While how they look is close to an obsession for most teenage girls, for kara o'dea it's how she feels that upsets her. "The embarressment and the fact that I'm not normal"
Until a week ago, this was 15 year old Kara's embarrassing secret. "I've had to tell a few more people cos I can't hide it any more"Kara sweats uncontrollably in her hands and feet. It's a medical condition called hyperhidrosis. Kara says "I don't like clapping cos I can feel it get on my face and everything" "it splashes?..yeah..it's that bad? yeah"
"I just see the tears and the embarressment she goes through" Mum Tania says it's something Kara has had since she was little. "We were hoping that as she matured that it would slow down but it's actually gone the other way, it's actually gotten worse"
"Thought it was so disgusting" Fourteen year old Danielle Blundsdon also has the condition, "when I used to hold a phone my phone would start to drip of sweat and I hated it"
"We'd take her shoes off and you could ring her socks out, they were soaking wet" Danielle's mum Joanne ..."we've got concrete out the front of our house adn the concrete's painted dark and she'd come out and you'd have these little footprints and you'd have to wash em off cos they'd be all sweaty"
The condition impacts on everyday tasks like using a computer, handing over money or sharing pens at school.
Even piano practice is done with a hand towel. Kara says "last night they were dripping when I was just sitting on the couch doing nothing dripping? yeah, and you could see the beads? yeah I had to have a tissue underneath me so it would't go on the couch and that's normal? yeah"
A state champion in Irish dancing, Kara's hates holding hands. Tania says "she's just recently got a boyfriend and as far as I know they haven't really held hands or anything like that, that's pretty sad I think"
Danielle understands.."when i used to hold a guy's hand I would have to go to the toilets and wash my hands cos I get embarressed and think he thinks it's really disgusting"
Botox injections were one option, but it's a temporary and expensive fix. The surgical option involved cutting nerves. Kara's tried many over- the counter- medications, with varying side effects. "When i started waking up in the morning I would get the stinging sensations and everything cos my sweat isn't allowed to come out, come through like it would normally? yes"
When her feet blistered painfully, Kara was even put on this cancer medication. "I could only use it for 3 days in a row, even though it did work, it came back afterwards cos I had to go off it again. So it wasn't a permanent solution? no"
"I think there are people out there in the community that suffer from hyperhydrosis but suffer in silence, they're very embarressed about the condition, they don't know there's a solution" Melbourne vascular surgeon Roger Bell can now offer hope, in the form of keyhole surgery. "If you destroy the or your ablate the sympathetic nerves supplying the sweat glands, the sweat glands will no longer function and therefore you become dry"
Danielle had the surgery just weeks ago. These scars are now the only reminders she ever had a problem. "All you get is a stitch there, stitch there, both sides"
Joanne says "it was just instantaneous as soon as we felt her hands and feet they were dry" For now, Kara only wears shoes and absorbent socks - sandals or thongs slip off her wet feet. No longer a problem for Danielle. Joanne says "she's a completely different kid"
Roger Bell says "one patient sticks in my mind, a young girl I operated on in Perth when I visited her the following morning after her operation she told me she's been sitting up all night just staring at her hands, she just couldn't believe her hands were dry and that's the sort of impact it has on some of these patients"
Kara hopes she'll have the same successful outcome as Danielle. "What are you looking forward to the most? "Having dry hands. I don't know the feeling, I can't tell when they're dry and when they're wet so yeah, it'll be good to know what it's like"
Dr Craig Jurisevic
Cardio Thoracic Surgeon
Royal Adelaide Hospital ADELAIDE
Telephone 8222 5296
For details visit: www.sweatyhands.com.au
For over 15 years, Mr Roger Bell has been helping to permanently reduce sweating and restore lives back to normal.
To make an appointment call: 03 9372 9999
North Western Vascular
59 Holmes Road,
VIC 3039 Australia
T +61 3 9372 9999
F +61 3 9372 9666