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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November is Hyperhidrosis Awareness Month

I live with Hyperhidrosis in a private way. It is my secret life. My palmar and plantar Hyperhidrosis can be invisible to others. I’ve also become so good at hiding it that there’s a chance that the people I interact with on a daily basis might never even know I have this condition.

I have lived with Hyperhidrosis for 31 years. I am used to this life. But sometimes it doesn’t seem to get any easier. As I sit and write this, I am fanning my hands and soaking the sweat up with paper towels. I am trying to breathe through my discomfort. I am alone in my room, not anxious or nervous about anything, and I’m still struggling just being me.

One of my most successful coping techniques for Hyperhidrosis has been writing about my experiences on this blog. It has helped tremendously getting my thoughts and frustrations out about living with this condition. Another way I cope with Hyperhidrosis, is to tell people in my life about it.

November is Hyperhidrosis Awareness month. It is our second annual month and I am so thankful that this condition has reached the point to have an official month. It is a very big accomplishment in the world of Hyperhidrosis and it’s an exciting time to be a part of it.

I encourage us all living with Hyperhidrosis to get out there and tell someone about this condition and what it means to have it. Not only will telling someone about Hyperhidrosis spread awareness and understanding, it could give you the relief and support you need. For me, telling certain people about my Hyperhidrosis has made my quality of life better.

One really impactful example I have for you happened just last week.

For some backstory, a few years ago, I decided to start mentioning my Hyperhidrosis in my job interviews. I was at the point in my life when I was starting to switch careers and go into Special Education. Hyperhidrosis was my biggest inspiration for my decision, and as scary as it was to talk about, I found it fitting to explain why my life experience has led me to this point.

So, my current boss has known about my Hyperhidrosis since the first day I met her. Since starting this job a year and a half ago, little by little, I explained what living with this condition means to me. I’m thankful I told her about my condition right away because it allowed me to be myself.

I work from home now, which has been a huge help in managing my own room temperature and always having a fan at the ready. But this fall, I have been traveling to the office more frequently. Last week while I was in the office, I was part of a group meeting. The room was very warm and I knew immediately that I was going to have an issue with my hands sweating. I had a paper towel with me, but I was worried it was not going to be enough. At any other job, I would have just dealt with it and melted away, not being able to focus on the meeting at all. I’ve had those meetings where all I could concentrate on was my sweat and how uncomfortable I was – and how nervous I was for my secret to be discovered.

My boss was part of this meeting and I asked if I could bring a fan in to help with my Hyperhidrosis. She didn’t question or give it a second thought. I brought the fan in and positioned it at my hands. I don’t think that anyone else in the meeting thought it was weird or different. It may seem small, but this fan helped my hands stop sweating and allowed me to focus on the meeting. It made me feel normal.

It’s funny how something so small like this can be so impactful to me. I think of it and smile even now. One person who knew about my Hyperhidrosis made me feel comfortable enough to bring in an accommodation for myself – something I knew would help me. Telling people about my Hyperhidrosis has made my life better.

That is just one example of how Hyperhidrosis awareness has helped me personally. I believe that Hyperhidrosis awareness and understanding will make the world a better place for us. We are all in this together. This month, I encourage you to tell someone about your Hyperhidrosis journey. Be strong and have courage. I know you can do it. I can’t wait to hear your stories!

Happy Hyperhidrosis Awareness Month,

Caryn

Don’t Let Go

This morning, as I was starting my day in New York City, an older woman desperately called for my help. She used a cane and told me she felt dizzy. She needed help calling a cab and asked me to hold her hand. Even though it is October in New York City, the weather was feeling pretty warm. My hand was already very, very sweaty. Even so, I took hold of this woman’s hand and walked her down the street to call her a cab. Throughout our time together she told me not to let go of her hand even for one second. I could feel her hand shaking in mine. I wasn’t going to let my sweat interfere with helping her to a cab safely. I held her hand and didn’t let go. The universe works in mysterious ways. Of all the people on the busy NYC street, she chose me to help. It is significant to me because my hand was able to help someone today, sweat and all.

Caryn

Wedding Shoes

My wedding day – April 16, 2016.

It was the best day of my life, but Hyperhidrosis almost made it a disaster.

Everything was in place. Our timeline was set and our vows were written. Our friends and family were gathered. We were ready to celebrate the start of our lives as husband and wife.

Our colors were yellow and gray and the decor was daffodil themed, my favorite flower. It was perfect for a spring wedding. We took a lot of inspiration from one of our favorite books/movies, Big Fish, where daffodils play a big role. Even in its rendition of a short lived musical on Broadway, the lyrics of one of the songs:

Let’s build a world of daffodils
That never fades and never dies
I see the answer in your eyes
You’ll be the bride
I’ll be the groom
A daffodil in every room

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My dress was everything I had dreamed of; long white lace with a low V back. I wore little blue earrings as my “something blue.” I even found the cutest yellow and white lace open toe shoes…

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Wait. Open toe shoes!? What was I thinking?

If you’ve read some of my previous entries, you may remember that I gave up open toe shoes awhile ago. My feet would sweat, then my shoes wouldn’t fit properly, and I would risk slipping out of them.

How did I forget all about this during my wedding planning? I thought they were the perfect shoe and my mind was set.

In preparation for our big day, I was all up to date on my iontophoresis treatments for my hands. My hands were doing great and I had the extra benefit of the colder weather to stunt my excessive palmar sweating. But I didn’t do anything for my feet. I just didn’t think through what could happen.

Thankfully, I had no issues for our outdoor ceremony. It was in the middle of chilly April in upstate NY. We made it through our emotional first look and our beautiful ceremony, tears and all.

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Afterwards, at our indoor reception, we went immediately into our first dance which we choreographed ourselves. It was flawless. My body temperature was still on the cooler side from being outdoors, so I didn’t have issues with sweat when we were dancing. But as soon as we finished, that’s when my body temperature caught up with me.

My feet started to sweat. This could be a problem. 

Francis and I sat at our sweetheart table for dinner. I called a waitress over to bring me a stack of paper towels. She asked if there was a spill and was concerned. I said, “No, I just sweat a lot.”

And so throughout dinner, I had my feet under the table resting on paper towels. Thankfully, there was a long tablecloth that hid my feet from the guests. It was pretty embarrassing though, and very upsetting for me. Would I be stuck at my table the whole night? I shouldn’t have to deal with HH on my wedding day.

Right after dinner was our father/daughter dance. I went up to my Dad right before and told him that I could barely walk in my shoes and to be very gentle when dancing and twirling. We made it through beautifully, but I was so nervous. My feet barely left the ground as I slid around the floor. I’m thankful that my Dad understood the situation and he didn’t make a big deal out of it.

I was really worried about being able to enjoy the rest of our reception. I could barely walk in my shoes, let alone dance. I could never go barefoot as that would be even more dangerous and slippery. I felt like I was going to be stuck at my table all night with my feet on paper towels.

I told my sister who was also my Maid of Honor what was going on. As the problem solver that she is, she suggested, “How about putting the paper towels in your shoes?”

What a brilliant idea! I had a long enough dress that would cover my shoes, so no one would really see a paper towel sticking out of the open toe.

I put the paper towels in my shoes and it was the best thing I did. It allowed the sweat to soak up and I wasn’t slipping out of my shoes anymore. I was able to enjoy the rest of our reception and dance the night away!

I am happy that I remember our wedding day as the perfect day. I am thankful for my sister’s help in remedying my situation and making sure I had a good time. Although I’ll never forget this sweaty memory, there are happier memories that come to mind when I think of that day – marrying my soul mate and sharing the day with everyone we love. We will always have our perfect day.

Caryn

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New Product Review: Carpe Antiperspirant Hand Lotion

Hi all,

I was recently introduced to a brand new product called Carpe. It is an antiperspirant hand lotion for sweaty hands! I received a sample of this product in the mail a few weeks ago and immediately felt results. I was recommending this product the day I tried it and I am happy to write a review for my blog!

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What’s great about this product is that it is a non-invasive solution for sweaty hands. It’s something you can take on the go and use as you need it. It can be used daily and will keep your hands sweat-free for hours (4+).

Carpe is an opaque white lotion with a pleasant scent. It smells like eucalyptus and mint. One of my first observations when opening the lotion was that it had a mild scent and didn’t smell like medicine. I feel like a lot of similar lotions don’t have as nice of smell.

Carpe should be applied to clean and dry hands.  You apply a pea-sized amount to your palms and rub together for 15 seconds. The lotion is pretty tacky when going on, but it disappears within the 15 seconds and leaves no residue. I was able to resume typing on my computer keyboard after the 15 seconds and did not need to rinse my hands. The lotion sunk in for a while and my hands were dry.

I find this product especially good for people with HH who have not yet explored other treatment options, children with HH, and people who have occasionally sweaty hands.  For people who  haven’t explored any other treatment options, a lotion is the perfect way to start. Carpe is sold over the counter and is very affordable. One tube costs $14.95 and will last for 1.5 months. For children with HH, I think a lotion is absolutely the way to go. Since HH is hereditary, I’ve given a lot of thought to how I will approach HH with my future children if they get my HH gene. I would not want to put them through Iontophoresis or give them Robinol until much later. Since the lotion is topical and can be reapplied throughout the day, it’s a great tool for kids at school and during after-school activities. Same goes for people who do not have HH, but have occasionally sweaty hands. The lotion is great for them because they won’t need the more intense treatments like Ionotphoresis or Robinol.

Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking with the co-creater of Carpe, David Spratte. He started working on this product when he was a senior in high school because of his frustration with sweaty hands. Now, a junior at the University of North Carolina, his product is on sale and ready to help the HH community and more! I was quite impressed to learn how much David had accomplished at such a young age and I was inspired by his story. I love that this product was created by someone who was struggling with sweaty hands himself.  He took his experiences and knowledge of sweaty hands to create a product he knew would work. David uses Carpe every day.

Something unique and special about Carpe is that long-term sweat reduction is possible if it is used regularly. David says that based on efficacy studies, 60% sweat reduction is achieved long-term if used once a day. Carpe is FDA-certified and non-irritating, so it is safe to use daily. Additionally, I was very happy to learn from David that Carpe also works on sweaty feet and foreheads. If you use the product on your feet, wait 10-15 minutes before putting on a shoe or sock to ensure the lotion sinks in.

Last, I would like to mention how much I love the name of this product. Carpe is short for Carpe Diem – Sieze the Day. David uses ‘Sieze the Moment’ on his packaging. Having this association with the lotion completely correlates to what I mention in my blog: Don’t let HH limit you and what you want to do in life. This lotion can provide  much needed relief as you face challenging and potentially embarrassing daily situations. Whether it be a handshake or highfive, playing sports or musical instruments, or simply taking a test with paper and pencil, Carpe can be a solution for you.

Please let me know if you have any questions about Carpe and please check out their website!

Thanks for reading,

Caryn

 

How would life be different without HH?

Sometimes I wonder how my life would be different without Hyperhidrosis.

I wouldn’t have to worry about the little things like greeting someone new with a handshake or writing with a pen on paper. I wouldn’t have to worry about holding a newspaper, either deteriorating the paper with sweat or coming away with print on my hands. I wouldn’t have to worry about holding onto a subway rail, taking change back from a cashier, accidentally touching someone’s arm with a cold and wet hand, or leaving an embarrassing hand print behind. I wouldn’t have grown up with other kids not wanting to hold my hand during square dancing in gym class or as their line partner to go to the lunch room. I wouldn’t have had to avoid certain things growing up like playing clapping games with my friends or braiding each others’ hair.

Sometimes I think about life without HH and how normal it would have been. I wouldn’t have had to be anxious about my underarm sweat stains reaching the hem of my shirt, or going to the nurse’s office several times a week just to avoid my embarrassment. Maybe I would have continued taking gymnastics lessons. Maybe I would have joined clogging dance with my sister where there is a lot of hand holding.

Life without HH seems so normal and it’s something I’ve envied for a long time. But thinking of life without HH sure has a lot of maybe’s and  what if’s.

What I do know is that I really can’t imagine my life without HH. It is a part of me and it is a part of who I have become. Without HH, I would have taken all of the above for granted. I feel fortunate that I don’t.

HH has made me a stronger person. It has given me pride in accomplishing even the smallest of tasks. HH has also made me an observer and someone who cares a lot. It has given me an understanding and appreciation for all people.

So how would life be different without HH? I’m not quite sure.
But I think life with HH has made it better.

 

How to Buy a Ring for a Girl with HH

It’s hard to believe that two years ago, I wrote a blog post about HH and Engagement Rings and now, I have my own engagement ring! I had some fears about it before, but between successful Iontophoresis treatments and my excitement about the engagement, my anxieties have gone away.

My fiance, Francis, put so much thought and effort into the proposal and I couldn’t be happier with how things turned out! He has always been incredibly supportive and understanding of my HH. For the proposal, he took my HH into consideration and came up with ways to make sure everything would be perfect, including the ring. I am so lucky to have him in my life and I hope you enjoy this beautiful guest post he has written.
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Hyperhidrosis was never an issue in the first place. In fact, I was supposed to be all set. I apologize that the title might be a little misleading since this is really a story about how I made this more complicated than it needed to be.

A year or so before I asked her parents’ blessings, Caryn had actually e-mailed them information on all the rings she liked. So when I worked up the courage to ask for her parents’ blessings earlier this May, I was given everything I could’ve ever needed for the ring, ranging from the styles and cuts to the actual ring size. I had some vague ideas on how I would propose which included taking her to a daffodil garden in Atlanta (she’s in love with daffodils) or proposing to her on an ice rink during winter (which is how I asked her to be my girlfriend). My ideas were decent, but not only would she have seen those proposals coming, the ideas depended entirely on seasons, which would’ve made me wait for this winter or next spring.

It was only until I was about to leave her parents’ house that  I came up with the idea of proposing at the finish line of a half marathon. It was brilliant! We’ve run one half marathon every year for the last three years and all the dedication and hard work has meant a lot to both of us. She would never see this coming.

“I thought you gave up on half marathons last year?” she asked.

Okay, I did tell her that half marathons were too long and painful, but I could look past it just this once. I am proposing after all.

“Yeaaaah, I changed my mind, I like half marathons!”

A couple of days later, we officially signed up for the Grete’s Great Gallop Half Marathon in Central Park at October 5th! While she was busy creating a training guide, I was busy figuring out all the logistics behind the proposal.

“Are you going to run with the ring?” one friend asked.

“Don’t you think you’re going to be out of breath?” another friend inquired.

These were important details that I knew I would have to figure out, but when I told her mom about the idea, she revealed the biggest curveball of them all:

“What about her hyperhidrosis?”

As much as I initially wanted to deny that this would be an issue, this really doesn’t bode well for the ring. Her mom provided me with her ring size 9. This is what Caryn uses to give herself enough room when her hand swells up. I would be forcing her to sweat and swell up her hands if we run this race. This wouldn’t be an issue in a normal situation, but would she have issues putting the ring on after running 13.1 miles?

Could I propose to her before the race? I thought about it briefly, but found it to be awfully anticlimactic, so I knew it wouldn’t be a real option. I was so excited about the idea initially but the more I thought about it, the riskier it became. Her mom assured me that Caryn would like the proposal no matter what but I certainly didn’t want to disappoint her. I wanted to make sure I did things right.

Amidst of all of this, my friends kept bugging me that the ring size seemed off, which made me doubt it was correct. This was frustrating because I didn’t know how Caryn would feel if I told them about her HH and I just didn’t know if they’d understand. I knew nothing about ring sizes to begin with, but once I got clarification about the size, I assured them that the size was correct and it’s because Caryn’s hands have a tendency to swell up.

I realized that there were other options outside proposing at the beginning or the end of the race. I could propose to her in the middle of the race instead. This way, her hand would be less sweaty. The risk involved with the ring fitting on her hand was still there, but I felt better about her hands in the middle of the race.

I also played around the idea of proposing at the hot air balloon festival near her parents house. This would be an alternative plan and even though it sounds romantic, I felt that hot air balloons are nowhere near as significant to us compared to the half marathon. Luckily, I didn’t have to propose that way…

We were riding the subway one day when Caryn started getting anxious about the upcoming gig we were traveling to. Although she’s been doing the Iontophoresis treatment, her hands started sweating more as we got closer to the venue. She started complaining that her hands were getting sweaty because she was nervous and all of a sudden, I found myself just blatantly asking her point blank.

“When your hands start sweating, does your ring ever feel tight on you?”

“Well, size 9 is big enough for my finger so it’s okay. I don’t really have issues putting the ring on but it’s a little tight when I remove it.”

The ring would actually fit! Finally, a wave of anxiety lifted off my head and all I had to do was just bluntly ask her! I didn’t want to raise suspicions, but in my head, I thought I was so cool and smooth by sneaking it into the conversation. She saw right through it though, but fortunately, she didn’t really let my question get into her head.

It wasn’t exactly smooth sailing afterwards. The week before the race, my entire plan almost crashed and burned in front of me when Caryn accidentally tripped on a staircase and fell on her ankle. Thankfully she was okay and my mini heart attack subsided, but it really put things into perspective. This was my plan from the start and this is how I planned to propose to her. Proposing alone is frightening enough as it is, but running a half marathon on top of that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done physically and mentally. And all of it could fail at a drop of a hat. It wasn’t just the Hyperhidrosis. One of us could get injured, the race could get washed out or she could plainly just have said no.

But despite all those risks came the big payoff. The weather was beautiful and we had an amazing group of friends who were waiting for us in the 5 mile mark with their hand-written signs that said “Caryn, Francis Has A Question For You.” Caryn complained that my pace was too fast from the start of the race, but my nerves and adrenaline were pushing me to get to that proposal spot. A few streets before we got to our friends, Caryn commented that we were almost half way through the race and I smiled knowing that I was about to change her life forever in the next couple of feet.

The next three minutes were such a blur. The important things are that she said yes and the ring fit her finger. As much as I tried to envision how the proposal would go, there were details I could’ve never prepared for including the empty cups littered all over the ground from the water station. But the little things like that are what made it memorable.

Could I have gotten away with doing something safer and avoided all this trouble? Maybe propose to her at an ice rink akin to how I asked her out? Her hands wouldn’t have been an issue and Caryn would’ve loved it all the same. But when you’re after someone who means the world to you, that risk is worth it. You just need to have the courage to take that leap of faith in the first place.

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