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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Facing That Bald Girl In The Mirror

You know you're a redneck have to vacuum the hair off your sheets in the morning.

Today is the morning after the Ducks Unlimited dinner banquet and auction and I must say between the new stark hair do and the eye-popping two inch false eyelashes, I felt rather like the belle of the ball. With almost one hundred draws between ninety people, I guess my not winning anything meant my luck was already being used up. This morning, surrounded by balls of fur on my pillow, I decided my good fortune had been just having hair intact for the evening!
The itchiness of my head has been telling me for four days that my hair is dead at the roots. My tresses are merely illusional plumage, held in place by the thinnest layer of magnetism to my body. My cartoon character would resemble the Peanut Gang's Pig Pen, where every turn of my head results in a cloud of hay-coloured strands.
No-one at the cancer clinic expanded past the fact that I would lose my hair between 2-3 weeks. But I can tell the next person to go through this that it seemed to come after two days of headaches and then a new itchiness to my scalp. At first the hair came out in my brush, heavier than normal. By day two, a soft tug resulted in 20-30 long strands coming out. So for the next 2 days I did not pull or tug at it, merely patted conditioner into it while showering then patting it dry. Finger comb- no blow drying. Thankfully, that helped it last enough for the banquet.
My friend Kerri that died from brain cancer was wearing a scarf a few weeks into her chemo and I recall laughing at her. You can't have lost it already, I said, so she showed me the moon scape of her head. A definite clear cut! Having my real hair at the banquet meant giving my friends and acquaintances a time to adjust to the fact that I have cancer. Between the extreme shortness of my hair and the promise that it was with me on borrowed time lets them prepare for seeing me next in a head wrap, a wig or bald.
As usual, that is what I say. But as I look at the hair shrouded towel from my head after my morning shower, I can tell you nothing ever prepares you for seeing your own bald scalp on the top of your head. It's a nightmare worthy of a few more alligator tears, a horror worse than anything on Scare T.V.
Okay Deb, time to readjust here. My husband finds some shears and with my head in the garbage can, we laugh and cry and take it all off. I watch the locks pile up beneath me. They're golden with black ends. I stuff some into a bag to save. Then I look in the mirror again. Well, it's not as scary as having a Pixie cut with huge bald patches in it. I don't recognize myself though. I look more like a man. Square face, all face with black peach fuzz dotting the surface like patches of desperate seaweed clinging to a rock.
Stop it! What this baldness is, I tell myself, is a badge of honour. A statement of the difficulties I have been going through and continue to face. It is an elite pass card into a world of amazing people who are facing their own existence square in the eye. These people's lives are changing as is mine. Like butterflies-to-be we are metamorphosing into something beyond the busy, self and time absorbed people we were. We have had to prepare for the worst as there's no denying any of us only have so long to be here. When you have cancer, that fact stares you in the face. You re-evaluate your life and question what you want to get done so that one day you can leave without regret. This makes you more patient about things. Your goals are higher than trying to change the small things that irritate you.
Life has slowed down for a change, to a pace I can handle. I like this pace much better. Today's entire agenda is going to be learning to look in the mirror and seeing past the physical. What I want to see is the brave person I know is looking back for acceptance from myself.
After I succeed at that, I might just crawl back into bed for a nap.
At least this time I won't be needing to vacuum my sheets in the morning.