Thursday, May 25, 2006

Let the Summer 2006 Footwear Games Begin!

Summer is rapidly approaching here in Washington, D.C., a city built on a swamp. The spring has been beautiful, and I've been spending as much time as possible playing outside and soaking up the sunlight and the songs of the birds. This week, however, the hints of summer humidity began creeping upon us. Soon enough the wet hot blanket of a Washington summer will envelop us ...merciless days when you feel like you're swimming in a steaming bowl of split pea soup. For someone with hyperhidrosis, especially women, the approach of summer brings a footwear dilemma. If you wear sandals, your feet will sweat so much the shoes might fall off. Or at the very least, you'll develop embarrassing sweat stains. And if you don't wear sandals, you're hot and uncomfortable...and if you wear a skirt, you'll need to wear nylons on a 95 degree day. Ick!

Today was the hottest, most humid day of the year to date. Even before I left my apartment, my palms and feet were wet. Though I wanted to go sockless, I wore closed toe shoes and carefully chosen knee-highs--the kind that are dark enough not to show the black stains left when my shoes meet my foot sweat. But light enough not to show the actual sweat. As I write about this, I can see how boring and trite these details might seem. With all the problems in the world...economic injustice, war, poverty, Britney Spears' car seat I am yapping about the selection of knee-highs. But this is what having hyperhidrosis is all about. You start obsessing over these small things. You know it's ridiculous, but it's hard to stop. You long to wear fashionable, affordable, flattering sandals that obscure the fact you're sweating like a pig. (Editor's note to self: Do pigs really sweat?). We all want to look beautiful, even as we are concerned about more important things, such the folks suffering in Iraq. Unfortunately, the more you obsess over small things such as knee-highs, the less energy you have for the big things.

Like today. I felt a little anxious about my sweaty feet, so for the most part, I kept to myself at the office. The friendly mailroom guy teases me that I'm always glued to my computer. Outside my cubicle, I could hear the glad handling and greetings of a board meeting. Corporate types congenially shaking hands. If I had a camera, I could have taken pictures of them and sold them as corporate clip art. You know, the kind of images displayed in the windows of banks or in motivational newsletters produced by H.R. departments.

The board members--mostly men but a few women--exuded a sense of comfort and "I belong." You've got to have that confident aura in order to rise in the ranks. And the corporate look...Women in red, tailored suits with sensible Hilary Clinton-esque black pumps. Men wearing their armor--black, grey, and navy suits--with comfortable, shiny shoes. I sense that this is not exactly my scene, but I sometimes wonder if I hadn't spent my life avoiding 'exposure' as a sweaty-palmed person (egad!) if I would have felt more comfortable wielding this kind of power.

Actually, the boardroom meetings are one thing I don't mind missing out on. Maybe hyperhidrosis has its benefits?

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