Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Day Mom Shaved My Head

If you have double clicked on the slide show you will see that I have included captions and so did my mother.  On the picture of me and Santa Baby I indicated that this was the last day I had hair.  Ok for those of you who are technical I have hair but that day was the last day I had the hair cut, the high lights and my hair styled as I desired.

My dear friend Joy Humphrey used to joke about the "hair vanity" that she developed when her hair returned.  I rue the day that I gained the complete understanding of what she meant.  I began chemotherapy in early November and a few short weeks later my hair began coming out.  Joy and her sister Jimmylea went out and bought me a wig that was similar in color and style to my own hair.

When I would lay in bed and think about losing my hair the tears sprang to my eyes and I had that grit your teeth feeling.  In the shower I could feel the hair becoming thinner and thinner and I wrestled with the idea of shaving it.  Huy owns some clippers and had offered to do it but he was approaching things with humor and I didn't think I could handle it.

I was unable to walk and would tire easily at this point and so there was plenty of time to lay in bed and ponder this decision with extreme distaste. For those of you who hate roller coasters and have had the misfortune of being talked onto one it is the moment you brace yourself in the futile attempt to make it stop before the plunge armed only with the knowledge that you are going down the steep descent anyway.  You know it is silly but you still try.

I had read a plethora of books, articles and pamphlets on cancer by this time and was familiar with the two approaches to this dilemma.  One is the hold on as long as you can approach and the other is take control and shave it off approach.  I vacillated for awhile before taking the latter.  The hair was collecting on my pillow and I decided that it still would be the pieces would be shorter and at least it might be easier somehow.

I decided that Mom would be the most emotionally supportive and we got out the clippers before she had to leave for the airport.  I asked her to grab a face cloth so I could bury my face in it and cry.  She thought I was kidding and laughed but I wasn't and to be honest I was hanging on by a very thin thread.

My father is the sweetest man alive and he asked to have his done also and to go first.  If you need a loyal supporter than I recommend you pick him because he will set his shoulder and be with you for the long haul.  I was next and cried in my face cloth trying desperately to picture Demi Moore in GI Jane and cop an attitude.  I failed.  Later I watched the movie and this helped a little.  We didn't shave down to bare skin.  My heart couldn't take that.  In the weeks to come it grew a bit patchy.

I don't know how she felt having to do that to me but it was a huge loss to me.  I cried and felt sorry for myself for the second time on this journey.  Mom told me I was brave but I didn't feel brave.  I felt sad.  I cried it out pretty good and then picked myself up and dusted myself and my new do off.  I was so grateful for the wig that Jimmylea and Joy bought me because it was there when I needed it.  I had already gotten it styled by Jami Anderson at J Gregory and if you are wondering I cried through that also.  Jami was amazing and helped me keep it together.

I never lost all my hair.  I never got used to wearing a wig and soon discarded it when the warmer weather of spring came.  My hair began to make a comeback in March.  I stopped chemo on my birthday April 8 and had a full head of short hair at that time.  It is August 2010 as I write this because I am trying to go back and tell the stories for all of you who really wanted to know.  I have a good head of hair that is growing longer and getting curly in the back.

I don't believe that I will ever look at hair the same way again.  When I see a woman with fabulous long hair I see it as time invested.  My cancer books say it takes a month to grow a 1/4 inch of hair.  That is a long time.  You might have noticed on facebook and this post how few pictures there are showing me with my current hair.  I am growing more comfortable but I like the full hair photos better.  Sigh.  The hair vanity is setting in.

To Jimmylea and saved me from the pain of going to a wig shop and becoming overwhelmed and freaked out.  You saved me a lot of discomfort.  This was a loving act of monumental proportions and I hope that you realize now how it gave me strength to face it because you gave me hair to wear.  It seems so silly a thing to be consumed with if you haven't walked in those shoes.  I hope you don't have to find out how uncomfortable it is.  I wouldn't wish it on anyone.  Thank you, thank you to Jimmy and Joy for helping me through that one.

I would also like to thank my clients who comforted me and told me I looked good.  Some of them even said they didn't notice and thought I was doing my hair different.  I want to thank my Mom who shaved it and withstood the grouchy, complaining Susan that followed that event.  Dad..I want to thank you for going in first and being there with me.