I thought I was so well prepared for the loss of my hair. I figured I’d just buzz it all off once it began to fall, I mean REALLY fall. So last week, in anticipation and preparation, I had hubby retrieve those clippers I’d tried to pass on to my thirty-one year old son just months earlier…thinking surely he’d have a use for them some day, maybe to trim my little grandson’s hair. I mean, Henry is two and a half..and has a full head of beautiful red hair. Surely his daddy might find use for those clippers one day to just give Henry a little trim? But, no. Son declined to take them. “Mom, how long have you had these now? Since I was about ten?” C’mon, Son! Give me a break…I haven’t had them that long…I got them when your brother was about twelve. Let’s see…that would be about …well, fine. It was sixteen years ago, but it’s not like clippers go out of style.
“Donate them,” he said. So that’s where hubby found them, out in the garage where it’s still packed to the gills with all the stuff we moved up here but have no room for in our wonderfully downsized home. There’s a whole bunch of stuff out there ready to be donated…and the clippers were easily spotted, in their original case. So, I just assumed they’d be good to go when the critical moment arrived for me to plug them in and buzz my hair.
That moment arrived last night. I’d spent the better part of the day stewing about my hair. It was falling out in long strands whenever fingers ran through it. ‘Well’, you might be asking….’who the hell was running fingers through your hair?’ I was…because you know how it is…once you know you are losing your hair, it’s impossible NOT to run your fingers through it…just to see if it’s really happening. And, then five minutes later I do it again..is it still happening? And, then again just a few minutes after that…is it coming out faster now? HOLY CRAP….my hair is falling out! And, the next thing I know…I’ve got an alarming twenty to thirty long strands of hair in my hand, on my sofa, on the floor, on my sweater…it’s freakin’ everywhere.
So…I get my comb. And the waste basket. Thinking maybe if I gently run the comb through my hair, the loose stuff will fall and the rest will remain. So, five hundred strands later, I look at the clump of hair in the waste basket and sigh. Okay…that’s done. I think about the factoids I throw out to students at The Marine Mammal Center, where I spent several years teaching marine mammal science. Did you know that in just one little square inch, a sea otter has ONE MILLION hairs? By contrast, we humans have one hundred thousand hairs on our ENTIRE head.
GOOD GRIEF….MY HAIR IS FALLING OFF OF MY HEAD. DIRECTLY FROM THE ROOTS. IT’S DYING. THE CELLS ON MY HEAD ARE DYING.
Get a grip. Get a grip…. That means the chemo is working, right? So it’s really OKAY.
But, it’s beginning to make my scalp sore…who knew that dying hair follicles would make your scalp sore?
Earlier in the day, hubby and I decided to celebrate the boost of my white blood cell count (thanks to that injection of Neupogen on Friday) by heading out to the driving range to hit golf balls. It was a beautiful day, but windy…and with each gust of wind I quietly worried that more hair would fly off my head. After I hit my forty-eight golf balls (quite well, I might add) we sat on the outdoor patio there and enjoyed a nice lunch. When we walked back to the car, as my hair was blowing around my face making my scalp hurt, I turned to hubby and announced “Tonight’s the night.”
He offered to help. Perfect, since my hair was pretty long…easier to let him do it. We retrieved the clippers from the box, and first thing I noticed was the handle. It was very sticky. I wiped it down, but it was still sticky. I looked closely. The handle seemed to have a breakdown of residue from the foam grip, making the whole thing tacky to the touch. I plugged the cord in and turned the clippers on. They buzzed, so I figured we were good to go.
Hubby began at the back of my neck. After several false starts, it was clear the clippers were, in fact, NOT working. The buzz wasn’t buzzing loudly enough because the teeth weren’t cutting, they were ripping…and that didn’t feel so good. “How long have we had these clippers?” he asked.
I experienced a brief minor melt down moment. Hubby was right there to calm me. Hubby needs to receive a medal of bravery…he was nervous about wielding those clippers to begin with, but then I could see his pain when I lost my composure. I did my best to suck it up and figured I’d find a way to get my hair off my head in the morning.
After dumping the clippers in the trash, along with their original case and all associated attachments, I climbed into bed wearing a little sleep cap made of cotton so I wouldn’t wake up with hair all over the pillow. I felt like the wolf waiting in Grandmas bed for Little Red Riding Hood. After a night of next to no sleep and a few escaped tears, I woke up angry. I didn’t want to go to work with an ouchy scalp and bare patches on my head where hair used to live. My scalp hurt even more than it did the night before.
ARGH…What to do? Buy more clippers? Dumb…might as well pay to have my hair buzzed if I’m going to spend money on clippers. So I dialed Super Cuts. A man answered who spoke broken English. He told me he was backed up with customers and I should come in later in the day.
I left the house weepy and agitated, with a bag in tow that carried a scarf and a hat…one way or the other, I was going to lose my hair on my way to work. Hubby tried his best to comfort me, offering to come along. But, I just wanted to get on with it…and I clearly had to go it alone.
Being new to the community, I drove down the main drag in the center of town. I parked the car and walked into the first salon I saw that looked decent. One lady in a chair with foil on her head. Another in a chair reading a magazine. The one reading asked if she could help me. “I am losing my hair to chemo. I just need someone to buzz it off for me,” I told her. She sized me up but her expression gave her away…she was caught off guard…and then she said I’d have to come back because she was fully booked. REally?, I thought. I glanced around. We were the only three in the salon. I guess five minutes was more than she could squeeze into her busy schedule. But she did suggest I go right around the corner to another salon.
That one was busier. Five customers, all in chairs. I counted seven stylists, having noticed two were on the sidelines chatting with each other. I repeated my request and again, awkward silence. It seemed they too were heavily booked, but if I wanted to come back later in the day, they could arrange an appointment for me.
I returned to my car with tears beginning to form. I pulled out my iPhone and Googled ‘Hair Salons’. The list popped up with a multitude of salons in the community. I dialed the very first one.
I asked if there was someone there who could buzz my hair for me if I arrived shortly, explaining that chemo was making it fall out really fast now. She put me on hold. Then a guy came on the line. “This is Matthew. How did you hear about us?” he wanted to know.
“Google,” I told him. “You were the first salon on the list.”
“Well, we are part of a non-profit called ‘Hairdressers With Heart’. We’d be happy to buzz your hair…it’s all complimentary, along with a full year of hair regrowth trims and styling.”
I was so stunned, all I could think to say was “Seriously?”
“Can you come in around eleven o’clock?” I glanced at my watch. It was 9:45. YES. That would be a resounding YES.
And then the tears came. I sat in my car for a few minutes to compose myself. I shopped to kill time and purchased another scarf. A girl can’t have too many scarves in this situation, can she?
At eleven o’clock I walked into the salon and noticed it was very upscale. Matthew greeted me…young and handsome. Score! After offering me tea, coffee, water…he got me a cape and settled me into a chair. Then he closed the elegant glass sliding doors that separated this part of the salon from the main section, and fingered my hair. I cringed.
“Oops…sorry,” he said. “Well, let’s buzz it down so there’s still a bit there, but it won’t hurt from the weight of it.”
Ever so gently, he buzzed my hair and spent the next thirty minutes trimming, snipping and admiring the shape of my noggin. WHO KNEW? Not everyone’s noggin is the same…apparently heads come in all sorts of interesting abnormalities.
As he worked, I stared into the mirror. A sense of calm came over me almost immediately.
I left the salon without one thing on my head. No scarf, no hat. Nada. Just a big smile on my face.
It was the most serendipity spirit boost I’ve had in a long time. I feel great. Light, empowered and READY for my surgery tomorrow, after which Portia will become my immediate and new best friend. We will show up for chemo together on Friday to kick cancers butt yet again.
Because I got this. I SO got this.