It was 2 weeks before my 50th birthday, just like any other “normal” day. I was under a tremendous amount of stress at work (big demands, short timeframes), walking 20 miles per day (treadmill desk), and on a strict diet (800 calories per day, high protein, low carbohydrates). You know, a normal day.
While getting ready for work on that normal day, I noticed a handful of hair coming out when I brushed my hair. I thought it was odd, maybe it was due to the diet I was on. I called my health coach to see if this was normal. She said a small amount of hair loss is normal, but not handfuls. Maybe this was one more “joy” of menopause. Maybe it was just due to stress from the job.
By the end of the first week, most of the hair on my head was gone. I decided it was time to call the doctor. I was afraid of the “c” word. I didn’t dare say it, as I didn’t want to claim it. I had a teenage son, 2 older children and grandchildren. I wasn’t ready for anything as drastic as the “c” word. I was very frightened, so scared to go to the doctors.
“While getting ready for work on that normal day, I noticed a handful of hair coming out when I brushed my hair.”
I went to the doctors, with tears in my eyes. My doctor was a younger female, so sweet and compassionate. She told me I had Alopecia. She had me get some blood work done and referred me to a dermatologist. She claimed she had never seen a case as bad as mine. She held me while I cried. Tears of loss, tears of thankfulness that I didn’t have the “c” word, and tears of confusion, fear, anxiety.
I had never heard of Alopecia. So of course, like any good patient, I went home and Googled Alopecia. I became my own doctor. I found it so hard to believe that I had Alopecia. It was just a form of baldness. Seemed so weird to me. I just couldn’t believe that’s what I had.
“During the process of losing my hair, I felt tremendous loss. With each strand that came out, the loss was so heavy.”
A week later I went to the dermatologist. By this time, I had lost all the hair on my entire body. She confirmed I had Alopecia Universalis, the most extreme version. Alopecia is an auto immune disease where your body sees hair as a foreign object and attacks it. There isn’t a cure for Alopecia, the doctors don’t know why it happens. It’s not prejudice to age, sex or ethnic background. It seems more prevalent in younger children whose immune system isn’t fully developed or has been compromised for some reason.
During the process of losing my hair, I felt tremendous loss. With each strand that came out, the loss was so heavy. It was so weird, it wasn’t the loss of my hair per say … just loss in general. It brought up all the loss I had over the course of my lifetime. Especially the death of my twin sister at the age of 27.
People would say to me, at least you don’t have cancer or I wish I didn’t have any hair or It’s only hair, no big deal. Even though their words weren’t necessarily wrong, they hurt. I was grieving and it felt heartless. No one would dare say that to someone who had just lost an arm. Why was losing my hair any different? I felt like an alien, no hair on my head, no eye lashes, and no eyebrows. I felt ugly! A grieving puddle of ugliness.
In the depths of my pity, I had to make a change. I couldn’t take feeling the loss one more day. What little dead strands I had left on my head, I had my husband shave them off. I didn’t want my body to choose when to have the remaining sprigs fall out. I needed to take control.
“I want to help you turn your lemons into lemonade. I want to help you walk in confidence, feel beautiful, be all that you were born to be.”
When my husband finished shaving my head, I felt relief. No more pain of losing my hair. At that moment, I decided to turn lemons into lemonade.
I purchased several wigs, all kinds, long, short, blond, black, brown, cheap, expensive, etc. I was a different person each day. Hair become an accessory, like a scarf or a pair of earrings. And on some days, when I was feeling confident and courageous, I would go bald. I figured if no one knew I didn’t have hair, how could I ever minister to the broken.
It’s been seven years now and still no hair. My heart is to help others in similar situation. I want to help you turn your lemons into lemonade. I want to help you walk in confidence, feel beautiful, be all that you were born to be.