My Life as a Puddle

Creating hyperhidrosis hope and awareness one drop at a time

The Day My Car Died

The day before I left town to go on vacation, my car completely crapped out. After I pulled out of my garage, I got out of my car to take the trash can down to the curb. As I was walking back toward my car I thought the engine sounded kind of funny, but I blew it off because I’m always paranoid about my car. So I left my neighborhood, got ready to pull into the intersection, and when I pushed the gas pedal the car wouldn’t go. It. just. died. Luckily I was able to coast over to the other side of the street and pull over. As I turned on my hazard lights and fumbled for my phone in a sheer state of panic, I broke out into a full body sweat that was made worse by the humidity in the air and the  body lotion I had put on just a few minutes before. Normally I can apply body lotion and be just fine, but when my body is triggered into the fight-or-flight mode, it all sweats off and makes me hot because it’s harder for my skin to breathe. It figures, too, that my phone was about to die.

As I was on the phone with roadside assistance explaining to them that they needed to talk faster to get a tow truck dispatched, I reached into the pocket of my car door and grabbed a CD case with which to fan myself. I was sweating so badly that my hair was getting wet around the edges of my scalp like I had just run a mile. News flash: I don’t run. I hate running. Running is a good way to make one’s self feel fat since everything jiggles. Perhaps if they invented a full-body straight jacket I’d consider doing it. I rolled down the windows even though it was starting to rain so I could generate some airflow, and even thought about taking off the long-sleeved cardigan I was wearing and sitting in my tank top. So I’m panicking, the roadside assistance operator gets cut off, an unmarked state patrol car pulls up behind me, and my husband is calling on the other line. Too many things were happening and it was not cool. I happen to be a genius at multitasking, so I was able to reconnect the call with my insurance while explaining to the state trooper what I thought was wrong with my car. He ended up calling another officer to the scene whose patrol car had push bumpers on the front of it. They had me put my car in neutral, pushed me in reverse so I could turn my car, and then pushed me up a hill into the parking lot of the Rite-Aid near where I had stalled so that I wasn’t blocking traffic. I was so worried they were going to ask me if something else was wrong and if I was feeling okay, since to me I felt it looked obvious that I was melting. If they noticed, they certainly didn’t say anything.

After I was off the road, I walked into the Rite-Aid and asked to use one of their electrical outlets to charge my phone. I called my insurance agent and then my husband to sort everything out, and then stood there trying to cool off while I stared at the bars on my phone as they recharged. There was a cashier right at the front of the store, so I felt weird attempting to grab a magazine to fan myself. She never left the vicinity, so I had to just stand there and act normal. You know, like I wasn’t soaking through all of my clothes and wouldn’t rather just walk around with my arms and legs spread eagle to dry off faster, regardless of whether their security tapes might be replayed for a bit of customer humor. I did have dark jeans on that day, so if my legs were sweating it wasn’t as obvious. Nearly 2 hours later, the tow truck finally arrived to take me to my mechanic. Long story short, it ended up being the fuel pump that needed to be replaced, amongst other repairs that I had no idea I needed. I take good care of my car, so these random repairs came as a shock to me. The silver lining to this story is that I didn’t need my car for the next 10 days, so they were able to repair it in plenty of time to have it ready when I came home. A lovely friend saved the day and picked me up from the mechanic, took me to get my dog’s prescription eye drops, and then dropped me off at home.

By the time I got home, I looked terrible. I had spent all this time getting ready, blow drying my hair, straightening my hair, etc. only to have the sleek look get all wavy and frizzy again because of my stupid sweating and major trigger event with my car. I had to change clothes first thing since I felt so gross, and then I donned a ponytail to get the ringlets of curls off of my neck. Mind you, it was only about 54 degrees that morning, but I might as well have been in the desert. My hyperhidrosis, combined with my Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) trait, really does a number on me when it comes to events happening in my life. Hyperhidrosis involves an overactive sympathetic nervous system, and HSPs are described as “having a sensitive nervous system, are aware of subtleties in their surroundings, and are more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment.” Needless to say, by the time I got home I was ready for a nap. It took me awhile to calm down both mentally and physically and return to  a sense of homeostasis.

This week I will be going shopping for a new car. I can’t afford all of the additional repairs, but more importantly, I no longer feel safe driving my car. So now I get to worry about what the weather will be like when I’m walking around the car dealerships, putting my sweaty hands all over the steering wheels in the cars I might test drive (I have a sueded fabric steering wheel cover in my car to account for this), shaking hands with the salespeople, and signing paperwork when I buy something. I will not be test driving any cars with leather interior. Leather is the devil. It doesn’t breathe very well, it’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter, and it actually makes me feel like I’m sweating on the backs of my legs even when I’m not. So forget that!

Copyright © 2011 My Life as a Puddle


  1. I feel like you have just written my biography. Even about discovering in 3rd grade that you have a embarrassing problem. Up to learning to square dance in 3rd grade I cant remember ever noticing the sweat. It has consumed my life in every way since then. I am a married mother of 2. My son, who is 9, has inherited this from me. I feel guilty but I will do my best to find him help where as none was sought out for me. I am 40 now and been receiving botox under arms for 3 years(didn’t work at all in hands). Meds make me so dry that my contacts feel like they are goin to pop out. I applaud you….I am still in the closet exceot to my parents, husband and kids.

    • Hi Diana! Thank you for commenting. One of my concerns is having children and either passing it on to them or having it affect my ability to parent. What if I lose my grip on their hand as I’m trying to pull them back from running out into the street or something? Or holding them constantly as an infant? When I hold other people’s kids, after awhile it makes me very hot and I have to adjust my hand positioning so I don’t get them all wet. Have you tried fish oil supplements? They are known to help with dry eye syndrome, whether it’s a condition on its own or a side effect from other meds.

  2. The same thing happened to Shaun’s car a few months back which is why we bought a new car. I didn’t feel comfortable with him driving so far in an unreliable vehicle. I’m sorry it happened to you. Hopefully
    You find something quickly and it won’t be as stressful as you are anticipating. Also, I hate leather too! For the same reasons. Oh, and running. Haha!

  3. Hi all! 🙂

    I too, like you, have both conditions and it is unnerving to say the least. HSP, I can deal with, but the sweating is killing me! Mine is hereditary and it’s pretty bad – armpits, whole head, especially my face (which majorly sucks coz I am a girl and I like makeup), my entire back, and my palms ALL THE TIME just like my feet. I got it from my parents. I had no idea it was a condition until 3 years back. I just thought I was a freak :)My parents had no idea they had it as well. I am from Serbia and we are pretty much behind when it comes to this type of thing.
    Anyhow, I have been considering surgery but one doc told me that I will probably start sweating some place else. Maybe not, but probably will. I just want to have dry hands and head, armpits and everything else I don’t care about that much. What’s still keeping me from going through with it? Well, what he said. I might start sweating somewhere else and I am not sure how I will be able to cope with it. It might not happen at all. It’s a gamble really. What do you think?

    I am thinking I should go through with it coz nothing beats dry face and palms, right?

    • Hi Mia,

      Only you can decide whether the benefits outweigh the risks. Just make sure you have all the facts before you commit one way or another. The people I’ve talked to who have had ETS performed have all had compensatory sweating and then resort to other measures to try and make the CS go away, like subdermal laser ablation (SDLA), which is very expensive and may not be covered by insurance. I’ve also heard of people who have CS so badly that they must wear adult diapers because they end up sweating through their clothing.

      • That sounds scary! Diapers… 🙂

        I have been thinking about it for a few years now. Still thinking about it. I think I will go through with it eventually coz nothing beats dry palms and head. 🙂

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