Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bein Bald

Bald, but happy, in the chaise with the iPad.
I miss my hair.  I really do.  All of the times I complained about how thick it was and how much time it took to straighten?  Truly regrettable.  The B.C. pictures on the walls - not just of the days when I was young and innocent (like in April) or blissfully happy (my wedding day), but of the years of my life preceding this one, when my head was covered by the hair my genetics prescribed - are suddenly hurtful reminders of what I no longer have.

Yes, it's temporary.  Yes, it's a small price to pay for staying alive and preserving your person.  But it's hard to feel like yourself when you look in the mirror and you don't see yourself. 

In the beginning, I remember thinking the hair loss would be the least of my concerns.  I brushed it off, procrastinating the acceptance of what was to come.  I even (as I'm sure every single cancer and chemo patient in this history of forever has thought to themselves) went so far as to rely on the hope that I would be one of the lucky ones who, since she had double her fair share of hair to start with, wouldn't have noticeable loss.  Yeah, not so much. 

First, I cut it Mia-Farrow-in-the-60's short - voluntarily - to gain some control over the situation.  Needless to say, I was medicated.  Thus, the experience was even somewhat pleasant.  Then, a few weeks later, when I began to shed on every surface I touched my head to, it was time to go a bit shorter.  My mom took me to her hairdresser, who had done this before for others (with the buzzer and cancer and all), and we both watched as I lost what few centimeters I had left.  It was almost an out of body experience.  With tears streaming down my cheeks, in the reflection of the mirror, I saw someone looking back at me I didn't know.  I certainly wasn't her.

Still, it was just buzzed.  It wasn't gone entirely.  I still had a lot of coverage, and while at first, I was imagining myself as GI Jane, Dan thought I more resembled Natalie Portman in V for Vendetta.  My head (thank the Lord), it turns out, is not as big as we'd always joked.  Maybe Giada de Laurentis' and Giuliana Rancic's heads aren't as big as they appear either, under those voluminous locks.  And the shape is much less bumpy than I would've expected.  Musta been all that thick hair that busted open the only swim cap I ever dared to try on.  Yeah, it was my hair that always caused a red line to appear on my forehead whenever I tried to wear sunhats (it's like they cut off the circulation to my brain).  Now, my old hats are too big (I graciously gave my old Phillies hat to my brother since he still has the Dansky hair)!

See my former hat?  It's just turned around backwards for the concert.
Next stop:  little bits of your buzzed hair are left behind in a Hansel and Gretel type trail.  You can tell I've been somewhere (not because I've carved MIA WUZ HERE - GL '93) by the stubble sprinkled across pillows or coating the bottom of the bathtub.  Now we're getting into missing big patches on the sides of my head from all the time spent with my head on a pillow.  The back is gone, too.  Just some fuzzy, dark patches remain on the crown of my head.  They're good and stubborn and I love to run my fingers over them, like they exist purely to make sure I have something to hold onto, even if I can't pull it back in a ponytail or push it behind my ears.

I will definitely sport this for Halloweens to come.
Generous survivors have passed along (I'm sure with glee in their hearts) the head coverings they used during their own hair traumas - sun hats in every color and fabric (some even with an odd wire inside to stretch the fabric, keeping your face and neck covered), silk scarves with intricate designs, solid knit caps, familiar bandanas, wigs... The bags seem bottomless.  From them, I've chosen the softest, most breathable preventions of sunburn, and purchased a few interesting choices of my own (including the fantastic purple number pictured to the left).  But the easiest and quickest way to go is free style, scalp open to the cool breeze of the air conditioner and the (usually) gentle hands of my loved ones who enjoy feeling it themselves.

Judah is even weirded out when I put something on my head, I spend so much of my time billiard ball style.  Like, I must be going somewhere, because at home, my head is generally naked.  He was in the car the other day and I was wearing my (new favorite) Life is Good hat.  From the back seat, he remarked, "Mommy, you don't have any hair!" as if he was just noticing for the first time all over again. 

There are days I'm distracted enough by other goings-on that I forget about my baldness.   I wear a bandana or my favorite hat (plus sunglasses - helps avoid eye contact with old acquaintances I'd rather not catch up with) when I leave the house, but then the looks I get from strangers flash me back to the present.  Or this afternoon, when I cleaned the kitchen like a madwoman on a rampage (sans online manifesto), tidied up the living room, reorganized my pocketbook, and it wasn't until I caught a passing glimpse of myself in the mirror that I remembered why I wasn't at work today with all of my colleagues.

So I'm not at work.  But I am here.  I'm here taking advantage of every single moment.  Even if it means crying when I sing Judah a song before naptime or exploding with glee when I discover a package from amazon has arrived.  I (mostly) refuse to waste a minute of my good days crying over the sad possibilities of the future.  Like Jennifer Aniston said in her People magazine interview last month (let me note here I can't believe I'm quoting Jennifer Aniston OR anything written in People magazine, but it was such a bizarre ending to this article, it's stuck with me), "Who knows?  I could get hit by a bus tomorrow." (I'm only slightly paraphrasing.)

I wonder what my hair will grow back as.  Will I be a redhead like I always wished?  Or maybe I'll get back the curls I lost after I was pregnant with Judah.  Or maybe, it will be like my friend's mom, who, after chemo, found she didn't even need to blowdry her hair anymore, it was so straight, silky and soft all on it's own.  Not bloody likely, but a girl can dream.  I'm anxious to get started on the regrowth stage.  I know this experience has changed my personality and perspective in very permanent ways (how could it not?), but I'm curious to see how it's changed my hair, too.



  1. You're always hearing women who have curly hair say, "Oh, I'd give anything for straight hair"; conversely, the straighties of the world want my (& Yona's) hair.
    Now I am certainly not one to try to cheer you up with illusions of grandeur, but you've had reallllly reallllly good hair, both straight & curly. I'm seriously doubting your gonna end up with river-bottom brown stringy, scraggly, hair when you come out on the other side of this.
    It's going to be GORGEOUS - red or not (can't remember any henna genes on your mom's side)!!! This is like a secret mystery present only to be opened when you run out of white M&Ms. Can't wait!!!!!

  2. good and stubborn, those hairs are, You report.
    Here's to Them, and You, Sweet.
    GG and Uncle

  3. I love you, Mialeh chamudah. I miss you.

    I'm sorry we missed you the other day - turned out it was not germs, but rather 4 honkin molars coming at the same time that made Sally's fever spike. I needed the pediatrician to point this out to me as she was WAILING at the docs office. A little homeopathic oragel strips = baby who will eat a nutter butter and not smack me in the face. (btw, have you had a nutter butter lately? They are v good)

    Anyway, I was really looking forward to seeing you and will be your underemployed pal after Rosh Hashanah, so we can hang sans kiddies whenever you want. I have some challah in the freezer with your name on it. Mwah, s

  4. I love the purple hair! You are amazing and beautiful!