day 17

My hair started to come loose today. My scalp has hurt all day and tonight my little absent-minded tug-test came up with two, three, twelve hairs per tug. It’s weird how I have a scalp-ache…not a headache, just my scalp, all over. I had a tender scalp during the first week after chemo too, for part of a day–but it went away, and I knew that was too early to lose my hair. So now, here it goes.

And somehow I was kind of hoping that it would last longer…that I would get lucky. Luckier.

Funny how hard the baldness thing is for so many people. I guess in some ways it would be less of an issue if it were SUCH a big issue that I ran out and got a wig and wore it every day. Well, maybe not. It is such a marker of illness, though, and not possible to really hide unless you’re willing to wear a very uncomfortable itchy wig. Which I am not. It’s the shock to myself that is hard to bear, not just the shock to everyone else.

I have thought a lot about the shock to Will and Jesse, since their mom being bald is probably the biggest sign they will see of this challenge we are all going through. I started telling them that it would happen long ago, when I explained about the very strong medicine I would have to take. They got into pirates this summer so we did a bunch of bandanna-tying and have acquired a useful collection of bandannas. I have shown them the couple of new hats I’ve gotten. And I told them maybe they could color my head with washable markers.

Last time I got used to being bald. I lost my head hair, then pubic and armpit hair, and near the end of chemo I noticed my (very thick) eyebrows were thinning out–but I didn’t lose them or my eyelashes. None of it was fun but I learned to not stay saddened by it. This time I’m hoping to find moments of even, maybe, enjoying it. I am wiling to stand out a little more these days than I was in 1995.

But the expectation of my appearance changing from “passing” to “chemo victim” in the next few days is hard. It’s a great privilege to be able to choose who I share my world-of-the-sick status with and who I don’t, and I am about to lose that privilege for the next three months or so.

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