Able to Hold a Gun ... and Her Husband's HandIt was a condition that affected her job, her relationships and every human contact, but doctors told her, “It’s just nerves,” and “You can live with it.” But they didn’t have to live with it … Christine Cronin did.
The condition is hyperhidrosis, and it’s characterized by excessive sweating. In Christine Cronin’s case, her hands sweat so profusely they would actually drip. In her youth, it caused her to avoid dating, and, in adulthood, it compromised her career. A Racine police officer and state-certified firearms instructor, Christine was forced to stop teaching because she couldn’t give students the hands-on direction they needed.
“As an instructor, you can’t seem nervous,” Christine said. “I would wear black leather gloves but would sweat right through them. My hands always looked dirty from the dye.” In the end she quit because it was not worth the embarrassment.
At the Police Academy, training sessions frequently required pairing up to practice defensive tactics, handcuffing and other aspects of police work.
“At the end of the Academy, no one would be my partner.”
Daily interactions were equally uncomfortable. “Everyone wants to shake an officer’s hand,” Christine said. “The worst part was that I could never hold my husband’s hand.”
Over the years she sought medical help and tried other remedies. Thinking it was a nervous condition, doctors prescribed tranquilizers, but they made her sleep all the time. “After while I just gave up,” Christine said, “I figured there was nothing they could do.”
Then one day she saw a program on television about a surgical procedure for hyperhidrosis. After research, Christine found William B. Tisol, MD, Medical College of Wisconsin cardiothoracic surgeon, who performs a minimally invasive surgical technique that removes a portion of the nerves that control sweat glands.
After their first handshake at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, Christine was delighted because after she apologized for dampening his hand, Dr. Tisol told her, “This is one place you never have to apologize.”
Two weeks later she was scheduled for surgery. She was nervous at the prospect of cardiothoracic surgery but felt that, “If anything happened, I was in the best place possible.”
The procedure was a success and has vastly improved Christine’s quality of life. She was reinstated as a firearms instructor and can extend her hand to others without embarrassment.
“I got a lifesaving award this year. At the ceremony I was able to shake my chief’s hand and not see him wipe it on his pants.”
The best part of all? “Now I can hold hands with my husband.”
Author: Melinda Krueger
Date: July 19, 2006