Sunday, October 12, 2008
It takes practice to turn off the worry switch
My worries took a hike when my hairdresser, Robin Thibault, trimmed my hair outside the salon recently.
Melissa called on Friday to say that the CMV test came back negative. Yay! That is now removed from my worry list. I will get my counts checked again on Tuesday to see if they’re coming back up.
I am definitely relieved, but once the worry switch goes on, it is often hard to turn it off. My counts should come back now that the CMV is gone, I’m tapering the Valcyte and giving myself Neupogen shots. Yet it is hard to totally shake the fear that they won’t come back and that I might be heading towards graft failure again.
There are things I can do. For the white blood count, I am giving myself the shots. I don't really know if my diet can have a big effect on my hematocrit, but I am eating more iron-rich foods just in case: Total for breakfast, some kind of red meat or chicken and leafy greens for dinner, and oranges to help the blood absorb iron.
As for the platelets, there is nothing to do, and that lack of control tends to lead to anxious checking. For example, when I give myself the shot, I check to see if there is more than a tiny dot of blood, because a drip might signal even lower platelets. So far, so good. My nose was running on and off today, and I quickly dabbed to see if I had a nosebleed, a symptom dating back to the bad old days in May when my platelets were about 4 and my nose bled frequently. No nose bleed. And, no new bruises.
The best thing to do, of course, is to change my focus, which, on and off, I did pretty well during this beautiful weekend.
It takes practice, though, and I am going to practice by ending this post on a totally different topic, one that is never far from my thoughts: hair.
It’s a topic that resonates for most women, and I assume some men, after chemotherapy. I don’t really know how men feel about it, but I have to imagine it’s easier, because a bald guy can just look like a guy who happens to be bald, but a bald woman looks like someone who’s had chemo.
When my hair started growing after my first treatment in 2003, I frequently poked my head into the hair salon and asked my lovely stylist, Robin Thibault, “Is it time?” Finally it was time for her to trim an unruly few hairs. There wasn’t much to do, however. I had curly hair as a child, but when I grew up, my hair was wavy. After treatment, I had crazy curls and cowlicks. I tamed it with hair wax, and later with gel, and finally it got back to normal.
This time it grew back in curly too. Many people told me it looked great really short, and for a while I thought of keeping it that way. I even wrote a blog post about the significance of my decision. But over time I changed my mind. I want my long hair back because it makes me feel more like me.
The longer it gets, the more help it needs, especially on a humid day. On many days, I use clips to hold down my “wings.” I’ve used headbands (kind of silly looking) and baseball caps (which give me hat head). The day Katryn took my picture on the beach, the wind was blowing it all over the place – mostly straight up, making me feel like Marge Simpson. (The height, not the color.) It settled down after I put my sunglasses on my head.
You can’t just let it grow without getting it trimmed. Recently Robin pulled a chair out in front of the salon so that I wouldn’t have to be inside wearing a mask. She shaped it just the tiniest bit. I’m not sure anyone but me could really see the difference, but the haircut made me feel part of the normal world, and it took my mind off my worries.