Monday, August 10, 2015

On Being Bald and Stuff

It was the first question I asked…

“Will I lose my hair?”

Not “what side effects can I expect?

How can I best prepare for the side effects?”

Not even “Will this plan work?”

"Will I lose my hair?"

Vanity was not one of my least I didn’t think so.

But even so, I still wanted to know first if I was going to be bald.

My Beautifully Brilliant Oncologist said yes in no uncertain terms.
She even narrowed it down to within a few days of when I could expect it to begin.
              And she ended up being right.

              She usually is.

So, while all the doctors started planning my treatment, at the advice of my BB Oncologist, I planned how to get ready to be bald.

A newly made cancer friend said she just cut her hair to 1 inch long all over her head. She told me that she felt by doing this, she had control over how and when her hair came out.  

Bud and I decided we would go that route too. 

For some reason that I cannot remember at all right now, at the time we thought that it would be a good idea to make a video of it.

We set everything up, and I gave a sweet prepared little talk (for the benefit of my adult children) about how I was doing just fine with this whole thing. And I really thought I was.

Until the trimmer touched my head!

I am pretty sure that at that precise moment, fine is not how I looked!!
My scalp was not prepared for that!

The video was turned off.

I was ready to call off the whole thing!

But we decided to give it another try.
The only problem was that I forgot to turn the video camera back on when we started again.

Repeat the sweet speech.

We cut some more.

It hurt again.

We turned the video off (only this time it was actually on) while we figured out what to do.

We did this again and again.  

Each time not taping the pretending to be sweet parts… just the reality.

At the end, when I started to watch the video, we had only taped the sections with me and a patiently sweet husband painfully trying to figure out how to do this thing without it hurting. 

No sweet speeches.

Nothing sweet about it really.

So we deleted it.

And then we laughed about it.

We laughed more than you might think during these hair-free days.

One day we were at a gift shop at Moffitt Cancer Center and the shopkeeper commented on my scarf/turban.  She asked who made it, and I quickly pulled it off to show her the tag.

When I looked up she had this horrified look on her face!

You can guess why...

I put the scarf back on my head (much faster than it had come off) and we all relaxed again.

Besides my husband and daughter, I think she was the only one to see my head completely bald. 

I know that cancer is not a laughing matter, but when you can, it is so helpful to find things that make you laugh.

And believe me when I say…with my husband?  We shared many laughs during this otherwise difficult time!

If you ever hear anyone talking about this guy modelling a scarf for his wife in the waiting room at St. Vincent's, you will understand a little of what I am talking about.  This guy is my favorite.

So that day, the day of the hair cutting, I realized how much I would not have control over the things that were happening... not over how my hair would be lost, or when.  I could not control how my body would respond to treatments.  I did not control any of it.  

I find that out every time I try to control things.

I just can't.  You probably can't either.

But you and I know the One who is in control, and we can certainly trust His Goodness in anything.

In losing my hair, I learned a few things about the benefits of having hair.

For example, I found out that there are a lot of hairs on our head!  When my hair did start coming out, it was in small bundles, but it took a long time for every hair to be completely gone.

That was a lot of hair!!

And God knew that number... although for a short time in my life I knew the number too   :)

I knew that losing hair meant losing what was on top of your head, but it  also meant that sometimes you lose your eyebrows and even your eyelashes!

Eyebrows really define your face... you might not realize how much until they are not there.

I found that eyelashes help keep sand out of your eyes, and that the air seemed to always be sandy. You really notice this sandy air on breezy days or if you are riding in a car with windows open.  

Wearing sunglasses helps.

So does squinting.

We won't talk about what life with no hair in your nose is like :)  You can thank me later for that.

But, losing your hair was a good sign that the chemicals were killing the fast growing cells in your body (which includes cancer cells as well as hair cells) and that is a good thing.  So even no hair could be something to be thankful for.

As always, there is much to be thankful for!  In my journal I recorded things like:

Showers take no time at all!! 

In fact, I could get out of bed and be ready to walk out the door in 10 minutes tops… which is helpful when your energy level is zero.

And the days of shaving were over!!!

Well, for a little while anyway.

When the treatments ended, the hair returned in stages, at about the same rate that it fell out, and was not quite the same when it did make its reappearance!!

It first came in with the smooth fine texture of a baby's!  The color was so purely white that it looked surreal, almost as luminescent as a halo!

Then it stuck out stiff like a dandelion on which a wish is about to be made.

Later, as it grew longer and thicker, and very very wavy, darker hairs started to reappear.
And finally, my favorite silvery strands returned.

Right now it almost exactly resembles my wig...
my wig was something over which I did have control!

Funny how things go.

1 comment:

Erin Wright said...
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