My Life as a Puddle

Creating hyperhidrosis hope and awareness one drop at a time

Tag: conquering fear (page 1 of 3)

Hyperhidrosis Fears

hyperhidrosis fears my life as a puddle

(Image Credit: Francisco Galarza)

When it comes to your hyperhidrosis, what are your fears about being excessively sweaty? There are many things those of us who have this condition worry about. While I may not be “afraid” of some of these things per se, they do make me think twice about how I might be able to prepare in advance. Here are some of mine, in no particular order:

  • Walking barefoot on someone else’s wood or tile floors and leaving sweaty footprints behind
  • Shaking hands when meeting or greeting someone and then watching in shame as they wipe off their hand afterward
  • Networking events and having to shake multiple hands multiple times
  • Holding a baby and getting him or her wet
  • Crossing the street with a child and losing my grip on such a little hand
  • Being able to safely lift and move furniture
  • Carrying a stack of handouts around the office and then passing them out
  • Applying lotion or sunscreen and not being able to wash my hands immediately afterward
  • Going through airport security

I can think of a million others, but I want to hear from YOU. What are your hyperhidrosis fears? What does your sweating make you worry about? Leave me a comment below!

Yoga Products for Sweating

I decided to try yoga classes again despite my fears of sweating in public in close proximity to others, especially in compromising and vulnerable positions. Yoga classes can be intimidating for those with hyperhidrosis. The fear of dripping sweat all over the mat, on clothing, and on the floor is hard to overcome. But if you make the choice to do one thing every day that scares you, then maybe you, too, can finally be one of those people who doesn’t let their excessive sweating rule every aspect of their lives.

Find a Yoga Class

lululemon offers free yoga classes every week at their stores. I didn’t know this until my sister dragged me into one of their locations. If this is your first time doing yoga, I recommend locating some free classes first before you join a yoga studio or pay for individual classes at a gym. It’s a good way to test out different styles of yoga to see which you like best. It’s also a good way to lean into the discomfort factor of being around other people when exercising and sweating. Remember, sweating when exercising is good and very normal, but for those of us with hyperhidrosis this is taken to a whole new level physically and emotionally.

Wear the Right Clothing

My sister owns quite a bit of lululemon clothing and begged me to try on some of their yoga pants. I had no intention of buying anything, but once I tried on a pair of their Wunder Under crops, I was in love. They are crazy comfortable, and what sold me on them was a combination of things: they came down past my knees, which is an area that sweats very inconspicuously on my body sometimes. The fabric was also thick enough that I didn’t worry about anything showing through if I bent over or stretched my legs. The texture of the fabric also is important for those of us with excessive sweating. The Wunder Unders are very soft and smooth; I could wipe my hands on them, and they didn’t show wet marks or leave salty white stains behind when they dried.

As far as yoga tops go, I don’t own any from lululemon. Yet. However, I do have some racerback tanks made out of polyester that work well for me. You can find some pretty decent items at sporting goods stores online or at department stores like Kohl’s. A couple of the tanks I like are the BCG Women’s Racerback Tank Top – which has moisture wicking fabric to help keep you cool – and the Marika Dry Wik Performance Striped Racerback Tank.

If you’re worried about your feet sweating during yoga, there are yoga socks for this, which I’ve written about in my post Hyperhidrosis & Yoga.

Create a Safe Zone

Since it was my first time doing a yoga class indoors, in a retail store location and not a gym or studio, I wasn’t sure what to expect temperature-wise or air flow-wise. I arrived early so that I wasn’t rushed, since we all know that feeling rushed and being in hurry-up mode is an instant trigger for a sweat fest.

At lululemon, they supply the yoga mats for you, so all I brought with me were my yoga socks, a hand towel for wiping off my hands and feet, and a full-size towel to spread on top of the mat supplied. I also brought a water bottle, since staying properly hydrated is important when exercising, especially if you have the uncanny ability to make your own raindrops and further expel more water from your body than the average person. Proper hydration replenishes and refuels the body while also helping to regulate body temperature, so drink up, sweaty peeps. Sometimes I’ll add a dash of sea salt to my water since I lose a ton of salt when sweating.

So, I had the things I needed in order to feel as comfortable as I could, but I still wasn’t sure what to expect from the class.

Once Safe, Venture Out

I’ve been to two free yoga classes so far. The first time I was able to secure a spot in the back row so no one had to look at me from behind. I was in the corner directly underneath a vent in the ceiling where the air conditioning blasted out every so often. Just as I was feeling pretty good, the yoga instructor explained we would be doing a silent walking meditation outside for the first 15 minutes. She said we could wear our shoes if we wanted, but that she’d be walking barefoot. I had my yoga socks on, which I didn’t want to take off and then try to struggle to put back on again once we came back inside. I could have worn them with my flip flops, but there’s a certain dork factor to deal with there, so I decided to take them off altogether and not be inhibited by my fears of sweaty feet on pavement for all to see.

I’m proud to say I made it through the walking meditation completely barefoot with only a few pieces of grass stuck to my feet afterward, which I wiped off as soon as I returned to my mat.

Had I not gone barefoot, I wouldn’t have gotten the full benefit of the walk. The pavement and sidewalks were hot, but it felt good to feel the texture of the ground as it warmed my already hot feet. The grass felt good, too, and cooled me off for the short time I was touching it.

The second class I attended was a bit different. I had a hard time finding parking, so by the time I arrived there were already quite a few people there with their mats set up. I ended up in the front row but still underneath an AC vent. I tried not to freak out about people seeing me from behind or having to look to the side to copy what everyone was doing. I didn’t bother with my yoga socks this time. I didn’t even bother to bring them, deciding instead to leave one of my safe-zone items at home. Sometimes the socks make my feet sweat worse, so I figured I’d just let them sweat anyway and dry them off with my towel if needed.

Despite the faster paced Vinyasa flow yoga we did in the second class, I ended up doing pretty well sweat-wise. There were a few poses where I was standing up and started to sweat for whatever reason, but for the most part my feet stayed relatively dry with only a few glistening drops of sweat versus a full-blown drip attack.

It’s All About the Mat

I was thrilled to discover a mat in the pile of class mats lululemon provides that was sweat friendly. It’s called the hot (towel) mat, and it’s normally used for hot yoga. This mat saved me in class for sure. I didn’t even have to use my towel over the top of it to absorb my sweat. It’s a very thin mat, though, so I recommend placing a thicker one underneath it if you are a beginner or just like some extra cushioning when you’re contorting your body. Some of these mats have extra grippy stuff on each end, others are just the microfiber all the way across. I had the grippy version the second time in class, which I liked even better than the first one I used. lululemon also makes a towel version, so if you already have a yoga mat you can just buy the towel instead. A yoga mat tailored to your specific needs makes all the difference in the world. So grab this mat for sweat, do yourself a favor, and go live in the moment. If I can do it, then so can you.

The hot (towel) mat from lululemon makes yoga possible with hyperhidrosis.

The hot (towel) mat from lululemon makes yoga possible with hyperhidrosis.

In case you missed these posts, catch up and read about my other hyperhidrosis and yoga experiences – Hyperhidrosis & Yoga and Hyperhidrosis & Yoga – Round 2.

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Copyright © 2011-2014 My Life as a Puddle

Hyperhidrosis and Public Speaking

Sorry to leave you hanging with my last post, Around Here Lately, where I mentioned I did some public speaking.  Remember when my dear friend Sandy passed away in April? If you missed that post, please catch up. It’s called I’ll Love You Long After You’re Gone.  My first real stint at public speaking happened as a result of her passing.  I was asked to deliver the eulogy at her celebration of life service, an honor I still to this day cannot believe was mine.

 

I was extremely nervous about giving Sandy’s eulogy.  I wanted to write something that would honor her and share with others all of the lessons she taught me.  I wanted to be able to speak well, to get through it without sounding unintelligible amidst my tears.  In addition, I wanted to deliver the eulogy from a dry place.   I am happy to report I was able to do all of these things.  How did I do it?  I started by asking for what I needed, a skill that is crucial for people with hyperhidrosis to master.

 

Ask for What You Need

Public speaking is a surefire trigger for inducing sweat.  Remember, people with hyperhidrosis have overactive sweat glands that respond to stimuli much more easily than the average person’s do.  In order to combat the sweat fest I knew would ensue once I was standing at the podium on the alter in the church, I had to make my needs known.  The pastor  called to talk to me about Sandy so he could get to know what she had been like as a person.  When we spoke, I explained that I  had hyperhidrosis and what it was.  He knew I was fully committed to delivering the eulogy and wanted to help in any way he could.  I asked if the church had a small fan that we could plug in near the podium, which they did.

 

The morning I arrived at the church, I made sure to get there early. Being rushed or running late also makes me sweat, so I was trying to control the situation as much as I could to prevent the flood gates from opening.  I wanted to look nice for Sandy’s service so I dressed up, another trigger since dress clothes aren’t always “safe clothes” like my jeans are.  I chose a blue and white dress that matched the ocean/nautical theme of her tribute. It was made from polyester, a fabric that is really good at concealing sweat. I wore silver ballet flats that have Summer Soles shoe inserts in them for an added sweat absorption factor, plus some cotton no-show socks, so it looked like I had normal feet and a shoe selection like everyone else.

 

Trust in Yourself

When I walked into the sanctuary, I surveyed the room to get an idea of where I would be in relation to all of the people who would be gathered to honor Sandy and be staring up at me.  The podium was to the right, and when I walked up the steps to stand behind it, there was the fan the pastor had promised me would be there.  The fan was on the floor directly underneath the small ledge that would hold my paper copy of Sandy’s eulogy.  I was expecting the fan to be over to the side with just a tad bit of airflow I could feel, but it was directly in front of my feet and pointed up.  I tested out the fan speeds and settled on low.  I didn’t want to look like a supermodel at a photo shoot with my hair and dress blowing out behind me!  After placing my hard copy of the eulogy on the podium, I took out a handkerchief from my purse and placed it to my right for extra protection.  I had control over my immediate area, and I trusted that I could pull this off.

 

My view from the podium.

My view from the podium.

Have a Plan B

When placing yourself in a sweat-inducing situation, always have a back-up plan.  Mine was having the pastor sitting right behind me as I gave the eulogy.  He told me if I got up there and suddenly panicked or was crying too much that he would take over for me.  I just had to point to where I was on the hard copy and he’d take it from there.  While I knew I wouldn’t allow myself to get to plan B, it was nice to know I had an option if I needed one.  Always hope for the best, but never underestimate the importance of having additional measures put in place ahead of time.

 

Take Risks

The first 20 minutes or so of the service I don’t really recall very well, since all I could think about was what I was about to do.  Approximately 100 people attended Sandy’s service, but I didn’t know that until I got up to speak.  I was sitting in the second row of pews, with everyone arriving and sitting behind me.  Delivering Sandy’s eulogy was almost an out-of-body experience for me in some ways.  I took a risk by putting myself out there and standing up in all my sweating glory.  It was worth it, though.  Take risks for the people you love.  Trust in yourself.  When the going gets tough, you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve in the name of someone else.  I was able to speak slowly, clearly, and could be understood right up until the very end when I cried while saying the last line.

Public speaking is possible with hyperhidrosis.

Public speaking is possible with hyperhidrosis.

 

Don’t Let Your Circumstances Cloud Positive Memories

Giving Sandy’s eulogy was one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life.  I wrote it over a span of a few days, but her service wasn’t until 6 weeks after she passed away.  Then, right before her service, my personal life took a turn I was not expecting.  So, the grief and sadness over losing Sandy, combined with the shock and intensity of other things, could have clouded my view the day of Sandy’s service.  We always have a choice in how we respond to our life circumstances.  Never let your current situation cloud good memories, especially if you have gathered to celebrate the life of someone you love.  Be present in the moment, because it’s all you really ever have.  I am humbled and honored to have given the eulogy for Sandy.  I am proud to say that I didn’t let my excessive sweating or personal circumstances get in the way of remembering her light.

 

A tribute to my friend and surrogate mother Sandy.

A tribute to my friend and surrogate mother Sandy.

Stay tuned for Sandy’s eulogy.  I’ll share it next time, otherwise this post will be too long, and I know you probably hate scrolling because your sweaty hand has to stay on the mouse longer.


 

Copyright © 2013 My Life as a Puddle

 

 

Writing From Your Soul to Speaking From Your Soul

I hate public speaking. It makes me sweat. So what did I decide to do? Stand up in front of, oh, 500 people  and share a poem I had just written 20 minutes before.

 

It’s hard to explain how this happened. It was rather surreal, but I’ll do my best. Toward the end of day 2 of the Writing From Your Soul workshop (you can read about Day 1 of the workshop), Nancy Levin, brilliant poet and event director of Hay House Publishing, led a series of writing exercises. The first was called I Remember. That was the starting point for each line of whatever it was that we were each writing. This was followed by Most Memorable Kiss, Fire or Water, and What I Absolutely Can’t Write About. Besides the second exercise, all of these I ended up relating back to my hyperhidrosis. I was astounded that all of these exercises were coming full circle to exactly what it is that I have been writing about publicly for nearly 2 years on this blog. This is not coincidence. This is synchronicity. Synchronicity is alignment with Source.

 

So there I am, fleshing out these writing exercises and pulling my shirt sleeve down over the side of my palm to keep my notebook dry. The words are flowing, and each time Nancy says the 5 minutes are up, it seems like I’ve just started to write things down. We complete the exercises and then there is time for 3 people to share what they’ve written. The first 3 to make it to the microphone are the ones who get to be heard. I feel myself jump out of my seat and make a mad dash for the mike stand. Alas, I am not fast enough amidst the skinny aisle, ballroom chairs, and bodies crammed into the small space. I walk back to my seat, dejected and wondering what in the heck I was thinking anyway.

 

But then, they decide they have time for more people to get up and share. I get right back up and literally run toward the microphone. This time, there are about 8 people in front of me. I am the last one standing in line. I decide to stay there and see what happens. So I assume my “absorbing sweat” pose: arms crossed over my notebook, palms grasping my sleeves. Then begins the uncomfortable inner monologue: Oh, sweet Lord. I am standing up in front of all these people. Like, 500 of them plus 3 big video cameras and God knows how many people who are streaming this webcast and watching me in their pajamas. What am I doing?! 

 

I can feel my heart thumping out of my chest. I wonder how high my blood pressure is because I can feel my pulse in every ounce of my being. I am fully in fight or flight mode. Slowly, slowly, the line gets smaller. There is a brief set of words spoken followed by applause, and I hear everyone share his or her piece willingly. Thump, thump, drip, drip. It’s a good thing I covered my notebook in clear Contact paper a few weeks ago, otherwise the front and back cover would be shredded by now. My hands are sopping wet, and so are my feet. Breathe in, breathe out. You are well, I tell myself. You are okay in this moment.

 

Suddenly, I am front and center at the microphone. A lovely gentleman on staff at Hay House comes and adjusts the height of the microphone for me. I look on stage and up into the warm and pretty face of Nancy Levin. She is wearing a sleeveless black dress and some killer black heels that she totally rocks. I take a deep breath and say my name. I can hear my voice reverberating back at me in the microphone. I’m really doing it. I am speaking what needs to be spoken. I am standing on the shoulders of the writers whom have come before me from all centuries of this life, whose work I look up to and from which I gain strength. I take another deep breath and read my poem loud and clear. I speak with truth, with light, without apologies.

 

Here is the poem I shared with the world only 20 short minutes after I wrote it, having no idea I’d be doing so.

 

I Remember

I remember once having dry hands
I remember them getting wet
I remember my condition used to not have a name
I remember when I found its name
Excessive sweating. Hyperhidrosis.
I remember being seen
I remember being validated
I remember being loosed from my shame
I remember being touched for the first time with understanding
I remember reaching out to others so they are not alone
I remember saying I AM.
I remember launching my blog, My Life as a Puddle
I remember creating hope and awareness one drop at a time
I remember being changed by my circumstances,
but certainly not reduced my them*
I remember that water is the Source of all life
I remember that I am enough exactly as I AM
I remember to love myself through it.

 

 

I remember hearing the audience chuckle when I got to the line where I said my blog name. After all, it is kind of catchy, isn’t it? After I read the last line, I looked up at Nancy, and she had her hands over her heart when she thanked me for reading. I walked back to my seat amidst the applause of 500 people. I felt like I was on top of the world. I was also shaking like a leaf. A LEAF, people. As I sat down, the woman sitting next to me reached into her bag and pulled something out and handed it to me. It was a piece of matted artwork. She said she felt led to gift this to me after hearing my poem. I took it from her in awe, my hands now dry as a bone as I held it up to look at it. That’s when I almost lost it. My eyes teared up and almost spilled over in gratitude. Gratitude for her artwork and what it said, gratitude for this once-in-a-lifetime event, gratitude for having the courage to get up and speak my truth.

 

Here is my new piece of art by MaryLou Falstreau. I also met her husband Alan Falstreau, who co-creates with her. Thank you MaryLou. I will forever treasure your work and the memory now associated with it.

MaryLou Falstreau Artwork

Sorry the photo’s a bit blurry. I was still shaking when I took the picture.

 

 

Since I’m feeling especially daring today, I stopped to visit one of my tree pals on the way home from the workshop to record my very first blog video. So, here’s a spoken version of my I Remember poem. You can’t see my eyes in this one; my future’s so bright, I need shades!

 

What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

*This line is adapted from a quote by my favorite poet, Dr. Maya Angelou.

Writing From Your Soul: A Workshop for Writers

Today was day 1 of 2 of the Writing From Your Soul workshop I’m attending. Dr. Wayne Dyer is the keynote speaker, accompanied by Reid Tracy, CEO  and Nancy Levin, Event Director, of Hay House Publishing. A few nuggets of wisdom I picked up today:

 

If you change your thoughts, you can heal your life.

What are the words you are speaking over yourself and embedding in your subconscious mind? Are you telling yourself negative or positive thoughts? The words “I Am” are powerful, and so is what follows them. Are you speaking “I am unworthy because I have hyperhidrosis”? or maybe you’re saying “There’s something wrong with me. I’m suffering and my life sucks.” But what if the very thing that’s “wrong” with you is exactly what’s right with you?

 

I’m not saying that we should always be happy about our excessive sweating. Let’s be realistic. But you can choose how you react to your condition. I no longer say, Hi, I’m Maria. I suffer from hyperhidrosis. I can now say Hi, I’m Maria. I have hyperhidrosis, and I’m creating hope and awareness one drop at a time. I believe that God gave me hyperhidrosis for a reason. I want to make my sweaty mess my message.

 

Everything in life is here to teach you a lesson. It’s up to you whether you get the lesson. Awaken to your life and live consciously so that nothing in your life is a mistake.

 

Always be a seeker.

Declare yourself an expert on your hyperhidrosis. You are your own best health advocate. Always seek treatment options and therapies that can improve your quality of life. Never give up hope that one day there will be a cure for hyperhidrosis (note: I do not believe ETS surgery is a cure) and that we can enter a dry world like everyone else.

 

If you’ve tried nearly every type of treatment to stop your excessive sweating like I have with no success, perhaps the best treatment is the extreme self care you give your mind and your heart. Re-frame your hyperhidrosis in a different light. If you’re still in the darkness, tell your story and open wide those curtains you’ve been hiding behind so the spotlight can highlight your extra shimmer. Leonard Cohen said, “There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

 

Detach yourself from outcomes.

Life is cracked. Life is crooked. So is hyperhidrosis. It makes us vulnerable. It makes us scared to talk about our condition. But you can choose to come out into the world and show everyone exactly who you are. And who you are is enough. Plain and simple. You are perfectly and wonderfully made. We are all unique expressions of the source that created us. Let your true self shine. Literally. It is our superpower!

 

Detach yourself from the expectations that a treatment might work. If something does work for you, that’s fabulous. But if it doesn’t, you are setting yourself up for disappointment and further feelings that you are inferior and your body is against you. By releasing expectations of a certain outcome, you can be pleasantly surprised if a treatment works. But either way, you can rest in the knowledge that you are pursuing everything you can to live a better life. It’s all in how you see yourself and your hyperhidrosis.

 

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

 

 Puddle and Dr. Wayne Dyer

I told myself I’d get a picture with Dr. Dyer. Lo and behold, I did!

SKIN

 

The other night, I attended a dance performance called SKIN. Here’s the synopsis from the program:

 

SKIN examines touch and skin as a tactile organ. This evening’s performance examines the questions: Why do we touch? How do we use touch to communicate and what ARE we saying when we do? Why do we long for human contact? How can touch be so universal and, at the same time, so uniquely intimate? What happens to the human body at the moment of touch? Our skin is our largest organ and our means of contact to anything that is not part of us. What is your skin holding in?

 

Before the performance even began I was already into my inner monologue and applying all these questions to my hyperhidrosis. When the lights went down, I was ready to be moved and was hoping that I would be. For the first time in my life, I was brought to tears by dance.  While watching these beautiful dancers move their bodies and touch each other in such intimate ways, I was thinking how lucky they are that they can dance barefoot across a stage and not have to worry about slipping and falling because their feet are puddles underneath them. I yearned to be able to do what they were doing in their bare feet and scantily clad bodies, whirling and twirling and holding each other’s hands.

 

I found myself drawn to each of the dancers for different reasons. They all had beautifully designed costumes, each one a bit different from the next. The costumes were sheer, sheer enough that you could see their breasts through them. How brave they were to bare it all for this performance. After all, it was about skin.  I found myself drawn to a couple of the dancers who were a bit more curvy, just like me. While all of the dancers were good, for some reason a couple of them seemed more real to me. We’re more alike than unalike, and I found myself inspired by their bodies, their talent, and their bravery to dance in costumes that covered very little. Like them, I must brave myself to walk around in my own skin. My own sweaty skin.

 

What is it that you’re hiding underneath your skin? What would you do if you no longer had to be literally uncomfortable in it? I envisioned myself on stage, baring my heart more often and speaking my truth because I no longer had to worry about being sweaty all the time, which so often becomes the filter for my daily life. So much can be said through touch, or the lack thereof. I shy away from touching the majority of people because my hands are usually sweating. But that doesn’t mean I’m one who is closed off to the world. Sometimes it’s just hard to live in life when you are wet.

 

My skin has hyperhidrosis. Want to know what’s underneath it? A combination of yin and yang. East and west. Positive and negative. I must choose what I allow to come up to the surface, which at times is very hard when I can’t turn off the physicality of my sweating and my condition is manifesting itself all over my hands, feet, socks, shoes, jeans, sleeves, etc.

 

Underneath my skin I am:

Nervous Confident
Pained Loved
Hurt Accepted
Angered Joyful

 

What can I, and you, do as someone who suffers from hyperhidrosis? I can choose what I offer to the world, even if I have to be sweaty in the process. I can choose to let go and allow myself to fall into the right people, knowing they will catch me when I fall. Yes, it’s nerve wracking initially. Everything can be the first time you do it. But you have to be willing to jump and fall in faith, knowing that the risk is worth it. Because once you do, you will feel alive and open to the abundance that awaits you in life. Be willing to fail. Be willing to risk everything.

 

This performance of SKIN could have gone on all night and I would’ve felt like it had just started. What I gleaned from it I will take with me, underneath my own skin. SKIN portrayed truth, beauty, relevance, awareness, emotion, and courage. Gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual, transgendered, all are worthy of touch. And so am I, and so are you.

 

We, too, are works of art. We just have a bit more “shimmer” than others.

SKIN postcard

Photo by Drew Levin, Postcard by Levi Parker


Copyright 2012 My Life as a Puddle

Hyperhidrosis and Avoidance

“Resisting and avoiding pain sucks energy—and time…the more you let yourself feel those minute-and-a-half hells, the quicker you’ll start feeling those minute-and-a-half happinesses.” —  Leigh Newman

 

What are you avoiding in an attempt to hide your excessive sweating condition? What are you avoiding so that you don’t have to feel ashamed or embarrassed by your hyperhidrosis? Hyperhidrosis is under-recognized and under-treated because people avoid talking about it to their families, friends, and health care providers. Stop the silence! You are not alone.

 

Begin to test just how far you can go in your daily life to experience people, places, and things that dry people can every day without so much as a second glance, a second thought, or a fleeting wipe of their palm on their clothing. As an excessive sweater, I constantly have to pre-analyze a situation prior to entering it. That’s okay, but it’s awfully tiring. I try to live outside of my comfort zone, though, and most of the time it’s worth it.

 

If I hadn’t endured these minute-and-a-half (or maybe longer) hells, I would never have known what I could accomplish despite my sweating:

 

The launch of this blog

Writing for the International Hyperhidrosis Society (IHHS)

Writing for the IHHS again

Meeting author Jeannette Walls and telling my HH story

Creating a sense of community for you, my fellow sweaters

Getting a massage

Getting acupuncture

Joining a tea committee and hosting a table at an event

Reviewing products because I’ve talked openly about sweating

Creating a sketchbook about hyperhidrosis

This is just a small list, but it helps keep things in perspective. I have hyperhidrosis, but I don’t have to be reduced by it. I’m not trying to be all, Hey, look at me and what I can do. That’s not my intention. But because I choose every day to step out on faith, I have quantifiable, memory-worthy events that I can look back on and be grateful for. I’m no longer hiding who I am. I can’t help that I was born with hyperhidrosis. I can, however, help love myself along my sweaty journey and offer you encouragement to do the same. I’ll even hold your hand if you want.


Copyright © 2012 My Life as a Puddle

My Worst Sweating Experience. Ever.

Insane, or just desperate? Sometimes I have to ask myself this question when it comes to the things I’ve tried in an attempt to achieve a drier life. Remember my Botox adventure? Looking back on that experience today, I’m convinced I must have been out of my body doing something else in order to have endured it. I was needled today at acupuncture, and I’ve been doing that for the past 2 months or so (see my posts My First Acupuncture Treatment and Hyperhidrosis and Acupuncture for more information). It has been a great experience thus far, but today’s appointment was different. I had a complete physical, mental, and emotional breakdown.

 

Each time I go in, my acupuncturist asks me how I’ve been feeling and if I’ve noticed any change in my sweating. I feel like it’s getting worse, especially in my feet. I don’t know if this has anything to do with getting acupuncture or not. It’s typical to have your body respond to treatment, either with a reduction in whatever symptoms you’re having or with the movement of energy created by the placement of the needles. After I told her it was worse, she said she’d been doing some additional research on hyperhidrosis and had a new treatment idea, which we tried today.

 

Now, I’m game for anything and am willing to test my tolerance level when it comes to having an excessive sweating problem. I can, and will continue, to go outside of my comfort zone. That’s where life begins. In today’s acupuncture session, she placed 3 needles on both of my hands, in the tips of my fingers just past the nail line and on top of my fingers next to where my cuticles are. I’ve had needles there before and have been able to deal with them. When she inserted the one in my middle finger, it stung. One of the goals with needle placement is to push yourself as far as you can go without it being uncomfortable. The deeper the needle goes under the professional guidance of a licensed acupuncturist, the better.

 

After she placed the needles in my hands and I could breathe again, she inserted 2 in my forehead between my eyes and 3 or 4 in my right ear. I think the ones between my eyes were for stress reduction, because right after she inserted the ones in my hands, I gasped and told her it just made my sweating worse. (I’m always sweaty when I first get there but have always adapted to the room after about 15 minutes after she’s done touching me.) My fight or flight response kicked in when my hands were stimulated in such a drastic way, and she said that was okay that they did that. This new treatment was an intense treatment that she wanted to try, so it made sense that my body was responding in such a way.

 

I was able to keep the needle in my middle finger in just fine. It was the one in my thumb just to the right of my cuticle that started to throb and get a bit too tingly for my liking. It’s normal to experience some tingling and pulsating of energy moving through the points targeted by the needles. But this throbbing made me uncomfortable and gave me flashbacks of what happened a week after my Botox treatment. After my Botox, I experienced numbness and tingling in my fingers, especially in my pinky and middle fingers. Now, that is some freaky stuff! I remember sitting in my friend Kelby’s car on the way to Chick-fil-A one day and literally shaking out my fingers in a panic because I couldn’t feel them.

 

I lifted my hand up so that I could pull out the needle, and then it really hit me. OMG. I’m looking at my hand with needles in it! Bleck. I’ve looked at my body fully needled before to test my bravery and been fine. This time, it was not fine. I pulled the needle out and then laid myself back down. So then my thumb started bleeding, so I had to lift my hand up again. It was impossible for me to relax after this, so my inner monologue began to start about my stupid body and my stupid hyperhidrosis and nothing is ever going to work, and now I’m laying here completely out of my relaxation zone, etc. So then I took out the middle finger needle.

 

By this time, I was so frustrated that I couldn’t keep the first needle in and just work through it that I spontaneously combusted. The tears sprang forth. Like I need more water, right? They dripped down the sides of my eyes and trailed into my ear canals since I was laying on a massage table. So then I got hot. Want a surefire way to induce heat in someone with hyperhidrosis? Just get them to cry. I’m laying there mentally ragged, wet in my ears, hot all over, and then I notice that my feet have not stopped sweating like they normally do after 15 minutes into treatment. No, they are sweating overtime to a soundtrack by Tina Turner.

 

Just then, my acupuncturist came in and she saw that my eyes were open. I looked over at her through my blurred vision and told her I had to take some of the needles out myself. She said no worries and asked why and was I okay, and then I just cried harder. Well, as hard as I could in the community style setting. I didn’t want to alter the healing energy in the room for everyone else who was there. She said it was okay and then explained about the intensity of the treatment and that I was not the first person to cry in acupuncture either because of the treatment or because of whatever else in life might be going on that day. Women who are premenstrual are more sensitive to needle pain, as are people who are fighting off colds or the flu. Sometimes the planets just aren’t in alignment for an acupuncture treatment. Life tends to get in the way of healing, doesn’t it? Well, I’m tired of my hyperhidrosis getting in the way.

 

I told her I was frustrated that nothing I’ve tried for my hyperhidrosis has worked, and that sometimes it’s just so hard to live in this world, a world that is dry and where I’m busy trying to maintain balance in my sweaty shoes. She said she can’t even imagine what it’s like to live with hyperhidrosis, but that she will do everything she can to help me.  I completely believe in acupuncture treatment, even if it doesn’t cure my hyperhidrosis. I have experienced other health benefits from it already. They say that for every year you’ve had a condition, you’ll need one month of treatment – basically forever for me. It also takes longer depending on the depth of the needles and how far you can push yourself, too. This is all okay. I control my treatment and she will never push me if it’s too uncomfortable for my body.

 

She then told me to take my time getting up and not to worry about having to cut today’s treatment short. My acupuncturist is extremely understanding and sensitive to the needs of her patients. Not once do I feel like she’s grossed out when she touches my dripping hands and feet to place the needles. I never have to apologize to her, although that’s my standard preemptive response when it comes to acknowledging my sweat with others who might have to interact with me via touch.

 

Now comes the part where I wanted to die.

 

I took a few deep breaths and then sat up to get off the table. I forgot to mention that when you enter the acupuncture room, you grab a pillowcase from the shelf to use underneath your head. Well,  I now grab two and use the other one under my feet so I don’t get the sheet all sweaty. I have stopped bringing my trusty desk fan with me as a test to see whether I needed it as a security blanket and because the area I always go to doesn’t have a nearby electrical outlet. So far, it’s worked. As I turned to pick up the pillowcases, it’s blatantly obvious how badly I’ve dripped. I managed to soak through the pillowcase. Not only that, I’ve soaked through the sheet so that it’s now sticking to the massage table. I’ve also left sweat marks on the sheet where my knees were resting on a foam roll. Awesome. But why stop there? As soon as I started walking out, I noticed that the entire back of my skirt was wet. Thank God it was a patterned skirt so you couldn’t even tell had you looked. I have never sweat this badly before in my entire life!

 

I went to the lobby and paid, and told the receptionist she’d need to change the sheet on that table. Had I had my phone with me, I would’ve taken a picture of the pillowcase and sheet so you could admire my uncanny ability to soak something. Maybe next time. Next week the acupuncture clinic is closed on the day I usually go, which is fine. I need a break anyway to recuperate from this ghastly episode called my real life.


Copyright © 2012 My Life as a Puddle

Hyperhidrosis & Yoga – Round 2

Rippling WaterSince I had such a relaxing time at my first yoga experience, I decided to return the next weekend and do it again. Things were going along swimmingly during the warm-up section, until the instructor asked us to extend our arms out to our sides and join hands with the people next to us. Eff. Thankfully, I was on the end of a row, so I only had to touch the person to my left. We didn’t actually join hands, which was better for me, but I still hated that my drippy hand was in the vicinity of her hand. I made sure my hand was on the bottom, my palm facing the grass that I wished I could disappear underneath. Her palm was face down as well, on top of my hand. The touching lasted about 20 seconds, maybe? I wasn’t counting, but it felt like an absolute eternity.

 

As soon as I heard the instructions to bow and say namaste (which means the Divine in me recognizes the Divine in you), I thought that would be it and then we’d move into some poses on our yoga mats. But no, we had to join hands. Remember when I talked about the anger I felt the last time I was instructed to join hands in a public place? Yeah, that beast completely returned full force for a few minutes until I tried to pocket it and take it home for later. It wasn’t the instructor’s fault. It was part of her yoga lesson plan. I get it. I am responsible for the anger, yes, and I don’t necessarily think that anger is a bad thing. Anger is an emotion just like sadness and happiness are. It deserves to be dealt with, too. I was angry that I couldn’t comfortably participate in a “normal” person’s activity without my stupid body acting up. I mean, seriously! Here I was, living on the edge and tipping my comfort zone on its side, trying to see just how far I could go and not allow my hyperhidrosis to hold me back. And then a trigger situation is thrown at me full force and messes it up.

 

I understand and truly believe that we are all connected and that we are more alike than unalike. The intention of joining hands with other yogis was to embrace and encompass the energy of all of us in the same location. But what happens when someone’s energy changes because they are not able to be in balance with their body? When they can’t control or even help that their body sweats? I’ll tell you what happens. The fact that you are doing yoga ceases to exist. What takes its place is the vicious inner monologue. The one that says, Oh, my God. Why did they have to tell us to join hands? I can’t do this. It’s making me uncomfortable! I hate my body. What is she thinking as she’s touching my hand? Great. Now I’ll never be able to cool back down and focus on the yoga. How dare they make us do this? Is my yoga experience really going to be any better because of this? I mean, REALLY! Can’t we just stay in our own space and move together without touching?

 

I ended up emailing the yoga studio that puts on this free event. I explained my hyperhidrosis and then said (even though I knew it might be too much to ask) if they might be able to avoid future touching poses in their classes. The owner of the yoga studio actually emailed me back! Here is what she said:

The process of yoga is coming back to our innate wholeness, understanding that we are not separate and that as a community we are one. The fact that you mention this to me is a wonderful sign that you are practicing the first principal of yoga and wellness, awareness.

It is only through awareness that we can begin to heal ourselves.  When we have an imbalance of any nature in our physical body, it usually stems first from the mind body.  Making such a request as you have, indicates that you are allowing the mind body to lead your physical body into a repetitive cycle of non-healing.
 
I would recommend that you see me at the park Wednesday (this week) if you come.  Arrive a few minutes early and I will show you a cooling pranayama that will help put your mind to ease and mitigate the sweat.  
 
Our practice is a community practice and it will at times include touching, greeting, partners (as is the case in the July 4 class). You might want to consider coming in to a private therapy practice with me, to work through some of these issues and while at the park, respect what is right for you as you continue on your journey. 

 

I agree with everything she says. I am on a quest to become more of myself, to live a better life. This is why I’ve been experimenting with all of these sweat-friendly products and techniques, acupuncture, yoga, and hopefully soon, meditation. If I could learn to get out of my head whenever I want to and focus on something else, perhaps I can escape my hyperhidrosis. This is very hard for one who ruminates on absolutely everything in her life. I have not been back to the yoga class as of right now. It’s just too overwhelming having to worry about my sweating in advance. The thought of going to a class and then having to either put my yoga mat far away from others so they can’t reach me to touch me, or having to stop and say, Sorry, I’m not comfortable touching you, or Sorry, I have a medical condition called hyperhidrosis, blah blah blah…sounds even worse. I don’t want to call attention to myself and look like a freak. Gag me.

 

I will be looking into some private lessons with her, though. I need to learn this cooling pranayama she is talking about. If I can do it in private with her, bring along my trusty fan, and not worry about others around me or having to touch them, then I can keep moving forward in my yoga practice. This anger that I’m feeling? I’d like to harness it for my inner badass. I’m tired of being held back because of my hyperhidrosis. This past year and having this blog has taught me that it’s not just about me anymore. It’s about every single one of you who have hyperhidrosis. It’s about every single one of us stepping out of our puddles in whatever way we can and learning to live, not just exist, in spite of our condition. Who’s with me?

Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water.
Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup;
You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle;
You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot.
Now water can flow or it can crash.
Be water, my friend. ― Bruce Lee

Water is the source of life. I’m on a quest to learn how I can use what I’ve been given in a way that doesn’t hinder me.


Copyright © 2012 My Life as a Puddle

Hyperhidrosis and Acupuncture

Today I had acupuncture for the second time in my life. Remember my first acupuncture treatment? That seems so long ago, and I’ve come so far in my life since then.

 

I found a new acupuncture place that’s on my way to and from work if I take a certain route. I checked out their website and staff biographies, found that they are ridiculously affordable, and booked an appointment. Their website offered downloadable patient forms that I could print out and complete ahead of time, an absolute must for those of us who have a knack for sweating all over the paper. Plus, I love to hand write things, and I especially enjoy filling out paperwork when I have a good pen.

 

I completed the forms with my Sharpie pen and brought them to the appointment where I was promptly complimented on my handwriting. I went to the restroom even though I didn’t have to go so that I could wash my hands with cold water to help myself cool off. That helped for about 30 seconds. I sat in the waiting room and tried to control my sweating, but it was really hard. By the time the receptionist walked me back to the treatment room, my feet had soaked my flip flops. She explained how things would work and they had me put my purse in a locking cabinet. I asked if I could leave my flip flops on when she told me to put them in the cabinet, too, and she said yes, of course. I also had another bag with me that contained my trusty desk fan that I’ve mentioned before.

 

I was led back to the office of Lisa, a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist. I really like her. She took the time to review all of my paperwork and asked me detailed questions about why I was there and what areas of my health I wanted to focus on. My main goal is to see whether my hyperhidrosis will be helped with long-term and regular acupuncture sessions. Even if it doesn’t reduce my sweating, I know I will gain a deeper sense of overall well-being and health.

 

We talked for about 15 minutes, and I was sweating the entire time. My feet were soaked, and I kept lifting my toes above my flip flops to try and get some air underneath them. The closer we got to the end of the interview session, the more I could feel myself sweating since it was building up to the time when she would be touching my body to place the needles. Moments before we got up, the air conditioning came on. I could feel that sweet, blessed relief of cool air coming under the desk where I sat. It was short-lived, though, as I was now ready to begin my treatment session.

 

The place I’m going to is a community style acupuncture establishment. This means that the treatments are done in one community room where all patients are sitting near each other. They do have individual treatment rooms, but those are used only for when people have needles placed on areas like their back and would have to be undressed. I bet, though, that if I requested a private room because it might help me with my hyperhidrosis, they would kindly indulge my request. Each patient gets his or her own recliner to relax in. The recliners are draped with sheets, and when you enter the room you grab a pillowcase to place behind your head on the chair.

 

I was worried that my hands and feet would leave sweat marks on the pale pink sheets they use. I asked for a stool on which I could place my fan, and they put me in the chair nearest the electrical outlet so I could plug in my source of air flow. I was really sweaty by this point. Like, droplets glistening sweaty. I positioned the fan toward my feet first, since they were the most wet, and then I ended up asking her to move the fan onto my lap for me since I already had a needle in my hand at that point.  I reclined in the chair and did my best to relax.

 

I think I had 9 needles total in my body. One in my right ear, 2 on my right hand, 2 on my right foot, 2 on my left foot, one on my left elbow, and one in the center of my left palm. Yowza. The one in my palm kind of hurt when she put it in, but she told me to take a deep breath in and then let it out as she inserted that needle. And really, what was one sharp needle prick when I’ve already endured 155 Botox injections in my palms already? Bring it.

 

The goal is for the needles to be strong and deep in the skin to maximize the effects. Lisa met me where I was as far as the deepness went, and she said if it became painful or tingly in a way that I was not comfortable with to simply flag her down or pull it out myself. After all the needles were placed, she asked how I felt, and I told her I wasn’t too sure about the one in my palm. She knew it was intense for me, but I said I’d try to keep it in and see how it went. I was able to keep all of the needles in for the 45 minutes I was in the chair.

 

Acupuncture is hard to describe, and maybe it feels different for everyone. I noticed I was really tense at first and not allowing my body to relax and melt into the chair. So I started at the top of my body and worked down, focusing on relaxing each body part into the recliner and letting it absorb my weight. Then, I focused on listening to the music they had playing. After awhile, each area where a needle had been placed would kind of light up and radiate heat and waves of energy. I never knew which area would start to go off, so it was kind of cool to be surprised by my ear, and then the inside of my calf and then my palm and elbow. I felt relaxed and almost like I was asleep, and I wonder if I actually was entering the first stages of sleep because my legs twitched a couple of times.

 

I stopped worrying about the other people around me. I was in a good chair, too, one that was in the corner next to a wall, so I only had one other person on one side of me. I think I’ll try to get that chair every time I go. My sweating ended up stopping by the end of my session, and not once did Lisa appear grossed out when she touched my feet and hands to place the needles. I told her I felt ridiculous sitting there with my fan on my lap. She said it was totally fine to have it, and I knew it was, too. I got over feeling embarrassed. It is perfectly acceptable to bring along any tools, devices, accessories, etc. as coping mechanisms to help you manage your sweat. People with hyperhidrosis deserve to have experiences just like “normal” people get to have. If I have to bring along my fan to do it, then I will.

 

I left my acupuncture session feeling really relaxed and kind of floaty, like that feeling you get right before you doze off to sleep. I’ll be returning tomorrow for my next session. I could definitely become addicted to acupuncture. And I’m totally okay with that.

 

P.S. I did not leave any sweat marks behind on the sheet! Like I wouldn’t check. 😉


Copyright © 2012 My Life as a Puddle

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