Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hair do's and hair dont's


They say my head has a very nice shape. I figure I can repeat this, since it does not amount to bragging. I really had nothing to do with it. In any case, I’ve been told that I looked good bald.

This is a good thing, I guess, because I’ve been bald quite a bit on and off over the past five years. Since getting diagnosed and treated for leukemia, going into remission for almost four years and then relapsing (arrrgggghhhhh!) and going into remission again last year, I’ve watched my hair fall out, grow back in, fall out and grow back in (2003) and then fall out and grow back in again (2007).

Actually the shape of my head is not really perfect. When I was a junior in high school in New York City in 1971, I left a party for a late-night bike ride with my boyfriend, my first love. We had not really sealed the deal, but we were about to. He pedaled and I sat on the handlebar as we headed down Fifth Avenue to Washington Square Park. We got off the bike and leaned it against a bench, and then we kissed in the warm spring night. He threw his faded red jean jacket on top of us as we stood there hugging. (I’m not sure what this accomplished – he was 6 feet 5 and I’m 5 feet 9, so we weren’t exactly hidden from view, but for just a few minutes, it did feel like we were the only ones in the park.)

On the way back to the party, I accidentally stuck my foot in the spokes of the front wheel. The bike flew up, flipped over and landed on my head, almost in slow motion. Blood gushed out onto Fifth Avenue, and my boyfriend put me in a cab that took me to the nearest hospital. He followed with the broken bike and held my hand while I got stitches in my head. Then we went back to the party. The throbbing in my heart eclipsed the throbbing in my head.

The incident left a little bump. Sometimes I touch it to remind myself of a city night filled with promise, when a bike landing on my head (and my concern over what to tell my parents) was the worst thing that had ever happened to me.

I had long hair that I often wore in a ponytail. When I played tennis or jogged, I pulled it through the back of a baseball cap. I never got my old hair back after cancer. When it grew back, I didn’t let it get long again. I kind of wanted to, but everyone advised against it. They said it looked better short. I know other women who share the dilemma: In wanting your old hair back, you want your old life back. But you can’t go back to the old life, and, with a combination of regret and acceptance, you follow everyone’s advice and stick with the fashionable shorter hair. Sometimes it's like I have a phantom limb, and I shake my head as if to get my hair out of the way. But sometimes I feel kind of cool, and I put on dangly earrings and hold my head high.

2 comments:

Diane said...

It's hard to imagine what it would be like to lose your hair since it's not happened to me. I applaud you for moving forward, seeing the beauty in you with or without hair. Getting yourself "all gussied up" as someone would say, isn't only about what you adorn yourself with but more about how you feel special and present yourself.

Hair or no hair, you look beautiful. And just for the record, I'd agree that you seem to have a lovely head.

Diane

Jennifer said...

Hi Ronni,

I'm glad you found me. I read through some of your blogs. You have had quite a journey as well. I know everyone feels different about their hair. I was never the typical woman that had to go to the salon every month or take an hour for my hair each morning. In fact, I never got it cut and hardly brushed it.=) When I lost my hair the first time, it didn't really bother me. I had wigs, hats, scarves. I lost it shortly after again (since I didn't have remission for almost three years.)So, after two years my hair is just about to my shoulders. I haven't had a break from treatments for just about three years now. I have been the 1% for almost everything. Now that I have severe GVHD (life threatening) I need things in my life to make me happy. No control over most things now. If having long hair will make my days a little brighter than I believe it's worth it. No, I will never have my "normal" life again, but I'm not going to let my diseases take over MY life. I guess we do what makes us happy. Oh and I did look good bald too! =) I had a perfectly shaped head. At least that's what everyone told me.

Keep Smiling, Fighting, & Laughing!

Jen
www.jenniferwilley.org