Don't Sweat It (pt 1)


Seven years ago today, my life changed 100% for the better.

I had a Thoraoscopic Sympathectomy.

My whole life, I have had hyperhidrosis, which is hyperactive sweat glands. It is genetic--my Memaw Bane has it, too, and it has nothing to do with how hot you might be. Water would pour from my hands and my feet and puddle up on my desk and soak through my socks, shirts, etc. I couldn't ever write with a pencil, cause my hands would soak my paper and the pencil would tear the paper. I couldn't write on the chalkboard in school because i would drip all over the board. In dance class, my classmates would ask if I stepped in water because my ballet shoes would be soaking wet. I wouldn't ever shake anyone's hand because it would be too embarrassing, and when I had to anyway, I would tell people that my hands were sweaty. They would almost always say "oh, its ok," then pull away and say "man you were right--they are sweaty." It was terrible. My hands and feet would sweat so much and I would lose all my body heat and freeze. I would get nauseated because of my screwy body temperature. Mom says that they knew when I was only 2 weeks old that I had it, because I would stop crying when they put socks on my feet. Another side effect is "blushing," which is the swelling and reddening of your hands, which is what got me the nickname "bloody hands" in college. As a performer, the sweating was a real hindrance-it was distracting to me, and disturbing to others and I would constantly have to wipe my hands on my clothes or pants so not to sweat on others and wear black clothes cause it wouldn't show the sweat stains so badly. My underarms and knee pits would drip, too, but the hands were the worst. I remember one day, on a very crowded commuter train going home, my hand holding the bar to stand was above many others' hands, and my sweat was dripping down the pole and onto the other commuters. I couldn't do anything about it but apologize as they all recoiled in fear.

Growing up, I tried everything--Drysol, which is a prescription antiperspirant that you put on your hands and feet at night, but it burned like hell in the morning. I tried holding teabags, but that stained my hands brown. I tried Drionic, which were these little machines that had electric probes that you put wool pads over, filled reservoirs with water, then turned the machines on to send electric shocks into your hands and feet to try to stun the sweat glands and make them not work for a while. You guessed it, that was painful, too. There was a surgical fix, but it was risky and might cause paralysis.

After I moved to Chicago, I learned of a new surgery that wasn't too intrusive and I started doing research. I couldn't find too many surgeons in the country that were doing it, but I was willing to travel to find it. My friend Shelly was working at Northwestern Memorial Hospital at the time, and one day she forwarded me an internal newsletter about a surgeon there who was specializing in the surgery--not even knowing that I was researching this daily. I changed my insurance to a PPO so I could go to him, and called and to make an appointment with him.

When I met with Dr. Liu, I had absolutely no doubt that I was going to go through the procedure. I also was prepared to be on a waiting list for a few months, but he told me we could schedule it any time after 2 weeks! Incredible. I scheduled my appointment for December--I think at the time it was October.

The procedure works like this--they put two incisions in your side (one at bra-level, one in the underarm), collapse your lung, snip nerves on the side of your spinal column, inflate the lung, stitch you up, flip you over and do the other side. It is about a 6 hour surgery with a week bed rest and about a full month recovery.

(to be continued)


"collapse your lung, snip nerves on the side of your spinal column, inflate the lung, stitch you up, flip you over and do the other side"

For REAL?!?!?!

Oh never mind, now I know it's for real. I'm looking at the article on the hospital website, and OH GOD there's a video, too?

But also, hey, that's amazing. It helped with your issue. That's great. :)