Have you ever realized that you’ve blocked memories from your past?
Last night, as I was talking about my childhood with my boyfriend, these memories started flooding back to me.
(This is going to be a long post…)
I remember when I first realized I had Hyperhidrosis. I was in 1st or 2nd grade and had asked my mom why my hands were so sweaty all the time. She told me that I’ve had sweaty hands and feet since I was one year old. She told me how I would leave footprints on her when she stood me up on her lap. The doctors had tested me for Thyroid problems because that could cause excessive sweating. But all the tests were negative. My sweating was just ignored because my health seemed normal. I was self diagnosed with HH in middle school when the internet became readily available and I was able to research what was going on with me. I actually wasn’t officially diagnosed by a doctor with Hyperhidrosis until high school when I decided I needed some extra help in coping with my condition.
Back to my young self:
After my mom had told me about my hands, I was upset. “Why didn’t you ever tell me?” I asked her. My mom hadn’t wanted to tell me because she didn’t want it to affect my life. I understand this to a certain extent because when I don’t think about my HH, my hands sometimes aren’t so bad. Maybe if I didn’t know I had a problem, my sweating would fade.
Once I knew that I was born with this condition, things started to make sense. I understood why kids in school didn’t want to hold my hand. As a youngster in school, we often had to hold hands with our “buddy” to go to the lunch room or music room. We often had to hold hands for games played in the classroom. I vaguely remember kids saying “ew” when they would hold my hand. Kids can be so cruel…without even realizing it. I think this is why I sat down and had that talk with my mom in the first place. I knew that something was wrong with me. I knew that I was different, but I didn’t understand why.
In 3rd grade, I have a memory of working on a class arts and crafts project. For some reason, I remember having to make hole punches and use the little punched out circles. I remember not physically being able to do this. Think back to my previous post: I struggle doing things with my hands that require small pieces. Plus, all those little white punched out circles were sticking to my hands. There was no way I could do this project. I started to cry.
I cried almost every day in elementary school. I became a perfectionist in my anxiety to be able to be normal. I became shy trying not to cause any additional attention to myself. I’m not going to say that my HH was the only reason I became this way, but I will tell you that I’m sure it was a big part of it.
By the time I hit middle school, I had cried myself dry. I didn’t cry again for years. I was numb to it all and worried about that sometimes.
Middle school was one of the worst times for my HH. I had terrible under arm sweat. I would literally have VERY visible sweat marks ALL the way down to the bottom hem of my shirts. I went to the nurse all the time, probably about 3-4 times a week. I would tell her I had a “stomach ache” every time. In all reality, I was just trying to cool off and be away from my peers. If my peers saw me like that, I’d have a big problem. I was so anxious of my secret being found out that I probably made my sweating even worse. I still remember one specific time…I was wearing a pink long sleeve t-shirt that said “Paris”. I had caused the sides of my shirt to become dark with sweat. As I walked to the front of the room to my teacher to get a pass to the nurse, I swear I heard kids giggling in the classroom. Maybe it was just me…but this is what my memory is telling me. Every day, I would take extended nurse or bathroom breaks just trying to cool down.
Middle school was also the first (and only) time my teachers had to be notified that I had HH. I don’t think I’ve mentioned this fact about HH yet in my posts, but, writing with pencil on paper is sometimes impossible. The sweat from my hands causes my paper to become curled up, but that’s nothing compared to my struggle with pencils! If sweat from my hand drips on the page, my pencil will not write in that spot. It’s just impossible. Think about getting a bead of water on your paper, then trying to write on it with lead. Even today, if I need to write something and my hands are bad, I need to put a piece paper (I’ve learned that card stock or thicker paper works best) or a towel under my hand. So, my teachers needed to know that I had a problem writing with pencils because so many tests required a No. 2 to fill in the bubbles on tests. They needed to know that my bubbles might not be filled in properly.
I think it was good that my teachers knew, but I’m glad they didn’t make a big deal about it. My mom had a meeting with them about it, and I didn’t have to be there. So, I’m not sure my teachers knew that I knew they knew…
In high school, I was on the tennis team. I remember cutting finger on the canister of tennis balls as I opened it right before a match! I ran to my coach and he gave me a band aid.
I had to tell my coach, one band aid wasn’t enough. I must have been really desperate/in pain/in a rush because I told him that I needed more than one band aid because I have Hyperhidrosis. One band aid was not going to cut it. It would last 10 seconds with HH. I have always had a problem with Band aids in this way. In order to make band aids stay on me, I need to stick them on each other tightly. One bandaid around one half of my finger, another band aid around the other half-sticking to the first band aid and not my skin.
By the way, my coach was only intrigued, excitedly asking me questions like: Do you need to drink more water because you sweat more? Ummm…I don’t think so… Although I do drink a ton of water, just because I love water 🙂
Another tennis related story I have was when I had hurt my wrist. I wore a hand brace for a while. It was like a little glove on my right hand.
I kept wearing this brace even after I was healed, all through the season. Guess why. You’re right! This glove helped my grip of the tennis racket with my HH. I remember one opponent asking me: “Do you mind if I ask what happened to your hand?” I just lied and told her my wrist was still hurt from a tennis related injury.
These have been some childhood memories I haven’t remembered in years. I always knew I wanted to write about how my HH effected me as a kid, but I needed that little memory jog to remember just how much. I must have internally labeled these as negative memories and locked them away somewhere in the back of my mind.
There are so many instances in school that made having HH difficult. Maybe this post will help change the teaching curriculum. Today, I am careful to observe if people are having difficulty with certain tasks with their hands. I look for people who might be struggling, causing them to be in a frustrating, impossible and potentially embarrassing situation. I would never want to force someone to do something that causes them to have such difficulty- physically, mentally and emotionally.
I’m not saying that hand holding or craft projects should be banned from schools. I’m just hoping that people become more aware of HH and are observant of the signs. Don’t force the kids to do something that might make them feel bad about themselves when it’s not their fault. As someone with HH, I want to tell you all who struggle with me: YOU DIDN’T DO ANYTHING WRONG. You are a beautiful person inside and out.
Thanks for reading, and stay strong,