Can I Make Bald Look Good? - or - Hat Shopping Time!
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Many of you know the health issues I've faced over the years. I've had a heart attack and stents. I have COPD from foolishly smoking, though I did quit almost 13 years ago. I have back degeneration and spinal nerve damage along with fairly severe Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteo Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, and SLE (Lupus). I am also more than 100 pounds overweight. I weigh exactly double what I want to weigh. This didn't stop me from training for a year and walking 13.1 miles in January, even if I was the slowest and took much longer than anyone else. It was a triumph for me and proved that if you want it bad enough, you figure out how to do it. My health since January seems to have gone continuously downhill, though.
Lupus is an auto-immune disease where your immune system doesn't recognize the difference between healthy tissue, muscles, joints, organs, etc and germs or bacteria and just attacks everything. My immune system has gotten so far out of whack that it is destroying my already inflamed and arthritic joints to the point I often need support when I first get up in the morning and when I get up from sitting for a while or driving. My knees sometimes pop out to the outside or inside or forwards or backwards without warning when I walk because the cartilage is being destroyed by my immune system. I cannot stretch my arms out nearly as far as I could a few months ago. I'm also having some vision problems and severely dry eyes which the doctor thinks is lupus related or is possibly another auto immune disorder that sometimes occurs secondarily with lupus called Sjogren's (show-grins) Syndrome, which my youngest sister has. I'm seeing an ophthalmic specialist soon to determine if this is the case. There are other issues but I think you get the picture. I'm in severe pain and my joints and connective tissue are being destroyed to the point that I'm on my way to being chair bound for life if something drastic doesn't happen.
Well, something drastic is going to happen. With lupus, you can go into remission naturally after a time of big "flares" of the disease, or in severe cases where the immune system must be stopped from doing further damage in a hurry, there are chemotherapy drugs. Yes, toxins like they give you for cancer. Yes, you get all the gloriously nasty side effects like nausea, vomiting, bladder infections, you're susceptible to everything viral out there as well as other infections. You get severe fatigue and weakness and yes, with one of the drugs it is most likely that you will lose your hair. Sometimes as soon as a week or so after starting the drug. The hope is to destroy the malfunctioning immune system and when it regenerates it will be a properly functioning system and the lupus will be in remission. I start the drugs tomorrow.
I'm a little freaked. My first granddaughter is due to be born any day and I am going to be sick. In her first weeks of life I will be bald and sick. I won't even have eyebrows. I'm terrified I will frighten my three year-old grandson with being sick and looking so different. Mostly I'm just freaked because while I never pretend to be a beauty queen (though i am cute as hell!) I cannot imagine myself being even remotely attractive bald. I have a very round face. I'm very heavy. I'll look more like Humpty Dumpty than that hot bald chick in the first Star Trek movie or Sigourney Weaver in Alien or Demi Moore in G.I. Jane. Yeah, I've been dwelling more on how I'll look without hair than on the fact I'll be puking up my guts for the next 4-12 weeks.
But, you have to look on the positive, right? I don't have cancer. I need this to feel better even if it will make me feel like dying for a while. I'll lose my hair and my eyebrows and eyelashes but I can have a lot of fun letting artistic friends temporarily "tattoo" my bald noggin and draw wild eyebrows on my face with sharpie markers. Maybe I can sell advertising space on the back of my head! I can go as Uncle Fester for Halloween. I can buy matching hats and hair bows on elastic bands for me and my newborn granddaughter. When I stop crying I will actually think some of these ideas I'm poking fun at are kinda cool. I won't be hiding at home because I have NEVER hidden from anything so I have to face it and figure it out fast.
The She Beast is going to be sick for a while, my friends. I am not giving up. I am not giving in. I'll come back stronger than ever, just you wait and see. Right now I just need to come to grips with this chemo business and being a hairless She Beast. So many of you have faced this with family and friends and even personally have had to deal with chemotherapy and its cost to the body because you or someone you care about has had cancer. I'm thinking I should be more grateful and less whiny...and maybe hit some online stores and see what hats are like for Fall. As always, I love you all.