“I, I, I. I am so sorry,” she stammered. She swallowed and proceeded with her apology; “I didn’t mean to beat you. You can go back to your seat, please forgive me. Don’t be angry with me and turn into anything. It was a mistake. I wasn’t going to beat you up. Maybe you are a witch. Please don’t do anything to me,” she pleaded, her voice almost cracking on that last sentence.
Now I was the one confused. And if I wasn’t so confused, this would have been hilarious (it doesn’t take much for me to find humor in such situations). She made me go back to my seat and asked us to read while she stepped out for a few minutes. Walking back to my seat, I held my hands in front of me, examining them, trying to see what she saw, figure out what had scared her. I was used to my hands sweating like that by now but I had never had anyone react the way she did. Not that most people knew, but the ones that did had never freaked out before.
Taking my seat, I realized something in that moment, something that stayed with me to date; that I was different from everyone else. Not just different, but different in a bad way, like something was very wrong with me and I should not be allowed to socialize with other people. It was kind of like I was a danger to society.
And this was at the beginning of the term, in a new school. A new school meant new kids, new friends and after this encounter with my teacher, I doubted I would have any friends in that class. I was quiet for the rest of the day, not speaking to anyone, just sitting there staring at my hands when I had nothing else to do. When I got home that night, I told my mom what happened but as I didn’t seem too upset when telling her, she figured all was well at school but took me to the hospital in that same week.
I was 9 when all this happened but had consciously known I had a sweating problem since I was about 5 (I was born with the condition but was unaware of it till I was 5. I kind of figured everyone else was like me). My parents never sought a medical explanation for it because they did not view it as serious enough to warrant a visit to the hospital. It’s not like I was sick or anything. But after this incident at school, we went to see my pediatrician about it. I know he did not call it hyperhidrosis at the time, simply told my mom I had an overactive sympathetic nerve in the stomach that caused the excessive sweating. He also told her it could be treated with surgery but she decided against it, opting instead to let me make that decision when I got older.
I had no idea what all this meant and to explain it in plain old English, he simply told me I had a nerve in my tummy where it shouldn’t be that was causing me to sweat in my hands and feet. That I understood and internalized, an explanation I gave to anyone who discovered my ever wet hands and feet. I remember it not being such a big deal because he kept reassuring me that I was fine. When I explained the incident that took place in class, he told me my teacher was just scared and probably very superstitious but that I had nothing to worry about, I was just as human as she was only I could produce sweat in my hands and feet which she obviously could not.
This made me feel better but did not stop me from now being conscious about my sweaty hands and feet. The only comfort I got was that she did not know that my feet sweated too. I wondered how she would react if she ever did find out about it. She would probably faint, I remember thinking to myself and chuckling about it. Somehow, the thought of my teacher collapsing from such a revelation cracked me up. I did not really wish that but the thought was kind of hilarious.
To be continued…