Who's Going to Cut My Hair?
Since my last fretful post, I decided it was time for a trim. After 10 salon-free months, I was happy to pay a professional... even if there was hardly anything to cut. I already knew I wasn't going back to my old hairdresser. I decided that, 10 months ago. This photo shows my hair a few days after it was last cut, but on the day it was cut, I wasn't smiling with my stylist.
I remember sitting in the salon chair, feeling like I was in a fog. I had just learned I had cancer and my stylist (of 15 years) offered such distracted, phony support, I was confused and hurt. I swore I would never return.
I could have just gone back to my good barbers! Don was wonderful with my initial hair shaving and a few good trims. But he is not a pro. My buddy, A.D. from Richmond Barber Shop shaved my head last October with such warmth and patience. But now I need someone who can work with me to find flattering short cuts... for women.
My Wig Trimmer
During my wig days, I was lucky to find a stylist who was talented in wig trimming and apparently had skills for post chemo hair. But in November, after an odd wig trimming experience, I swore I would never return to her. (Blog #115 )
Maybe I've been overly sensitive these past months. But I've also learned, life is too short to settle for service or people who don't treat you well. There are lots of good people out there. But where are they?
I hoped to find a stylist who could help me grow my hair out gracefully AND deal with my tricky hair... with its varied textures, lengths and colors.
Then I got on Facebook and felt worse. I allowed myself to look at the FB page of a friend who died of breast cancer a few years ago. I looked at her photos, as if she could offer me support with her brave smile. But it made me sad to see her. It was a little scary too, to see a little of me in her photos... smiling with her bald head or new hair growth. I had to stop looking.
I ended up contacting my friend Cheryl, who happens to have very cute short hair. I got an appointment with her stylist and felt a little silly when I said, "I'm not even sure what you can cut!"
But suddenly Christina was shampooing my hair and we were laughing and chatting. Once I was seated in front of the mirror, she put all her focus on me. She was sort of delighted with my finger waves and my little swirls here and there. She went after my longer, white hairs that stick out oddly. And she seemed to understand my chemo curls. I felt safe.
She understood I wanted to grow my hair longer, but she helped me feel confident about what I have on my head now. "I don't know... your eyes really stand out with your short hair!" And she seemed sincere.
There wasn't a ton of my hair on the floor when Christina finished, but I felt like a huge weight had lifted. Most people probably wouldn't see much difference, but I felt like a new person when I left. I just felt less sloppy, after things had been trimmed and evened up. Mostly, I felt relieved to know I now have someone I think I can trust in the months ahead, to face this hair growth thing. That is, if I decide to grow it!
Bad Hair Day... EVERY DAY!
The hair is bad. Every morning I look in the mirror and I have to be reminded of this stupid cancer thing, that brought on my bad hair.
Yes, I appreciate not being bald, but my hair needs to be scolded for misbehaving. It is being rude and bothersome.
No Big Deal
Missing My Pixie
I can't believe I'm longing for the hair I had 6 weeks ago. I miss that tame little pixie that was growing in so neatly...
... before the chemo curls invaded.
Chemo curls. I didn't make that up. I don't like that name. I will call them my little shrew curls. I need to work on the taming of my shrew curls, before I start looking like Little Orphan Annie.
The waves moved in about a month ago. Now, when I reach up and feel the top of my head, it feels totally foreign. There's a spongy, springy, bouncy feel. Honestly, it does sort of amuse me when I give it a little pat.
But the finger wave fashion is just not something I feel I can pull off. Maybe if my hair weren't gray. Maybe if I wore a slinky dress with fringe. Or maybe if I took up smoking, I could look cool, with finger waves.
My mixture of curly and straight hair, gives me the just-rolled-out-of-bed-look... at all times. There are looping curls rolling down my neck and a Dennis the Menace sprout, that I've been trying to tame. Do I really start cutting the hair that I've waited so long to have?
This would all be much easier if I had a friend who shared my post chemo issues. That's what I get for being super independent and not seeking out support groups or exchanging numbers with people I met in waiting rooms. I'm on my own now. It's a bad comparison, but these past 9 months have kind of been like pregnancy.
The buddy system helped 30 years ago and I I could use it now... even without the fun reward at the end.
I'm typically not the kind of person who goes shopping when I'm down in the dumps... unless it's antique, junk or thrift shopping.
So that's what Don and I did last weekend and it did the trick. We did not purchase any baby heads, but we laughed a lot.
Shopping helped! Don found a ridiculously fun instrument that he insisted I needed. It amused me to no end. I found some nifty, clip-on ties for $2.50 each, which we wore on an evening hike. The rubber boots seemed to complete the outfit.
So I found out that I do like bows, just not hair bows. These (along with my hat) take the focus right off my hair! Time to think about other things!
Actually once I talk myself into cleaning, I don't mind.
In fact, one summer When I was 16, I asked my parents if they would pay me to be "maid" once a week. I worked from 8 to 5, cleaning the entire house for our family of 6 for $15.00. I complained in my diary, but also noted... "I don't mind having a long period of time by myself. There's no brainwork involved, so I have a lot of time to think." I still sort of feel that way.
It seems like I've spent more time in my house in the last 10 months, than I have in 10 years. It's given me time to become annoyed by the junk and to attempt to do something about it. Even back in chemo months, I plodded away at small projects.
But it's the bigger spaces that I've recently dug into. The garage! Do we need 5 basket balls? It felt good to get started. I was reminded of days as a kid, when my dad would get on a cleaning streak and the whole family went to work in the garage or yard. Cleaning in a group, is a whole different thing. I miss that.
Did I Finish?
I've made progress, but the garage is not done. That's because I have things like bottle cap collections that need to be played with. (I wasted a lot of time!) I like to give myself an excuse for hoarding, since I used bottle caps with my Kindergarten class for math and science games. That was 35 years ago.
Cleaning the Cabin
I plunged in for a totally different kind of cleaning at our cabin in the Texas Hill Country. We don't have clutter there... just cobwebs and dust. It's exhausting work with ladders and long tools. (I broke my mega tool!) I sort of like this kind of cleaning, with no big decisions.
My hair is actually so crazy these days that I should be hiding under a scarf or hat, but I refuse to wear the things that remind me of my chemo days. So now I'm figuring out where to donate my cancer-themed stuff.
Funny how I stopped noticing the face staring at me in my closet. But, it was time to make a decision. Why not just donate the wig to someone who might put it to good use? What was holding me back? I guess there is a tiny part of me that has to acknowledge the fact I could someday face this stuff all over again... But wouldn't I deserve a new wig for my trouble?
It's a weird thought to be confronted with, when you're busy cleaning. I didn't like the the pondering. It made me uncomfortable.
So I closed the wig up inside its box and put it on a high shelf, out of view. I hoped to avoid the same bad luck that happens when you leave your umbrella at home... causing it to rain.
Good-Bye Knee Brace
I did however get rid of the 20-year-old, $1000.00 knee brace from my ACL surgery. Hopefully I'm not tempting fate.
Here's a mighty fine throwback photo of that brace... and my mom, washing bird poop out of my hair...on Mother's Day! I miss Mom!
Ms. Donkey had another job last week. After being bored for a few months, I took her to the out patient surgery center. After all, my little mascot helped me kick cancer's bootie quite well. At least I think so.
My Support Team
So there was no joking with nurses. I was not chatty. When the nurse said the doctor was running late, I begged to please be given that pre-surgery cocktail a little early. I wasn't kidding. I didn't have my usual humor, but I did have Don. Poor guy was once again thrown into the role of caregiver. I laid on my "bed" waiting to be wheeled away and tried to appreciate that. I took my old donkey from the bag and had my cheering duo pose for me.
What was that surgery anyway?
I mentioned a cancelled surgery in a December blog. I had to cancel that surgery when my insurance wouldn't cover the surgery center. I put it off until symptoms wouldn't allow.
I got the okay, this time around and psyched myself up. I cleared my calendar, which was frustrating since I'd finally gotten back to a volunteer schedule. I told family and a few friends, but this was not a status to be announced on Facebook. I have already reached the maximum number of prayers you can ask for on Facebook. Plus who wants to read, "Send prayers, Y'all! I'm having hemorrhoid surgery today!" Yep, that's the unspeakable subject, that I swore I wouldn't blog about.
This little surgery was not related to my cancer, but it has delayed my "Done with it & ready to move on!" phase.
I'm on day 10 of a 2-4 week recovery. I knew what I was getting into and luckily things have gone a lot better than the post-op horror stories I've read about on the internet. I haven't had any agonizing trips to ER and I haven't screamed so loud that I worried my neighbors. I think I should thank my doctor for prescribing the right drugs and I should thank myself for being a good patient and doing my job. I've taken 4 baths a day and stayed on a strict diet that includes none of my comfort foods. No dairy means no cheese and ice cream! No wine and no coffee! And in order to let my drugs do their work, I've put up with many days of wooziness. I've staggered like a drunk woman. I've gotten carsick trying to read and I've seen double on TV. But that has passed.
Best of all, my handler/nurse (Don) has taken care of me. He made me a nifty pill chart so I wouldn't get mixed up in my wooziness. Initially, he served me soups while I sat on ice packs. He left me alone and worked on taxes when I was sleepy or grumpy. And now I'm still on drugs and limited food a short while longer, but my humor is back and I'm able to read and relax enjoy being a hermit a while longer.
Now that I'm not foggy and horribly uncomfortable, I'm able to ponder this odd recovery period. (Google it because I'm not wasting space) I wouldn't wish the first week on anyone, but the second week has allowed me to enjoy my secret passion... being a hermit. Even during 8 months of cancer treatment, I didn't allow myself the luxury of being this much of a hermit. Having an embarrassing health has meant less support, but also freedom from make up and hair worries!
In fact, the timing of this has been perfect. I have had some very creepy-curly hair growth in the past weeks. I plan on wearing hats for a very long while.
Actually, I'm no longer feeling numb toes, but I was two months ago. I was surprised when the neuropathy from chemo actually returned after radiation. It wasn't bad, but it was a reminder that I had recently dealt with cancer. I hate being reminded of that. But the other day I had to be reminded that the neuropathy is gone!
Chinese Foot Massage
When you live in Houston, you have over 100 options for foot massage spas. I checked out the reviews and picked this place in Houston's huge Asian neighborhood. Maybe this photo looks a little eerie, but I was a lot more comfortable stepping into this room with 8 lounge chairs, than I was entering a Chinese Foot Parlor in China a few years ago.
Helps to Have a Friend
A lot of girlfriends do pedicures together, but it's hard to find a friend who wants to go on a mysterious foot parlor adventure with you. Luckily my friend Milissa was visiting from Chicago and she was pretty darn game. In this photo, we were ready to go, with feet in tubs, dark lights and traditional music wafting through the room. I'm glad I found the nerve to ask my foot therapist (in whisper) if she would take our photo.
Ready for Surgery
I may look like I'm ready to go under the knife, but I must tell you, that sheet covered recliner was pretty darn comfy compared to all the medical tables and beds I've experienced this past year. Also, I am wearing clothes. I was wearing a pinkish shirt and rolled up sweat pants under that sheet. Speaking of pink... what about those pink walls? I sure hope we didn't disturb the two getting their foot massages across from us.
I need to mention that the 1-hour foot massage was only $20.00. I also need to mention that our 1-hour foot massage was not just feet. First my feet were put into a wooden bucket of not-quite-scalding water. Then magical hands went to my head and pressed on my forehead and wiggled my ears and massaged my scalp. After my shoulders, I felt the hands return to my feet for good period of time. Luckily a towel was placed over my face, or I would have looked at Milissa and laughed... especially when my therapist burped.
Okay, I did remember my cancer twice during the hour. The first time was when the therapist went to work massaging my head. "Oh yay!" I silently cheered, when I realized my head was no longer sore. 2 weeks ago, my head began to mysteriously ache, just as my hair began to suddenly grow curly! (I try to plaster it down now) My head only recently stopped being super sensitive. I'm so glad I didn't have to sit up and shout, "STOP!" to that pleasant head massage.
I had to laugh at Milissa's hair when we finished. My hair of course showed no change. No, Milissa didn't get her hair messed up from a foot rub. Our foot massage also included a 20 minute back and leg massage in a private room.
It can be a little spooky when you don't know that's included and the therapist quietly ushers you to a back room and tells you to lie down. But we had the buddy system going and tried not to laugh on our side-by-side massage tables.
When our therapists finished whacking and chopping our clothed bodies, we grinned and tiptoed back through the foot room. We tipped well and left happy.
Shopping is another thing girlfriends like to do together. So Milissa and I added a little shopping to our outing. We bought this Jack Fruit at a nearby Asian supermarket and took it home to complete our outing!
This foot/shopping adventure reminded me to be appreciative of a number of things. I no longer have achy feet or scalp. I have short hair that handles massage abuse. And I have an amazing friend who was up for a not so traditional girlfriend outing!
This is the change in 5 weeks. I'd be fine with the curls, if their growth was more predictable. It really is getting a little wilder every day.
Inspired by Grandma Meyer
It will be a while before my hair is long enough to help me hide. I need to think of styles I may be able to achieve soon.
My pondering got me thinking about my Dad's mom. I adore this photo of my grandmother. She was quite the flapper in her day and I'm starting to love her hair more and more!
Cancer - Covid
I started this complaining list/blog, in May 2016. I posted 200 gripes about my breast cancer and then I was done.
On March 13, 2020, I started venting all over again, when another disease (starting with a C) interfered with my life. Only this time, it was affecting more than me.
Coronavirus and Cancer! Both are evil, but neither can totally get me down... if I vent! I hope with Covid, I run out of complaints before 200!