Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Brazilian Waxes: Less Painful Than You'd Think

Shortly after my last breakup I decided I wanted to treat myself to a Brazilian wax. How that makes sense I'm not sure. I guess I wanted to feel more glamorous down there giving me the confidence I needed to be a sassy single lady again.

Brazilian Wax:
Brazilian waxes differ from regular bikini waxes because hair is removed in the front, back and everything in between. A "landing strip" is typically left in the front, but some clients opt for everything removed.

Can I get an OUCH?!

Waxing isn't for everyone and if you're not into it I respect that. It's your pubic region do what you want. If you are curious and you want to know as a sweater how to go about it please read on. Oh and a note for the fellas, there are even services available for men at some salons.

Lucky for me I work (soon to be worked) down the street from a waxing salon that specializes in Brazilians. Queen Bee Salon in Culver City and Brentwood has received rave reviews from Angelenos. A friend of a friend told me to see Anna. More or less her words, "She doesn't hurt at all. She will get right up in there getting all the hair you want GONE in 15 minutes."

So I just have to endure 15 minutes of torture? Alright I can do this, but as a sweater I am terrified. It's a whole other ball game when you sweat down there. Will Anna find it disgusting? Will she make a comment like, "Just relax. You're sweating so much," like I've experienced before for other beauty treatments. Will the wax not stick properly because my skin is too slippery?

I am here to tell you none of that came to reality. I've been back seven times. Each time I go I still sweat quite a bit. The tissue paper that lines the bed like at a doctors office does stick to me. But I soldier on! Because each time I leave with satisfied results.

Anna is a complete professional. When I walk in her waxing room I immediately drop trou, remove underwear and hop on the table like it ain't no thing. It still cracks me up thinking about it. My vagina is completely exposed and she's not my OBGYN. We're taught to cover that part of our body at all costs. It's a bit invigorating.

The first time I went I apologized for sweating so much to which she responded, "Oh don't worry about it. The waxing makes a lot of people sweat. You're not the only one." She keeps me talking asking questions about the latest in my life. She's good at the small talk to keep your mind off the fact she is ripping hair off you.

Then fifteen minutes later you're done. Wham. Bam. Thank you ma'am.

If you've wanted to get a Brazilian wax and have been timid to try I hope my experience empowers you. Sweating be damned.

Like I've mentioned with doctors it's important to do your research. I've been told there is no standard certification that is recognized for Brazilian waxologists. You want to make sure you go to someone who is experienced and won't cause any damage to your skin. Yelp is always a great resource. And speak up to what you're looking for. Not sure what you're looking for? Ask what they recommend. Also, if they don't have instructions for after wax care be sure to ask for suggestions on keeping your pubic region free of ingrown hairs and irritation.

Would love to hear from others about your experiences waxing any part of your body. Please share in the comments.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Let's Catch Up

I started this blog with an energy that inspired me to blog consistently for a month and a half. What a glorious energy it was. It came to a halt though. So I thought I’d take a moment to update you all on what's going on in my world.

Recently I put in my resignation notice at work. This was a terrifying moment that gave me nightmares. To heighten my fears, in the weeks leading up to my resignation one woman was fired after only a week and another woman who was hired into the department quit after a week. That means I've been a department of one... which can you call it a department with just one person? Anyhow, I'd been working solo for some time so it was hard to tell my boss I too was jumping ship. I thought for sure he'd throw a man-child fit.

Since ETS surgery I get very cold whenever I'm nervous. My body literally freezes. Ever the planner, on the day I broke the news to my boss I made sure to wear shoes that covered my whole foot and would not show sweat. I also wore a thick pair of jeans since he has a leather couch in his office that I’d need to sit on. I was prepared but my body still quivered from the cold and there was a quiver to my voice to match.

To my surprise my boss took the news quite well and actually congratulated me on my next move. My coworkers all said "Don't expect them to fight for you." It was disappointing that he didn't counter but I've learned this rarely happens. In today's job market you are replaceable. That was proven to me when I met my potential replacement. I was so thrilled when I shook her hand and it was really damp. My boss can be intimidating so I'm sure her nerves were shaken. I doubt she has HH but feeling the sweat on her hands I immediately felt a connection with her.

So what’s the new job you wonder? I will be starting a three month position with a very prominent nonprofit organization.  It's a short term job with a pay cut and no health benefits. My mind is a million places wondering what is going to happen next. Losing health insurance is the biggest blow since I finally found a doctor I liked and he has prescribed me a medication to help with my sweating (more on that soon, I haven't started taking it). How will I afford the prescription without insurance? Capitol Hill, you will see me marching. My ballot this election is heavily influenced by our candidates’ dedication to reforming the healthcare sector.

GLORIOUS snow weather.
Another perk of the new job is that I will be taking a two week trip to the snow. I could not be happier to know that I will be living in frigid temps. Living in LA, heading to wintery weather and living in the snow for two weeks is a big deal. Actually, it’s GLORIOUS. I know I will truly be at my most confident. And as soon as I'm sick of schlepping in wet terrain it will be time to come home. I pray that I don't get stuck in some ridiculous heater situation.

My most pressing worry now is picking out a bar for my farewell drinks. Must make sure there is solid AC so I don't feel nervous hugging people goodbye. Can never be too prepared.

Another update I have in the works is my dating life. Although it may be lacking it's never boring.

Until next time...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Pledge To Treat My Shoes With Better Care

 It's a magical moment when I come across a pair of shoes I can wear without socks. Don't you dare ask me to take my shoes off though. A sense of panic comes over me if someone has a no-shoes-in-the-house rule and I'm caught without socks (visual here).

The shoes that can handle it are usually made from cotton. My go to sock free shoes are TOMS.

By not wearing some sort of sock I am inevitably RUINING these shoes. Do you experience this?

Notice the white marks on the shoe?
Do you enjoy how I staged the shoes on my dresser?
The sweat changes the color of the shoes as pictured above. The salty residue makes for some nasty looking marks. Quite embarrassing. These are now dubbed my "bang around" shoes. Ya know when I'm painting, gardening, wood working... so I never wear them I guess. If you're considering buying a pair of Keds without laces, like these, I don't recommend it. They fly off my feet.

What I love about my TOMS are I can throw them in the washing machine. They come out a little wrinkly but they smell not nasty and no longer have the weird salty residue.

But I think it's time to take a little more care. No more reckless sockless shoe wearing. 

Whenever I wear dressy shoes I wear peds/shoe liners/mini socks/whatever you want to call them to help the sweat. Dressy shoes are so uncomfortable when your foot is sloshing about. These mini socks are a lifesaver. I've invested in a few more pairs recently to help protect all my shoes.

Found these at Target for $3 a pair.
I've also purchased similar socks at Nordstrom Rack and Macy's

When I was in high school they had mini socks like this available but they weren't as discreet. The mini socks would always show. In high school, when everything is a big fucking deal, those socks showing were mortifying! I remember dressing up for an event, had some cute pink heels but had the wear the socks. I can still hear Brendan saying, "Hey Sara, your socks are showing." END.OF.THE.WORLD.MOMENT. Kids of today you're lucky they make these super discreet "hidden shoe liners."

On the back of the mini sock is a little rubber like grip thing that helps keep it on your foot.
Look for this feature before buying. It's super helpful.

Mini socks in action!
Above I'm wearing a pair of shoes that hardly cover the top of the foot. Not a shoe I wear in foreign territory because the tops of my feet sweat. But you can see the socks are for the most part hidden. With a shoe that covers a tad more of the foot they are most definitely hidden from view.

With some basic web based research you can find some other products out there. Has anyone tried these liners?  Silver Linings: Odor & Moisture Absorbing Shoe Liners

Do guys encounter this problem? Obviously sandals are an issue for everyone with sweaty feet (Unisex sandals I recommend). I always see guys wearing socks or rolling socks down to hide under the shoe. What are your tricks?

Also, just ordered some foot detox patches at the recommendation of Jessie (awesome Twitter follower!). She's seen good results thus far. Her feet surprisingly don't sweat after using them. Fingers crossed I have the same results. Separate post on that later.

Monday, October 1, 2012

My Experience With ETS Surgery

ETS Surgery (Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy) has changed my life in a lot of different ways. I hope to explore as much as I can in this post. Whatever I miss in this post it is bound to come out in a later entry.

Before I begin, I will consistently remind readers/sweaty friends that ETS surgery should be the absolute LAST option. Consult with your own doctors to decide what is best for you.

This is a hefty post and I hope you can stick with it. Ok let's get started.

Bagel Shop Crisis
The summer after I graduated high school I took a job at my local bagel shop. After two days I had to quit. Part of the problem was the owner didn't train me well, but the other reason was my sweaty hands. Putting gloves on and off was a maddening struggle. The sweat either trapped them on or created a jam when I put them on. My hands have a tremble/shake and when I'm under pressure it's exasperated. Cutting bagels with shaky hands is recipe for disaster.

I couldn't handle the morning rush. Bagels straight out of the toaster are fucking hot! I was fumbling around like a fool. The owner pulled me aside asking what the problem was. I simply said, "This isn't going to work out." And I left.

It was still early in the morning when I came home. My dad was just leaving for work. "What happened?" Well Dad, I quit. We didn't have time to talk about it. He rolled his eyes and went on with his commute.

My mom was home and I knew this would be my opportunity to really explain how hyperhidrosis was "ruining my life." I don't remember the words I used but I finally explained that my sweaty hands prevented me from schmearing cream cheese on bagels. I do remember midway through our convo running to my room. I dug up an old article from a teen magazine I had saved in a shoe box full of pictures and notes from my BFFs. The article was about a girl who had hyperhidrosis. When that article came out there was no Google for me to search 'hands that won't stop sweating.' This was the first time I heard of someone having the same symptoms as me. It was an OMG moment for sure. I cherished that article and it turned out to be a great way to explain something that my parents didn't quite understand.

I handed the article to my mom, "This is what I have." That was in 2004, so Google was around when I finally showed my parents the article. I had brought up my sweatyness to my parents previously but they dismissed it. For a long time I resented them for it, but as an adult I realize they had no idea what to do about it. It was easier to say, "You'll grow out of it," then figuring out how to treat it. So after our conversation and my dramatic end to a career in bagels I went on the internet and showed them, "Look there is a surgery for this."

Meeting Dr. Fischel
If you Google the name Dr. Fischel you will see a series of red flags from people attempting to sue him. That wasn't the case in 2004. He had a website that praised the results of ETS surgery and I was enamored. This was the answer to my prayers. Happy day!

He was also located in Orange County near the college I was going to attend, Chapman University. It seemed the stars had aligned.

My mom took me to my consultation with Dr. Fischel. He asked me to show him my hands. I raised them up so he could see the sweat dripping down. I began to cry immediately. Sob really, I could hardly speak.  I was talking about a problem I had suffered with in silence for the first time openly. I was overwhelmed with emotion.

He described the surgery and what was involved. That he had 100% success rate in stopping sweating in the hands. He could not stop the sweating in my arm pits and feet but they may be reduced. He briefly mentioned the possibility of compensation sweating. That some of his patients experience this.

Before I could proceed to schedule the surgery he said I would need to try a prescription strength antiperspirant. I remember he laughed it off knowing it wouldn't help in the least. My mom and I laughed too knowing it would be pointless. Regardless, we filled the prescription so we could move the ball forward on scheduling the surgery.

That was it. Surgery or antiperspirant, those were the two options he gave me. He also didn't ask if I had seen any other physicians or dermatologists regarding my HH.

My mom and I left that appointment knowing I wanted the surgery ASAP.

Dealing With Insurance
ETS Surgery is not cheap. Any operation where you're put under is going to cost you. I don't remember the total but my parents spent a solid year petitioning insurance to pay for it. As I mentioned in a post here, you have to be your own advocate to get insurance to cover treatment. And remember, if you are insured you have every right to fight for treatment. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Tips with dealing with insurance are available at

Luckily Dr. Fischel was in the area I was living for college, as mentioned earlier, so this helped. I visited a primary physician to sign off on the surgery. I showed him my hands telling him this surgery was going to help me. "Of course! Let's get those sweaty hands taken care of." The doctor didn't think twice when writing a referral to Dr. Fischel. I had already researched my options, why would the doctor need to?

Now I know why people seek out more than one opinion. I did not and I regret that.

The Surgery
The summer of 2005 I had the surgery. There was an unprofessional hiccup from Dr. Fischel's team as they tried to reschedule the week before my surgery as they double booked the operating room. My mom being the awesome woman she is fought to keep the original date.

The surgery went off without a hitch. I was a little loopy after saying silly things but it was no different than kids after dental work. Drugs are the best!

If you want details on what the surgery entails you can see what Wikipedia has to say. It's not something I can describe too well and I don't want to say something inaccurate.

I'm Cured... Juuuust Kidding

After the surgery my hands to this day do not sweat. It still blows my mind. About a year or so later the compensation sweating became very noticeable. I have stopped the sweating in one area but I have not stopped the sweating completely. The sweat moves to other parts of the body and that is considered compensation sweating.

I knew I had a serious problem the summer I went to Washington DC. I just turned 21 and was so excited to attend Alpha Kappa Psi's bi-annual convention. This is a co-ed business fraternity I am in. I was able to confidently join the fraternity because of the surgery. Lots of hand shaking is involved with the pledging process. Yet, I noticed sweating in new areas and at extreme levels. I came to the DC convention prepared with lots of tank tops to layer. I've always worn layers to help cover pit stains, but this was different.

Some serious bonding went on during the convention. You meet so many great people and I had a fucking blast. One night a group of us decided to go to a club. I was DRENCHED in sweat. My face, arms and hands were the only parts of me that were dry. I was so embarrassed when the guy I fancied tried to dance with me. Here he was showing interest like I had hoped, but I didn't want him to touch me in any way. We danced and eventually got close. We attempted to kiss but I was so uncomfortable it went horribly. He also seemed surprised to feel how damp my body was. I remember I left a wet mark on his shirt. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I wanted to crawl into a hole and never be seen again.

When it was time to leave I made a deliberate move to go in a separate cab than him. When we all got back to our hotel I ran to my hotel room looking to change my clothes. My friend and bunk-mate called me out on the odd behavior. The fella I liked took my running away as a sign as I wasn't interested... or so I remember, I could be making that up. Regardless he shied away. I was self conscience in a whole new way. Before I was merely afraid of a guy touching my hand. Now I didn't want to come in contact at all. Luckily I can say for certain this fella wasn't the love of my life but it still sucked.

I thought maybe this was just due to DC weather. It was August after all. Maybe this was just something I would endure in humid weather? Nope. As I type this the backs of my legs are sweating profusely. I do not go a day that I don't wear a tank top under my clothes.

I've gone from fearing hand shakes to fearing hugs. Will they feel the sweat on my back?

I kid you not, the other night I was out with friends and I was tapping myself on my upper back to see if I could feel the sweat through my jacket. I wanted to make sure when I hugged people goodbye they wouldn't feel something damp.  I do the weak half assed hug now. You know the one where you're hips are a good three to four feet apart and you merely lean the chest forward and tap the shoulders. I cringe waiting for someone to call me out on it. Or if they bring me in for a legit hug to comment on how damp I am. Neither has happened.

I've also come to embrace the Irish Exit.
Urban Dictionary Definition: More specifically, the Irish exit refers to the departure from any event without telling any friends, associates or acquaintances that one is leaving. You leave without saying goodbye.  It is almost always the result of being very inebriated/intoxicated.

Rundown of Side Effects I've Experienced
  • Eating: The back of my neck and chest sweats when I eat fast or eat warm foods or drink warm drinks.
  • Spicy Food: My face sweats when I eat anything spicy. I have to ask for salsa on the side and I love Mexican food. This is embarrassing but I ham it up with the taco truck vendors, "Sorry! I'm a gringa"  Smile and nod as adorably as possible. If I'm at home I'll eat spicy stuff. Sometimes it feels nice to clear out the pores. 
  • Boob Sweat: My boobs sweat a lot more. I've had more than one experience of a girlfriend of mine grabbing a necklace I'm wearing and getting a bit of sweat on their hands. Weird that that's happened twice, I know.
  • DRIPPING Body Sweat: I can't walk down the street without coming close to sweating through my clothes. LAYERS all the time. It's not cool when a guy wants to disrobe you before sex and you have to fling all your clothes off immediately because you don't want him to touch your sweaty clothes. Also when I lay out at the pool I am constantly jumping in the water. Sweat? No, no that's pool water. Oh, you're not convinced? Time to jump in again.
I cannot emphasize this enough. DRIPPING sweat. Large beads of sweat. My body would sweat before but now instead of my hands dripping my body is. Mostly my back, chest and legs. 
  • Sweaty Knees: When I go for a run or hike I have really weird lines of sweat running down. No one else has legs that look like this. I'll need to take a picture for you. If I'm in a setting that's 65+ degrees just sitting my legs are much sweatier than before the surgery. 
  • Upper Back Sweat: Racerback tank tops are my best friend. I also have a good collection of cotton dresses that I can wear under my dresses. 
  • Slower Heart Rate: My heart rate is slower. Can't really say that this is a negative but worth mentioning.
I can also go without sweating at all. You can read about my wonderful experience in Mammoth. But on that same trip I did experience extreme sweating. The extreme sweating is not constant but occurs daily at some point and is very inconvenient. 

Side effects are not limited to those mentioned above. Other serious complications can arise. 

You can read more about the pros and cons of ETS surgery here.

I am very sad to know that there were other options I could have explored first before surgery. I took what was a localized problem in my hands and spread it all over my body. I also deal with sweaty arm pits and feet but those too can be treated without surgery. I am hoping that treatment with Glycopyrrolate I will be able to control the compensation sweating. Before I would avoid certain social situations because of my sweaty hands. I still avoid social situations but in totally new ways.

It's a trade off not a cure. Professionally I am much more confident, but I can't say that I am further along in my career because of this surgery.

I am still dealing with hyperhidrosis.