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December 9, 2010

SWM (Sweaty white male): A love story

Filed under: Advice,Psychology,Treats — posted by Breakup Girl @ 11:20 am

Remember Sweaty Steve, he of the socially-crippling clammy-palmed hyperhidrosis? I’ve got a fantastic update for you, plus an equally fantastic shout-out we just received from a former super-perspirator. I offer both here with two caveats: (1) (spoiler!) finding a partner does not in itself equal success or happiness; in these cases, however, it was something these fellas both wanted and thought they could never have, and (2) as Wendy Shanker describes so eloquently in Are You My Guru?, while medical conditions may have psychological or psychosomatic components, that does not mean that all afflictions can be healed with some nice long walks and a change of attitude.

OK? First, from a fella named K., this spectacular portrait of HOPErhidrosis:

“I suffered the cranial version of this condition for about six years and let it turn me into an asexual recluse for most of my twenties, even leaving two jobs due to my supervisor’s apprehension over what impression it might give the people I interacted with (understandable, as I was a phlebotomist at the time and was told patients simply would not be comfortable having someone with sweat pouring down his face drawing their blood).  Just about every decision I made in those years was influenced by the sweating more than any other factor.  And I never found any correlation between the heavy sweating attacks and my activity level, temperature, liquid intake, etc. The only regular trigger was, the more social exposure, more sweat, but beyond that it would happen in any random setting, even walking alone on a cold night.

I could go on for hours about living with it but I’m writing to share my experience with treatments, and if you’d like feel free to pass this along to the man who asked the question.  I’ve come to live nearly free from this hell after years of trying anything that could help.  First came the medications Ditropan and Robinul, which made slight improvements with the random sweats but did nothing when they were triggered by anxiety.  After that my healthcare agreed that I had a serious condition and covered regular botox shots to the scalp; this was more effective than the medications but still a poor remedy that I couldn’t depend on.  I researched two major surgeries specifically for hyperhidrosis but had to grudgingly pass on them due to the risks of even more godawful complications.  The only route left was a special laser procedure, and my doctor told me it wouldn’t do much for cranial sweating.  So I was starting to normalize the idea of this being a part of my public face forever.  I stopped looking for cures.

And when I finally gave up hope for any improvement in my condition, I got serious about improving everything that I did have control over.  I swapped the American diet for smoothies and yogurt and home cooked dinners.  I started going on long, fast walks in the middle of the night, when I could be invisible.  I wasn’t huge to begin with, but jump-starting a sedentary lifestyle and trading corn syrup for produce still managed to knock off sixty pounds in a year.  At the same time, I cut my alcohol intake from ~weekly social drinking to nothing at all.  I saw a therapist and a shrink to learn ways to control my anxiety.

I wasn’t really paying close attention to the sweating for most of this time, as I had gotten to a point where it was a given, something I couldn’t ever change.  It was actually my parents that first remarked that I seemed to be sweating less than usual.  It was a small change but enough to convince me to try to take it further.  I exercised longer and harder week by week and stuck to good food and no booze.  And by the time I was in the kind of shape I could really be proud of, the random sweating had almost stopped entirely.  That was nearly two years ago; nowadays I still sweat much more than the typical gent but it happens when sweat is supposed to happen, so I can predict it, and believe me that makes all the difference in the world.  I started dating again and only had the regular awkwardness of dating, not from wiping my forehead twice a minute.  Without the sweat my confidence rose higher than it ever had;  I’ve been with the same gorgeous girl for almost a year now and I would never have dared approach a knockout like her before I was healthy and dry.  Where cutting-edge medical science had failed, fitness succeeded!  Sanjay Gupta lost the game to Richard Simmons.

I hope some of this might be helpful for your letter writer.  It saved my life. Making these life changes transformed me from a “Moist”, into a Nathan Fillion.  Okay, maybe not the bulging Dr. Hammer version but I’d make a great stunt double if they ever bring back Firefly. =)”

But wait! There’s more! We contacted Steve with this info and here’s what we found: (1) He tried the Botox and it worked. (2) He got married in September.

There you go! Hope these happy endings provide a delightful, and dry, start to your day.

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