Forecast: Falling Hair Sept 21, 2011

Friends and Family,

People keep asking me if I'm back at work. Since chemo 13 days ago, I have missed a total of a half of a day. Things are going great. When I met with the doctor last week he asked how I was doing. I told him I was pleased that over the first weekend the nausea was mild, and other than a couple of naps ( and no taste buds) things were pretty normal. He frowned. "Those side effects shouldn't happen. We'll up your steroids next time." What???? It doesn't have to be that hard???? Are you sure I'm getting the nuclear option for chemo here????

My hair is supposed to start falling out 10-14 days after chemo starts, so I decided to take charge. Why wait for the inevitable? Five years ago when I went through this, I had embarrassing days at the gym. On one of those days, hair was falling out in clumps in the shower, clogging the drain. This is a shower with about 16 shower heads and no private stalls, so I swoop up the hair and bury it in the garbage before anyone sees. On another day, I was talking with a gym buddy while drying off my hair. When I looked down at the white towel, it was full of black hair. (Yes, it was all black then!) Also, for many days Genevieve and I woke up rolling in hair. It was not pleasant. I do not want to repeat any of this.

So my plan was to buy hair clippers and have Genevieve cut my hair. I drag her into the store to get the clippers, with her grumbling about not knowing how to do this. The next day, when it's time to cut, she's still grumbling about how she might mess it up, and dragging her feet. In this one battle, I prevail.

Following the directions on the clippers, I pull out one of the longer attachments for a "practice round". We get through that without injury, so I switch it to the shortest attachment. This is when it gets tense.

Genevieve is a reluctant cutter, and I'm an eager cuttee. I start barking out orders like, "Take one long sweep all across my head. Go coast to coast," and "hold it closer against my head." She snaps back with every order. There are now two Chihuahuas in the room.

After she finishes, I say, "Now let's go all the way." I remove the attachment and hand her the clippers. That is where she draws the line and blurts it out. "I'm not there yet. I understand that you are, but I'm not ready for everything to change." For her, going bald is physical proof that the cancer, and all the risks that come with it, are real. How did I miss that? She's worried about death, and I'm worried about clumps of hair.

So now I get it, and the haircut ends. We'll do this in stages. Today is Day 13 and I'm sporting a very, very short crew cut. I keep pulling my hair to see if anything is coming out. I thought I saw a long hair on my hand earlier, but when I put on my reading glasses the hair turned out to be a line in my hand. I guess I'm getting a little over-sensitive to the hair thing.

I have more to say, but I'll save it for another day.

Love to you all.