My Life as a Puddle

Creating hyperhidrosis hope and awareness one drop at a time

Tag: public speaking

One Year Later

A lot can happen in a year. It’s been one year ago today since my dear sister-mother-friend Sandy left what spiritual writer Gary Zukav calls The Earth School. She left us too soon. Perhaps, though, her soul completed its earthly mission and it was time for bigger and better things. I know that she is breathing the cleanest, purest air now, tilting her head back and emitting that laugh I loved so much.

Sandy Bristoll

Sandy gave me the gift of laughter.

In September, I traveled to Martha’s Vineyard where I delivered Sandy’s eulogy for the final time at the Edgartown Lighthouse.

Edgartown Lighthouse, Martha's Vineyard, MA

Edgartown Lighthouse, Martha’s Vineyard, MA

It was more real this time. This was my final goodbye. It was a whirlwind trip. I was on the island for just under 48 hours. I did my best to soak it all in – breathe in the island air, feel the cool breeze tickle my neck, walk on the same sand she did, peruse the stores in which Sandy herself had set foot.

I bought a ton of souvenirs, evidence that I had been to Martha’s Vineyard. Would it make it more real? I didn’t know. Grasping at “stuff” was a small comfort at the time. I remember after the service was over Danny and I were in a quaint island shop. I could barely take the phone from his hands into mine to talk to one of our family friends across the miles. We all know what happens when you hold someone else’s phone up to your ear – it usually makes our hands sweat. I didn’t talk too long; holding it together in a public place after everything was over was hard. So as I talked on the phone I ended up caressing every single fabric placemat and kitchen towel I could find in that store.

The service that day at the foot of the lighthouse was perfect. I stood barefoot in the sand, a cool breeze blowing in off the water. It lifted my hair up and away from my face, a relief that I didn’t have to tuck the strands behind my ears to avoid my watery eyes. At one point during the eulogy, the waves lapping against the shore got very loud. I’m sure that it was Sandy letting us know she was there.

The altar we made for Sandy on the beach.

The altar we made for Sandy on the beach.

Danny and I scattered her ashes into the water near the island she called home.

Danny and I minutes before the island service for Sandy.

Danny and I minutes before the island service for Sandy.

This time when I delivered the eulogy, I was a lot more nervous, but I’m not sure why. A handful of her friends were there, as opposed to a church full of people. It was more intimate. I met people who knew her before I was even born, people who told me stories of what she was like as a young woman. One of them even said I reminded her of Sandy. I hold this compliment close to my heart.

We played the same three songs again: Lover of the Light by Mumford & Sons, Gone Gone Gone by Phillip Phillips, and Shower the People by James Taylor. As James Taylor played, Danny and I entered the water with Sandy’s ashes. He tipped the bag over, and together we released her into the water she craved and always wanted to go back to. Now, she was finally home, at peace as she was lulled out to sea by the waves that returned to their gentle rhythm. The waves knew. They knew to embrace the ashes and not put them back on shore.

Laying Sandy to rest

Laying Sandy to rest

One of Sandy’s friends was kind enough to bring flowers, white daisies and red roses. I never even thought to bring flowers with me; I’m so glad she did. Danny and I led the way, throwing several of them on top of the water. Everyone there soon followed, a sea of red and white floating peacefully, the roses strong yet soft, the daisies pure and light.

Flowers Flower-Processional

Danny and I stood there knee deep in the water, not caring how wet our clothes got. It was then that I finally allowed myself to release all the tears I had been holding. A few had escaped when I was in the sand, reading aloud all the lessons Sandy had taught me, but in the water my tears could mix with the sea. I was a drop of the ocean and so was Sandy.

The final goodbye, absolutely the hardest day of my life.

The final goodbye, absolutely the hardest day of my life.

I don’t really know what I’m even trying to say with this post today. I just know that I needed to write.

Watching the last sunset I'll see for a while on Martha's Vineyard.

Watching the last sunset I’ll see for a while on Martha’s Vineyard.

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Copyright © 2011-2014 My Life as a Puddle

 

Love Wide — The Eulogy of Sandy Bristoll

Here is the eulogy I wrote and delivered at Sandy’s Celebration of Life service (please read my post about hyperhidrosis and public speaking if you haven’t already). The themes you’ll read about below also can be applied to life with hyperhidrosis. The universe works in mysterious ways. You’ll see I’ve quoted a few people here. I first discovered Brene Brown in January when I attended a workshop for Highly Sensitive People (HSPs). Kelly Rae Roberts has been my favorite artist for several years now, and her work is helping me to heal this year. Shortly after Sandy passed away, Kelly released her newest piece called Your Heart, which reminds me of myself and Sandy. I ordered it the very same day I saw it, and it’s a signed print. I also placed copies of the eulogy inside a basket with the beautifully, messy, complicated story art by Kelly. Fast forward to this month, and Brene and Kelly have teamed up with Oprah to offer an online class. Love it!

 

The artwork by Kelly Rae Roberts that was printed on the hard copies of Sandy's eulogy.

The artwork by Kelly Rae Roberts that was printed on the hard copies of Sandy’s eulogy.

 

I’d like to begin by sharing a few stories about Sandy. For those of you who don’t know me, my family lived next door to Sandy back in the 90s. Sandy was pregnant with Danny when my mom was pregnant with my little sister CJ. I grew up babysitting Danny and took delight in the fact that she always introduced me as her surrogate daughter and the sister Danny never had.

I first knew I liked Sandy after my mom freaked out when I told her who I was with. You see, Sandy and I both had our vices – hers were cigarettes, mine were Skor candy bars. So at the young age of 9 when I was home alone after school, I left my mom a ransom note of sorts, explaining that I was walking down to the gas station with Sandy “Schuss.”

“Sandy who?” said my mom when I got home.

“Sandy Schuss, mom. That’s what her license plate SAYS.”

“Oh! You mean Sandy Bristoll? Schuss means she’s a skier, honey.”

My mom totally thought I had gone somewhere with a stranger.

“Oh, Chaaaaalotte.” I can hear Sandy saying in that special way she had. “Would you like some toe-mah-toes on your salad?”

You mean tomatoes? How “appropo,” ‘twas the way she spoke.

When I got engaged to be married, I’d already had plenty of time to think about whom I’d like to have in my wedding party. So when I called Sandy to ask her to be a bridesmaid, there was library level quiet on the other end of the phone. And then she finally said, “Oh, Ria. It’s a good thing you’re not here because you’d have to pick me up off the floor. Are you serious? You want ME in your wedding?”

Um, duh, Sandy. And Danny, too. She couldn’t understand why I would want a 57-year-old bridesmaid. I wanted Sandy because she was a hero to others and a champion of me. She spoke truth into me and loved me first so that I could begin to learn how to love myself. Sometimes I wonder whether she realized her own worth, or knew just who God created her to be as He added another flourish of color to the world with His paintbrush.

What I learned from Sandy was a lot. So when I tried to figure out what the most important lessons she imparted to me were, it was daunting. But then I started to see a theme in all I’ve learned from her; that theme is love wide.

Wake up to your life. Be present for it. Everything in life is here to teach you a lesson. It’s up to you whether you get the lesson. Don’t ignore the lessons that come as pebbles, then as stones, and then as bricks, because pretty soon you’ll end up with a brick wall. From Sandy, I learned how to demolish my brick wall.

1) Forgive

To begin to tear down your brick wall, you have to start with yourself. Forgiveness must happen, and in most cases it starts with you. Whatever choices you’ve made, whatever life has thrown at you, every day is a chance to begin anew, to love wide. So I encourage you to forgive yourself for whatever it might be that is holding you in shame and dimming your inner light. When you release your secrets, you release your shame.

2) Love Wide

Forgiveness is the stepping stone to love. Forgive others for what they may have done to you. It’s not about them anyway. It’s about you stepping into your best life. Strength, courage, and wisdom are prerequisites to love. This, too, I learned from Sandy. So be a seeker of all these things. Pay attention when people are having a conversation with you. Put your cell phone away. Covet the good in all things, and “when people show you who they are, believe them—the first time.” (Maya Angelou)

3) Nurture Your Relationships

Relationships require reciprocity. Be willing to put others above yourself, and more often than not you’ll find they do the same for you. Radiate passion for the lives of those around you. If you’re the one who always has to call or initiate contact, I’m telling you today, Get soooo over it. Do what you can, with what you have, right where you are. Realize that you are enough exactly as you are so that others can learn to do the same.

4) Stand in Your Truth

Sandy always made me feel like myself in my own skin, which speaks volumes for someone who has a sweating condition and is usually literally uncomfortable in her own skin. When you are comfortable and accepted for who you are, you can love wide. Sandy always made sure it wasn’t too hot when we spent time together, and always checked with me first whether I wanted to eat inside or outside when we went to eat, usually mussels or some kind of seafood if we could find anything decent in Greeley. Sandy was never afraid or ashamed to grip my sweaty hands in hers and utter things like, “How did I get so lucky to have you in my life?!” Believe me, the honor was all mine.

To stand in your truth means to tell your story. I always knew I had permission to be real when I was with Sandy. Your beautifully messy complicated story matters (tell it). (Kelly Rae Roberts) Don’t let shame prevent you from saying what you need to say. “To tell your story is to bring light to shame and destroy it. Only when we’re brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” (Brenè Brown)

5) Embrace Vulnerability

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have.” (Eckhart Tolle) Take chances. Fling open wide the gates of your heart. If you are struggling with something in your life, I implore you to be vulnerable and ask for help. For it is only in vulnerability where true connection takes place. Look around you for the helpers in your life. They are there, waiting to be of service.

This reminds me of another Sandy story. She tried very hard to keep up with technology, but it took her awhile to figure out Facebook and her fancy new iPhone. She would post all these status messages, like “testing, Caroline Taylor”, post comments as notes instead, and then ask how to fix things, which would prompt paragraph-long tutorials from me.

She was so cute with her iPhone, tilting it up just so in order to see the keys and concentrate on trying to text us back as fast as we could text her. There were many times I just took her phone from her and said “Here, let me do it.” But she never gave up trying to master social media, and she didn’t care if she might have looked silly trying to do it. She allowed herself to be vulnerable.

It’s okay to not always have everything together. That’s what friends and family are for. To hold you up when you can’t do it yourself. Allow yourself to love and be loved. Choose to see others and to be seen.

To every one of you here today, please know that I see you. Asian, white, gay, straight, Christian, Buddhist—I see you. You matter. Decide right now, today, that you are enough exactly as you are. Don’t dim your light. We all need a light from within in order to shine outward. Stay in the light. Have the courage to wake up every day and decide to love yourself more than you ever have before. What you think about expands, so love wide.

Sandy’s roots have been upturned and replanted in Heaven. We have our own personal angel in the sky now, whose roots are being nourished with the cleanest, purest air.

Sandy can breathe now without fear. And for that, I am grateful.

Sandy Bristoll and Maria/My Life as a Puddle

In loving memory of Sandra A. Bristoll 10-30-47 to 4-29-13

 


Copyright 2013 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.

My Trip to Ithaca, NY

I went to Ithaca, New York to attend the college graduation of my dear friend and “surrogate brother” Danny. We’ve known each other for a long time. My mom was pregnant with my little sister at the same time Danny’s mom was pregnant with him. I used to babysit him and have watched him grow up to be a remarkable man. He majored in musical theatre, and if I do say so myself, he’s bloody brilliant.

A gorge in Ithaca, NY

One of the gorges in Ithaca, NY

 

Theatre students are a vibrant bunch, and my week-long trip was quite entertaining. I stayed with Danny and his roommate Bruce. At night when we were just hanging out, we watched Harry Potter and endless episodes of The Golden Girls. Those will be some of my favorite memories of hanging out with Danny, the beauty and bonding in the ordinary moments of life. He and Bruce even invented a drinking game based on The Golden Girls!

The Golden Girls drinking game

The Golden Girls drinking game invented by Danny and his roommate Bruce. Love it!

 

When we weren’t out strolling the campuses of Cornell University and Ithaca College, we were either hanging out in Ithaca Commons or visiting the gorges near the town of Ithaca. I was worried how my hyperhidrosis would be during the trip, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

Strolling along the Cornell University campus

Danny and I enjoying a stroll along the campus of Cornell University

 

Danny and I climbed a six-story tree house at the Cayuga Nature Center. If you don’t already know, I am obsessed with trees. I have tree jewelry, tree stationery, tree wall hangings, tree pictures, etc. Trees are more than nature’s beauty. They can be used as a metaphor for so many things in life. When I learned about this tree house, I made it a goal that if I didn’t do anything else on this trip, I would at least visit the tree house. I could feel myself getting a little sweaty as we climbed the tree house, but it wasn’t really enough to make me terribly uncomfortable. It was honestly the last thing on my mind at that point, which was a nice relief since hyperhidrosis permeates my entire life.

Tree house at Cayuga Nature Center

The six-story tree house at Cayuga Nature Center. It's awesome!

 

I don’t think there was air conditioning at Danny’s apartment, but it wasn’t really hot enough to need it.  The evenings in Ithaca in May are blissfully cool, so the only time I really had to worry about my sweating was when I was getting ready in the morning. Thankfully, I was the only one up at that time, so I didn’t have to worry about sharing the bathroom or being rushed. Not that people rush me out of the bathroom. It’s more of an internal thing with me feeling a sense of being rushed. I tend to make myself sweat that way. There was a standing fan unit in the living room, though, so I just used that when it started to get too hot as I was blow drying my hair.

 

I already told you about graduation day and the rash I got on my feet.  That and my sweating as I was getting ready in the morning were really the only two stand-out moments on the trip with regard to navigating my hyperhidrosis. The other main sweat fest was entirely brought on by my own doing. On graduation evening, we all went to a fancy dinner to celebrate. I had written a graduation card for Danny and had it with me to give to him after we finished dinner. I was going to just hand it over, but then I thought, You know, maybe I should get up the guts to read it to him in front of everyone.

Maya Angelou Life Mosaic card

The front of the card I gave to Danny for his graduation. Maya Angelou always says it best.

 

If you know me personally, you know that writing, particularly writing cards to others, is what I know I was meant to be doing on this planet. My blog and hyperhidrosis awareness comes in a close second. After thinking about Danny’s card all through dinner, I had psyched myself up to the point that I could really feel my fight or flight response being activated. This is typical for people with hyperhidrosis, at least for me anyway. Thinking about an event can trigger my sweat, the tingly, prickly feeling on my hands and feet right before they start to gush.

 

I decided that I didn’t want to leave Ithaca with any regrets. If I didn’t read Danny’s card aloud to him, I would most certainly regret it. I patted my inner self on the back for encouragement, and plowed ahead into the moment and memory I wanted to create with and for him. I don’t usually read my cards aloud to my recipient. It’s really hard when you’re “a crier” like me. But I didn’t care if I cried. I cared about really showing Danny what he means to me. I wrote the card, and then I used my voice to convey what I had written. A special thanks to Danny’s roommate, Bruce, who recorded me reading the card. And thank you to my husband, who bought me the genius invention known as an iPhone, which  I was able to use to record this important moment in my life.

 

Here’s the video of me reading my card. I can’t believe I’m actually posting a video of myself. Here goes nothing.

(The sound on the video isn’t the greatest, as it was pretty loud in the restaurant. It might help if you listen to it through some headphones.)

This was one of the best vacations I’ve ever had. The people whom I was with made it so special. And they’re not kidding when they say “Ithaca is gorges!” I bought a shirt that says so. 🙂

 

P.S. You should check out Danny’s website. He’s available for hire and comes highly recommended!


Copyright © 2012 My Life as a Puddle

 

 

 

Hyperhidrosis Speech

(This post is part of the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge hosted by WEGO Health. I will be writing a post a day for all 30 days. You can learn more about it here: http://info.wegohealth.com/HAWMC2012.)

Today’s prompt was to write, either in script style or dialogue, about an awesome conversation I had this week. It was between me and my brother. I went home for Easter and he was telling me about a speech he had to write for one of his college classes.

Brother: “So I have to write a special occasion speech for my speech class. It’s due tomorrow.”

Me: “Way to wait until the last minute, dude. So what are you going to do it on?”

Brother: “I don’t know. I was thinking about doing an ode to my DVR, but I don’t know if I can stretch it out long enough to meet the 2 minute requirement.”

Me: “I love my DVR. I don’t know what I ever did without it.”

Brother: “You should help me think of a topic. ”

Me: “You could do it on me and how awesome and courageous I am to live my life as a puddle.”

Brother: “Can you write some stuff down for me as an outline so then I can practice it a few times?”

Me: “Sure, but you have to video tape it and mention my blog several times so people can read it. You can help me spread awareness about hyperhidrosis!”

So, my brother is doing a speech about me. If he actually does videotape it, which I doubt he will since the professor isn’t requiring this one to be recorded, he would probably kill me if I posted it on my blog. But I’d love to have a copy as a personal keepsake.

Random thought: I guess I’m more old school than I thought. Video tape it? As in, VHS? LOL. How about record it with your iPhone and post a link to YouTube? This IS the 21st century.


Copyright © 2012 My Life as a Puddle

 

Discovering I Had HH, Part 2

My freshman year of college, I started using the Internet on a regular basis for school and research purposes. One day I was surfing the ‘net and randomly decided to Google “excessive sweating.” Low and behold, a slew of sites populated the screen, and there I was manically scanning them in disbelief. Apparently this was a common enough problem that medical practices actually were addressing it. This was the first time I had heard the word hyperhidrosis, not to mention the first time I felt as if I weren’t alone in my misery.

I’d like to point out that when you seek information on the Internet, especially for the treatment of HH, please be wary of what you may find and practice due diligence when deciding on any form of treatment. There are scams out there for tea that reduces sweating, so-called herbal remedies that will stop the sweat (more on herbal options later, as there are some reputable plants to be found in nature that are legitimate), antiperspirants, etc. that may or may not work. During this freshman year Internet search, the bulk of sites that popped up were for dermatology or neurosurgeon practices that touted the benefits of a surgery for HH, called endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS). While this is a valid option for many people who have severe cases of HH or who have it on certain areas of the body that may be more difficult to hide (eg, craniofacial HH), the side effects of surgery are severe and most people will develop compensatory sweating (CS), typically in the trunk area of the body. In short, ETS surgery involves the cutting of the sympathetic nerve chain located behind the lungs; the chain resembles a ladder, and depending on what areas of the body sweat excessively, the corresponding nerve section on the ladder can be clamped (reversible) or cut (not reversible). For a detailed description of ETS, look under “hyperhidrosis treatments” on the International Hyperhidrosis Society’s website.

After discovering I had a recognized medical condition, I decided to give an informative speech about it in my dreaded public speaking class. I figured if I had to stand in front of a classroom of students and live out a trigger situation, I might as well tell them about it. While most people tend to sweat more if public speaking makes them nervous, for those with HH it can be an absolute nightmare.

I had prepared some note cards about what to say, and of course they ended up drenched and ready to come apart at the slightest bit of pressure. While I knew for the most part what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it, the entire time I was up there I was fighting a vicious internal monologue about my sweating. The trigger situation instigates the sweating, the sweating instigates the monologue, and then the sweating manifests into something that becomes uncontrollable and drastically diminishes my confidence and personality. For me (and I would think for most people who have HH), I’m not sweating because I’m nervous. I’m nervous because I’m sweating. There is a difference.

I recall the introduction of the speech was, “Excessive, uncontrollable, overactive sweating of the hands and feet, which also may be accompanied by facial blushing. This is what I live with every day, and it’s called hyperhidrosis.” The conclusion was, “So next time you shake someone’s hand and it’s dripping wet, please don’t pull back in disgust and make an immediate attempt to wipe off your hand. Instead, admire the person for having the courage to shake hands in the first place.” And that’s the thing. I don’t want my first impression to be a wet hand shake that implies nervousness. I’m not necessarily nervous, I’m just necessarily wet. As Lady Gaga said, I was “born this way.” So please don’t shun me for who I am.

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Copyright © 2011 My Life as a Puddle

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