Another Massage? No Sweat!

Navigating a Massage with Hyperhidrosis

Last week I had my second-ever massage with a new massage therapist whom I found advertised on Crowd Savings. I highly recommend using these group discount websites. Groupon, Living Social, and (fill in the city) Daily Deals are a few others I’ve used before.

 

Fill out the comments section when booking an appointment
When I booked the appointment online, there was a field that said Comments. I used this section of the form to enter a few personal details about myself so that I could feel more comfortable upon arrival: I suffer from a medical condition called hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating). While it’s not serious enough to impede my having a massage, I’d like you to know I prefer a cooler room temperature, no blankets, and no heated massage table. I will bring a small fan with me for airflow purposes, but if you have a larger fan, that would be helpful. Thank you.

 

By getting this information out in the open, I no longer had to worry about it. Massage therapists are health care professionals. They have been trained and made aware that people come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of wetness. Some of them may not have ever heard of hyperhidrosis before, and that’s okay. You can be the one to educate them about a condition that is under-recognized and under-treated. Take what you’ve been given and make it work toward a greater good. Yes, this is intimidating. Yes, this puts you at the forefront of attention. But can you do it? How about another “yes” in this paragraph? If you can’t be comfortable nearly naked on a table with your masseuse, then whom can you be comfortable with? Give the hyperhidrosis disclaimer and then move into being more like the rest of the people who get massages and think nothing of it. You deserve it.

 

Ask for any paperwork in advance
When I arrived at the massage center, we began by introducing ourselves, and then Julie had me fill out some client paperwork. I recommend to all health care professionals to make their patient forms available online. I much prefer being able to print things in advance and fill them out in my own environment to avoid a trigger situation. It was a short form, so it wasn’t that big of a deal and I was able to complete it before my hands got too wet. After that, Julie led me to the massage room and helped me set up my 4-inch desk fan I had brought with me. She set it up on a shelf in the corner about 2 feet away from the head of the table. She had me lay down on the table to test the air flow and positioning of the fan. Once I confirmed the fan was in the right spot, she left so I could undress. When you have a massage, you decide the level of comfort. I’m not comfortable being entirely in my birthday suit for a massage, so I brought a pair of loose fitting cotton shorts. Ladies, I do recommend removing your bra. It will hinder the smooth flow of movement from the masseuse. Your body is always covered except for the area on which the massage is occurring, so you won’t be flashing anyone anyway.

 

Try to relax on the massage table
When I first arrive somewhere, my body is usually hyped up and I can feel myself sweating and my heart racing from the fight-or-flight response. So when I got on the table to lie down, I could feel my heart was beating fast. I got comfortable and just focused on taking  some deep breaths to try and relax. There was island type music playing, so I tried to focus on that. Julie came in a few minutes later and began with a few simple massage strokes so that I could get used to her touch. I did make it a point to tell her it was okay to really put out on the amount of pressure she used. I wanted to be dead relaxed by the time I was done, so she had my permission to push hard. She had good hands, too; they were big and broad and strong.

 

When the massage first started, right away my inner monologue took center stage and began shouting things like Oh, God, I can feel my feet sweating. Crap! and Geeze, my hands are kind of damp, too. Is my back making droplets? I can feel myself sweating there a bit. Oh, no. The best thing to do when this happens is to reign it in and tell those voices in your head to kindly SHUT IT. To help with this, I asked Julie to move the sheet up so that my feet could be in the open air. A minute or two later, I pulled my hands out from under the sheet, too. After I did all this, I was able to get cool, calm, and collected and then just focus on the stress leaving my body. The massage ended with a therapeutic foot scrub. By that point I was pretty relaxed and fully acclimated to the room temperature. My feet were no longer sweating, and it felt great when she wrapped them in hot towels and then scrubbed them with salts.

 

Drink water after the massage
Once I was dressed and walked into the lobby, she had a glass of water on the table for me. It’s important to hydrate before and after a massage, but especially after to help flush the toxins that have just been released. During the massage, Julie started to ask me a question but then stopped herself and told me to remind her to ask when we were done. I appreciated this, as the whole point of a massage is to relax and not carry on a conversation. She ended up asking me what the name of my sweating condition was. After I told her the medical term, she said she thought she might have it, too! I was so excited to hear this. I was able to share my blog with her and the types of treatments I had tried. I explained the International Hyperhidrosis Society and my Botox experience and gave her tips and ideas for products to try. I also told her she should apply her deodorant at night in addition to in the morning. It absorbs better that way and will plug the sweat ducts better.

 

Ask for what you need
This massage was such a good experience for me. We attract exactly the people we need into our lives. To now have my very own masseuse who understands my condition because she has it herself and can think like I think with regard to sweating is awesome. She told me she was thinking about our appointment ahead of time and trying to come up with ways to make it better. She debated the pros and cons of massage lotion vs massage oil (she went with oil since it takes longer to absorb into the skin and I could wipe most of it off when we were done), where to place the fan, removed all the blankets and had only sheets on the table, didn’t turn on the heating function on the table, etc. She was even worried when she was working on my right side that she might be blocking the fan. I love this woman!

 

We had such a nice conversation afterward. Julie said she got into massage because her parents were both very sick and she watched as they were no longer able to have massages. Her mother went to the same masseuse for 14 years and then stopped going because she now had to wear a colostomy bag. Her mother was embarrassed and felt unsanitary and no longer worthy of having a massage. Julie said she also wants to help wounded veterans who are disfigured or missing a limb; they, too, have reservations when it comes to feeling worthy of being touched. These stories absolutely broke my heart. No matter what we go through, we should never be ashamed and feel unworthy of the gift of touch. The gift of touch can save lives. If you’re reading this, please know that you are worthy. You are worthy simply because you are here. You deserve love, compassion, and the opportunity to live your truth and not be inhibited by exactly who you are. If you haven’t already, begin now to stand tall. Fake it at first if you have to. Eventually it will start to feel natural because you will be more fully engaged with the intention of becoming your best self. If you are confident, you are beautiful. If I can get a massage, you can, too.

 

Fall 2011 050 This is on the wall of the massage room. I like it because it doesn’t quite sit straight on the wall.

Life is always slightly askew. You just have to be able to lean with it to get a straight view.


 

Copyright © 2011 My Life as a Puddle

6 thoughts on “Another Massage? No Sweat!

  1. Hi, I have facebooked with you before. My friend had/has this condition. I think you have spoken to her on FB also. I am very interested in your experiences with massage and acupuncture. I attend the Pacific School of Oriental Medicine and bodywork is a very big part of that practice. I am also an Ayurveda (Traditional Indian Medicine) Practitioner. I would like to share your experiences with my classmates if you so allow. Thank you for sharing your stories and being so frank. It is extremely helpful.

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  3. great blog! i have hyperhidrosis too and i’m just back from a massage. I have been for a few massages in my life and ALWAYS worrying/sweating a lot for the first half of it but then I relax after she’s done with my hands and feet. I think next time I go for a massage, I might just ask for a shoulder/back massage only. I feel I spend too much time worrying the first half! I have never told a masseuse that i suffer from HH… but I guess they know. Great to read your stories. Natalie x

    • Hi Natalie,

      Don’t ever assume someone knows you have hyperhidrosis. HH is a condition that is under-recognized and under-treated precisely BECAUSE people don’t talk about it. Give the disclaimer to your masseuse. If he or she is anything like mine, they will try to think of ways to make you more comfortable. Perhaps you could start out with a certain area of your body first, and then progress to other areas once you have relaxed and acclimated to the massage environment. Bring a fan if it helps you achieve what others can do normally.

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