Where acceptance is all there is
So I guess I'll start in September of 2007 -- when I went to my regular hair stylist for my regular monthly haircut. I had a full head of thick, dark hair. Or so I thought. She started cutting and pointed out that I have been thinning at a rapid rate. I honestly hadn't noticed a lot of hair loss previous to her holding up the mirror to show me. I was shocked, to say the least -- who looks at the back of their head on a daily basis? I didn't feel it while shampooing. Nothing -- because I suppose I wasn't looking for it -- I was never "into" my hair and didn't put much thought into it on a daily basis.
It was weird.
I went to the doctor who immediately said it was alopecia and my hair would probably grow back within months. In the meantime, he told me to get creative with hats and caps because there wasn't anything he could give me to make it grow in faster. I had some other nagging issues at the time -- stress, constant tiredness, a recent bad breakup, irritability, etc. He took some blood but there wasn't anything to indicate it being anything other than stress.
The hair loss was getting progressively worse by November. On the 13th, I broke my femur. While I waited for surgery (5 days), my hospital bed became covered in hair...which was embarassing whenever I had a visitor. I was still embarassed about the condition (alopecia) at that time and hadn't told many people, not even my family. I said it had to do with the body trauma, which in part, was actually true. The shock to the body apparently made it fall out faster. Nothing was showing any signs of growing in. I eventually shaved my head and today...it's still patchy. My facial hair is patchy. My eyebrows and eyelashes are gone. I have lost all the hair on my arms and legs...but some remains on the chest and other regions where it's completely useless. My look has totally changed. I wore touques all winter and have just switched to ball caps. Problem is...I work in an office where head wear doesn't really go with khakis. Fortunately, my coworkers and my boss have been supportive...allowing me to wear hats...but I don't think anyone really understands the psychological and social aspects of losing all of your hair so quickly. "Oh just take off the hat!" I just can't. If my scalp was smooth, I would. But no matter how deep the shave, you can still see the dark patches and it looks ridiculous. The one and only time I decided to suck it up and walk into a store hatless...I got sympathy looks. I thought I was just being overly observant...but then the clerk asked how many "treatments" I have had to endure. I simply said it wasn't as serious as it looked.
I read somewhere on here that rapid hair loss due to alopecia is like losing a close friend or family member. Sounds completely emo, but it's true. I've had my moments. I have put on the brave "no big deal" face at work and around friends and family...but have a tough time even looking in a mirror to put in my contacts or shave whatever is left on my face. I am normally a strong person who is always there to console others but I am shockingly weak and without anyone to shoot back the right words when I get all down about it because they just don't get it -- which is absolutely no fault of theirs. It's psycological more than anything.
I have searched high and low for alopecia support groups in my province and have found nothing (except cancer hair loss support groups -- no thanks. I think they are much worse off and don't need my whining). Not a single link. Google led me to this site...and I couldn't be happier.
It's funny. I had never heard of alopecia until a friend lent me all three seasons of Arrested Development a couple years ago. Fell in love with the series and I laughed at Stan Sitwell and his alopecia ordeal, or as Lucille Bluth said, "he's an alpaca". Sometimes I joke with friends that I'll have to get some "just woke up hair" and stick on eyebrows...like Sitwell. Who knew I would eventually have alopecia too? It was funny then, and still is, but I like and relate to Sitwell just a little bit more now...and his desire (albeit miserable failure) to look "normal" again.
Long story short...I am still hoping for some kind of remission stage. And if not that, then I wish each and every hair would just...fall out. All of them...go away...especially on the scalp so I CAN go comfortably bald in public. Since losing most of my hair, I have also realized (and been told) how WHITE I am. Thinking of some tanning sessions? 7b short months ago, I would have said, "I'll never shave my head! I'll never be one of those people in a tanning booth!" Funny how life does a complete 180 and can change so quickly in such a short period of time. The last 7 months have certainly been a physical and mental jolt to the system. I find it interesting how my priorities and views on life and experiences have dramatically changed...because of freakin' hair.
A little about me. I am a bald (!), professional man who was raised in rural southwest Saskatchewan, Canada. I am a broadcast journalist and news director in northwest Saskatchewan. I couldn't ask for a better family, significant other, and friends..who are as supportive as they can be. I really have everything I could ever ask for. So...sometimes I get mad at myself for being so upset about having alopecia when there are so many other people with much larger problems -- problems that will, unfortunately, eventually even kill them.
Thanks for the support. I have been enjoying reading about all of you since discovering you over the past couple of days...and accepting your friendship and kind words. I am truly thankful for this online group.