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Alopecia June 28, 2014

Posted by Judy in Musings.
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The official definition of “alopecia” is: loss of hair, baldness.

Those two are not the same thing.

Initially, I was told that baldness was a sure thing. Once the chemo agents were switched to something that wouldn’t deep six my heart, I was told that baldness was a maybe but that I would have hair loss.

See, they are different.

You cannot be bald without hairloss, but you certainly can have hairloss without being bald.

Frankly, when I heard that baldness was a maybe, I was disappointed. I realize that sounds crazy, but stick with me here. Which would you prefer? A clean, bald head? Or a head with much of the hair missing and just a few tufts remaining here and there? I don’t know about you, but I would prefer the former. To be told that the latter was a possibility didn’t sit well with me.

Since I knew that some hair loss was definite, I cut about 10 inches off and donated it to Children With Hairloss the day after my first chemo. My oldest, who was 6 and hadn’t had a haircut in 3 years, also decided to donate his hair in honor of me. His donation was probably 12-14 inches. We both felt weird with our really short hair for the first week or so. Then we both realized the beauty and ease of short hair and were quite happy. My happiness was short-lived, though. About two weeks after chopping off my hair, my scalp started hurting me. It was so very sensitive to the touch, even just moving my head around on the pillow made it hurt. I had read that this was a precursor to hairloss, so I was prepared for the mass exodus of my hair. After a few days had passed and not much hair had fallen out, I took matters into my own hands. On a lark, I decided to just grab a tuft of hair and tug. Lo and behold, the tuft came out quite easily. Half an hour later, I had a nice little pile of hair sitting next to me on the floor. For the next few days, this was my past time. Anytime I was sitting reading or watching TV, I would pull on tufts of hair. The babes even got into it. The 3 year old really got into it, pulling hair out hand over fist! I found it to be quite amusing.

After about 4 or 5 days, you could finally tell that I had lost a bunch of hair. It was to the point where DH was like, “I love you, but that’s REALLY not a good look for you!” hahahaha. So, my friend buzzed it off for me. Not only did my scalp stop hurting, it also looked soooo much better.

Summer hadn’t arrived and spring had yet to figure out that it was its turn to show its face. This meant that me and my bald head were cold! It also meant that I got to go shopping for scarves and try out the hats that had been made for me. I had fun figuring out different ways to wear the scarves. I did find, however, that as soon as it started warming up, having scarves or hats on my head was waayyy too hot. Now that summer is in full swing, I only wear scarves to my church job and sometimes to church. Otherwise, I just go bald. I’ve been really surprised that people don’t even seem phased by it. I don’t mean friends and acquaintances, I mean people on the street. Sometimes little kids give me a funny look, but mostly, I’m treated totally normally. I guess I thought I’d get a lot more funny and uncomfortable looks. I’m okay with the lack of said looks, just surprised.

Since this post would be useless without pics, here a little sampling.

Post-hair donation and bald (Note the very pale part of my head that had been hidden under hair for my whole life. That is now tanned, but I did sort of feel like my really pale head was like a little beacon, leading the way!)

The progression to baldness
hairloss progression

The scarves – Not all of these attempts were successful. I really like how the turquiose one turned out, but I haven’t been able to replicate that. Alas!
hairloss scarves

Sometimes I wonder if my hair actually would have fallen out if I wouldn’t have been pulling on it. Maybe I wouldn’t have gotten to the point where I’d get out of bed and a pile of hair would just be sitting on the pillow. Then again, I didn’t really want to wait around for that to happen.

My hair does grow back a bit in between cycles. DH and I have been amused to discover that the grey hairs are the most tenacious. They grow the fastest and were the last to fall out. DH was also surprised so see how many grey hairs I had. I knew they were there, hiding under my mountains of hair. Now, he knows they are there, too. I’ll be curious to see if my hair grows back the same color and texture and to see if I end up with more grey hairs than I started with.

Always an adventure around here!

The haircut April 11, 2014

Posted by Judy in Musings.
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From the moment I knew that I would need chemo, I made the decision to cut my hair off at the beginning of treatment, long before the chemo had a chance to make me bald. I figured I would donate the hair to my favorite agency: Children With Hairloss. (And no, the irony of that is not lost on me!)

Today was the day for that haircut. In order to get the most hair, I sectioned my hair into ten little sections and braided each one. Then, DH did the honors of chopping off each of the braids.
getting the haircut

post haircut hair

I ended up with a somewhat disastrous look,

so I immediately called the hair salon close to my house, explained the situation, and made an appointment for an hour later to get an an “evening out” hair cut.

When I walked into the salon, I felt totally out of place. I was easily half the age of all of the patrons and I thought, “Hmmm . . .I’m not sure they’ll know how to deal with my hair.” But, I kept an open mind. An older gentleman came over and asked if I was there for an “evening out” cut, and I said, “Yes.”

As we are walking back to the chair, he comments: So you are donating your hair?

For some reason, I stumbled and hemmed and hawed in the explanation and finally blurted out: Well, it’s all going to fall out anyway.

Barber: Wait? It’s all going to fall out?

Me: Yeah. I’m going through chemo therapy.

Barber: Oh, I am so sorry. I have been there myself.

And then he proceeded to share his story and offer encouragement and we spent the rest of the haircut talking cancer-stuff. He was polite enough to make sure I was cool with talking about it. Of course I said yes, since I’m a cancer story junkie these days! During the course of our conversation, he said that there would be no charge for the haircut. “You have enough to worry about. No need to add extra.” Such a lovely gesture! He also said that if I ever decide that I want to just shave it all off instead of waiting for it to fall out, he’d be happy to do that as well. He even went so far as to offer a private room so that the world wouldn’t have to watch me lose all my hair. Although that could be construed to be creepy, I thought it was another lovely gesture!

After the cut was finished, he walked me to the door, wished me luck and gave me a big hug. I walked out of there feeling 10 feet tall with the biggest smile on my face! That is not at all the experience I expected to have, but I’m so glad I went to that salon as it improved my already really great day!

So having really short hair is new for me. Heretofore, the the shortest cut I’d ever had was a chin length cut. This is soo very different. Not sure if I like it, but in the end, I think this is going to be a better place from which to go bald.

pre chemo cut