Grateful 365 #27 – Hanging-in-There Hairs

Hair before

Since my diagnosis, my hair and I have been through a lot. I’ve been annoyed by it, missed it, hated it… Today however, I realized just how lucky I am to have what I have and am seriously impressed by the tenacity of my remaining strands!

Since the traumatic shower where I first experienced hair loss in a very big way, to the decision to be done with all my paranoia and grief and shave, I’ve kept a small patch bangs just for fun. (It would have been a mohawk if my initial alopecia hadn’t taken out clumps down the middle of my head! XD)

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I’ve since been informed that it’s actually a punk style called the “Chelsea,” and I’ve come to really enjoy the lengthy patch of bangs at the front of my chromedome.

Sure, I’ve lost a few of those initial long hairs and the patch has shrunk a bit, but I can’t help but be amazed that over halfway through my chemo, these tough little strands that remain have hung tight and stayed with me! Don’t get me wrong about the chromedome either– I really enjoy being able to switch color and style on a whim with wigs and not having a fully follicled head is pretty much the pinnacle of simplicity and ease when it comes to daily upkeep! Still, it really is comforting to have something to sweep back and brush.hairpanel

I have no idea if I’ll be able to keep this patch through the course of my treatment, and if it goes, I’ll likely miss it, but I’ve already prepared for it.

In the meantime though, I like imagining that I’ll end treatment and be able to keep rocking my rebel punk ‘do as the rest of my scalp catches up!

So thank you, my little scalp soldiers! Hang in there and carry on!

 

~all the love~

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Grateful 365 #19 – Seeing the Finish Line

emote eheheA few days ago I spoke with my oncologist about my upcoming treatment. In addition to setting up times and schedules for this cycle, she also humored me in penciling in dates for the remaining course of my treatment. It didn’t really strike me until I had transfered it from paper to phone calander and phone calendar to e-mail, but…

I have an end date.

April 7th- Final chemo
April 28- PET (looking for an all clear)

emote eye rubI have a finish line.

emote yayI have a finish line that my oncologist says is very likely given my current progress.

Typing those words feels great. Seeing those words feels great.

Although I’ve known from the beginning that there would be an end, there is something so solid and real about having a date. I’ve been encouraged going into this cycle just knowing that I was over the halfway point from here on in, but being able to point to a calendar and say “I’ll be better then!” is an entirely new level of elation.

emote triumph

I’ll be better then!!

I know I’m very blessed to have the prognosis I have, and doubly so to have the certainty of an finish line to look forward to.

I’m grateful for both.

~all the love~

Wig Accessory Essentials

So I’m in the process of compiling step by step photos for some of the cool things I’ve learned to do with my wigs, and am hoping to put up some DIY tutorials for fellow wig wearers out there.
In the meantime though, let’s make sure that you have everything you need.

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Wigstand#1- Wig Stand.
Unless you are really limber and very patient, a wig stand is your best bet for getting some of the more complicated hair maneuvers right. All my wig stands are open plastic models, which can make getting a feel for how the head sits tough at times. Styrofoam head models are probably the easiest to style on as they fill the wig better and give benchmarks for how the wig will sit on the head.

#2- A Comb or Wig Brush
Combs are the easiest to find anywhere and don’t need any kind of specialization to work well and avoid damage to your wig.
If you have longer wigs or find yourself dealing with snags often, a wig brush may be the way to go. I know what you’re thinking, “can’t I just use a regular brush?” Well, sure you can, but keep in mind that brushes designed for natural hair usually have a level of pliability to their bristles. This softness can catch, stretch, mangle and break synthetic wig strands quite easily.
wig_brushWig brushes usually come equipped with sparse metal bristles– not the pinnacle of comfort on a scalp, but much less likely to damage your wig in the long run.
A wig brush usually won’t cost much more than a normal brush, but if for whatever reason you feel inclined to use a ‘normal’ brush on a synthetic wig, keep in mind that stiffer, sparser bristles are better and work gently with it.

#3- Wig Cap or Cushion Band
I put this on here only because I know that for some people it’s a must. Wig caps do a good job of dealing with keeping oil and sweat from your scalp off your wig, and can really help alleviate itching and discomfort if you are dealing with scalp sensitivity. wigcushionband
Personally? I tried some and really didn’t care for them. My favorite underwig accesory is The Cushion Band found here: http://www.headcovers.com/175/cushion-band-gel-headband-grips-wigs/ . I probably need to do a review of some sort on it because as my head started to get tender, it pretty much alleviated every complaint I could have had about wearing wigs.

wigpins#4- Bobby Pins, Barrettes, and Snap Clips
Bobby pins and snap clips are especially helpful for taming wayward strands or keeping a wig looking the same way you styled it all day long. Barrettes can do the same thing, but with flare!

#5- Claw/Jaw Clips and Hairbands
Whether combing, cleaning, or styling, wig generally become easier to work with when sectioned off. For ease and minimal chance ofd breakage, alligator clips are your best bet. For long lasting hold, use hairbands the same way you would with normal hair…just not too tight!

#6- Wig Sprays, Shampoos, and the Like
wigwash4Listen, there are a ton of products out there for wig wearers, and I’m sure that a lot of them are awesome and well worth it– especially if you’re sporting a hundred dollar or more ‘do!

For me though, I’ve found that I really only need a mild, no residue shampoo like Burt’s Baby Bee to keep everything nice and neat.

Bottom line is that you shouldn’t wind up spending more on upkeep than you did on the wig– do your research, price check, and always, always look for testimonials!

Well, that’s about it for today, but I should be returning with more articles on how to style and care for the hair you wear!

No Time for Paranoia. AKA! One Less Thing to Worry About.

It’s funny how quickly things move sometimes. I fell asleep the other night, too exhausted to finish the small article I was writing on superstition and paranoia.

You see, I’d been having nightmares. Nightmares about my hair falling out. My teeth falling out. That kind of thing.

I’d started finding hair on my pillow in the morning. My head felt like it was itchying. I was getting paranoid.

I developed some rituals. 5 strokes of the hairbrush and straight into a pony tail for the rest of the day,. No touching the hair before I went to bed. No showers after the second chemo.

Basically, don’t look at the hair. Don’t think about the hair. Don’t touch the hair.

ESPECIALLY don’t touch the hair.

That’s what I was writring about. Maybe in more detail.

The night after neulasta was AWFUL. I had some oxy/acetominaphin to help get me through it though, so after an hour or so, it became tolerable and I was able to get some on/off sleep in so long as my head wasn’t involved. (And yes, that is another article because I feel it’s important. Neulasta is NO JOKE.)

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I love dressing up. I love spooky stuff. I wanted to participate. I planned on taking the max dose of oxy for the celebration. Dress up. Have fun. …A shower was needed.

I will summerize the shower: traumatic shower is traumatic.Image

That dream where you run your fingers through your hair and it comes out in clumps? And doesn’t stop? THAT.

I got so overwhelmed that through the tears, I started hanging it up on the towel rack. What else could I do? It wouldn’t stop!!

It was so much like my nightmares that I have expected my grit teeth to fall out of my head too! Maybe my arms would melt away and fall off next!!

Before I continue, I’ll tangent with a short story. I gave my hair an ultimatum. We could live together if it thinned. We could live together for a long time. I might get it cut a bit shorter, I might wear it up a lot more, but we’d deal. HOWEVER. If it clumped and came out? Done deal. It was getting shaved. I knew I couldn’t deal with it. Too much. Much too much.

So yeah, I got over the shock. I got over the horror. I got annoyed. Stupid fucking hair!!! It had ONE JOB, dammit!!! ONE!!

Cool thing though, the chemo left patterns. I saw two tulips and later on a heart. Maybe even the word “hi” if I looked hard enough. It was going to be okay. The hair stuff? If anything, it just showed that the chemo was doing it’s thing. Hunting shit down. Getting cancer dead.ImageImage

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I could dig it. I could deal with it. I don’t make idle threats, so at least I knew that I wouldn’t have to deal with the awful hair on my pillow much longer.

I’m blessed with wonderful friends. My housemate has worries of her own in the cancer department that make this lymphoma of mine look like a cupcake stand. She’s also lost her mother to cancer. There are all sorts of reasons that helping me with my hair issues probably made her uncomfortable or potentially brought back memories. Still, she’s the best make-you-bald barber I’ll ever had. Through the process we smiled and laughed…she made me forget everything I was worried about or afraid of.

I can’t even express my gratitude for her in general, let alone for her help with a difficult task. I really am SO blessed.

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So now I have a new haircut…and one less trouble. :)

One Week from Chemo 1 Update!

It’s a week and a day out from my first chemotherapy session and I’m finally feeling close to what “normal” usually is for me.
I’m back to eating my usual food, although I’m still taking cautionary anti-acids before every meal to prevent heart burn.
I made a full day of work on Sunday and a half day before that on Saturday. I’ve given my Wednesday classes away for now, which I feel is a good decision as it allows me time to reflect and get things done around the house.
I’m feeling well enough to start worrying about money now, but I’m reaching out to figure out just what I should worry about, if anything. I’m dreading mail from my insurance.

I’ll say now, a little more than a week out from it, that I underestimated chemo a tad. I thought it would hit hard and leave quickly, but the after effects were with me well into Friday afternoon.

I’m excited for this weekend though- a friend’s wedding and a chance to see many highschool companions (some of whom I haven’t seen in years!). How blessed am I that I get to go with my normalcy regained and all my hair still in place!
I’ll work Saturday, Sunday, and Monday (and honestly, I have never felt happier heading in to work!) and enjoy the hour after enjoying various Halloween gatherings and parties!

Tuesday I’ll go in for my second treatment with a list of questions and a much better idea of what to expect all around. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t dreading it a little, but I do feel much more prepared and that gives me confidence.

Needless to say, I won’t be going to the anime convention next weekend like I had planned, but c’est la vie. With any luck, I’ll be able to work Saturday and Sunday and make up for some of my time lost to recovery!

So there’s an update, for what it’s worth… at the moment I think I’ll go enjoy everything to the utmost! :D

Not Exactly How I Planned to Start This

I’ve been planning to do a lot of things for a very long time.

I’ve been planning to create the epic fantasy series I’ve had in my head since I was small.

I’ve been planning to learn how to play the ukelele and the guitar and maybe a few extra instruments as time allowed.

I’ve been planning to brush up on my Japanese and then learn more. Maybe even try for some semblance of fluency.

I’ve been planning to read more.

Learn more.

Go out more with my friends.

Do more at work.

Report more often for the webzine I’m fortunate enough to write for.

Try making articles for other ‘zines too.

I’ve been planning to get my name out there…by any means possible.

…I’ve been planning a wordpress of my own for awhile, but I never seemed to find the ‘right time’.

Funny how it’s never the “right time“, isn’t it?

Not “ha-ha” funny, but enough to make a girl smirk at herself.

Well…it’s still not the right time. Not at all. It’s the wrong time.

Everything.

Is.

Wrong.

My headspace is all messed up. I keep vacillating between hero and victim and protagonist and auxiliary character and all the spaces in between. I’m the luckiest vagabond pauper queen victim warrior in all of how-many-ever worlds there might be. I’m at my best, worst, and most indifferent…and I’ve never cared more about leaving a mark.

I’m not writing this blog because I need something to do–
I have a job and a lot going on.

I’m not writing this blog because I finally realized that you can’t win if you don’t play–
I’m still terrified of failure and rejection and procrastinate and make excuses to deal with that.

I’m not writing this blog to build myself up or to tear myself down–
I’m too ambivalent about everything and anything to get beyond “pleased to exist”, honestly.

Most of all, I’m NOT writing this blog because I think I won’t get another chance–
Ambivalent, indifferent, or otherwise…I am still far too much of a narcissist to seriously imagine my own death before I’ve made something worthwhile to leave behind. Plus, I’m in no danger.

I’m writing this blog because I found out I have cancer…and that frightened me, consumed me, demotivated me. It spiritually, mentally, and physically messed with me to the point that the only reaction I see as reasonable now is to accept it as a challenge.

And Win.

I don’t take challenges often because I don’t take them lightly. I take them personally, spitefully, and with something to prove….and so I’m going to do my best to take everything that would hold me back or scare me off and craft it into something I can at least look at and say “Hey, I tried there. I didn’t give up or lose ground.”

Best case scenario? I make something like art or manage to help someone in a similar situation in some small way.

Trying is more than I’ve done in awhile. I’m rusty. I’m embarrassed it took some stupid clusters of “Cells Gone Wild” to get my attention. It’s not how I planned to start my wordpress…but here it is.

It may not be “the right time,” but it is the time.

Dr. Hodgkinstein? Chemo?

Bring It

…Bring it.