Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Effects of Hyperhidrosis and Living with Sweat

Hyperhidrosis is a condition where you sweat a lot more than what would be considered normal. It is a condition that effects a small percentage of the population in varying degrees and on different parts of the body. Some of the most common places people have it is on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and the underarms. It can also effect pretty much any area of the body such as the scalp, face and torso. To someone who does not have this condition, it may not seem like a big deal, but to those who have it, it can be incredibly difficult to deal with and can have a huge negative effect on the quality of life.

I can remember becoming aware that I had sweaty hands around age 12 or 13. I remember sitting in class with my hands on the table and there would be sweat marks left on the surface from the sweat. In music class, I remember being stressed out about playing the piano because my hands would sweat on the keys. When school dances came around, those were the worst as you might imagine not wanting to hold anyone's hand because of course they were sweaty and it would be very uncomfortable.

In high school it became more noticeable. My hands would sweat a lot in class which was very uncomfortable. I began to sweat more from other areas such as arm pits and feet. I managed to make it through high school and went on to college. It seemed to get worse in college. I can remember sitting in class trying to continuously dry my hands on my pants so as not to get the papers wet on the desk.

One day it got so bad I actually had a panic attack and had to excuse myself in the middle of class. It was so uncomfortable and embarrassing. I did not even return to class until the class was over that day. This condition of course had a huge negative effect on my education and was one of the biggest reasons I decided to drop out of college.

I started to try out different treatment options to see if I could find a solution to the problem. I tried prescription antiperspirant, oral medication, and even purchased an iontophoresis machine which helps limit sweat by sending an electrical current to your hands while placed in water. Some of the treatments helped a bit, but nothing was an absolute cure. There are a few other treatment options such as botox and invasive surgery which I do not plan on doing because of the costs and side effects of these treatments which can often turn out to be worse than the original condition.

After college, I started working in food delivery which was pretty good for this condition because I spent a lot of time on the go and by myself so the sweat was not very noticeable. A couple years later I got a job at a school as a teacher assistant. This job was much more difficult to deal with because you are stuck in a classroom all day and you have to work closely with other teachers and students. It was incredibly stressful to do this while I was sweating a lot and trying to hide it and ignore the physical discomfort.

I had a couple other panic attacks while in class working with students. To describe it, my heart would start beating so hard and fast and I would start sweating even more and I could not focus on anything except how uncomfortable and stressed out I felt. Both times I had to excuse myself and go to the bathroom to calm down. I also remember having a panic attack like this at one of the meetings where I was sweating a lot and felt like I was stuck there and could not get out.

After struggling with the school job for about 7 years I managed to start finding jobs working from home. This was better because at least if I was sweating at home it would not be a big deal because there would be no one to notice it.

My social life has been influenced the most because of hyperhidrosis. Any kind of social interaction is stressful for me because of this condition. Whenever you are with people or meeting new people it is expected that you shake hands. This is one of the things people with palmar hyperhidrosis dread the most. Even things like going to a restaurant or a movie are very uncomfortable if you are sweating a lot. Because of this I tend to avoid social interactions as much as possible. As a result, the amount of friends and relationships I have had has been very limited.

Physically it makes things more difficult. For example if you are trying to hold something or open something it can be very difficult if your hands are sweating. Many of my shirts get ruined by stains from continuously drying my hands on them over time. I have to clean things like the computer keyboard and mouse daily because with sweaty hands, it leaves a residue on these things just from normal use.

Clothing choices are completely determined by this condition. I always wear an undershirt to absorb sweat. I almost always wear pattern materials on the outside because they hide sweat a lot better than solid colors. I often wear extra layers to help absorb sweat even though it makes it more hot. Footwear has to be breathable and comfortable.

It can be hard to describe how it really feels to have this condition. To get an idea of what it is like to have hyperhidrosis, try the following:

Go to a sink and lightly cover the palms of your hands with water. Shake them off so they are not dripping anymore, but still wet. Now imagine going though your entire day like this not being able to ever get them dry. Even if you dry them with a towel or on your clothes, 30 seconds later they will be wet again. Then think about trying to shake people's hands or try to do some kind of work while your hands are wet like this. This will give you an idea of how it feels to have hyperhidrosis. And that is just on the hands. Most people have it in multiple areas and even in more noticeable areas like the face which can be very embarrassing in social situations.

As you can see hyperhidrosis has had a huge effect on my life as well as others who have this same condition. To this day I have not told many people about this but instead have tried to hide it all this time due to embarrassment. I hope this article raises a little awareness about hyperhidrosis. As of right now there is still not a good solution to this problem. Hopefully one day there will be a solid cure for this condition which has been so devastating to the lives of those who have to live with it.

Update 4-24-20:
It's been 6 years since I originally wrote this so I thought I would give a little update on how things are going. I am no longer doing the work from home type jobs since I have transitioned into the app based gig jobs such as grocery and food delivery. I find these kind of jobs work pretty well for someone with hyperhidrosis since you are on your own most of the time and don't have to interact with other people too much.

My sweating tends to go in waves for example I will be sweating a lot for a few weeks, then for a few weeks not so much. I think it depends on a lot of things for example the amount of stress happening at that time, the temperature, what kind of events or activities I may have to attend etc.

For treatment, I am still using the iontophoresis machine. I tend to use it daily or every other day if I am sweating. If I am feeling dry, I may go weeks without using it.

Overall it still affects my life a lot, but I have learned to deal with it pretty well.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Being Nice Gets You Further

When interacting with people, you always have a choice of how to go about it. You can be nice and friendly, you can be rude and mean, or you can fall somewhere in the middle. Based on experience, I have found that it usually pays to be nice when you are dealing with people, especially in a customer service type of situation, whether you are the customer or the employee. Below are a few real examples to help illustrate this point.

I currently work for a website that provides online customer service to people who either have questions on products or need help with just about anything. I deal with a wide variety of people. Some are friendly and nice while others are well, not so nice. Even though I strive to provide the same service to all customers, it is so much easier to go the extra mile to help out a customer who is courteous and appreciative verses one who is angry or just plain rude. In a situation like this, the nice customer is almost always going to get better service even if they are both asking about the same thing.

Another example is when I used to work in food delivery. Tips are a big part of your income when you work for a job like this so they are very important. When you work for a restaurant for a while and start to get repeat customers, you remember which ones give good tips and which do not. The customers who give good tips are going to get better service whether it be faster delivery or better care when preparing the food. So always remember to give a good tip especially if you are going to be a repeat customer.

An example from the customer side happened recently when I got over charged for a bill on my internet service. I contacted my provider and was sure to be extra courteous and nice to the representative. Usually getting billing issues like this resolved is difficult, but by being patient and kind, the representative was happy to assist me and within no time, the billing issue was fixed! So overall the message is clear, that being nice will get you a lot further than the contrary especially when it comes to customer service situations.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Easy Productive Activity for Fun, Exercise, and Environmental Improvement

Recently I decided to take advantage of the good weather by going for a walk on the paths around my neighborhood. It was nice to get out and just enjoy the outdoors and relax while getting a little exercise at the same time. One thing I noticed however was the amount of garbage laying around on the ground as well as trash caught in trees and bushes. I have mentioned how much I don't like when people litter in a previous blog post here, so I got the idea to do something about it.

The next day, I brought a plastic shopping bag with me and this time, instead of just walking, I decided to pick up any garbage that I happened to see. You would be surprised how much you find when you are actually looking for it. I walked for probably less than a mile and by the time I was done, I had a whole bag full of garbage that I had collected!

It feels good knowing you are cleaning up the environment and making your community a little bit nicer for everyone. The next day I did the same thing and took a different path. I collected just as much garbage the 2nd time around. It is actually fun and you get a little sense of accomplishment when you are done and see how much you have collected. For a tip, make sure to wear gloves as well as protective shoes and clothing to keep yourself clean and safe. If you really get into it, you can invest in one of those extended mechanical grabbers to help pick up items from the ground.

I plan to make this a regular activity whenever the weather is good. I highly recommend this if you like walking and you care about making improvements to your neighborhood or any outdoor place for that matter. It even helps with observational skills. I noticed that after I did this activity, I was a lot more aware of details around me, so that is another benefit!

Update: I found one of those garbage pickers available at the dollar store for only $1! I got it and tried it out and it works perfectly! It makes it so much easier and even more fun! I recommend getting one of these to help out with this activity.

Update: Another benefit if this activity is sometimes you find things of value. Since starting this hobby, I have found cash on several occasions. $1's $5's and even a $20 on one occasion! I have even found a gift cards with remaining values. You never know what you will find out there!

Update: If you are interested, check out this more in depth article on my personal experience cleaning up the environment.

Also check out the DeTrashed group on Reddit which helps promote the fight against litter.