Pick Your Bed

“It is your choices and decisions that determine your destiny.”

Roy T. Bennett

Ever since I was 13 years old, I have had a medical condition called hyperhidrosis. You can use Google or ChatGPT to get the details, but the basic idea is that my palms and feet would sweat excessively. It was so bad that it created crippling insecurities about my body. 

It affected everything I did. Imagine writing tests or exams and worrying about not letting your hand touch the paper because if you do, the papers will be soaked and your answers will be unreadable. On occasion, I had to ask for new test papers and teachers would question how I got the papers wet. When I was out on a date with a girl, I struggled to hold her hand because I was embarrassed about my sweaty palms. Even shaking hands was awkward. I would see people immediately wipe their hands on their pants after shaking my hand or even worse, look at me and then stop themselves from wiping their hands.  

I tried so many things – every cream, powder, deodorant or home remedy – but nothing worked. And for the longest time, I thought it was part of puberty. My mom assured me that it was something I would grow out of. But by my early 20s, I realized this was not something that was going away. So I did some research. 

And as I was searching the internet, I found an answer! There is an operation where they open up your rib cage and cut the sympathetic nerve to your hands. It means your hands don’t sweat. I was blown away! There is a cure for something I had been insecure about since I was 13! It is permanent and it is free! The government covers this operation. 

I was so excited and I rushed to my mother and told her. She listened but then told me “You are not going to do that.” 

Shocked, I said, “Why not? There’s a 98% chance my hands won’t sweat. Why would I not take this?” 

“Aleks there are risks. It is dangerous and more importantly, you will grow out of it.”

“Mom, I don’t think I am going to grow out of it. Everything I have researched says it is a medical condition and there is a genetic component.” I was frustrated because I wanted my mother’s approval and I kept pushing. “Does anyone else in the family have this?”

Suddenly my mom went wide-eyed and looked away. 

Now I was both frustrated and angry. “Wait! Who? Who has it?”

“Your father has it. But it didn’t stop me from loving him. It is not a big deal.”

I was devastated. I was living with this and going through all the struggles. My mom was dismissive of how difficult it had been. But I looked at her and said, “Ok, no problem.”

I called my best friend the next day and told him I was going to have an operation and I would need him to pick me up. Within two weeks I had the operation. As I was being put to sleep, the surgeon reminded me that the first two days after the operation were going to be rough. They were cutting between my ribs, so there would be pain. “You’re going to feel like you’re drowning. Breathing will be painful. So make sure you take the pain medication and just expect difficulty.”

The first night after the operation, I was lying in bed in so much pain. The pills were on the table right next to me but I couldn’t reach them without crying out. I couldn’t move. I wanted to call my mom for help but I didn’t. My mom didn’t support my decision about the operation and I did not want to ask her for help and prove her right. So I placed my hand on my chest as I struggled to breathe. Then almost immediately I started to laugh and then cry. Because I realized that as I touched my chest, neither my hand nor my chest was wet. I was completely dry. 

So despite all the pain, I was smiling. I had made my bed and I was happy to sleep in it. The alternative would have been listening to my mother and sleeping in a bed that I didn’t choose or want. We all make our beds, so pick the ones that are right for you. Anything else is just going to be regretted.

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