7QT Friday

Friday, July 27, 2012

1. After a couple weeks off from being able to do Seven Quick Takes Friday, I'm finally back! I love these Friday "get togethers" because I feel really connected to bloggers from all around the country!

2. Not sure if you all have heard about this little issue with a little-known restaurant called Chick-Fil-A. Something to do with gay marriage rights and delicious chicken sandwiches. At any rate, I have nothing to say on this subject other than it's CHICK-fil-a. Not CHIC-fil-a. I cannot tell you the number of times I've read it in print spelled incorrectly lately and it's making me nuts! CHICK!

3. My best friend Melissa's little brother Tyler released an album today! An album! You can buy it on Amazon and iTunes. He is so talented! The album is called "Spirituals," and I am so exited to get a copy. I was even invited to the official launch party/concert this Sunday night and it's going to be so much fun!

4. So lots of interesting things have happened ever since my surgery. Namely, I think because I was the first person in this area to receive the surgery, the hospital asked me to film a PSA for the local news. The hospital does this from time to time, they're called "Cabell Huntington Hospital News Break" and they air randomly on WSAZ, our local news station. They interviewed me and my doctor, and even more excitingly, they came to my dance studio to film me teaching some of the little ones in class. I am really hoping this PSA will reach someone who is suffering from hyperhidrosis as I was, and through this, might find some relief. God willing.

5. I was going in to my house the other day when I realized that my recently-wed neighbors had a RIDICULOUS amount of trash outside their house waiting for the garbage man. I looked at my own (single, with the lid on, containing one garbage bag) trash can and it occurred to me how much less trash I use as a single person than my recently-married friends. In conclusion -- GO GREEN. Don't get married! :) 

6. This is going to go down in history as the creepiest quick take ever written, but I am obsessed with Grace Patton and her life. If you are not reading her blog, Camp Patton, then I seriously don't know how you are living a good life.  Her photos are ridiculously good and her writing style just cracks me up. The way she describes her kids and their antics... sheesh... it makes me laugh and I feel like I know them. 

JAVOedge Sparkle Bow Charm for Headphone Jack (Purple) (Quantity x 1)

 It is an iPhone hair bow. (Duh.) It's just beyond the cutest thing I've ever seen. I'm dying. A glittery hair bow for your iPhone. Must. Not. Click. On. Buy.

See Jen for greater takes!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

This is a picture of my mom:

I post that to provide you with the correct mental picture of the person with whom I just had the following email exchange --

Me: (Sent an email concerning my fall tuition payment, when it's due and to whom to send the check)*

Mom: I will get 'er done.

Me: Sometimes I don't know where you come from. 

Mom: WHAT!!!???? My Mom and Dad!

In case you couldn't tell from the above photo, my mom is a 50-something short lady with glasses who works as a receptionist at a Catholic church. She is also not known for her hilarious jokes (ask my sister about that) so I'm not sure what happened today. Or why she felt the need to "get 'er done." Frankly my mom makes me smile. Although I will be checking her Lean Cuisine meals for recalls due to accidental additions of crack. 

 *Lest you think I am some mooch living off my parents, yes, they help me with my graduate school tuition but it's a loan and I'm paying it back!


I Love Lops

My birthday was this past Thursday (the 19th) and I honestly have to say it might have been the best birthday ever! The sunshine hanging over the whole day was that it was the 2-week anniversary of my successful surgery, but the day in and of itself was great. I got a dozen donuts from  my coworker (Jolly Pirate, yummmm!), my boss took me out to lunch, I got to teach ballet to my favorite little ones and then my family and I had dinner at the Olive Garden. After opening up some really nice gifts from my family (crock pot, an "I Love Lops" tee shirt and DVDs of Dick Van Dyke, The Cosby Show and Hey Dude, do these people know me or what?) I attended the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises with my brothers, sister Erin and my brother's girlfriend. In the event you have not seen that movie, I insist you do so immediately. I'm an admitted Batman fan from way back, but this movie was simply outstanding. My jaw was on the floor by the end. Amazing. 

The next day I flew to DC for the Saturday wedding of my old friend Catherine, which was lovely. I got to stay with my good friend Colleen and also hang out with my other good friend Katie, neither of whom I've seen in about two years. Do you want to see some pictures? Yeah, me too. HAHA. I don't know what it is about me, but I am awful at taking pictures, remembering to take pictures, etc. In fact the only photo I took all weekend was this:

 Impressive, no? I actually took this to illustrate to Colleen the depths to which one must go in order to fly to West Virginia. I was thrilled to find a relatively inexpensive flight direct from Charleston, WV to Reagan and back. I don't know if you've ever been to Reagan National Airport in DC, but it's decently nice. I guess. I don't know. I'm not a connoisseur of airports, although I can tell you I hate Charles duGalle in Paris and JFK in NYC, but whatevs. At any rate, I discovered my gate was 36A. Cool. I head to gate 36 and don't see my flight on any of the monitors. To make a long story short, I found out that if you're flying to West Virginia, you don't get to wait upstairs with all the other passengers flying to more exotic destinations like Greenville, SC. If you're flying to the Best Virginia, you must escalate downstairs to the world's tiniest waiting area where  you can't hear any announcements being made. Not only are you left downstairs, but you don't even get to board an airplane. First you must board a bus (you can see it through the windows there) which drives you to the middle of the airplane parking lot (I kid you not) where you finally get to walk across the lot, up some steps and board your plane. Good God. What did West Virginia ever do to you?

Anyways, that pretty much sums up my weekend in a nutshell. I'll be leaving you with a picture of Snicks sorting coupons because who doesn't want to see a rabbit sorting coupons?

What is Up

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I bought this water bottle the other day on a suggestion from my sister Erin, who said it's awesome because there's a little thing in it that acts as a filter so it's like having a mini-Brita. Word.

What she didn't tell me is that it is also apparently like having a mini-garden hose. I swear that thing is shut, but it leaked a whole pool into my console there. I could keep a small fish in there. Paging Honda. What I really don't understand is that I purchased it at Goodwill, which is clearly known for it's high-quality merchandise.

Also, is it weird for someone to have a favorite episode of I Love Lucy, The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Monkees? Like a legit favorite episode you could recall the contents of on command? What if that person is, say, 27? Okay fine, it's me.  (Not The Twilight Zone? you ask. Yeah, only because there are too many episodes I love to pick a favorite. Same with Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Bewitched and Taxi.) Secondly, is it weird for someone to go around thinking about what their favorite episode of The Dick Van Dyke show is? These are the questions that keep me awake at night. My mind is such that I like to mentally organize my favorite episodes of old TV shows. My mind likes to organize everything into neat lists. Sometimes I'm on my way to the office supplies closet and I just get lost in thought about things like did I like Mary Tyler Moore's hair better on Dick Van Dyke or her own show. I'm stopping now. Right now.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I've recently confirmed that Snickers "wide load" Lafferre spends the majority of his life under the dresser eating gift bags.

Although I should be grateful that photographing His Highness allowed me to discover a wayward DVD. It's probably a classic I've really been missing like "Sleepover" or "Nancy Drew."

Ask and It Shall Be Given To You

Monday, July 9, 2012

I haven't written a new blog post in over a week and I didn't even participate in last Friday's Seven Quick Takes -- eek! I promise I have a good reason and I will talk about it now.

I wasn't sure I wanted to talk really publicly about this, which is why this is the first time I'm mentioning it, either on my blog or on Facebook in a specific way. I wasn't sure if I wanted to talk about it because it is kind of personal and also because if it didn't work, then I knew I'd be very depressed and upset and I didn't want lots of people asking me how it went if the results were bad. However, things have gone better than I ever could have hoped, so I decided to write this in the event it helps someone else...

For at least the past 20 years I have suffered from something called hyperhidrosis. In VERY simple terms, it means that I am an excessive sweater, however it really is so much more than that. My hyperhidrosis afflicts my hands, feet and my underarms. For my entire lifetime, hyperhidrosis has affected every aspect of my life every single day of my life. Not one hour has gone by that I was not acutely aware of my excessive sweating. The first time I remember being acutely aware of my excessive sweating was in 5th grade when I was 10 years old. I went to a Catholic school, and I remember one week I was entering the pew for mass with my class, desperately wishing I didn't have to sit with my classmates so that I didn't have to shake any of their hands during the sign of peace.

Sweating? You may ask. Well that's not such a big deal, right? Wrong. So, so, so, so wrong. Like many things, until you've experienced hyperhidrosis you don't know how horrible it makes your life. Imagine never wanting to go to a school dance because you didn't want to have to touch your date's hand for pictures or to dance. Imagine not being able to wear certain color shirts -- like light blue or grey -- because your massive sweat stains would show. Imagine writing on lined paper at school and the blue ink from the lines staining your hand. Imagine struggling to sew a pointe shoe because your hands couldn't grasp a needle, almost breaking your ankle because your sweaty foot slid out of your sandal or leaving a sweaty hand print on desks, tables, glass and floors. I know the countless times my hands have been so sweaty I lost the grasp of my steering wheel. I know how I've not been able to lift a kettlebell over my head for fear my sweaty grasp would drop it on my head. I know how many times I have been dehydrated and my hands have swollen because of excessive sweat. I know how many kids in baby ballet have said "Miss Anna your hands are wet!" and how many hot days I haven't been able to wear flip flops because my feet would slip out of them. Imagine your hands, feet and underarms being wet ALL THE TIME. I lived every day of my life in fear that someone would touch my hand. I work in development and public relations and the thought of having to shake someone's hand was TERRIFYING. Thank goodness I don't go on a lot of dates because the thought of my date wanting to hold my hand made me certain it was better just not to go. Not only was the thought of someone else grasping my hand or accidentally touching my foot horrifying, but the feeling of it on myself was awful as well. My sweat was always cold -- my hands, feet and underarms always felt cold and wet -- so moving my arms felt so disgusting. My underarms were always wet and cold. I could be sitting in a 65 degree room literally shivering with cold -- yet my hands and underarms would still be pouring sweat. Perhaps most sadly for my future, as much as I've always wanted a husband and a family, I thought that I honestly never wanted a wedding because I couldn't imagine spending a whole day in that sweaty dress, slipping out of my shoes with my hands pouring sweat and my fingers swelling. That is so sad.

I, and people like me I'm sure, came up with lots of tricks to try to disguise my hyperhidrosis. If I was at a cocktail party, I'd always be sure to hold my drink in my right hand so that when I went to shake someone's hand I could play off the sweat as condensation from the drink. I never wore light colored shirts so my armpit sweat wouldn't show. I wore socks as often as possible because the cotton helped wick the sweat. My family, God bless them, who knew my problem always  made sure to help in any way they could so I wouldn't have to touch a stranger's hand. These are just a few of the tricks I tried to disguise my sweating. The reality was, though, no matter what I did my hand, feet and underarms just kept sweating a cold, clammy, dripping sweat. I never felt comfortable in my own skin.  

One of the hardest things about hyperhidrosis is that it is not a well-known problem. The U.S. National Library of Medicine estimates that only 2-3% of the population suffers from the disorder. Hyperhydrosis can be secondary (caused by another disease such as cancer or hypothyroidism) or, as in my case, primary. The Library of Medicine also says, "In the majority of primary hyperhidrosis cases, no cause can be found. It seems to run in families." Clearly there is not a lot known about the cause of hyperhidrosis, and in my case, no one else in my family is afflicted. One of the hardest parts about it is the toll it takes on a person emotionally. There were times that I'd open up to someone I thought was a good friend about my problem, and often I was met with reactions such as "I sweat a lot too!" or "You might sweat in your hands a lot, but I sweat just as much in my back." To that I say: HAORFGAHOSJFHASOKJDFHASDOFHSOA;FHAWOIUGHWOIUAHGOAIUHGASOIUGHA. NO YOU DO NOT! Telling someone with severe hyperhidrosis that you "sweat too" is like telling someone with lung cancer that you cough a lot too. Normal people sweat when it gets warm, they get nervous, they exercise, etc. And, yes, I agree that some people sweat more than others. But sweating a lot and hyperhidrosis are not the same thing at all.

My mom and I first reported my problem to my pediatrician when I was younger; this is when I first learned of the word "hyperhidrosis" and that it was an actual problem that affected (albeit few) people other than me. For YEARS I tried all sorts of remedies -- I took oral medications whose side effects listed drying of the hands; I used washes and creams, even having my mom wrap my hands in saran wrap before I went to sleep at night to help the medicine work; I tried special deodorants. I did all of this with absolutely no help whatsoever. The most drastic thing I tried was in fall of 2010 when a local dermatologist administered Botox shots to my hands, feet and underarms in an attempt to paralyze my sweat glands. This is supposed to work for over 80 percent of people who suffer from hyperhidrosis. I don't know how else to describe the procedure other than to say it was barbaric. The dermatologist administered literally hundreds of shots in my hands, feet and underarms. Besides being incredibly painful and expensive, the treatment did not work whatsoever. It did not decrease my sweating even somewhat. Even if it had, Botox is not a "cure" and I would have had to go back every few months and re-endure the treatment to stay dry. After the Botox failed, I was at a really low point, thinking I would be suffering forever.

I talked to God for years asking him why I had to endure this. That it seemed like such a little thing in the grand scheme of His creation and why couldn't He take it away. I still don't know why I needed to suffer from this for so long, but I am here to tell you, after over 20 years of praying, God heard me.

For about 10 years I have known that there was a surgery out there that supposedly could cure hyperhidrosis. I did a lot of independent research about it on the internet. However, the surgery was not well-known nor was it performed by a great many people. There was a doctor in California who could do it and one in Florida I think. There was certainly no one who could do it that lived in my area, and there weren't even any doctors here who knew about the surgery who could even refer me to anyone. So after the Botox failed, I pretty much resigned myself to the embarrassment, discomfort and general pain hyperhydrosis would cause me for the rest of my life. I "offered it up" as my fellow Catholics would say, but I'm sure I was never too graceful about it. 


I was flipping pages in my local newspaper, the Herald-Dispatch, and came upon an advertisement from Cabell Huntington Hospital featuring a Dr. Jonathan Kiev. The large headline -- HYPERHIDROSIS -- definitely caught my attention. In the ad, Dr. Kiev described hyperhidrosis and a surgical procedure, an endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy, that could cure it. Could it be? Was this the surgery I had always hoped for being done by a surgeon in my area?!? I picked up my phone that day and made an appointment with Dr. Kiev, and it would turn out to be the best phone call I'd ever make.

On June 14 I went to see Dr. Kiev for a consultation. I described to him my hyperhidrosis, how long I had suffered, how it impacted my life and all the treatments I had tried. When I finished, Dr. Kiev described the surgery to me: he would make a small incision in my side, and go in and sever the sympathetic nerve and then do the same thing on my other side. He said that my hyperhidrosis is caused by an extremely over-active sympathetic nerve. In my case, my nerve is firing all the time, and this surgery would sever the nerve and break the chain telling my body to sweat. It would cure my hands, and significantly help my underarms and feet. Most importantly, Dr. Kiev told me that this surgery worked instantaneously; I would wake up with dry hands! Let me say that again -- I WOULD WAKE UP WITH DRY HANDS. Dr. Kiev told me that I was a perfect candidate and that I would be the first person in the area to receive this surgery. He moved to Huntington about 5-6 months ago and trained at the Mayo Clinic, where this surgery was pioneered. I scheduled a surgery date and went through my pre-operative screening. During the scheduling and screening, Dr. Kiev asked if I'd explain to the nurses what hyperhidrosis was, how it had affected my life and everything about my personal experience because no one had ever heard of it, let alone knew there was a surgery Dr. Kiev could do to cure it.

This is me pre-surgery. Erin described me as "peppy" but I think that is a kind way of saying "scared to death."
This past Thursday, July 5, I received my endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy. Without going into great detail about the procedure, I will say that the whole experience was relatively easy. My super sister Erin accompanied me to the procedure (lest you think my mom is not a caring person, she was actually across town at another hospital accompanying my dad to a surgery he was having, long story), and I cannot say enough good things about the staff I encountered at Cabell Huntington Hospital. Not only were they kind, they all seemed genuinely excited for me. Dr. Kiev came by and asked if I was ready, I said yes, and a short time later I was wheeled into the operating room. The next thing I remember, I was waking up in the recovery room, feeling my own hands and I said, "Did it work?" This super kind post-op nurse looked at me and smiled and said "It worked!" My doctor came by and informed me that they had put temperature clamps on my hands during surgery, and the minute my nerves were clipped they watched the temperature of my hands climb! I couldn't stop feeling my own hands -- they were dry and so, so warm. My sister came back to see me and she held my hand. I've never been happy to hold anyone's hand in my entire life, but I really didn't want Erin to let go that day.

This is me post-surgery. As I said, "This is a very happy Anna!" As Erin said, "...or just blind" as I didn't have my glasses on at the time and was just coming out of anesthesia. Touche.
I spent a few days resting and recovering. Although I always felt pretty good, my chest and back did have some pain due to the fact my lungs had to be deflated so Dr. Kiev could reach my nerves, and I think anesthesia can really make you feel run down. My sister brought me to my parents' house to recover, and each of my siblings took turns holding my hands. My sister Emma, who was born when I was 10 years old, said "Anna, I really expected your hand to feel like it's always felt my whole life, but your hand is so warm." Each of my brothers and sisters kept exclaiming how amazing it was to feel my hands be so warm and dry. When my mom got home she grabbed my hands and touched my feet and kept saying how she had never felt my hands or feet not be cold and wet. When my dad finally got home from the hospital (with his leg broken in two places and in a cast) the first thing he did was reach for my hand.

That first day, every hour was a miracle. I literally would think "my hands haven't sweat for one hour!" Then it became 12 hours, then 24, then 48. Fast forward to five days later and my hands, feet and underarms still have not sweat. NOT SWEAT ONCE. Never has one day of my life gone by where I haven't sweat profusely. My mom bought me my first bottle of hand cream. I'll be 28 on the 19th and I have never had or used hand cream once in my entire life. I love hand cream! In addition, I went to mass with my parents on Sunday and during the sign of peace, each shook my hand. Usually they hug me at that time because, well, they're my family, but each of them knew what a big deal it would be for me to voluntarily reach  my hand out and grasp theirs. 

This is something I've never had before. It's called HAND CREAM. Have you guys tried this? :)
I honestly can't express in words how grateful, ecstatic and relieved I am. My whole life has changed, and I am so grateful to Dr. Kiev. I am so grateful to my family, who spent years protecting me and supporting me and who have genuinely and whole-heartedly shared in my joy and excitement post-surgery. 

I don't know if anyone who will ever read this suffers from severe hyperhidrosis, but if you do, I just want to say that I UNDERSTAND. I'm not advocating everyone run out there for surgery, but if you have tried the creams, washes, deodorants, Botox and exhausted every option, I sincerely recommend you investigate the thoracic sympathectomy. Today. Right now. It will change your life. It has certainly changed mine. I honestly cannot say how much my life has improved in the past five days. It is a true miracle.

And speaking of miracles, if anyone reading this has prayed and prayed to God for something but you feel like He doesn't hear you, HE DOES. It took twenty years of praying, and I might never know why He waited that long to say yes, but He did. 

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord.

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