Hyperhidrosis and the curse of being a left-handed writer

I first became aware of it when I was six years old and learning how to write. My hand was blotting the page and smearing all of the ink.

Erasable pens were a nightmare. I avoided pat-a-cake and the monkey bars at all costs. In later years, I refused to hold guys' hands and even got through an entire relationship without a boyfriend knowing.

I have a condition called hyperhidrosis. Its less scientific and far less sexy name is excessive sweating. People tell me all the time that they sweat a lot too, but this is not the same. People with hyperhidrosis pour sweat. I mean, leave-puddles-on-the-table kind of sweat. Squishy shoes kind of sweat. Hyperhidrosis sufferers can experience excessive sweating on their face, underarms, hands, feet, and pretty much anywhere you have pores. Luckily, I only suffer from two varieties: palmar (hands) and plantar (feet).

Being left-handed and suffering from hyperhidrosis adds another level of difficulty in concealing my condition. I've found all sorts of ways to hide it--wearing long sleeves that I can pull up over my hands while I write, always wearing gloves at the gym, holding cold water bottles, and carrying around a small hand towel. Part of the reason my handwriting is so bad is that I learned how to write with my hand slightly elevated above the page to minimize contact. Even so, sweat still manages to drip on the page.

The relationship between my sweat and my writing has always been pained for me. Because of my sweating, I've always preferred typing to handwriting, which sometimes stunts the spontaneity of my creativity. Even my chosen profession, teaching, presents some challenges. Writing on chalkboards usually results in the chalk turning to mud in my hands. Luckily, white boards have become commonplace in most classrooms. In the ultimate of ironies, I was also the Spanish-English interpreter for our fingerprinting program. That's right, the girl with super-sweaty hands had to take other people's hands and fingerprint them. I felt powerless--there was absolutely nothing I could do to hide it in those situations. 

I'm told that hyperhidrosis gets better with age. So far, I believe this is proving to be true. I do not let it rule my life and I try not to dwell on it too much. After years of fearing how my sweat would react to a touch screen, I got an iPhone. I tell friends about it openly. I write things on paper knowing I will need to transcribe them to a computer later--I've learned to appreciate the transience of paper and how easily my own body can work against me. Hyperhidrosis serves as a reminder of how impermanent our words are, and how we must go to extra lengths to protect that which we write from external forces of destruction. In this case, my excessive sweat reminded me early on that I had to fight extra hard to hang onto my words.