Fingerprinting Nightmares

A few months ago, I was driving the winding roads of Massachusetts to get fingerprinted with the Department of Education. I was already fingerprinted in New York state, but I was starting an internship in western MA this past summer and they needed my prints as well.

It took about an hour and a half to drive to the building where they were to take my prints digitally. I traveled with my husband for support because I was still practicing my driving skills after a hiatus of not driving for almost 9 years living in NYC.

We arrived and it was pouring rain. It was pretty chilly, too, if I remember correctly. My body temperature is better regulated in the colder weather.

The man taking my prints started with my right hand. Everything went pretty smooth with that. But as we switched to my left hand, the warmer room temperature caught up with me and my hands started profusely sweating. It was incredibly uncomfortable as the man had to hold my hand and press each finger down on the glass screen.

Each time one of my fingerprints was captured by the screen, it registered immediately if it was rejected or accepted. It was all downhill from here at this point.

Reject. Reject. Reject. Reject.

On and on, each finger was rejected, tried again, and rejected again. It was terrible. Uncomfortable and embarrassing.

I desperately asked the man if I could go to the restroom to wash my hands or take a break for a minute so that I could try to get my hands to dry up even for a small amount of time. He wouldn’t let me leave. I’m not sure if that is because of security or something, but there is nothing I could have done. He kept saying it was okay, but it clearly wasn’t okay. My prints were rejecting for about 10 minutes and my hands were just getting worse.

Finally, he gave up and told me that it was likely I’d have to come back to try again another day. My heart sank. I wasn’t local and it would be challenging for me to come back again any time soon. Even if I did come back to try again, there’s a good chance I’d have the same sweaty issues.

I left the fingerprinting room to leave with my husband, but I just broke down crying in the lobby. It wasn’t fair. Why can’t I do something as easy as getting fingerprinted? If you have fingers, you should be able to have fingerprints read. Why can’t I just be normal?

I was very upset that day to say the least. It all ended up okay, I guess. I never got a call back from them, so I guess they somehow accepted my fingerprints and got enough from my right hand? I’m not sure, but I’m not in a rush to find out what happened.

This is not the first time I’ve had trouble with having my fingerprints read. I’ve also had trouble with the ink fingerprinting and the digital fingerprint entry to amusement parks. It’s not easy and more than once has ended up in me crying from embarrassment.

My plea is for people designing digital fingerprinting machines to take sweat into consideration. This is a huge issue for people with HH and even people with slightly clammy hands! Can we put our heads together to make these machines work for us?

Caryn

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Hello!

Happy belated New Year! I apologize for the large gap in my entries. Life is as hectic as always and I’m here now to catch you up on my most recent adventures.

In December and January, I traveled to China with an orchestra to tour! It was an amazing, once-in-a-life-time experience filled with culture, excitement, and good music.

In preparation for the trip, I think everyone was stressed out. There was a lot to do in a short period of time. We needed to fill out a lot of paperwork, go to the Chinese consulate to get a Chinese Visa, and do extensive preparation of music – not to mention pack for a 3 week tour for several different climates.

I had additional stress because I felt like I needed to also prepare my body. I needed to start my iontophoresis treatments again so that my hands wouldn’t bother me playing 15 concerts in 3 weeks over in China.

I finished my initial 10 treatments just in time, right before we left. I’m happy that I did this because I barely had an issue with my hands while I was over there. I think a big reason for this though was the climate. Many cities we were in were very cold and several of the halls we played in didn’t have proper heat. Cold weather is always good for people with HH, so I wasn’t complaining.

A month after returning to the states, I performed with this same group at Carnegie Hall. I hadn’t kept up the treatments, but my hands weren’t bothering me because of the winter weather. However, Carnegie was really tough for me. I’m lucky that I remembered to bring my wash cloth on stage. I thought I’d only need it intermittently, but the stage was hot and I was holding onto it for dear life in between the notes.

Playing the flute with HH is really tough. Over this past weekend, I played a concert with my quintet and during rehearsal, my hands were so bad. I had to constantly use my towel and even had to ask if we could open a window to get some colder air circulating. It’s really frustrating when I need to concentrate on playing the right notes and all I can do is make sure I don’t drop my instrument. I feel like I’m not playing to my potential because a lot of my energy is going to just making sure my hands don’t break my instrument.

I need to start treatments again really soon. Not only for musical reasons, but because my wedding is now next month! Time flies!

HH strikes again in the most unexpected places. 2 weeks ago, I had my first dress fitting. I was having my dress pinned so it could be hemmed and the tailor asked if I could hold out the front of the dress. I did until my hands got to be too much. I actually told the tailor that I have hyperhidrosis and asked my mom to take over holding the dress. I was so scared that the sweat on my hands were going to discolor my dress! I don’t know why I bluntly told the tailor about my HH. I think it is because I figured she wouldn’t know what I was talking about, but I also got the sense that she wouldn’t care.

Also two weekends ago, I got a new phone. I upgraded from an iPhone 4s to the 6s. On this new phone, it takes your thumb print as a security code. In the store, the sales rep was asking me to type info and put my thumb print on the sensor. The whole time my hands were dripping and I was petrified that it wasn’t going to work. Thumb print scanning has failed in the past for me because of HH several times. I was also worried the sales rep would notice and I’d get embarrassed.

So, there’s always something with HH. I’m on  the subway right now typing this up on my new iPhone and I have to keep stopping to dry my hands. Scared I’ll break it or electrocute myself.

I’m going to start treatments tonight.  In the winter months, I need it less, but in general, I find continuous treatment challenging. Maybe I’m too busy, or maybe I’m just lazy. Does anyone else have trouble keeping up?

Until next time: Stay cool and dry!

Thanks for reading,

Caryn

Finger Printing

In addition to going back to school, I am trying to become a certified Teaching Assistant! My goal is to get some experience working with students in the classroom. I am almost finished with all of the components of the NYS Teaching Assistant certification.

The components of the certification included 3 workshops on bullying and violence in the school, passing a 100 multiple choice question test, and finger print clearance.

Workshops are finished, I passed my test. The final step was finger printing!

Last month, I set out to accomplish this task. I received the official finger print cards in the mail and called my uncle who is NYPD.

It was so helpful to have my uncle finger print me because he knows about my HH. My hands were sweating and I can’t imagine how anxious I would have been had a stranger been finger printing me.

Even so, my prints were not coming out clearly. The sweat on my fingers was making the ink very smudgy and too dark. Although I only needed to send in 2 finger print cards, we printed 5! Hopefully the NYS Department of Education will be able to get some good prints from one of the cards!

I wrote a note about my condition, explaining the prints, and sent it with the cards. My prints might still get kicked back, and I’ll have to do something else for clearance. I’ll let you know what happens!

This is not the first time I have had trouble with finger printing. A while back, I wrote a post about finger printing and digital finger scanning at amusement parks. I feel like sweaty hands really work against us when we need our prints taken! There has to be another way.

Waiting at the station to be finger printed- paper towels in hand to dry my sweat!

Waiting at the station to be finger printed- paper towels in hand to dry my sweat!

 

Finger Print Scanning and HH

Somehow, I’m doing pretty alright this summer with HH. Huge change from last summer, thank goodness! This is the first summer that I have not worn sandals and I have to say that it’s helped a ton. Finally- I am listening to my own advice!

I’ve been on vacation for a bit, and most recently took a trip down to Florida. My family and I went to Disney World and Universal Studios. It was very hot, but wearing sneakers helped, and also keeping a towel on me at all times came in handy (pun intended?)

I had a few problems, but the worst was getting in the park at Universal.

All of these big theme parks have a finger print scanning device at the entrance when you show your ticket. I assume this is so tickets are non-transferable.

Anyway, Disney’s finger print scanners worked fine for me. Universal’s  did not!

I was and am still very upset about this. My sweaty fingers would not provide a good finger print! I tried and tried, and had a female employee there with a cotton ball trying to absorb the sweat from my finger, but nothing was working. I was holding up the line and the women said, “You have really sweaty hands!”

At this, I was angry and embarrassed and blurted out, “Yeah, I have Hyperhidrosis!”

She obviously didn’t really understand what this was but just let me through the line anyway and just had me sign my ticket and make sure I had my ID on my at all times. Although, now I wonder what she thought when I said that.

As soon as I got through the turn style, my emotions were so messed up that I burst out crying.

What a wonderful start to my day!

Overall, I was fine. The employee was not mean to me. I was mostly mad that Universal Studios didn’t make the entrance procedure accessible to people like me. I also felt embarrassed that she had to try wiping my fingers and then made a comment.

I wish the knowledge of HH was more prevalent.  If it were, maybe some of these things wouldn’t happen.

Thanks for reading,
Caryn Joan