Hellmann's ... "Bring Out The Best"... in Hair!
I read that my hair should start growing in 3 to 6 months after chemo ends! I'm not happy with how that sounds.
What do they even mean by that? Are those prickles that have returned to my head (4 weeks after last chemo) not real hairs? Oh well, I like it when there's something I can do to feel proactive. Bonnie, gave me some advice about mayonnaise and hair growth!
I'm going to do this once a week! I slathered on a big tablespoon and gave my head a good massage. (It wasn't as creepy as it sounds) Then I wrapped my head in a warm, damp towel for 20 minutes. Bonnie said I would smell like a salad when I showered and I kind of did. But I like mayo and I like salads.
Thanks for the tip on hair growth, Bonnie! And thanks Uncle Dave, for putting me in contact with Bonnie. Funny the connections that have been made through all of this!
I've had lots of excuses to miss things over the past months, but I haven't missed much. I've been lucky that no family weddings, reunions, graduations or even funerals have taken place in recent months.
But wouldn't you know, it would end up being a stupid cold that got in the way of a few special gatherings in the past 2 days.
Here's a 15 year old photo of my Book Club. We've had some wonderful additions since this photo and some farewells to some special friends who have moved far away.
On Thursday, we managed to grab 2 special "long distance members" back in town for a fun little reunion. I don't have a photo of our gathering, because I stayed less than an hour. It wasn't my first radiation from an hour earlier that wore me out. It was the darn cold and trying hard to keep my distance from others.
Former Book Clubber, Anne
But the next day, I got a chance to visit with Anne who was in town for a few days from Florida.
We sat outside, with a balmy October breeze, catching up. We had lots to share and lots of questions for each other.
Anne brought me these beautiful flowers to celebrate my end of chemo. I made her pose with me because I really needed to share her gift...
You see, Anne just completed 12 rounds of chemo recently. She is my hero.
Friday evening I had to miss one more thing... the wedding of my son's best "drumming buddy" from his youth. I wasn't sure of my treatment schedule when I sent my "regrets", weeks ago.
But as it turns out the radition/cold combo would have gotten in the way. I'm so glad Scott was able to be there to see Steve get married. They've come a long way from surfboards and drumsticks.
I may have missed out on some of my "reunion-ing" in the past 2 days... but I did get to see Scott and Chali briefly and have a little Lola-patting time!
And best of all I was reminded of how grateful I am, that we have a whole year to get excited about a family wedding! A year of getting healthy and excited for all of us!
No Delays Please
Luckily I rarely get colds and they're usually mild head colds. But the timing of this cold was frustrating. I woke up with a slight sore throat, on Tuesday, the day after we returned from our trip. First thought, "Oh no, what if they don't let me do radiation. What are the rules?" I've already highlighted December 14, as my LAST DAY!
Even though I had two medical appointments on Tuesday, I was excited about the day. It was the day I would have gone in for chemo, had I not been so lucky to only need 4 rounds. I was looking forward to this day and the following days. I was eager to see if I would begin to feel more normal, as I moved further from those treatments. But as the day progressed my nose began to run, my mouth grew numb and my head was fuzzy and tired. Shoot! It felt pretty much like I'd had chemo!
That afternoon, I went in for my "dry run" for radiation. By Thursday I had a full cold, when I went in for my first radiation. But I tried to hide my Kleenex and not breath on anyone. I went with the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" approach... determined to get my first treatment behind me.
After waiting a while with a few others in gowns, I got my turn. My technicians were wonderful and they knew it was my first time. I must have looked scared as I laid on the white sheet, because they were so reassuring. I was scared, but not about the powerful machine moving above my head, making strange sounds. I was so darn scared I was going to sneeze. It was done in 5 minutes and I was down right giggling with relief.
"Whew!" I laughed. "I was afraid I was going to sneeze!" They assured me that I could sneeze, if I didn't move anything else. Or I could just holler "Stop!" if I felt it coming on. What good news to know... it was nothing like being in a knife throwing act where a "Wait!!" could get you a knife in the ear.
Yay! One down and 32 more to go!
A Welcoming Monster!
The day after returning from my wonderfully distracting trip to California, it was time to get back to business.
Yesterday I went for my "dry run" appointment before starting radiation.
This Linear Accelerator looks like a monster, opening its arms to welcome me. I wonder if I would have how this machine would have appeared to me, had it not been decorated?
This funny thing will be delivering high energy x-rays to destroy any cancer cells, that think they have a right to still be in my body! 3 wonderful technicians worked away, adjusting me, taking pictures, comparing scans and... decorating me!
"I'm just drawing on you." said one. "These are some stickers." Said another. I just stared up at the ceiling looking at the Halloween decor that was hanging from the ceiling. I had the feeling they might be drawing pumpkins and attaching ghosts stickers to my skin.
Moments later, I was done and I wrapped myself in the gown and headed past the small line up of "gowned" patients to the dressing room.
I put on my blouse and laughed. I know these marks are important to make sure they target the proper places. But someone should have warned me about wearing a scoop necked blouse. I looked pretty silly walking out.
I'm just glad my 6.5 weeks of radiation starts in October and not sweltering, June. I will be paying special attention to my shirts for a while!
I just had a rejuvenating 5-day getaway (in the window between treatments) to help me forget about cancer. But it seems I was reminded constantly, by the slipping, itching, twisting, annoying things on my head.
If only I'd had the confidence to just greet nature, bare-headed. What an easy trip it would have been. But it was too cold to be bald... and I wasn't brave enough.
Here's the cozy hat that came closest to helping me forget my hat/wig woes. I wore the soft, knit cap right on top of my head and it was pure comfort! When it was really cold, I wore a terrycloth beanie under it. Sometimes I wore it with my half wig, just for a little style and neck warmth.
Plus, look how it blends with the mountains that surround Lake Tahoe!
I packed the wig, because I knew there would be times I'd want to be hat free.
In this San Francisco photo, I look sort of normal. But the wind started blowing.
Getting the Signal
A nice man on the roof of our B&B offered to take a photo of both of us. I thanked him and ushered Don over.
Don gave me "the look" which let me know my wig needed tending. It's kind of hard to adjust your wig when a stranger is waiting with a camera. Sheesh! What would I do without my personal assistant?
So here are some wig looks that I'm not happy about. Don and I celebrated our 37th anniversary while in Tahoe.
As our server took our photo, we clinked glasses and I had no clue that my wig was slipping down over my forehead. Not a good look.
Happy As Can Be... About My Forehead
I was smiling pretty big, so I clearly didn't know that my wig was slipping backwards in these photos! In the chair pose, I was actually wearing a hidden band to prevent slippage. (That band will not get used again)
The other photo shows my snappy scarf, that I was feeling pretty good about... until I saw the photo. Obviously neither helped keep my wig in place.
Half Wig Time
I grew weary of the wig issues and decided I needed to just wear my half wig and hide under a hat. Purchasing a hat was a trick in itself. I am letting Betty-Lou my wig holder, demonstrate how the bald head works with the half wig.
It's a little scary. I had to do some swift work inside the souvenir shop to try on hats behind display cases... so as not to shock my fellow shoppers.
Wind and a Hat
That afternoon I felt more comfortable wearing my new hat and halfie, as I walked along the sand at Zephyr Cove. But the wind was whipping a bit. I was standing right next to a woman when the wind blasted.
Luckily my reflexes are still good and I slapped the top of my head, just before that hat lifted and flew. Which would look crazier... me chasing the hat with my halfie-Bozo-head, or me tying down the hat-n-halfie combo, with a silk scarf?
For the most part, I was happy to be amongst strangers on our trip. I didn't really care what anyone thought in the condo fitness room when I arrived with head scarf and slip-on shoes with dark socks.
But Don and I had 2 social encounters planned, which I was more self- conscious about. With my watery eyes, and puffy face just 2+ weeks after last chemo, I wasn't feeling my most confident.
But after we met up with Billy in Tahoe, I was glad we'd made the effort. Connecting with people over these past months has been healthy. I have to push myself, but I always feel better.
Picnic With The Little Guys
I knew I'd feel happy once we connected with our nephew's family, too. I was eager to see our sweet, 3 and 6 year old great nephews. It was nice knowing they were too young to ask questions about my health or to notice what I had on my head.
That was refreshing. But as we sat at the picnic table I discovered a new concern. 3-year-old Colden got playful with Don. For some reason he thought it was such incredible fun to grab Don's hat off his head, repeatedly.
For a moment I didn't think a thing. I love these kids and I love play. Then, it dawned on me, "Oh no! I could be next!" and what a surprise that would be! Thank goodness books and playgrounds are very distracting!
San Fran Airport
On Monday morning we packed up before heading to the airport. I went round and round trying to decide if I should wear my scratchy wig on the plane. But, maybe halfie and a scarf or hat would be comfier?
I chose the wig.
I didn't realize how smart that decision was until we stood in the security line and noticed travelers being asked to remove their hats. Whew, I suddenly liked that wig on my head.
Maybe I'll get another chance to travel by air before my hair grows back. It would be just a little fun, to give those TSA folks a big surprise!
My eyes have been watering since I started chemo and a change in environment really gets them going. Yesterday, I carried tissues through the airport and dabbed my weeping eyes throughout both flights. I was seated by unfriendly non-talkers on both planes and that was fine. But I kind of wish I'd had a chance to explain that I wasn't an emotional basket case.
Today the weather is gorgeous in Lake Tahoe. It was in the 20's this morning. Luckily my clothes are warm enough. And lucky it's not any colder or my cheeks and eyelashes (the ones I have left) would be frozen. The chill adds to my eye drama. I've stopped dabbing my eyes, I just wear sunglasses and hide my wet, swollen eyes.
I still can't believe I am on my way to Lake Tahoe. This seems incredible that Don and I will spend a few days there. We booked way before my diagnosis.
Now there is a window of less than a week between appointments and start of radiation. I'm in the San Francisco airport right now, laughing at how hard I can make things.
Yesterday I was just packing for me. No baby strollers, wheelchairs or even giant instruments to pack. But my mind was boggled just the same. What head gear do I want? Wig, half-wig, scarves, hats? Wig shampoo in case I sit by a smokey bonfire?? Thermometer, since I'm still in the med study... water for hydration... Kleenex for my constant eye watering... so much over-thinking.
Don is already there, since he went with our son for the earlier half of our rental time. So, my travel buddy is not with me. That's okay, I've flown on my own many a time. I even flew with young tots alone to Europe. (Of course I did faint on the plane and needed oxygen, but that's another story) So, it's just 2 weeks since chemo 4 and I don't trust my fuzzy brain to remember all the things that Don does without even thinking... like setting the alarm and tipping and checking us in at the terminal, super efficiently.
When I was going through security I had a flashback of the last time I said good-bye to my mom at an airport. It was just before she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and I watched her in line putting her items in the bin. I wanted to be there to help her take off her shoes and place all her stuff in the bin, but I could only watch from a distance. Impatient folks stood behind her and I cringed. But I saw her calm face, taking her time, folding her sweater and New York Times, without a care in the world. And I think I probably looked just like Mom today. I didn't trust my chemo brain, so I took lots of time to ponder the schedule and my ticket. Don is so super efficient, I usually rush along with him, but I dawdled at the check in kiosk. I took my time putting on my shoes and checking to see that I still had my ID. It felt good to be slow.
Me, the Passenger
I felt so goofy on the plane. My big wig seemed pressed forward by the cushy head rest. I jumped at every cough. Oh dear, I'm actually still supposed to stay away from crowds. I aimed the air blower at myself like friend, Milissa suggested... to ward off germs.
The guy next to me, in high tops and plaid shorts said nothing. He shut the shade and closed his eyes. "Hey!" I wanted to say. "The new me is enjoying life now and I want to see the view!" I waited for him to snore, then lifted the shade and gave myself a view. Then, I avoided sleep since I figured my wig would twist around funny.
While waiting in my Space Age chair at the San Fran Airport, I spoke with a woman who only wanted to talk about her cats. I think she was a little lonely, so I tried to be pleasant.
I took advantage of our friendly encounter to ask her to take this picture so I could text it to my sister-in-law, who sent me this lovely scarf. Sadly the photo revealed that my wig was indeed a little askew. I tried to fix it in the restroom, but gave up.
On to Reno, where Don drives us to Tahoe!
I like some tattoos, just not on me! My kids have tattoos and Don teases me about getting one. I've never been tempted, but guess what? I have 3 now. I have 3 "freckle tattoos" that felt like bee stings. I have more tattoos than my kids now.
Yesterday, I lay on this black platform when I got my stings. There is a lot of marking that goes on to make sure the radiation is accurate. Besides the bee stings, this "simulation" thing was a breeze. I laid on my back while adjustments were made on the blue form, to keep me stable during radiation next week. There were some scans and some photos and some pleasant chit chat with my very nice technician. Mostly I just relaxed and shut my eyes and reminded myself how much nicer this was than my 45 minute MRI, last June.
And most of all I'm glad I did not have to have more than 3 freckle tattoos. Too bad they're so small I can barely see them. 3 tiny stars would have been much cuter!
Don left me, to go off to Lake Tahoe with our son, Scott. (This photo of Lake Pontchartrain, will have to do for now)
Am I sad and lonely? Absolutely not. It's quiet, but I'm happy. Happy for many reasons.
I'm glad Scott is getting to finally see Lake Tahoe.
It's his fall break from Tulane and he's making good use.
I'm glad these two are spending time together.
They've always been good buddies. Knowing they're together makes me happy.
I'm glad we're actually able to make use of a condo reservation that Don and I made 6 months ago. Even though chemo ended, I still have appointments and recovering to do. I'm thrilled that the condo wasn't wasted.
I'm so glad to give Don a break from me. I don't think he's exactly been suffering, but he's been doing a lot of giving, since the end of May.
Don's driven me to every appointment and tended to my ever-changing needs and moods. He's cooked and shopped and best of all he's never complained about how much Turner Classic TV, I seem to need to watch.
I'm glad to have a little alone time. I'm happy, just moving about, talking to no one, eating when I feel like it and plodding away at tedious chores like decluttering... and filling the porch with donations.
And as I happily spend time in the quiet, I've started to miss that guy and all the things I forget that he takes care of. I keep forgetting to pick up the mail and take the trash cans out...
And I'm extra glad to know that after keeping my fingers crossed for good health reports, I will be able to fly out and join Don on Wednesday! We'll stay a few days and I'll return to start radiation. Who would have ever guessed the window between treatments would fall like it did. I have been trying not to get my hopes up, but all is falling into place!
Yesterday I was pondering... "I know my hair will start growing back soon, but I want to begin with a blank slate." I have prickly hairs that came back during chemo and I know to expect surprises in color and texture with new hair growth. But, I want to start fresh. So this is what I did!
Richmond Barber Shop
At 8:00 this morning, I met A.D. at his barber shop in Richmond, Texas. I told him on the phone yesterday about my situation.
He seemed delighted to help me out, but he said he'd only be there in the early morning before his grandson came in at 8:30. He actually arrives most mornings at 6 or before!
I heard about A.D.'s shop 10 days ago, when I went into the antique store across the street.
It was the afternoon of my last chemo and I was in good spirits. I spent time with the chatty owner talking about Richmond history and she mentioned the barber shop across the street.
I looked across and saw the sign saying, "Best Little Clip Joint West of the Brazos" and I started thinking. I wondered about getting my head actually shaved with a straight razor. How many chances in life does a woman get to do that?
I also knew there was a very small window of time for bothering. Why shave your head, when hair is growing in?
Cure for the Blahs
I drove out on Highway 90 this morning. Fog was hanging over the railroad tracks and the ranch land, beside the road. I was feeling pretty giddy, because I love an odd adventure. I had no idea how welcomed or awkward I might feel, but I needed to shake it up.
The day before I was in a grumpy mood realizing I needed over 6 weeks of radiation, not 4. I needed something fun to lift my spirits. I could have done a spa treatment... or gotten a tattoo or anything. But the barber shop was my choice, to cure the blahs.
My Buddies of the Morning
A.D. and his buddy, Silven were waiting for me. They both greeted me with smiles and handshakes.
They look pretty serious in this photo, but that's because A.D. told me to feel free to take photos. They didn't know they were in this one. There must have been 500 framed photos. And I didn't even get a photo of the saddle or Elvis by the door.
Silven was happy to sit with his coffee and take some shots.
I had my paisley scarf for the photo, then whipped it off and took a seat.
A.D. couldn't have put me more at ease. He seemed pretty amused about me being the first woman to ever ask for a head shave. In fact I think I was his first woman customer since he started in 1960.
But he was also warm and open about my situation. He told me he'd be taking his time. "I'll go slow." he said. I was pretty delighted with the warm towel on my head!
My expression doesn't match how I felt. I actually loved that he was using a brush to dab on the lather... cream... what do they call it?
I told him I felt like I was in Mayberry. He didn't act at all like goofy Floyd on The Andy Griffith Show.
A.D. didn't act like Sweeny Todd either... thank goodness.
He was cautious and gentle and only made me laugh when there was no razor in his hand.
I laughed about all my head flaws that I never see. "I heard there's a mole up there!" I told him. But he just complimented my round head.
We did laugh much of the time. It was hard keeping still because our 3-way conversation was lively. And then another fella came in, waiting for an appointment with A.D.'s grandson.
A.D. introduced us and teased, "Yeah, I messed up her haircut last week and she told me to just take it all off." I told him to stop making me laugh. We 4 chatted till I was done and A.D. cooled my head with cooling towel. He cautiously diluted it, so I wouldn't jump out of my seat. Then he fanned my cooling head. "How's that feel?"
Me and My Barber
A.D. told me that my "bubbly personality" was going to get me through this thing, no problem.
He also laughed to Silven that it was a lot more fun having me in there than a bunch of men... and did I want a job? He said it in the kindest of ways.
Grandson, Colt came in to take over with the other barber chair. A.D. introduced us and I marveled that a man who had been "barbering" since the 1950's could have a grandson in the biz, now. Pretty cool.
A.D. pointed out some of the photos he'd been putting up since he opened up 56 years ago. "I just love photos." he said. He said he had polio as a child and he was the only one in the hospital who had a camera. I would so love to see some of his photos from then!
I asked my new friends if I should put on my scarf before heading out. They told me to go for it with my new head.
So I tied my scarf around my neck. I asked A.D. how much I owed him and he wouldn't even discuss being paid. Silven said he was stubborn and don't even try. They both gave me hugs before I left and I promised to come back and show them my hair when it grows in.
I rolled down the windows of my Honda Element, wishing I had a convertible. Then I took a scenic route through Richmond, stopping to pick up some coffee with my scarf-less head.
I drove down the highway feeling the breeze on my smooth skin and I smiled. I sort of hoped I wouldn't see any neighbors as I pulled into my drive, but at least my confidence was up... if I did.
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. This time it was the invasion of COVID and it affected every person. I ranted for a year, until I got my COVID vaccine in March 2021.
CORONARY Artery Disease was the reason I restarted this blog on September 26, 2021. This time it was my hubby Don, who was dealing with a worry that started with the letter "C".
Coronavirus and Cancer, Coronary Artery Disease! All are evil, but none can totally get me down... if I vent! I usually end up feeling a little more positive at the end of each post!
Navigating This Mess!
The most recent post is at the top, from coronary posts in 2022, back to cancer posts in 2016.
To find past posts, look below the "Archives" section, to find "Categories".