How to Cure Sweating

Over the July 4th weekend, I leaned an ugly truth about myself. In the course of walking about West Philly with my brother’s family, I realized how disgusting my sweat truly is. Thanks to massive salt stains circling my man tits and underarms, I now see that, with three months until the wedding, drastic measures are necessary. Surgery, as I’ll explain below, might be an option.

On the recommendation of my friends Pete and Kim, I downloaded the audiobook of Dr. Atul Gawande’s Complications last month, and have been listening to it on my iPod ever since. Gawande is one of the New Yorker’s two nonpareil medical correspondents (the other being Dr. Jerome Groopman), and the book is basically a collection of his essays from the magazinemost of which are drawn from his days as a medical resident. You get a peek into gastric bypass operations, Morbidity and Mortality (M&M) conferences, and the ever-so-pleasant discovery of Necrotizing Fasciitis (aka “flesh eating bacteria”) in a 23-year-old woman. But what fascinated me most was the story of a female TV news anchor who had a case of chronic blushing. Because the embarrassing redness was interfering with her career, she sought out an experimental Swedish surgery to sever the nerve that controls facial blushing. But, as luck would have it, cutting this fiber had an unintended, if convenient, side effect. It eliminated almost all of her upper body sweating!

(You can read the New Yorker incarnation of this particular story, “Crimson Tide,” here. Definitely the best part of the book, in my opinion.)

I later learned on GMA that the primary reason people get this kind of surgery is, in fact, to cure sweating. If one thing’s for sure, far more people have hyperhydrosis (excessive sweating) than chronic blushing. And although surgery might seem kinda extreme, compared to the alternative therapies, botox and electrocuting the sweat glands, it suddenly begins to appear quite sensible.

So, wedding guests, if you haven’t found anything at Crate & Barrel that grabs your imagination, please feel free to go off-registry and consider getting me “endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy” surgery. When you shake my bone-dry hand at the reception, you’ll be glad you did.

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