Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Becky's Bald Blog

"I began to  learn that losing your hair is like watching a big line being drawn in the sand, separating your old life from your new one. It's usually the first visible sign of your illness to the outside world, and it's a shock to see yourself in the mirror or as you pass by a shop window." Taken from "Any Day with Hair is a Good Hair Day" by Michelle Rapkin. 

This week, that line in the sand was drawn for me, or rather, I drew it myself.  My hair started falling out in clumps and I couldn't stop pulling it out. It was becoming an obsession! Everywhere I went, I left a trail of DNA and was starting to worry that if I committed a crime, they would easily trace it back to me based on the hair droppings all over the state. So, I decided to have my friend shave it 2 nights ago. 

Like any good friend, she fed me and gave me a glass of wine. Then we sat on the back deck for the final cut. She took out her electric clippers and went to town like Edward Scissorhands. As she mowed through my scalp, I repeated the mantra I have been saying throughout this whole breast cancer débâcle,  "There is no other choice, I have to do this, there is no other choice", just to reassure myself.  

It really was THE only choice. My scalp was so itchy and annoyed from the impending hair loss, like someone was constantly pulling on a pony tail. These feelings were reminders of what was to come, fueling the anxiety even more. What would I look like bald? Can I handle not having any hair? How will my family cope with this? I felt victimized by my hair and it was slowly torturing me. It was time for me to take control.

The fear of the unknown is always so much worse than the reality, isn't it?

Once Edward finished her work, I breathed a sigh of relief. My 5 year old son had been watching and all he could do was giggle. (He actually handled this way better than my short hair cut 2 weeks ago, go figure!). My scalp was very dry, so we cleaned it up and then Edward applied some overpriced, "too good for someone's scalp" cream. Ahh, it felt beautiful, clean, cool and comfy. I decided right then that all women should shave their heads once in their lifetime, just to shake things up and see how good it really feels. Honestly, ladies, this could be the tumors and the chemo talking, but you must try it!

Part of me thinks I should be crying, but I don't feel like it. Perhaps I am slightly numb to all that has happened and I've just learned to accept things as they come now.  Or, maybe losing my hair just isn't the big deal that I thought it would be? Or, I'm just so effing hot that now it's a welcome relief! And all my Pink Sisters who have been through this have said, "It's only hair, it doesn't define you. It will grow back".

Looking in the mirror is very strange, but then it's not. It's just me, only balder. I'm still me. 

Sadly, so many women are going bald as we speak and most are probably traumatized and embarassed to go out in public. The day after the Big Cut, I went to the most public place on Earth, the Mall. I'll admit, I spent a little too much time adjusting my head scarf, for fear that someone would yank it off my head (who does that and why would I fear it so much?).  But once it felt secure, I just ventured out with my family and tried to act normal, well, as normal as an abnormal person can act.  I went about my business as usual and life went on. In the big scheme of things, there are a lot freakier looking people roaming around the mall than a 45 year old with a pretty pink scarf with dangling beads on her head.

It's a funny thing. Of all the yucky side effects of chemo;  the nausea, diarrhea, body aches, fatigue, and hair loss, the one that stays with you the most is the hair loss. The other symptoms come and go and can even be remedied with a pill.  But the hair loss stays for many months and hair regrowth doesn't guarantee you will be back to your old self when the cancer nightmare is over. I may be in for a head of kinky gray hair 6 months from now!  Who really knows?

And that old self I was before is already gone and forever changed anyway. So, any hairdo that rears its ugly head will be welcomed by the new me. After all, it's only hair, right?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow.....

My to do list from the previous blog told me to get a haircut like Nurse Jackie. Here's how that went.

On the day of my first chemo treatment, I decided to go for the haircut. The last thing I wanted was to have long clumps of hair on my pillow so I decided that short wisps of hair would be more tolerable. I have had short hair in the past but never this short. The thought process behind "The Nurse Jackie" is that once the hair starts falling out, it's easier to shave when it's at a short length. As you can see, I'm trying to minimize the trauma!

Here is the before, during and after:

Getting it all chopped off was a very liberating feeling,  You see, every summer I bitch and moan about my thick mane and how hot it makes me. I've said in fits of rage, "I wish I could just shave it all off!"

Well, now my wish has been granted.  This is the new me, for now. I was elated for a few days about this haircut.  

And then suddenly, I wasn't. 

Everywhere I turned, especially on TV, all I could see was HAIR and how beautiful it was. It was suddenly like a rare that I no longer had.  And then I remembered what my friend Michelle said as we discussed my new, short do. "Let's face it, you were never really happy with your hair!"  And we both laughed. She's right.  As much as everyone would tell me I was lucky to have such thick, wavy hair, I never really enjoyed DOING my hair. I am just not good at it. I hate fussing with it and in the summer, it gets so frizzy. I am convinced God gave me 2 boys because I am not good with doing even a simple barrette on a kid, let alone myself!

We women stress way too much over our hair, don't we? Mine is now on borrowed time and I keep checking my pillow each morning. My scalp is getting prickly. I look in the mirror and don't really recognize myself anymore. My youngest son couldn't really look at me for a few days after The Big Cut.

It's ok, I get it little boy. Momma understands!