"In elementary school, I started to notice that I was different from the other kids,â€ remembers Caryn, â€œnone of the other kids wanted to hold my hand and they called me â€˜gross.â€™ It was hurtful and confusing. I felt like it was my fault -- that there was something wrong with me. So, I learned to hide my sweat very well, none of my teachers knew. Even now, only some of my family members know."
But despite underarm sweat that used to reach down to her waist, and palmar perspiration that runs down her arms and drips off her elbows, Caryn has earned both a bachelors and masters degree in flute performance, played at Carnegie Hall, and won concerto competitions. Today, she is a professional flutist performing in a quintet and ensemble.
Over the years, Caryn has tried a lot of treatments for her excessive sweating including iontophoresis (which she will soon try again using the proven R.A. Fischer device), oral medications (which were only temporarily effective), and the antiperspirant Certain-Dri. With Certain-Dri, Caryn has successfully curbed her underarm deluge. And, amazingly, Caryn is successful in her musical career despite her palmar hyperhidrosis. Daily tricks and sweat-management techniques have really helped. For instance, Caryn always has a fan at her work space. Whether she is practicing her flute, or sitting at her desk, a fan helps to evaporate her perspiration. Caryn will also often wear a scarf, which she uses to dry her hands periodically and to grasp things she doesnâ€™t want to make sweaty. She keeps a small towel with her at all times and drinks lots of water because she says good hydration helps to regulate her body temperature.
"Although the odds were against me, I became a classic flutist, it's my proudest achievement,â€ says Caryn. â€œBut still I fear I will never reach my full potential. Many times when I am on stage, the audience can see the sweat on my fingers, running down my wrists and dripping to the floor."
"Until recently, I hid my condition. I learned to adapt and avoid social situations. But this made me angry because I felt like I shouldnâ€™t have to live less of a life because of hyperhidrosis. So today, I advocate for spreading hyperhidrosis awareness and acceptance. I feel like I tell someone new about my condition every day. It's scary but I have courage knowing that I'm helping people just like me." Carynâ€™s particularly passionate about helping kids with hyperhidrosis and raising awareness about excessive sweating among teachers, parents, school nurses, and students. Little things, she says (from experience), can really help a child function better at school -- like allowing small children to use a pen instead of pencil (less smudging), giving a hyperhidrosis child a little more time and space to finish her work (less sweat-inducing stress and embarrassment), being understanding of a child who needs to sit by an open window, giving a child a hand towel to keep at her desk, and limiting hand-holding requirements.
Living with hyperhidrosis is â€œa bittersweet journey,â€ says Caryn. The next step in Carynâ€™s journey? Itâ€™s an exciting iontophoresis opportunity made possible by the makers of the R.A. Fischer iontophoresis devices (models MD-1a and MD-2). As mentioned above, Caryn has tried iontophoresis in the past (10 years ago, while in high school), but iontophoresis devices vary greatly and successful treatment is closely tied to the machine, careful technique, technique adjustments (as necessary), and availability of coaching from an experienced person. To help Caryn get the most out of iontophoresis, R.A. Fischer is loaning her a prescription machine (worth approximately $600 and requiring an order from Carynâ€™s doctor) and will provide her with access to over-the-phone coaching. According to Bill Schuler, R.A. Fischer president and long-time supporter of the International Hyperhidrosis Society, coaching is essential. â€œWhen I rent units, I find I have much more success with people I assist on the phone,â€ he says. In response to this chance, Caryn writes â€œThis is fantastic news! The R.A. Fischer machine has been recommended to me by my blog readers and I am happy and honored to try it. â€ Watch your e-mail for future newsletters with updates on Carynâ€™s progress.
To learn more about Carynâ€™s experiences and daily life with hyperhidrosis, visit her blog â€œJust a Little Sweatâ€. You can also visit Caryn's music Web site at www.CarynFreitag.com to hear audio clips and purchase CDs (available summer 2013).
And, if you're in the New York area, you have a special opportunity this weekend:
Caryn will be performing with her quintet (the Washington Square Winds) on April 20th. The quintet will present "They're Alive," showcasing new works by living composers. Many of the composers will be in attendance and there will be a reception after the concert. To reserve a seat, e-mail Caryn.
The Washington Square Winds
Saturday April 20, 2013
Free ($10 donation kindly suggested)
353 West 48th St. (between 8th and 9th Ave.) 2nd floor
New York, NY
We canâ€™t wait to hear the music and see where Carynâ€™s melodies carry her next.