When my hair started falling out I didn’t even notice. I was too busy. Too distracted. Too depressed. I was living with my soon-to-be-husband. We were engaged but not in your typical ‘We’re so in love; we can’t wait to get married’ way. We were more the ‘We don’t even really like each other right now but our parents are bugging the shit out of us about living in sin so we’ll pretend we’re getting married and shut everyone up’ type.
We were also they ‘We get drunk, start fighting like assholes, and make everyone around never want to get married’ type but, alas, that is another post for another day. I was working two jobs whilst chain smoking and moping in my spare time. The TO was having a grand old time drinking, playing video games, and generally being emotionally distant whilst attending pharmacy school. I think my hairdresser found the first spot.
It was above my ear. At the time it was only the size of a quarter. It quickly became as large as my hand. I went to a kind but generally unhelpful dermatologist who told me I had alopecia areata. There was no known cause or cure. He smiled as he told me my hair could stop falling out or I could lose every strand on my head and body. “There’s really no way to predict what will happen,” he shrugged and sent me on my way with a prescription for a useless cream. I teared up a little in his office but waited till I got home to let the real hysterics begin.
The TO was his usual supportive self. Which is to say he shrugged his shoulders and returned to his imported beer and porn. I called my mother. In her ever helpful manner she suggested that this was God’s way of punishing me for fornicating out of wedlock. Using that logic I would have been bald as a cue ball by the age of 21. But I didn’t tell her that.
Eventually, the hair on the back of my scalp fell out, too. In my panic I started purchasing every lotion and potion I could get my hands on. Vibrating hair brushes, special shampoos, steroid creams, oral steroids…I sprayed so much Rogaine on my scalp that I grew a trail of hair where it ran down my cheek and neck mixing with my tears. I decided to cut my remaining hair very short. I reasoned that it wouldn’t be as shocking to go from short to bald.
When anyone commented on my new do I blurted, “I’m going bald. I just want to be ready.” Then entire story would spill out before an unsuspecting co-worker or Wal Mart cashier could think of an excuse to escape my lunacy. One of these stand-in therapists rescued me. “You should go see Dr. English,” she suggested. Dr. English was a miracle worker. The long waiting list for new patients, packed parking lot, and crowded waiting room were all testaments to this fact. Dr. English chuckled when I told him what the first doctor said.
“Todd was a student of mine. He’s a good kid.”
He proceeded to lay out a treatment plan for me that included multiple cortisone injections in my scalp every other week and a powerful steroid. Slowly, my hair grew back. According to everything I’ve read and to my doctors it can (and most likely will) fall out again. The next time could be a total loss and it will probably be permanent. So you may hear me complain about many things in my life – my narcoleptic husband, loud children, messy house, and on and on and on. But you won’t hear me complain about my hair.