You’ve seen sweat marks on clothing before, right? If it wasn’t on your own clothing, on the clothing of someone in front or beside you… ? It gives you a sense of “Uhh… ewwww”. I am one of those people; with sweat marks on my clothing. Did you just say “Ewwww”? I know, I did too. It’s saddening, maddening and thoroughly disappointing. Trust me, when I tell you that if I could do something about it, I would.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had sweaty palms. Clammy hands. It’s not ideal, but it’s not the worst thing to suffer from. It always seemed to happen at the most inopportune time: while crafting, reading, cooking or socializing. My mind would be doing one thing, and my hands would be… getting moist… like they were crying or something. They would be uncomfortable, TO ME, making me uncomfortable all over and making me conscious of sweat in general. Sometimes I would sweat from my underarms or in my elbow-pit. Nothing stopped it. Nothing paused it. Nothing diminished it.
Somewhere along the way, I remember watching a movie and a woman said:
“My hands are all sweaty, now I’ve got to go wash them with hot water”.
Before her suggestion, I had no understanding of how to get rid of, or momentarily suspend, the clammy hands.The very next time the clam tried to hit me, to the bathroom I went. Washing my hands furiously with water hot enough to cook noodles. WHEW! And upon returning from the bathroom, settling into my previously occupied seat, BAM! Clamminess redux. Not instantly, but soon enough to make me realize just how temporary that fix was. DAMN!!!
This went on for years. Years. I found that when I was crafting, my hands would go clammy. When I was studying or writing, my hands would go clammy. Whenever I was doing anything with plastic, my hands would go clammy. Ugh.
Eventually, the clamminess spread to my feet. Clammy feet? Yes, clammy feet. Most people have no idea that your feet could be sweating, but your underarms… well. That is the worst. The most socially hindering, difficult to deal with, embarrassing, shameful show of personal display. There is nothing like showing people who you are. It’s liberating and powerful! But, there’s nothing worse than showing people something you don’t want them to see. Or can even explain. It’s embarrassing.
Honestly, I suffered like this for years. I say suffer because that’s how it felt. I found, and sometimes find, myself to be awkward. Not out of the ordinary awkward, but just awkward enough. The sweaty clamminess though, brought me into a whole new realm of “awkward”. People associate “sweaty” with athletics or “nerves”, but people emphatically associate “clammy” with “nervousness”. I honestly didn’t want to meet new people because I didn’t want to have to shake their hand. Sad. You can’t just NOT shake hands with someone .. or you couldn’t, back then. There was no such thing as a “germophobe” and you were not given a pass on the solid social standard of shaking someone’s hand. Not shaking hands meant that you were rude. Plain and simple.
My hands would clam up for specific things. Working with plastic, material or paper. When I was warm, but it was cold around me. Whenever I used lotion, I could feel the sweat pushing its way through the lotion, breaking it down and creating a runny, liquidy situation. Did you just say “Ewww” again? I know. I was also clammy when I was nervous. I could (and can) put my hands on a glass surface and watch the area surrounding fog up. I could (and can) touch a mirror and see my fingerprints clearly. I could (and can) smear ink that has been dry for weeks with one fail swoop of the side of my clammy hand. 😦 Booooooooooo!
As time went on, I just dealt with it. I would have sweat stains on my shirts. If at all possible, I would use a hair dryer or automated public restroom hand dryer to dry the underarms of my shirts. Neither of which was a staying solution. The clamminess took over and often. I spent more time clammy than I did dry. OR normal. I couldn’t (and can’t) put lotion on my hands or feet because it sets the clamminess to an all-time high. When reading, crafting, embroidering or sewing, I have to stop and wash my hands frequently to ensure the quality of the project.
Eventually, this wore on me. I didn’t do anything major, just chatted with my primary care physician about it. He advised me that he had known of such problems, and if “I” considered it a problem or a hindrance, he could refer me to a “specialist”. Wow! That sounds promising, right? I did consider it a hindrance and I did take that referral.
The specialist’s office called me for an appointment. As the days passed until my appointment, I tried to track my clamminess. I wanted to be able to provide a clear-cut example of how and when it would happen. It’s not that I didn’t know, I just wanted to be certain (My hands are clamming up right now). The day of the appointment came, and for some reason, I had already found relief in knowing that there was a specialist and that he or she might be able to help me. I went to my appointment with bells on!
With bells on, I checked in, sat down and waited. My hands clamming. My name was called and I went to the exam room and waited. Hands clamming. I waited and waited. Hands clamming. The doctor came in, introduced himself and asked me:
“So tell me about your sweat issues.”
Bahahahah! Doesn’t that just sound horrible? It was. As I explained things to him, he nodded and took a note or two. He asked me to describe the WORST situation and try to help him understand the gravity. There was once a time when I could hold my hand in a cup-like formation, fingers pulled taut together and my palm curve like a bowl; the sweat actually pooled up in my hands and created a little watery lake in the middle of my hand. ACK! (I hated typing that out right now. It seems too horrible to admit). Upon revealing my most horrible and worst sweaty-palmed story he looked at me and said:
“That’s nothing. Well, let me say that I am sure it’s horrible for you, but I have patients that cannot even hold pens or pencils because their hands are not moist or clammy, but WET.”
WTF? Are you serious? That’s beyond comprehensible. You mean to tell me that there are people out there who can’t hold a pen or a pencil because their hands sweat too much??? I don’t feel so bad now. But then the doctor explained to me the key ingredients in this whole situation (doc talk/BSB chatter):
The sweat, the clamminess the discomfort is DIRECTLY related to your nerves. It doesn’t mean that you are actually nervous or scared, just that something was going on inside and this was how it was manifested on the outside. I can accept that.
There are major nerves that control the upper and lower portions of one’s body. One major nerve to each limb. That’s science, that’s biology and I love both of those. I can accept that.
The only way to eliminate the problem is to cut contact. To clip the nerve. OK, that’s reasonable. I think I can accept that.
Once the upper nerves are clipped, there could be an adverse effect of HYPER-stimulating the nerves to the lower half. “You won’t sweat from your underarms or elbow-pits EVER again”. I would love to accept that.
But. (what?) But, you might sweat from other places. WTF does that mean?
You might sweat MORE from your groin or behind your knee. Uhhhhh, well…that doesn’t sound right.
Don’t discount it yet. It could be the best thing to ever happen to you. Let me explain a little more. You will never sweat from your upper appendages again. Nothing, nada, ever. No armpit sweat, no elbow-pit sweat. OK. Again, that sounds great. Is it outpatient?
Well, no.(what?) No, it’s not outpatient, and this is why. The nerve that we need to clip is down deep, so what we would do is sedate you, and then roll you onto your side. We would deflate your lung, make a small incision about 1/4 inch wide, clip the nerve and be done with that side. We’d then roll you onto your back, re-inflate that lung and roll you onto the other side where we would duplicate the procedure. After that, you’re all done and the next day you can go home. You won’t even have any scars really. How does that sound?
Why are you looking at me like that? Did you say ‘deflate your lung’. I cannot accept that.
Yes, it’s not that big of a deal, we have to move the lung out-of-the-way to get to the problem nerve. Thanks, but no. I don’t need anything that requires my lung to be deflated.
Well, just think about it. We can get you in as early as two weeks. Just think about it and call me and let me know what you decide. No, that’s ok, I don’t need to think about it, I’ll pass. Again, I don’t want or need anything that requires the delay, albeit temporary, delay of a major and most important body function.
Don’t make up your mind right now, go home and weigh out your options and let me know. No, that’s ok. I don’t need time.
Well, here’s my card, just in case. No, that’s ok too, I don’t need your card. I’m not going to do anything with it. I thank you for your time, but this is not for me.
Are you sure you don’t want to think about it a little longer? Doc, I’m so positive that I don’t want you to deflate my lung for anything over than life saving surgery. I’m so positive that I can live with clammy hands and sweaty pits. I’m so positive that I will never EVER want to sweat MORE profusely from my GROIN or anywhere else. SERIOUSLY, I thank you for your time, but THIS is not the option for me.
He looked at me, sternly, shook my hand and said:
“If you need me, you know where I am.”
I nodded, while gathering my belongings and mouthing to myself “I won’t EVER need you”. That might seem harsh, because after all, I respect his knowledge, his expertise and his time. BUT! Hell-to-the-no, you ain’t collapsing a lung. No, not ever. EVER! The security that I felt walking into the office diminished when collapsing my lung came into play. There is just no need for that.
My hands and feet are a little clammy, right now. My hands get clammy when I touch or handle hard plastic (keyboard keys) or if there is a temperature conundrum: I’m warm, but my hands or feet are cold, or vice versa. There are many situations that claim the clammy. I simply choose not to let it bother me any longer. I choose to just accept it as part of who I am, like not being able to say Worcestershire or play basketball. I’m not coordinated enough for either one of those.
So, there you have it. I’m the sweaty chick. Totally gross? A turn off? I’m sorry. But there is nothing I plan to do about it.. other than wash my hands in warm or hot-as-I-can-handle water, dry my armpits with an automatic hand dryer or just change shirts. That’s it! I refuse to have my body cut, invaded, altered, manipulated and possibly permanently disabled because someone out there thinks that clammy hands are gross.
I was made this way. This is my body and I love it. It took many years for me to come into the love, but I’m here and I’m happy. I cannot change the fact that I have nerves and they create situations that might be difficult to navigate, socially. Then again, I don’t really care about that. If you know me, like me and love me, you know about it and it doesn’t bother you. If you don’t know me and are introduced to me, you’ll soon find out. If you can’t deal with it, hey, thems the breaks. I can live with it. It’s not a choice, it just is.
Sweaty or clammy hands tend to come off as gross. They aren’t. You know what’s gross? Not washing your hands frequently enough. Door handles. Belly button lint. Those things are gross. Clammy hands is just a side effect of an overtly excited person. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, to run away from or to mock. It’s no different from a lazy eye or a shorter leg. Clammy hands are part of me. They are part of who I am. Shake us or leave us. We’ll be here, happy and clammy, either way.