice dress without pantyhose!) Avoiding places where you think you might have to hold hands as a group. Not trying karate because you have to walk in bare feet, avoiding dancing because you need to hold hands...avoiding or fearing any activity that might reveal the fact that you are one of the 4 percent of people who have over-active sweat glands.

Welcome to the world of hyperhidrosis--a medical condition that results in uncontrollable sweating of the hands, feet, and underarms. I have had hyperhidrosis since age 11. I'm now 35. Things are much better for me now than they were in my teen years. I've figured out how to avoid the sweat stains under my arm. I'm relaxed enough at most social functions that I can shake hands without leaving someone with a sweaty memento. But I still avoid church (where we exchange the 'sign of peace'), and I still haven't summoned up the courage to try karate. I'd love to salsa or swing dance, but I'm afraid to dance with a partner. (I think I could do it, and that I'd even like it, but I keep putting it off!) The older the get, the more determined I become to stop hiding parts of myself out of fear that my hyperhidrosis will be discovered. When you're focused on hiding parts of yourself, you're not fully enjoying life. And others are missing out on all you have to give.

I'm tired of hiding. As Auntie Mame said, "Life's a banquet, and only the fools starve." Well, I'm hungry!

I am writing this blog in hopes of providing support to others in their struggle with hyperhidrosis. And I could use some support for myself, too! I'm going to share my experiences and struggles, as well as the things that have helped me. I hope you will do the same. Maybe we'll even have a few laughs along the way. For example, what's a good career for someone with hyperhidrosis? A Riverdance dancer (i.e., Irish dancers who keep their arms by their sides.)

If you are one of the many teenagers out there who suffer from hyperhidrosis, please know: You are not alone. There is help for you out there. It gets better.


1 comment:

Cory Moench said...

Hi Tiara,

First of all, thank you for writing so much about HH on your blog. It is somehow strangely comfortable to know that this condition does not exist for me alone. Although I have had excessively sweaty armpits as a teenager (like my father), the sweating on my hands, feet, and groin is relatively new and at this point has been somewhat socially debilitating. I just wanted to share a couple of things that I have found have helped.

Regarding my armpits, I now wear athletic 'dry-fit' form fitting t-shirts underneath and I find it helps a great deal in keeping me dry and comfortable. Regarding the Karate, I have found classes that allow me to wear (amateur) wrestling shoes with socks to avoid slippage and embarrassment. Besides, it is such a good workout that most other people in the class are sweating profusely too! I would encourage you to take Karate if you've been wanting to. As you've stated, be open with your instructors about the shoes and I'm sure you can have lots of fun.

Thanks again for all the great posts. It's been very relieving to hear about the many coping strategies.