Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Trimming Those Locks of Grey

Unlike my eye color (green), when I have to provide my hair color - for example on the DMV form - I really need multiple choices. My once brown hair got the first hint of grey in my early 30's, and the grey has steadily marched onward as the brown has slowly retreated.

Yesterday, I got a hair cut, and couldn't help but notice (yet again) how much of the hair hitting the wrap was grey. Not all of it, but most of it. Plus I have a thinning area on the very top. I told the barber "why don't you cut some of the hair out of my ears and glue it to the top?" Ear hair - one more sign that God has a healthy sense of humor!

But at least I have hair, grey or not. It all reminded me of six years ago, in 2002, when most of my hair was gone from chemo. When I got the chemo, I knew hair loss would be one of the side effects, and as it turned out, it was one of the least burdonsome side effects. But I thought "Well, at least I will lose this damned ear hair for a while." Alas, it was not to be! Here is part of a note that I wrote friends and family in June of that year, as my hair was starting to drop in the third week of chemo:

"Today I feel well enough thanks to the anti-nausea drugs to go out for another hair cut. My hair is falling like the leaves early in Autumn - every time I shower or run my fingers through it I come away with dozens of hairs. When I wake up, it is all over the pillow. So, now that it has grown about an inch long, I am going back for a real short buzz, as short as they can get it. Of course the hair growing out of my ears does not seem to be affected in the least by chemotherapy - I was really hoping that wouldn't fall out, anyway!!! ;-) Yeah, right! Go figure!"

My friend Holly wrote back and said, in part, "Hey, I'm so glad for you that you aren't losing your ear hair! Now, that would be a REAL disaster."

My reply to Holly included the following: "Yeah, this stuff is an adventure. Not the most pleasant thing in the world, but also a very far cry from the least pleasant. I plan on using it to grow and I will be a better and stronger person once I survive it all. I do think that losing my ear hair would have been too much to bear though - I would have been a broken man, sobbing uncontrollably in the corner. You can only take so much, you know."

Fortunately, I never did lose that ear hair, even during six months of chemo, and not in the six years since. So whenever I look in the mirror and see a healthy growth of it, I try to smile and remember how tough that ear hair is. Just like me, it survived chemotherapy!

So for now, as my hair slowly moves towards the day when one choice on the DMV form will be enough, I will just try to be glad I still have some - on my head and in my ears!


Elsbeth said...

Art, I love your stories. How funny about the ear hair- it certainly is tough just like you. I cannot say enough what an inspiration you are to me.

I hope your mentees realize just how lucky they are to have you to train with!

Thank you so much for your kind words- I'm feeling much better and much more (cautiously)optomistic.
Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah,

Racn4acure said...

Elsbeth - thanks your nice comments. I am glad that you enjoyed my little story about the ear hair that was tougher than chemo. :)

I am glad that you are feeling better. Hang in there! Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah! Art