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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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

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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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

100th Blog Post – Three Years of Just a Little Sweat

Today is a very special day for Just a Little Sweat as I am celebrating two major milestones in the life of this blog. It has been exactly 3 years since I wrote my first post for Just a Little Sweat. Today, I share my 100th!!

3 years of Just a Little Sweat

As I sit here at my desk, writing this entry with the help of my favorite yellow towel and fan, I wanted to first say how thankful I am for all of your support in Just a Little Sweat. If you take a look back at my first post on December 5, 2011, I write about not being sure if I wanted to make this blog public. Talking about HH is really scary, even if it’s over the internet! However, you all accepted me and this blog with open arms and have provided as much support to me as this blog may have supported you. Over the course of 3 years writing for Just a Little Sweat, I have met countless people in cyber space – people from all over the globe and all walks of life. I am honored to have met you, to have learned your stories, and to have had the opportunity to respond to your all your comments and emails. Thank you for your positive feedback, your strength and optimism in the HH community, and for lending an open ear to my stories.

A lot has happened in my life in the 3 years since starting this blog. Let’s take a look back at some of my posts as I remember the highlights:

To celebrate 3 years, I looked back at my 100 posts and chose my top 5. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Caryn’s Top 5 Favorite Posts from Just a Little Sweat

5. The HH Super Villain??
I love it when HH appears in pop culture. It’s not proven that the character has HH, but I’m pretty sure he does 🙂 I’m cheating by linking this additional post, but I can’t resist. Check out another HH reference in pop culture in a Luann Comic.

4. What HH has taught me
Every now and then, I return to this post to remind myself of everything I’ve gained because of HH – patience, strength, courage, tolerance and pride in myself.

3. I posted my Blog Site on Facebook
Writing this entry and actually following through with posting it on Facebook was a huge step in my life. I’m proud of how I brave I was in this moment and still think my letter to the Facebook community provides a great introduction to awareness of HH.

2. Sweat and Chicken Wings
This post was a response to a question about my dating life with HH and how coincidentally, my fiance has secondary HH when he eats spicy food like chicken wings. I write: “HH is a big part of your life and a big part of who you are, whether you like it or not. The right person for you is going to love you for everything you are.”

1. How My Blog Got Its Title
I just posted this entry this week, but it is my favorite. I remembered my initial goals for this blog were to help connect the HH community and explain HH in a way that was relatable to people with and without HH. Advocating universal awareness of HH has always been important to me. Thank you for giving me courage to advocate for our community and for being advocates yourself!

Although the time seemed to fly by, so much has changed and I am very happy to be where I am now in life. I’m looking forward to many more years of sharing my stories with you and listening to yours! Thank you again for your support and as always, for reading!

All my best and Happy Holidays,

Caryn

Winter Sweating Tips

Winter temperatures are usually great for people with HH! The cold and windy air is great for drying out my hands.

However, once winter hits, people start turning the heat on inside. The heat indoors can really make me sweat. It’s hot on the subway, at work, in restaurants and shops. It’s almost worse than summer! It might be hot in the summer but you can always go indoors for the air conditioning.

At my desk at work, I keep my fan on year round. This is extremely helpful and I will continue to use a fan at work no matter where I end up. It’s a great way to cool off.

On the subway, I will use my scarf or gloves to hold on to the rail. I also continue to keep a small towel in my purse for a quick mop up.

Wearing long sleeves helps too! If I’m having trouble writing and want to be discreet, I just pull my sleeves slightly over my hands to about mid-palm. Dress scarves (vs. winter scarves) can also help cover your hand without drawing attention while writing. Always try to use what you have on you to be discreet.

If you have underarm sweating, try wearing a black open sweater over any shirt. This will cover up any sweat stains you might have. You can also try using sweat-wicking products.

Enjoy the colder weather and try to stay cool indoors!

Caryn

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