My Secret Isn’t So Secret Anymore

For Hyperhidrosis Awareness Month this year, I had the amazing opportunity to share my story of living with Hh on a larger scale. The International Hyperhidrosis Society approached me earlier this year to ask if I would consider being a part of their Awareness Month campaign and tell my #HhStory. Although I am usually pretty secret about my condition, I decided to take the leap and trust that a video like this could help others living with Hh and spread awareness and understanding. It’s always important to me to portray Hh as NOT just a little sweat. The video really captures the struggles I’ve faced and the obstacles I’ve had to overcome to get through each and every day. My story is just one of many from millions of other Hh sufferers all over the world. You are not alone. We are in this together.

So, without further ado, here’s my story.

So, I guess my secret isn’t so secret anymore…and that’s okay.

Thank you to the International Hyperhidrosis Society for this opportunity and to my husband and mom who joined me to share their experiences of having someone with Hh in their lives.

To all my family and friends – thank you for your never-ending love and support ❤

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

Lessons for my high school self

I’ve had HH for almost 28 years now and I think I’ve learned a thing
or two. If I were to travel to the past and meet up with my high
school self, I would share what I have learned.

I approach my high school self. I am in the band room, my second home.
I know that at this point in my life I was slowly starting to tell my
closest friends and teachers about HH. I had a love for playing the
flute, but struggled with my hot, sweaty hands. I also had
difficulties in school, taking tests and writing essays with paper and
pen.

“You inspire me because you are brave. You have talked about HH openly
with your closest friends. You give me hope that people are accepting
and understanding. I hope that you continue to share your stories
about HH with those closest to you.”

I know that once I hit college, I started hiding my HH again. I barely
told anyone about it until my junior or senior year. I can only
think of 5 people I told in college- none were teachers. I think
telling people about it and talking openly, even with a few people, is
so helpful and a real coping mechanism.

“People aren’t paying attention to you and your HH as much as you
think. You may feel that your sweat is obvious and feel anxious about
it, but chances are other people really have no idea and can’t tell.”

People with HH are amazing at hiding it even though it might not feel
like it. I went through college and grad school without any teachers
knowing I had it. I just took a deep breath and did what needed to be done.
Easier said than done, but I’ve learned to at least try to stop worrying about
what people think.

“Don’t give up and follow your passions.”

I didn’t let HH hold me back. I found ways to modify the activities I
loved or talked to someone about it for advice. I have played the flute
for 19 years. All I needed was a fan, a hugely absorbent towel, great
musician friends, and sometimes a tub of cold water to stand in.
I’ve learned to make do with what I have.

“Although it might sound cliche, I promise that it does get better.”

Since graduating high school, I’ve had 10 more years of experience with
HH. I’ve learned different coping techniques, tried new treatments, and
helped the HH community grow. I know there is help and support out there
and have seen it first hand.

I am proud of my journey with HH and am happy that I have learned with it
and from it. I know that I can’t really share what I have learned with my high
school self, but I can share it with you.

How Do You Play Flute With HH? An inside look (with video)

Hi all! I hope you’re having a great start to August!

Next month, my quintet, Washington Square Winds, and I will be releasing our very first full length album, THEY’RE ALIVE! The official release date is September 7.

With that in mind, I have decided to share some of my music with you today. Francis gave me the idea for this post as he said he was curious what it’s really like to play a musical instrument with HH. He’s a trombonist, himself! I included a video to show you my thought process when I play and how HH affects me.

This video was taken during my graduate flute recital at NYU in 2011. I’m playing Ian Clarke’s The Great Train Race. It has a lot of cool extended techniques like playing 2 notes at the same time, singing and playing, and explosive air attacks. This was before I started Iontophoresis treatment, so I was definitely sweating a lot at this point.

  • Another thing I worry about is also related to my appearance. HH typically comes with excessive blushing (as if excessive sweating wasn’t enough). Generally when I’m performing and really nervous, my chest and neck blotch up like crazy!! Amazingly, in this video, you can’t really tell! But as I play, I’m constantly thinking about the audience’s perception of me based on what they see, versus what they hear. In the past, I’ve had people ask me if I was okay after a performance because they saw me blotch up. This bothers me a lot because I don’t want the audience to be concerned about me during my performance. I would rather them just listen and enjoy- no matter what I look like.
  • Having sweat on my hands makes it really uncomfortable to play my flute. I’ll be trying to focus on the music while I feel drips of sweat rolling down my arms or starting to feel the pads under the keys get squishy with moisture.
  • HH is also uncomfortable because it makes my fingers swell- A LOT! It can be difficult moving my swollen fingers fast when I need them to. You can tell that right around 45 seconds in this video, there’s a difficult fast passage that could have been a lot cleaner! My fingers weren’t just cooperating!
  • Sometimes the sweat on my fingers will cause me to slip off the keys too- especially if I’m going fast. At 2:17, it’s barely audible, but my finger slipped on a key and I played a wrong note. I recovered really fast though!
  • A clear picture of my mental state is apparent at 2:52. Remember I was playing this without sheet music in front of me. I forgot what came next and paused a little too long!

This was back in 2011, but I still get these same feelings. My philosophy nowadays is: “You love music, so play like you love it. The audience will see this in you and the music will flow more freely”.

I hope you enjoyed listening to some of my music! If you would like to hear more, please ask me about our upcoming CD!

In the meantime, you can check out my flute website: carynfreitag.com
and my quintet’s website: washingtonsquarewinds.org

Thank you for reading,

Caryn