Today’s topic is a little farther removed from the typical stroke recovery speak, mostly because I’ve been thinking a lot about Mary, the librarian I mentioned had passed last Labor Day, and the lady I referenced in my previous post who talked about how losing her hair has changed her.
|From Huffington Post: honorary Cover Girl Talia Castellano|
Although I personally have never lost my hair like a patient undergoing chemotherapy has, I’m no stranger to having my appearance significantly changed for what I perceived to be the worse — suddenly having half my face droop down, having what’s considered a “pathological gait,” even the surgery scars on my scalp that even my full head of hair sometimes fails to cover.
But I remember Mary and how she took cancer in her stride, how as she lost her hair, she began to accessorize. After all, she could either fight it, or she could embrace her new look (and this was, like, her third bout of cancer). Upon further research, I’ve found that there are two camps of patients who must deal with hairloss (much like anything else): the ones who accept and embrace what’s happening as a new opportunity for self-expression and the ones who would rather continue to portray themselves “as usual.” While I know I’m not in any position to choose either option for anybody, I do know one thing: When a medical condition demands that your body changes, you must adapt.
So whether you or someone you know is dealing with this kind of change, it can be hard — either position you take. I’d guess that the vast majority of people would prefer not to lose their hair without choice in the matter. Also, when medical conditions hit while we feel busy with what is normally everyday life that doesn’t slow down for us, it can be easy to want to proceed on the outside as though nothing has changed — until we have to concede otherwise. It is humbling to all of a sudden have a significant modification imposed on you, especially if a lot of who you thought you were before was intricately linked to what you are now losing touch with.
When I was a teenager, I prided myself in being an attractive and fairly athletic, active young woman. I remember for at least the first year or so feeling like I couldn’t still doll myself up because I was forced to wear gym shoes every day. It was a HUGE deal for me to be able to wear skirts again once I discovered legwarmers!
On the other hand, you can discover a side of you that you never really embraced before. Losing your hair really puts a dent in a woman’s ability to feel feminine, since hair is such a huge deal to many of us. If normalcy to you feels like getting yourself a set of wigs (why not experiment with a new haircolor?), see if you can get a referral list of wig suppliers from your hospital. If you’re in the area, perhaps also check out this fine Chicago wig shop — they supply wigs for all purposes (fashion, theatre, and of course therapeutic).
Here are some fun ways for you to actually have a little fun with hairloss:
|Anne Hathaway, from http://bit.ly/14iwyaN|
Know that it will come back in time. As someone with very long hair (it nearly reaches my butt) who gets “haircut anxiety,” assure yourself that it will grow back once things are better. It’s what hair does. (I actually no longer suffer from this anxiety since I realized this.) Go shopping for beautiful scarves and/or accessories (hats, big fun earrings) to adorn your head with once the inevitable happens. Insecurity simply draws more attention to our own perceived flaws than self-acceptance and confidence does.
|Hilary Swank via glamforless.com|
Think of all the female celebs out there who have bared their scalps for their careers — or perhaps went super, supershort (e.g., Hilary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry, Anne Hathaway in my favorite Les Misérables). They still rocked their looks after filming had wrapped, and went home with Oscars to boot!
Some patients also opt to take destiny into their own hands and shave it before they lose it all. Perhaps consider having a little fun with the hair you’ve got while you’ve got it — try cutting it shorter than you would have before, or dye it fuschia. Do something funky!
Other awesome things to try during your time of adjustment are things that reinforce your femininity: get fit, work out — maybe try ballroom dancing or Zumba (one of my faves), wear more skirts! Try boudoir photography (I did) or take an artistic but personal selfie just for you. Wear nice underwear! Heels! Tuck a flower over your ear . . . The possibilities are endless.
Remember, transitional periods are often the most difficult. Fighting to get your self-identity and confidence back is really empowering and will help you reach peace far sooner than fighting whatever ails you. Know that you are beautiful no matter what you may think you’ve lost.
I also found this young survivor/patient story that may encourage you.
To our healing,