October 8, 2001
Dear Dr. Reisfeld:
It has now been almost 5 months since my ETS surgery in May 2001. I suffered from HH of hands, feet, and underarms for as long as I can remember. The sweaty hands inhibited my ability to reach out to others. I always feared shaking hands, and my choice of clothing was determined by the condition. I always needed to have something handy on which to wipe my dripping wet hands.
A few years ago, I received a phone call offering me the possibility of a dream job at a United Nations organization in Geneva, Switzerland. It was the chance of a lifetime to work on a project that would be the capstone of my career. The first thing I thought of, however, was that I would have to shake a lot of hands. The worry about that was never far from my consciousness. I went to Geneva and suffered through twelve interviews in one day. What a distraction! Despite my wet handshakes, I got the job. I am glad that the condition did not cause me to refuse this opportunity, but I am sure that it caused me not to do other things over the course of my life. For instance, I never learned to dance, and I avoided school dances or other situations involving touching people. I felt extremely fortunate that the condition did not seem to bother my husband.
I did a lot of research before I decided to have the surgery. Long ago, I heard about the “open surgery” for HH that involved a large incision and a lengthy stay in the hospital. After investigating that surgery back in the 1970s, I decided it was too drastic for me, and I thought I would have to live with my condition the rest of my life. After finding out about ETS on the internet, my research indicated that it was a much safer procedure than the old method. I also determined that it was very important to choose an experienced physician. After contacting your office and reading your literature, I was impressed by the fact that you had done over 1,000 ETS surgeries and that this was the only surgery that you performed. I spoke with you twice on the phone, and you answered all my questions. After talking to many of your ETS patients, all of whom highly praised you for your ability and kind manner, I decided to fly across the country (from the Washington, D.C. area) to Beverly Hills and have you do the ETS via insertion of titanium clips.
The surgery went well and my recovery was rapid, despite my being on the older end of the spectrum – 58 years old. I was favorably impressed that you called me twice the day of the surgery to see how I was doing, and you also called me each succeeding day until I departed for home. The day after the surgery, I was able to walk to the Museum of Tolerance in Beverly Hills and spend several hours there touring the exhibits. My only discomfort was a sharp pain in my right shoulder that disappeared about four days post surgery.
Since my surgery, I have been enjoying the pleasure of dry hands. ETS has made my life easier and less bothersome. Now that I am free of HH, I realize the strong impact it has had on my life. I am so much more relaxed now. It is a pleasure rather than a trauma to meet new people. I have mild CS (compensatory sweating) on my back and chest, which occurs mainly when I work out at the fitness center. I consider this sweating normal. I see people sweating a lot more than I do when they work out! Occasionally, the CS starts up in a stressful situation, but as time goes by I have noticed that this is happening less often. I have not noticed any gustatory sweating. My feet still perspire, but not as much as they used to.
One side-effect that worried me for a while was a noticeable decrease in my heart rate after ETS. I was conscious of my heart rate because I used exercise machines that tracked the heart rate. After ETS, my resting rate dropped from 75 beats per minute to 60; my maximum effort rate declined from 140 to 110. I talked to you about this, and you reassured me that it was a positive rather than negative effect of ETS. You said that ETS has a beta blocker effect on the heart. Recently, I had a battery of screenings done to test my heart function. All came out normal – normal electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, blood circulation, carotid artery function, and peripheral vascular function.
Although my results have been very positive, this surgery is not for everyone. You can read the chat groups on the internet and find that a vocal minority of people believe that ETS has ruined their lives. Furthermore, people very much into athletics, such as marathon runners, should certainly think twice before having ETS, as the heart rate effect can be a problem for them. I have been corresponding with such a person who deeply regrets having the surgery. Prospective patients should not think that reversal of ETS is going to be easy. They should note that the FAQ on your web site indicates that “statistical data is not yet established” and that “the process might take up to a year.”
Of course, I’m glad I am one of the many fortunate persons for whom ETS has been a blessing. I can attest to the fact that you do excellent work, and I have greatly appreciated your availability to talk about ETS before and after the surgery whenever I had a question. You also have quite a wonderful and responsive staff at the Center in Beverly Hills.
If anyone would like to contact me, they should feel free to do so. My e-mail address is given below. You may also give out my telephone number.