Tag Archives: wigs

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

In my montage the other day, I missed a crucial part of my transplant tale. A superficial, vanity riddled part, but crucial all the same. My hair loss and how I am coping with it. I have obviously been through this process before, I lost my hair in 2013 and again in 2013 (not a typo) and despite my initial fear, I enjoyed being something of a chameleon with whatever was on or off my head. If anybody had asked me in 2014 what I thought of my hair loss, I would say that it turned out to be far better than I had anticipated. Fast forward to 2015 and I do not know how I feel about losing my hair. I can’t decide. Trust me, indesicion is something I am familiar with.

It took a while, but I had fallen head over heals in love with my new curly hair. Had the transplant not happened, I was just a few months shy of reaching my goal of a ‘do reminiscent of Michelle Pfieffer in Married to the Mob, post husband’s murder. But that was not to be.

In an attempt to take control of the uncontrollable, I had a friend shave off my hair, a day after it started to fall out with the greatest of haste on Day +12. It happened that quickly. Some members of the Network told me to wait, for they thought there was a chance I wouldn’t lose all of it, but the thought of leaving clumps of my hair all over Tottenham Court Road was too much to bear. 

In two days, my hair went from full and bushy to a Number 3 crop.

Why a Number 3 and not a full head shave? Well, on the advice of the lovely Macmillan Support workers, alopecia needs a helping hand. In order to lose my hair with the minimum amount of trouble, I needed to keep some weight so that it could fall out naturally. As naturally as chemically induced hair loss can be. So there I was on Day +12 with less hair than I had on Day 0, but still with hair. You will note from the complication above, the slugs that make up my eyebrows went absolutely nowhere.

Over the next seven days, my hair quickly left my follicles and made it’s way to whatever surface I was in the presence of. A lint roll proved to be an invaluable tool during this time, especially for use on my beds, and don’t even get me started on the power of the Electronic Power Sweeper… Mamma Jones likened the situation to having a black Labrador in the house. The fact I enjoyed pulling my short hair out of my head marginally dulled how depressing it was to see evidence of a hair massacre everywhere I went. Hair today, gone tomorrow.

  

The whole process took eight days. Eight long days. I lost the hair on my head and another area of my body, but it remained everywhere else. It’s not growing anywhere else, but sadly, the beard, moustache and somewhat dastardly, my sideburns remained. That’s right, sideburns. Unlike events of 2013, I kept my sideburns and more strangely  than that, my hair line. To all intents and purposes, I was bald, bar circular line from my forehead round the back of my head (along with the side burns and a few stray hairs). It was a style that screamed cancer. Squarked it, actually. Thus, it was necessary to get those clippers out one last time to remove my hair line and some of the sideburns, not all the sideburns as I do not want stubble on my face. The side burn issue is a situatuon most unfortunate. 

  
Once I was bald, and able to hit the streets, I encountered another hurdle, a daily hurdle. What to wear? In 2013, I think I found baldness something of a novelty. I enjoyed wearing my collection of wigs. At times, I found it fun. I do not remember feeling as self conscious about it as I do now. I am finding that with or without a wig, I feel self conscious. It’s not a dressing up game. I imagine the world secretly pointing at me saying that is a bad wig, or laughing at the fat crease at the back of my bald head. Early on in this process, I went on a day trip to Tesco, naked as it were and found strangers either stared at me, smiled and tilted their heads at me or worst still, tried and failed not to look at me. Either way, I felt their discomfort tenfold. Since then, whenever I am in public, I want to cower. 

I very much wish I could just say “fuck it” and embrace my situation and play with it. Do not get me wrong, outwardly, I do vary between my wigs and baldness and leave the flat, but I am never not aware of it. The Afro wig I loved so much before, because it was so obviously not my natural hair, has become something like a nemesis. I am prone to exaggeration after all.

I’ll let you into a little secret, when one finds themselves without any hair, it doesn’t change them. My brain still works exactly how it did before and I enjoy all the same things.  If I am in the comfort of my own home, I feel whatever normal is. Hair holds no secret power to my personality. Well, it doesn’t until I look in a mirror and I am reminded that I now look like Shrek. Perhaps if my weight was not so unruly I would feel better, perhaps if I did not have to worry about the next transplant or my finances or my future employment, and everything else that keeps me awake at night, I would be able to not care about my baldness.

A relative of mind told me that I should wear my wigs to ‘feel pretty’. Feel pretty? Is that to say that I am not pretty without one? Has having cancer made me inherently ugly or just uglier? On the other hand, a friend of mine, on seeing me walk down a street with nothing on my head but my headphones, donning my Raybans and a healthy application of Ruby Woo on my face said I looked ‘swear word cool’. I don’t think he adopts the belief that femininity and beauty can only be achieved with a full head of hair. But, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and there are a lot of beholders out there.  

The truth is, I see neither cool nor beauty when I look in the mirror. Yesterday, all I saw when I wiped condensation from my bathroom mirror post shower was Martin Sheen emerging from the swamp in Apocalypse Now. 

It’s an issue. 

It’s not an issue unique to me. Well, maybe not the Apocalypse Now bit. I read an article in Vogue Online last week about just this thing, hoping it would help me recapture the confidence I once felt (http://www.vogue.com/projects/13262618/hair-loss-women-cancer-chemotherapy-alopecia/?mbid=social_Instagram). It didn’t. I do not know how it made me feel, like a fraud maybe. I’m making all the right noises, doing all the right things, but the fakery does not seem to be working as much as I would like. 

Until I am able to pull my socks up, I’ll gently stroke the prickles on my head and marvel at my dazzling collection of wigs. 

   

EJB x

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Wig Maintenance Part II

Once upon a time, I used to wash my hair frequently, I will not say that I did it daily for that would be a lie, but I would wash it and it would be clean. I was not a fan of the process. For obvious reasons, I do not need to wash my hair at the moment. It is almost liberating. Forget washing and going, these days I can throw a wig on and hop, quick, and step it out the door. The mirror next to the front door facilitates this.

The problem with wigs is that even if you alternate between a few, you still have to wash them. If you do not wash them, they start to smell like dog, or a well worn coat which you wore whilst swimming in a sewer. Surprisingly, they can also greasy. Due to monetary constraints, none of my wigs are made of real hair. So, what is one to do with dirty fake hair?

The first answer is put it off. Leave them and pretend they will clean themselves. I did this for a good month.

The actual answer or answers is Google and Pantene. I used both. And let me tell you, as I stood over my bathroom sink, trying not to feel my back, it was perfectly clear that a wash they did need, if the dead fly was not evidence enough.

Many people, and I mean two people, have asked me how one washes a wig. Well, based on my two attempts, I give you some expert guidance below:

Step 1: Fill the sink with warm, but not hot water, ensuring that you put the plug in, otherwise the sink will not fill. Add shampoo. Any brand will suffice.

Step 2: Add brushed wig and get it wet. The water will make it wet. Use your hands for this. They too, will get wet. After a minute of prodding, drain the sink and admire all the dirt clinging to the bowl and wonder where all the grit came from. Take a photo or two.

Step 3: Put the sodden wig in clean water and prod some more. After a minute of prodding, drain the sink and admire all the dirt clinging to the bowl and wonder where all the grit came from. Feel slightly ashamed.

Step 4: Repeat steps 1-3 with conditioner, because the task at hand is mindless and easy, yet, technically, you are still achieving something you can blog about/work into a conversation when people have asked you what you have done with you day, that is more interesting than saying you drew a few Santa Claus’ on graphics paper whilst watching television.

Step 5: Place wet wig, now smelling of clean smelling chemicals, in a towel and gently pat. Or in my case, leave the towel and wig in the bathtub and forget about it.

Step 6: Leave to dry on a wig stand. Warning. Do not place on a low windowsill when they is a puppy in your house, as it will be mistaken for a scary threat and said puppy will get territorial.

Step 7: Wear and pretend you have real hair again when your nose catches a whiff of shampoo in the wind. The wig will appear to be brand new all over again, only this time, it will not smell like plastic. Feel super sexy. Get it dirty again.

There you have it. A lesson in life. Pictorial evidence to follow. Please note the colour. It is a clear example of my approach to cleanliness.

No need to thank me.

EJB x

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Wig Wam Bam

I have had a shaved head for two weeks now… I think I am coming to terms with it. It is certainly harder than I thought, especially because I am dealing with steroid associated weight gain and his friend, the double chin, but I am putting on a brave face and every day, well nearly, it is getting easier. It has to get easier because all my logic tells me that I am the same person irrespective of my hair. Sometimes though, the logic can get lost in the vat that is my mind. I still have my eyes though. That smile is still coming through, three days a week.

For the first week, I embraced the baldness. I believe I had to. I packed my hair dryer and my straighteners deep under my bed, I slowly learnt how little shampoo I need to use and I discovered the power of the comb. Try as I might, I cannot get away from putting a towel on my head after a shower. I tried. I know it is not needed. Men don’t need it, but I have used one for as long as I can remember and I feel naked when I am naked without it.

Part of me thought that if I had jumped to the wigs immediately, I would be losing this game. I would show weakness and I most certainly never want to show that. For that reason, I had to let the hair and the scalp be free. Again, my logic told me that using the wigs was not defeatist, but I thought it was, so I had to lay it bare. People needed to see it, people needed to see My Myeloma and most importantly, I had to know that I was strong enough to let people see My Myeloma. The general public don’t know what myeloma is, so for them, they could only see my cancer. For I now look like I have cancer, well, apart from the double chin and the tummy and maybe the thighs. Hell, all of it, I am not particularly fond of my upper arms either, but what women is? I can read, I know what the magazines tell me to worry about. At least it is slightly easier to get a seat on the bus now.

So, last Tuesday, I bit the bullet, I ripped off the plaster and I took my test. I walked onto the 7s, with the head on show and I have to admit, it was nowhere near as bad as I thought. Like anything, the plaster didn’t leave a mark, it didn’t hurt, and it helped to heal a wound. If I had not done it, I would always wonder if I could and then I could never rest easy. I guess now that I have done it, I can rest easy.

After the day in my office, I knew I was ready for the wigs. Since this hair loss situation started, I have always said that I would have fun with them, and I can confirm that I am now having fun with them. I have six. The majority look nothing like my natural hair and this is the way I want it. I have spent over six months seeing people in the clinic with their wigs, the same wigs, day in and day out, and although I understand why people do it, everybody’s cancer is their own after all, I knew that route was not for me. Think what you want or say what you say about that, but I believe I am too far down this road to hide in something that makes me look almost identical to what I once was. It is gone and there is nothing I can do about that, and to get through it and deal with it everyday, I cannot try to recreate something that is dead. For me, for myself I mean and my personality, not for anybody else, dear readers, I see that response as defeatist. My Logic agrees. The variety is a challenge and I am embracing it. It enhances an outfit and I like an outfit.

As it turned out, the first day I wore a wig, I felt more self conscious than I did with the bald head. I announced to anybody I was having a conversation with that I was wearing a wig. It’s better to confront that elephant in the room. It was better for them and it was better for me and I am selfish. I was certain that everybody on the street, passing me in their car or on the bus were looking at me screaming ‘wig’ with their judgemental eyes. Hello Logic, I know this is not true, but that is what I thought. At least, that is what I thought until I regained control.

I regained control in a relatively mean way. I went into House of Fraser, not pronounced Frasier, to try on sunglasses that would go with my new crop. To keep you up to date with this story, I was wearing a wig and this kind of defeated the purpose of my trip. And so, without forewarning, I announced to the sales assistant that I was going to remove the wig and that I did, instantly. The look of shock on her face was priceless, and I realised two things, firstly that I was strong enough to deal with this and secondly, there is no way, no way, that this act will not go unrepeated. I loved her reaction. It is mean, but it gave me pleasure and I will take it wherever and whenever I can. My unsuspecting victims will just have to deal with it, for I have cancer and that gives me a free pass. The Mother F&%#ing ‘Roid Rage tells me so.

Wigs are strange things, one has to get used to the added heat, but it is Winter in April, which is making this side of things easier. One also has to get used to looking in a mirror more, because I wonky parting or fringe is a faux pas, I suspect that even Haemo Dad would know that. Oh, and the feeling of wearing a loosely fitted vice on your head all day. A vice or a tight hat. Everywhere I went today, I thought I was being ill mannered for wearing a hat indoors. Wigs get in the way like actual hair, they get matted in the wind, and at some point I will have to wash them. I am learning all of this. I could probably pass a test on it now. I bloody love a test.

Dedicated to Mamma Jones, with a few side profiles and pouts for her viewing pleasure, I give you some samples. By samples, I mean, me, Emma Jane Jones, getting used to my head. I guess it is not so bad…

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With this, my willingness to enjoy my baldness, and the confidence that brings, I thought I was coping well. Yesterday, however, my niece ran into my bedroom to show me the French plait Mamma Jones had just given her and it made me cry. It made my cry because I want my mum to be able to French plait my hair but I don’t have any for her to plait. I do not even have a parting. It was self indulgent but I couldn’t control it. It’s always going to smart. There is no escaping that.

In the meantime, I will wear my wigs or not wear my wigs and I will find new ways to like what I see when I look in the mirror.

EJB x

P.S. This may not marry, but all this superficial stuff about my appearance does not take away from a previous blog about how confident I am these days, because of My Myeloma, about whipping my baps out in your face. Don’t forget that. I am desperately trying not to.

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Mamma Jones?

Today I finally selected my NHS subsided wig. It looks much like my own hair, only it is not, it is a wig. Before that happened, I tried on a wig that made me look just like Mamma Jones, only younger.

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Exhibit A

Oh, and it became apparent during the wig fitting session that I have a big head. An actual big head. My brain is protected by a lot of skull. I have a big head. I think I knew this already.

The chosen wig will be premiered when my big head is naked.

Many thanks to B&M for their impartial and valuable advice. It was appreciated as always.

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