1 year update since ETS, 4 month update since Sauna Therapy.
It has now been exactly 1 year since my second ETS. My side effects have somewhat diminished with the exception of my hands. The CS is about the same this summer as it was last summer where I do have mild to moderate CS pretty much ever time it gets hot, but the peak severe CS that I had a few times last year I have so far not experienced this year. This may be due to the Sauna Therapy treatments I have been doing which I will write more about below. My hands, however, seem to be getting a little worse with the pruning. The dryness is still the same, but the skin on my fingers and palm can get severely wrinkled and pruned. As I have mentioned in prior updates, the hands are an issue for me since it makes touching things uncomfortable and it is very bizarre having hands like this for most of the day. Other side effects remain as well. I definitely feel a sense of "split-body syndrome". This can best be described as a sensation of "activity" in the lower 2/3 of my body while the upper 1/3 is completely inactive. The "split-body" sensation I have somewhat gotten used to, but it still strikes me as somewhat disturbing at times. The last side effect I will touch on is heart rate. During my last doctors appointment last week I had a heart rate of 70, so maybe my heart rate is somehow recovering (it was pretty consistently in the low-mid 60's every time I checked it over the last year). No other updates on other side effects.
I am still 100% blush free. Recently, someone at my job really put me on the spot hard in front of many people and I became very self conscious. I swore in the moment that I felt a very very faint blush coming on, but the sensation of the blush was very weak and came on very slowly. To my shock though, someone in the room said that I was blushing. On the one hand I kind of couldn't believe it, but on the other hand the fact that I did not really feel a blush sensation in my face coupled with the fact that my overall anxiety level is much much lower nowadays made me not panic the way I would have during a blush in the past. Later that day I actually saw the guy who said that I was blushing and I asked him outright if my face really was red earlier in the day. He said "no" and that he was just kidding because our co-worker that put me on the spot I guess has a crush on me and she was overdoing it with her flattery in front of others. So, I don't know if he was being nice to me by saying that my face wasn't red or if he was being honest. But like I said, the sensation of the blush came on very very faintly and slowly was 100% manageable. I have not experienced anything like that since then, and honestly I think even a non-blusher would of blushed in that moment.
As for my hands again, here is a picture of how bad they can get. This was taken about 1 month ago and was the most severe dryness/pruning I have had to date:
Regarding the Sauna Therapy, it has allowed me to assess relatively extensively the effects of the sympathectomy and how my body reacts to dry heat. I have been going into the sauna 2-3 times per week over the last 4 months. I have stayed in the sauna for about 20 minutes each time while it was at a temperature of about 170 F. Before stepping into the sauna, my hands would be in the usual dry and pruned state. Within 1-2 minutes though, the pruning would go away and the skin on my fingers and palms would become completely smooth again. This is always a pleasant phenomenon that I look forward to every time I step in. Over the next 10 minutes my body would slowly begin sweating from the lower 2/3. The sweating was initially very severe during the first month, but it has mildly to moderately decreased in peak intensity over the next 3 months. Perhaps I trained my body to cool itself more efficiently while in the sauna somehow, and this effect seems to have translated into a benefit for my CS in normal everyday life. I have been outside doing work in 80+ F temperatures and I have not experienced the same severe CS as I did last year before I started the sauna therapy. On the flip side though, my hand pruning has gotten worse and perhaps these two effects are related. At the 10-12 minute mark in the sauna, I begin to notice speckles on the top of my right hand...SWEAT. By the 15 minute mark, the sparkles have turned into a film of sweat covering the entire top of my right hand. By the 20 minute mark, the sweat on my right hand has spread from the top, to the right edge, palm, top and bottom of wrist, and even to my 4 fingers but not so much to my thumb. From my wrist, early on it seemed like it was spreading up my arm but it no longer seems that way. I will mention that the surface area of my right hand where the sweat was coming out of grew over the first 2.5 months but has since tapered off. Initially, it was only the speckles, but my hand began to sweat more and more but unfortunately it isn't spreading anymore. I reached a pinnacle one day where the sweat accumulated enough that a little after 20 minutes in the sauna the sweat from my right hand even began to drop to the floor very slowly. The first drop that rolled off me I was very ecstatic about. At the 20 minute mark is when I start feeling very lightheaded and uncomfortable and really feel like getting out. I have pushed myself once and stayed in for 25 minutes, but I saw no other changes in my body from where I was sweating or how much. My tolerance to this heat has actually gotten a little worse. I now find that at 15 minutes I start getting light headed and uncomfortable and really have to push myself to stay in for 20 minutes...not sure what is up with that.
After the sauna, I almost always went directly into the shower to rinse off and then into the pool for about 10 minutes to cool off. I have found that if I skipped the pool, then my CS would resume in a mild state even after I got home from the gym. I really need to get in the pool for a while after the sauna to bring my core temperature down if I want to CS to not happen at all once I get home. After the pool, I always stand in front of a mirror in the locker room and I can see a clear split in my body right at my armpit line where my ability to sweat starts and stops. The line of demarcation seems to be apparent due to flushing of my skin. My upper body remains flushed likely as a way to dissipate heat better since I just spent that much time in the hot sauna my poor upper body can't sweat like my lower body can. This line of demarcation is exactly where my body has been "split" by the sympathectomy. This line has not at all raised or lowered itself over the last 4 months. It has remained in almost exactly the same spot. Here are a few photos of what I am talking about:
It looks very similar to this guy:
That is all I have to say for my 1 year update. From this point, I don't believe there will be any more post-ETS updates since I am now in the process of planning to get an ETS reversal procedure. I will post more information about this in a separate thread that I will start for that topic. The only way I will update again is if my body does something radically different between now and my reversal procedure.