Losing my hair is another phase of this adventure that I have embraced with gusto. I have been able to do things that I can honestly say were never on my radar before cancer. Let’s face it, hair is an accoutrement that most spend a good deal of time on. Men and women alike dye it, perm it, iron it, style it, gel it, mousse it, spray it, braid it, crimp it, adorn it with barrettes and beads and feathers, tame it with headbands and bandannas, and when all that fails, put a wig on or shave it off and go sans. Many spend a lot of time (and money) on their coiffure. I have never been one to embrace that sort of time, or monetary, investment, so when I opted to go the chemo route and looked into why and when my hair would fall out, I embraced it with what has become my hallmark curiosity and sense of adventure. While some of this may sound kooky, it was indeed fun and I learned a lot.
When I asked at the hospital about the “timing” of hair loss, I was told ten to fourteen days (I later learned it was more like fourteen to twenty-one days). I asked because I had a haircut scheduled for that week and it seemed silly to get a haircut if my hair was going to fall out a week later. So I skipped the haircut and waited. Seven days went by … ten days went by … fourteen days went by … and nothing. So, feeling a bit like Shaggy from Scooby Doo, I called my hairdresser (God Bless Jeffrey Spells) and he squeezed me in. I figured I’d go shorter than usual (I keep my hair pretty short anyway), maybe two inches long, with some action on the top. When he washed my hair Jeffrey broke the news to me — my hair was starting to fall out. Not horribly, but I don’t usually lose any hair, so some hair in the sink meant something. I did consider having him shave it off then and there, but thought, nah, I wanted to see how this would play out. Plus, maybe it wouldn’t really all fall out. So we went with our original plan.
The haircut lasted one day.
The day after my hair cut my hair was coming out in fistfuls. My husband — who is an angel by the way — did me a solid and cut it shorter, down to about an inch, with his beard clippers, so I could put a hat on. It didn’t take long for me to bear a strong resemblance to a dog with mange. Hair tends to fall out in clumps, it doesn’t thin out, so you end up with bald spots. It’s one thing to lose your hair, it’s another to look, well, mangy. The first night when I took my hat off, the inside was coated with hair. Nope, that wasn’t going to work. I didn’t mind losing the hair, but I did mind it ending up everywhere. And I mean everywhere — on me, in my clothes, in the bed, on my husband — everywhere.
So it’s really falling out. Now is where the fun begins — experimenting with how to get it to fall out faster.
– I tried the shower routine, seeing if I could wash the hair out. It was a disaster. I ended up covered in hair, which is pretty hard to get off you when it is constantly being added to by newly falling out hair.
– The next thing I tried was to vacuum the hair off my head. Oddly, it worked pretty well, and the vacuum gives an amazing head massage in the process. I used the drapery cleaning attachment (the round one with the bristles). It works best to have another person do it for you to get the full spa treatment effect. In my case, my husband did it for me. I would be remiss if I did not add — please do not try this with long hair. Remember, my hair was short and falling out. Getting live hair that is not falling out tangled inside a vacuum will NOT be like a spa treatment. Anyway, the vacuum did get rid of most of the loose hair.
– Clipping it off. Sort of a no-brainer that this one will work. Having my husband do it was extra special. There is something amazingly intimate and loving having your husband shave your head for you. Plus, he was darn good at it.
So I’m bald, and I actually kind of like it. I mean in terms of no fuss hair dos it doesn’t get much more no fuss than this. I wash my head, slather it with body lotion to keep it soft (Borage, by the way, is awesome stuff), and I’m done. Truth be told, I feel free this way. Suddenly, all those rules of hair etiquette don’t apply to me. I have this magical pass to do any crazy thing I want to do to my head and it’s okay. I mean heck, I vacuumed my head and then shaved it and all of a sudden I’ve got folks saying I’m brave and strong. If I had done that without having cancer, I doubt those would be the descriptors used. (I do appreciate the encouragement though, so keep it coming!) In the end, it really is just hair, or lack thereof. It doesn’t define me, or change me, to have it or not have it. I suppose I would probably feel differently if this was permanent, and who knows, maybe there is a chance it is, but in the end it is an adventure like no other and I’m going to enjoy the heck out of every moment of it!
Hair firsts –
1 – having my husband shave my head with his beard clippers – twice!
2 – having my head vacuumed (I would do this again, it felt amazing!)
3 – washing my hair and ending up covered in hair (not one I care to repeat)
4 – putting body lotion on my head
Things you cannot do with hair –
1 – enjoy a warm breeze on your scalp (or cool breeze if that is your thing)
2 – run your hand across your head and realize how really, really soft scalp skin is
3 – see the real you, and realize how really, really beautiful you are
Yup, it’s true. When I shaved off all my hair and looked in the mirror, I saw the real me for the very first time, and the person I saw was more beautiful than the one I ever saw with hair.
Fun fact – when I started telling folks my hair is gone, they all began offering me wigs and stylish hats. Even when I say I’m fine, I like the new bald me, they kind of insisted I try them. Remember, someone’s desire to put a hat or wig on you is about them, not about you. You do you any way you want to, and have the time of your life doing it!