My Life as a Puddle

Creating hyperhidrosis hope and awareness one drop at a time

Tag: doctor

Underarm Treatment Study: What to Know Before You Go

Hello sweaty friends! Check out the facelift I gave my blog. It’s much more modern looking now, don’t you think?

Last week I told you about the new underarm treatment study that’s currently enrolling participants who have axillary hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating in the underarms). I’ve been to the dermatologist in my area twice now for the initial screening, and there are several things I took note of that will help you as you begin your own clinical trial process.

This was the first time in my life I was actually hoping I’d sweat really bad!

1. Stop Wearing Antiperspirant Several Days Before Your First Appointment

You will undergo a sweat test, and this first appointment when they do it is crucial. If you don’t meet the sweat measurement protocol at visit 1, you won’t qualify for visits 2 – 4, which are also pre-screening visits. The day of visit 1, you’ll arrive between 7 and 11 am with clean-shaven underarms (at least for the ladies; men, I’m not sure) and wearing no deodorant or antiperspirant. They’ll place cotton pads under each arm and measure the amount of sweat over a 5-minute period. Once they remove the pads, they are placed in a vial, capped, and then the weight of the vial is measured. I believe the protocol is 150mg total (how they can measure sweat in milligrams is beyond me – I think it should be grams or milliliters, but I’m no scientist) between the two underarms. Note: it’s okay to wear plain deodorant for the several days approaching visit 1. The day of the visit you will wear nothing.

2. Wear Proper Clothing

I arrived in a short-sleeved dress, leggings, and a cardigan. Since my armpits were covered by my dress, I had to wear a paper vest from the waist up. Now, normally doctor’s offices and paper gowns get me really worked up and sweaty, but this time it wasn’t happening. Crazy, right?

Before I changed clothes into the paper gown, I had already been in the exam room for about 30 minutes answering questionnaires and giving some medical history to the staff. There was plenty of time for me to adapt to the temperature of the room and calm down a little bit. Plus, the staff were really nice and made me feel very comfortable, reducing my fight-or-flight  response that those with hyperhidrosis normally experience. Because of this, I was not sweating under my arms like I thought I would. I was actually cold sitting there in the flimsy gown.

We attempted the sweat test a second time after I slipped my cardigan on over the gown and sat there for a few minutes. I tried to think of things that would make me get riled up and sweaty, so I pulled out my phone and started texting Lisa at the International Hyperhidrosis Society. She’s the one who told me about the study, so I started angrily typing to her that the sweat protocol was outlandish and would reduce the number of participants these dermatologists would get. My hands were nice and drippy after that, and apparently it got my pits wet enough, too. The round 2 sweat test was successful, and I qualified for visits 2 – 4.

underarm study paper gown

My paper gown was soaked after the underarm sweat test.

So, ladies, wear a tank top and a long-sleeved button up shirt or a cardigan, that way you don’t have to do the paper gown and can keep some of the heat trapped inside to produce an adequate amount of sweat. Guys, I’d also recommend a tank top undershirt if you have one, layered with a button down shirt so you can keep both on as well. They just need to be able to access your underarms to place the pads.

3. Hydrate Before Visit 1

If you pass the sweat test, you will then have blood drawn; ladies will have a pregnancy test via urine performed if they are of child-bearing age. I didn’t know this, so my veins weren’t exactly plump and ready for the nurse. Make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids the day before and the morning of visit 1 so that your veins are primed for the taking and you have to pee.

blood draw

Be prepared for a blood draw if you pass the sweat test at visit 1.

4. Seat Yourself Strategically

Visit 1 is probably the longest visit you’ll have. The staff will go over your medical history, you’ll meet the dermatologist, perform the sweat test, have blood drawn, etc. I was there for nearly 2 hours, and most of the time I was sitting on the exam table on that horrific crinkly and noisy paper. So imagine what it’s like sitting there that long on hard vinyl with a thin layer of paper over it. Absolutely no air flow. Combine that with the leggings I was wearing (which don’t normally make me sweat), and you have the perfect recipe for a puddle.

And I can’t believe I’m about to post this picture on the Internet, but here you go. This one’s for my sweaty homies.

sweaty exam table at doctor's office

The exam table after I sat there sweating for almost 2 hours. Waahhh!

 

So decide where you’re most comfortable sitting, but also think about what will make you sweat the most, because for once you do want to be a wreck in order to qualify for the clinical trial. There was a chair in the exam room, so after I was dressed I moved to the chair to finish the appointment.

Up next, visit 2. Stay tuned for more sweaty adventures. And, if you haven’t called 866-72-SWEAT to enroll in the study, what in the sweaty hell are you waiting for?! Join me, and together we can find an effective treatment for hyperhidrosis.

Coming From a Place of Yes

Since I had left all of my job interviews and worries behind when I went to visit my grandma, I was able to begin some forward thinking and visualization of what I wanted my life to look like when I got home. Rather than telling the universe what I didn’t want, I chose to tell it what I did want.

 

My mom and I did some shopping while we were visiting. I bought a new messenger bag for my new job that I didn’t yet have. I also bought a few new clothes that were business dress appropriate. As one of my friends would say, “Forward thinking, young grasshopper!” So that’s exactly what I did. Just because you don’t yet have what you want or need doesn’t mean that you can’t guide yourself into achieving it. Just like I don’t have a cure for my hyperhidrosis, I can think toward the future and do the best I can with what I’ve been given.

 

The next day, my lovely aunt contributed to my unemployment fund by donating her services to cut and highlight my hair. She owns her own salon and is ridiculously talented at what she does. I went into the salon wanting a change. My thinking was New Year, New Job, New ‘Do. What a difference a good haircut makes! My confidence improved so much from an hour at the salon. Of note, I usually sweat when I go and get my hair cut, especially when the blow drying begins and I’m trapped underneath the cape. That’s always fun. If I’m getting my hair done in the summer, I can never wear sandals or flip flops because all the hair that’s trimmed off will stick to my feet when it falls. Not a fan of hairy feet!

 

The next day, I got a phone call. The company I had submitted the marketing plan to offered me the job! I accepted immediately, as I didn’t really need to think about it. I didn’t think I’d be offered any other jobs, so why wouldn’t I accept their offer? I had thought about the position and felt it was a good fit. If you know me personally, I feel things very deeply and also wear my heart on my sleeve. This can be good and bad. So, what does touchy, feely me do after hanging up the phone? Cry. It was such a relief to know I no longer had to worry about or fight for a job. So, combine my tears with the fact that I just got off a rather important phone call, and I was sweating. I went downstairs and told my family the good news.

 

It was nice to receive happy news before my grandma’s next round of chemotherapy two days later. I thought I was pretty much okay emotionally regarding this, but once we got to the hospital for her infusion of poison I had a really hard time holding my sh** together. (Um, yeah. Did I mention I tend to use profanity at times? I’m kind of a language-oriented person if you didn’t already know. Sometimes you just need a cuss word to round out a sentence.) I was in the room when the nurse opened the port in my grandma’s chest. My mom left for that part, but I decided to stay. It was the least I could do considering what my grandma was going through. She squeezed my hand as the nurse inserted the needle, and I didn’t even allow myself to go through the inner monologue of Super, my hand is dripping wet and she’s holding it. It was so not about that in that moment.

 

After awhile, my uncle came to the hospital, and I met him in the lobby. That’s when I really freaked out. I was crying and pondering why were we doing this? Was it going to affect her quality of life and be worth it in the long run? My grandma is in her early 80s for crying out loud! But she has always had a choice, and she wanted to try the chemo. We’ve all told her that one round is better than none, two is better than one, etc. If at any time she wants to tell the chemo to take a hike, she can do so. My grandma is one tough lady, and I’ve never heard her complain.

 

It’s important to come from a place of yes in your life. (I’m actually reading a book right now by Bethenny Frankel called A Place of Yes. She is hysterical, by the way. I love her show Bethenny Ever After on the Bravo network.) Like attracts like, so by acting like I had a job already it made sense that I bought a new messenger bag and clothes. It made sense that I got a new haircut. It made sense that yes, I love my grandma and was there to support her and hold her hand. It makes sense that my grandma has a choice of whether to say yes to chemo or yes she’d like to stop. How often are you saying No in your life and attracting what you don’t want? Be able to turn whatever it is that you’re facing into a Yes.

 

Yes, I have hyperhidrosis and it makes my life harder. But yes, I can work with what I’ve got and make it work for me to the best of my ability.


Copyright © 2012 My Life as a Puddle

Hyperhidrosis: Guidelines for Patients

Here is a little something to help educate the general public about excessive sweating, a condition that is under-recognized and under-treated. Feel free to print this out and share it with your family and friends. If you’ve never sought treatment before, this is a good starting point to begin a conversation with your doctor. Don’t be afraid to speak up about your sweating. You are your own best health advocate.

 

What is hyperhidrosis?

Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating. It can affect all parts of the body, but is mainly seen on the hands, feet, head, and face. It also can be accompanied by facial blushing. Approximately 3% of the United States population has hyperhidrosis. People with hyperhidrosis may tend to avoid social situations, certain types of clothing, and career choices. It can cause shame, embarrassment, and isolation. Many people try to hide their sweating and don’t talk about it.

 

What causes hyperhidrosis?

Some physicians say it is caused by an overactive sympathetic nervous system. These are the nerves linked to the “fight or flight” response (when your adrenaline starts pumping). In people with hyperhidrosis, the sweat glands can secrete up to 5 times more sweat than the average person. Emotional situations, nervousness, and excitement can make symptoms worse. It is still being studied whether hyperhidrosis may be genetic.

 

What are the symptoms?

· Increased sweating at any or all times of the day

· Feeling like your sweat glands are always in the “on” position

· Levels of sweat that affect your daily personal & professional activities

· Cold and clammy hands and/or feet

· Dehydration (feeling like you’re constantly thirsty)

· Routine tasks become difficult to perform due to the amount of sweat

 

How is hyperhidrosis diagnosed?

It’s a good idea to keep track of how much you think about your sweating. Does it impair your daily activities? Keep a list of the things you do to deal with your excessive sweating and take it to your doctor. Some ideas might include:

· How many times per day you change clothes or bathe?

· Do you carry “supplies” to help you deal with your sweat? (Examples include extra socks, antiperspirant, napkins, or towels.)

· Do you purchase new clothes or shoes more often than most people because they get ruined from sweating?

· Have you ever damaged paper, writing materials, office equipment, etc. due to your sweating?

· Do you get skin infections or skin irritations, especially in the hotter months of the year?

 

How is hyperhidrosis treated?

There is hope for you if you have excessive sweating. Be open and honest with your doctor about all of your symptoms. The more information you give your doctor, the better your treatment plan will be. Treatments can include:

· Antiperspirants (clinical strength or prescription versions)

· Oral prescription medications

· Iontophoresis (placing the affected areas in a pan of shallow water that has a mild electrical current passing through it)

· Botox injections

· Surgical options

Endoscopic transthoracic sympathectomy (ETS) surgery to cut off the nerve impulses

Subdermal laser ablation (SDLA) to interrupt the sweat glands

Removal of the sweat glands from the affected areas

 

How can you prevent hyperhidrosis?

While it’s hard to completely prevent the sweating from happening, these are some tips you can try to make yourself more comfortable.

· Wear breathable, loose-fitting clothing made from cotton or moisture wicking material

· Apply your antiperspirant at night to clean, dry skin so it’s better absorbed

· Wear layered clothing so you can remove items if you get hot and begin to sweat

· Wear open-heeled shoes or sandals to allow your feet to breathe

· Wear 100% cotton socks and underwear

· Purchase a small desk or battery-operated fan that you can use to help circulate the air

 

To learn more about hyperhidrosis, please visit:

The International Hyperhidrosis Society at www.SweatHelp.org

For a personal account of life with hyperhidrosis, visit the blog http://mylifeasapuddle.com

St. Louis Seminar—A Day of Hope and Camaraderie

Here’s another freelance article of mine I wrote for the International Hyperhidrosis Society’s November/December 2011 Sweat Solutions newsletter. You can find the original article here.

 

 

September 24, 2011

55 health care providers convened for a seminar entitled Hyperhidrosis: Best Practices and Emerging Technologies in Contemporary Care in St. Louis, Missouri. Afterward, they treated over 50 patient volunteers who have hyperhidrosis. The atmosphere in the room was not something to be missed.

The St. Louis Gateway Arch was the perfect background for the International Hyperhidrosis Society to conduct its latest CE seminar on treatments for HH. As the leading independent authority on excessive sweating, the IHHS is at the forefront of patient care and public awareness for a condition that affects approximately 3% of the population. On the other side of the arch stand patients who are affected by excessive sweating and are looking for hope and relief. When the IHHS and these patients came together, both were raised to new levels to complete the linking of the arch.

Patient volunteers who attended the seminar received a plethora of product samples from companies who understand and support the message of the International Hyperhidrosis Society. Product samples included Certain Dri® antiperspirant, Summer Soles® shoe inserts, Secret Clinical Strength® antiperspirant, and Qwik Shower® gym class wipes. For a full listing of sweat-friendly products, links to product websites, and discount codes, visit the Deals and Discounts page. The IHHS will host more seminars in 2012, provided that funding is granted. Subscribe to our Sweat Solutions newsletter on the home page to stay abreast of the upcoming educational and patient volunteer opportunities that are so generously provided by our sponsors and grantors.

In addition to the product samples being offered, Dr. Dee Anna Glaser, President and founding member of the IHHS, was on hand to provide an expert perspective. She treats thousands of hyperhidrosis patients each year. Since the state of Missouri has never hosted a hyperhidrosis seminar, this year’s event was incredibly important. Dr. Glaser was thrilled to give physicians a chance to learn more about the therapies available and how they can use them to help their own patients. She was happy to see patients at the St. Louis event who traveled from Florida, Connecticut, and many other states for a chance to receive treatment and get relief. Dr. Glaser would like others to know that there are great hyperhidrosis treatments available, and patients should never be afraid to seek help. There are physicians out there who can treat patients with hyperhidrosis. Do not give up on finding a qualified physician who can help. Visit the IHHS Physician Finder to get a head start on locating doctors in your area. All physicians who have attended an IHHS seminar will have it noted next to their name in the Physician Finder, so you can be confident they have an upper hand in hyperhidrosis knowledge and treatments.

One of the St. Louis patient volunteers, Long Tran, appreciated the opportunity to meet other people who also have HH. He was able to share and discuss the experiences they all have in common. He is appreciative of the opportunity to receive Botox treatment so that he can feel for himself what it’s like to have dry hands. At the end of the day while waiting for his taxi, Long met another patient volunteer and was able to chat with her for a few minutes. Even though it was a short conversation, he (like many of those who have HH) felt like he had known this woman all his life. When asked what he wants others to know regarding hyperhidrosis, Long thoughtfully replied, “People with HH are NOT nervous wrecks, and we do not excessively sweat because we choose to. From what I’ve seen during the event in St. Louis, people with HH are the most considerate, thoughtful, kind, intelligent, brave, attractive, and funny people you will ever meet.”

The St. Louis Gateway Arch, just like the International Hyperhidrosis Society, illuminates a corner of the world that might be under-recognized if one has never heard of it before. The IHHS would like to thank the wonderful city of St. Louis for their hospitality and landmark. It is events like these that bring hope, awareness, and a sense of community to those afflicted with hyperhidrosis and to those who treat or know someone with excessive sweating. Drop by drop, we are on our way to finding a cure and seeing the arch reflected in ourselves in the form of a smile.


Copyright © 2011 My Life as a Puddle

My First Acupuncture Treatment

I was at my doctor’s office a few weeks ago since I had to reschedule all of my medical appointments before my insurance coverage was no longer active. When I was checking in, I noticed a counter display that said October 24 was National Acupuncture Day. There was a stack of brochures with cards for a free session of acupuncture. I decided to sign up. It was free, after all, and I can use all the Qi (prounounced chee) centering I can get right now. I returned a week later for the treatment. After filling out several sheets of paperwork, which I would have preferred to receive in advance so that I could fill them out at home in a less sweaty environment, I was brought into a room with a table in it, just like the kind they have in a massage room. The acupuncturist began by getting my full medical history, and she said she’d seen 2 other patients who were trying acupuncture to treat their hyperhidrosis! I was surprised at this, but also glad that I wasn’t the first person to complain of excessive sweating.

 

By the time I got up on the table, I was fairly well acclimated to the temperature of the room. We were actually in the coolest room of the office, and I could feel the air coming out of the vent above my head. I was fully clothed with the exception of removing my socks, shoes, and the cardigan I was wearing over a tank top. She had me lay on my stomach first. My palms and feet were sweating a bit since I didn’t know what to expect. She began by sweeping my hair off of my neck and inserting several needles into the base of my skull and into my shoulders. The needles didn’t hurt. I could feel a slight pinch upon insertion, but it was so quick that I found it completely bearable. She also put some on the backs of my wrists, my lower back, and right above my heels. I really wanted to look at all of them, but because I was laying face down I didn’t want to move around too much. She left the room for a few minutes and then came back to check the placement of each needle and push them in a bit farther. She left again for about 20 minutes to allow the acupuncture to work on its own.

 

Initially, I felt the slight pinching sensation I mentioned after each needle was placed, but then it morphed into a tingling sensation which then opened up a heat source that then flowed into energy. I could actually feel the energy spreading out and moving through my body as it connected to all of the other energy points that had been tapped. It wasn’t a hot heat, if that makes sense. It was more of a warming sensation, like when the sun moves and you can feel it on one side of your body when you’re driving in a car. The astounding thing about all this was that after probably 7 or 8 minutes, I wasn’t sweating anymore! The acupuncturist actually had to place a heat lamp over my feet to keep them warm. I don’t know about you, but when my hands and feet sweat they are either wet and cold or wet and hot. There is never just a neutral wet. I think the combination of being in the coolest treatment room, being able to feel the ventilation through the vent above me, and the actual treatment itself was enough to allow my body to just be. I was shocked that I was able to voluntarily ask for the heat lamp to be used. I hate heat. But today, I was experiencing what it was like to be “normal” and basking in the glory of it all.

 

After 20 minutes of the needles on my back side, she removed them and had me flip over onto my back. She placed needles in the tops of my feet and in between my toes, halfway up the insides of my calves, on my arms and hands and in between my fingers, 2 in my right ear, and then a few in my scalp. The needles she inserted into my scalp did hurt a bit initially since the skin is much thinner, but it wasn’t anything that made me want to yell at her. Once she left the room, I did open my eyes and lift my head up to see just what kind of crazy stuff I had chosen to put myself through. It was pretty interesting to see all these floppy needles wiggling back and forth in my body. I am typically  a horrible patient when it comes to any type of medical procedure being done to my own body, but I was able to look at all the needles and not feel like passing out. Before she removed the needles, she used some kind of vibrating device on my right ear to further stimulate their effects.

 

For the rest of the day post-acupuncture, I felt pretty good. I noticed it even more so that night after it had been a few hours since the treatment. I felt kind of floaty, like you do right before you fall asleep. The acupuncturist said it would take a few treatments spaced about a week apart to determine whether it was working for me. I do want to go back. I just need to look into my new insurance coverage to see if it’s something they might cover as a referral from my primary care physician (PCP). I encourage you to try acupuncture. I can’t say it’s a definite cure for hyperhidrosis, but I do feel there was an overall benefit for me personally. Take yourself outside of your comfort zone so that you can experience things in the wellness arena that everyone else gets to do. Make your hyperhidrosis known to the practitioner and then try to stop worrying about it so that you can focus on the present moment to get the maximum benefit. Just because you sweat does not mean you are unworthy of receiving treatment or pampering. You are not disgusting or embarrassing. You are unique and can display with poise and grace your hyperhidrosis that is under-recognized and under-treated.

 

This is a good introductory article about acupuncture. Dr. Oz just featured moxibustion on his show the other week, too.

 

Acupuncture

(Thanks to Points Acupuncture for the image.)


Copyright © 2011 My Life as a Puddle

Reflections on Botox

The effects of Botox can typically last 7-9 months, but I’ve heard it takes longer to build up to that amount of relief (ie, one must have multiple treatments for it to last that long). After my first Botox treatment in April, the effects lasted a short 3 weeks. But let me tell you, it was the best 3 weeks of my life. It was like I forgot I had ever suffered from HH! My confidence was through the roof, and I felt so much less inhibited and held back because of my condition.

But then my sweating started coming back, and I also noticed that while my hands were dry, it was like my body was made to sweat, so it was just going to sweat elsewhere instead. So now my back sweats way worse than it ever did, and I am super self-conscious about my clothing and stuff when I can feel it happening. The Botox has completely worn off now and my body has basically given me the “eff you” gesture. I thought it would be the answer to my prayers, and it was, even if it was only for that short time. I can’t help thinking that maybe my Botox experience was just God’s way of giving me a glimpse of what heaven will be like for me when I get there. I imagine my heaven to be about 65 degrees all the time, with a gentle breeze always encircling me for comfort. Hopefully this doesn’t sound morbid, as I am certainly not contemplating the length of my mortal existence or anything like that. LOL.

Maybe I am supposed to be going through this here on earth so that I can start to become a voice for people who suffer from this or any other condition who feel like pariahs and like they’ll never fit in. Perhaps this is what musical artist Laura Story calls a blessing in disguise. I can’t help but think that my HH, in combination with me being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), allows me to be more compassionate and empathetic with people from all walks of life. I feel like sometimes I’m on a different wavelength and can pick up on the intricacies of people and their moods and feelings, and because I’ve felt like a freak in my own body for most of my life, I am better able to interact with the world in a more loving way. I’m kind of a contemplative person who likes to ruminate on things like this.

While I’m glad I did the Botox, I don’t know if I’ll ever do it again, not just because of the cost but because of the other areas where it caused me to sweat. I am not willing to hope I can get my insurance to cover it and then end up with a bill for more than $1000! However, I know that some insurance companies will cover it, so practice due diligence if you are considering Botox and have health insurance. For more information about insurance coverage, visit the “insurance tools” page on the International Hyperhidrosis Society’s website, www.sweathelp.org. To be a patient volunteer was a great opportunity for me to be exposed to treatment, but it was a catalyst for so many other things for which I am even more grateful! It pushed me the extra step I needed to actually start blogging about my HH, and now I’m volunteering for the IHHS in my local area area and will be contributing to one of their upcoming newsletters, too.

Once I accepted myself for who I truly am, and felt the acceptance from the IHHS and the doctors and nurses who treated me, my soul just opened up. I can share my story with the world now. While the Botox didn’t work for very long in my own body, I certainly want others to try it for themselves since everyone’s body is different and may respond differently. There is hope for treating and finding a cure for hyperhidrosis. Don’t get discouraged if a treatment doesn’t work for you.

My dermatologist called me back the other day to tell me that my biopsy was benign (read the post here if you missed my dermatologist experience) and that after doing some research on the Catapres (clonidine is the generic name) tablets, he called in a Rx for me. I still have to pick it up and try it out, but I’m glad he took the time to do the research. The Catapres is similar to the active ingredient in the Transderm Scop (scopolamine) patches I had used , so hopefully I will get some good results.

My apologies for not blogging this last week. While I would like to be blogging every other day or so, sometimes I just am not able to do so. But life is full of enough could’ve’s, should’ve’s, and would’ve’s, so I am not going to feel bad for not always blogging on a regular basis. However, if you have bookmarked my site and checked back for new posts, thank you for taking the time to do so. I value you as a reader of my blog.

 

Until next time,

Maria

 

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Copyright © 2011 My Life as a Puddle

A Visit to the Dermatologist

Today I had a full body skin exam to check for signs of skin cancer and to have any potential problem areas biopsied. This is the first time I’ve had such an exam, and I’m glad I did it. I had never been to this particular dermatologist before, so I was already nervous about being in a new office environment. Doctors’ offices are a terrible trigger for my hyperhidrosis. I’m sweating from the time I check in with the receptionist up until the appointment is over. I arrived 30 minutes early since I was a new patient, giving myself ample time to adapt to the temperature in the office. I also downloaded the new patient forms from the doctor’s website to fill out ahead of time, which is an absolute life saver for those with HH. Once my name was called and I was taken to an exam room, my sweating increased. The nurse went through the typical Why are you here? routine, and as I was telling her I noticed there was absolutely zero air flow in the exam room. This is bad news for my body. I would rather sit in an ice cold exam room where the AC is on full blast then sit in a roomful of dead air. Dead air is hot air, and hot air equals sweat.

 

The nurse set out a paper gown for me (a horrendous article of “clothing” that is totally non-absorbent) and told me the doctor would be in momentarily. Before she left, I asked her if she had a surgical pad I could sit on, since the backs of my legs will sweat right through the paper they roll out onto the exam table. Since I had already explained to her that I have HH, my request for the more absorbent pad didn’t seem as strange. This is important for someone with HH during physician visits. Do NOT be afraid to ask for what you need if it will help to bring you some level of comfort, no matter how small. So there I am, sitting in my paper gown and swinging my feet that are dangling over the table in a lame attempt to generate some air flow. I borrowed a brochure from the counter to fan myself, but once I’m in a full blown episode, forget about it. A few minutes later, in walks the doctor.

 

Now, every other time the door opens and a physician walks in, I usually see their arm cloaked in a white medical coat reaching around to open the door. Not this one. He strolls in dressed in fitted dress pants, gorgeous Italian leather loafers that look like they’re made from butter they’re so soft, and a tailored dress shirt unbuttoned to the middle of his chest. And he’s good looking with ice blue eyes and blond hair. The first thing I could think was, How YOU doin’? Thankfully, I kept my mouth shut since I was trying to prevent my jaw from dropping. My next thought was that I was going to kill my friend who had referred me to this doctor for not warning me ahead of time that he looked like a model. My third thought was, Super. You’re cute, I’m sitting here nearly naked and sweaty already, and now I’m sweating even more because you’re cute. (Let me point out that I’m happily married to a ridiculously good looking man who happens to be a professional cyclist. However much I’d like him to be the only handsome man in the world, it’s just not in the cards, baby. But he IS the most handsome man in MY world.)

 

But I’ve noticed that if I know ahead of time what to expect, I can better control the emotions and trigger responses that can happen in a flash. I did my best to get through the appointment without sounding like a babbling idiot because I’d been caught off guard by the scenery, and I believe I was successful. The doctor was very knowledgeable and had definitely heard of hyperhidrosis; there was even a diagnosis code on the patient checkout sheet I handed to the billing department, which made me happy.

 

My dermatologist will be looking into the long-term use of either Transderm Scop (scopolamine) patches or Catapres (clonidine) tablets for the treatment of my HH. I’ve used the patches before when I had a month-long bout of dizziness for undetermined reasons. One of the side effects of the patch, at least in my body, was extreme dryness, so much so that I developed cotton mouth and had to drink water almost continuously or chew gum. I actually ended up saving one of the patches to use when I was a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding so that I could be dry in my fancy dress and shoes. It worked like a charm, and I was so thankful to have that option as an off-label use for the prescription.

 

My skin exam came back normal with the exception of one area that I actually pointed out to him: the very tip of my right ear. Now, why in the world I noticed a mole on the top of my ear that I’ve had for several years, who knows. It’s not like I examine my ears on a regular basis, but perhaps it’s my natural tendency to notice the subtle details of life that allowed me to notice such a thing. But it wasn’t until now that I bothered to have it checked. So, of course, he ends up doing a biopsy on it. The nurse asked me if I wanted to sit up or lay down for the procedure, and I opted to lay down. I can be in the delivery room for the birth of my best friend’s baby girl and cut the cord, but I’m a total wuss if anything is being done to my own body! She injected a numbing agent into the tip of my ear, and then the doctor took a mini razor blade and scraped out a section of my skin. I couldn’t feel anything except for the initial pinch of the needle to numb my ear, but I could definitely see the scraping action out of the corner of my eye. I remarked to the doctor, “Well, at least that part wasn’t sweaty, right?”

 

By the time the appointment was over, I felt like I had completed a vigorous workout. My HH can really drain me, even if I’m not doing a lot of physical activity. This, combined with me being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) who is sensitive to her environment and can be over-stimulated and want to retreat from everything, was enough to make me want to take a nap. My overactive nervous system dominates my psyche, especially in a situation like a doctor’s appointment. I know I said at least twice to my doctor that my condition is socially and professionally debilitating, and then when he had me stand up so he could look at the back of my legs, I wanted to die.

 

I wore flip flops today, so I was barefoot in the exam room. When I stood on the step of the exam table to get down, my feet left sweat marks. The carpet looked the same way when I was done. So now I’m dealing with the emotionally debilitating part of it, too. It’s mortifying to have my body do this. I’ve had people tell me I’m just psyching myself out and need to simply relax, and while I’m sure my brain automatically makes it worse for me, it’s impossible to relax when it’s physically manifesting itself. I’ve had other physicians mark my chart with the term “white coat syndrome.” It’s not. It’s very hard to make people understand just what it’s like to live with a sweating problem.

 

So, I’m recovering from the chunk of ear I had removed this morning and now have an awesome headache from it, and I’ll probably pass out when I have to clean the wound tonight with hydrogen peroxide. I’m hopeful that the biopsy comes back benign and that I’ll have nothing to worry about. Lessons from today’s experience?

 

* Ask for what you need to help yourself better cope with your HH

* Enjoy the scenery, even if it catches you off guard, but remember who truly completes your world

* Wear sunscreen religiously and have an annual skin exam

* Find the silver lining in any situation and make it laughable; this was a really funny story when I told my friends about  it!

* Sit and stand in your truth

* Leave your mark (literally)

 

August 2011

Until next time, stay cool.


Copyright © 2011 My Life as a Puddle

My Botox Adventure

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The injection locations are marked on my hand.

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The completed markings on my left hand, all 86 of them.

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My right hand. The nurse used a vibrator right before the doctor injected, while at the same time using ice and pressure. The vibrator tricks the brain into sending a nerve impulse in response to the vibration, rather than the needle pain. It has to be timed perfectly to work properly.

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My right hand is done. The fingertips and the side of my hand that rests on a piece of paper when I write hurt the most. I’m so proud of myself for conquering a fear!


Copyright © 2011 My Life as a Puddle

Discovering I Had HH, Part 1

I can’t remember ever not sweating. As early as 3rd grade was when I became acutely aware that I had wet hands and other kids didn’t. In math class, the teacher would do timed multiplication tests. The first student to stand up from his or her desk was the winner. While I usually won (yes, in my early days I was a math genius), my paper would be smeared, damp, and the edges would curl up. In that same year, we learned cursive writing. Those Big Chief tablets that had red and blue lines on them were never a good match for my hands. The paper simply tore too easily underneath the damp, flat side of my palm. I wouldn’t be surprised if my mom had to buy me pants more often than an average child, since I constantly was wiping my palms on them and wearing out the fabric.

In 5th grade, I finally complained enough to my mom that my hands were always so gross that she took me to the doctor. The term hyperhidrosis was never mentioned, I was prescribed Drysol (a prescription strength antiperspirant), and sent on my merry way to rejoin the P.E. class where, oh joy, we were learning how to square dance. While it was slightly easier to conceal my sweaty hands during this particular unit of P.E., if the teacher caught us pretending to hold hands by osmosis, we had to immediately clasp hands and endure the cooties while we were supervised for the next few minutes. Don’t even ask me about Red Rover. My team always lost because my grip was so easy to break through.

The ways in which I masked my HH were always evolving, as the older and more involved in school I became, more “trigger situations” likely were to arise. I never joined band. How could I hold an instrument? I’d probably ruin it and cause it to rust if it were a brass instrument. So I chose choir where I could more easily blend in with the crowd. The only sport I played was track and field. I ran the 100M & 300M hurdles and the 4x200M relay. With the relay, the baton was long enough that I could grip the very end and not transfer my sweat during the handoff to my teammates. During homecoming and prom, I constantly was worrying about ruining my dress and my wrist corsage. Dress clothes are a trigger for me, so I was most comfortable sitting down so I could hold a dinner napkin or just borrow the tablecloth for a quick mop-up.

And then came college. And the required speech class. (Insert march of death music.)


Copyright © 2011 My Life as a Puddle

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