Outside and inside my head

I’ve got no idea what’s happening round the back of my head. We don’t have the right set up of mirrors in my house to see round the back. This morning I decided to take a photo to see how fetching my hair regrowth is, and what colour it is.

Regrowth of hair after chemo

Hmm. Not too bad. I’m hoping I can be hatless on Christmas day without scaring everybody.

Inside my head is an entirely different matter. Treatment has now finished, and I’ve entered a plateau of wilderness. I don’t know if it’s worked, and I don’t know what will happen if it hasn’t.

Reading fellow bloggers’ words I see that we all go through similar emotions; disbelief, fear and anger at first, followed by a burgeoning of hope as we start treatment, then this empty plateau.

In common with so many others, I’m entirely fed up with the way cancer has hijacked my head. There’s not many minutes of the day when dealing with it isn’t in my thoughts. There’s a few minutes on waking where it’s forgotten, possibly, if I haven’t managed to dream about it. Where’s the rest of my personality gone? Where’s the creativity? The big thoughts?

I’m normal. You’re too furry.

I’m constantly amazed at the ability of the brain to normalise situations.

Whatever you are at any given moment is what your brain considers the norm. It’s from this ‘norm’ that the mind plots everything around it. For example, when I’ve been slimmer, I feel the same; it’s just that everyone else looks fatter by comparison. Vice versa, when I’m overweight I still feel the same – there simply seems to be a lot of slimmer people about.

When I was in the maternity ward, having given birth to my, very neat and pretty, six-and-a-half pound baby girl, I remember comparing our babies. ‘Oh, isn’t he lovely!’ I would gush, looking at a ten pound boy, hoping my face wouldn’t show my real thoughts of ‘hell! He’s HUGE! What an ugly lump!’ Likewise, the other mother would compliment my daughter, a little stiffness around her facial features giving away the her real thoughts of ‘my God, what a scrawny baby!’ Looking back, all week long the ward was filled with women, cooing very insincerely over each others’ babies, each mother complete with rictus grin.

Why didn’t we ‘fess up that each of us thought our own baby was the only normal one there in a ward full of freaks?

Well, the same thing has happened again with losing my hair. I feel normal. The new look seems neat and precise in a way I find quite cool.

Me, bald

Unfortunately, what’s happened to the rest of you? My goodness, you’re looking a mess! What is all that furry stuff around your heads? It’s so unnecessary and untidy, so 70’s. You look like the Electric Light Orchestra. No, perhaps further back, cavemen…

Caveman

Or even…

Cress head

For goodness sake cress-heads, get a grip and tidy yourselves up.

My brows and lashes are getting ready to jump ship…

…the bastards. I was really hoping to hang on to those.

They’re not going quietly, either. They are mutinously rearing up and sticking out all over the place.

Eyebrows and lashes affected by chemo

I noticed it a couple of days ago when I was out for a walk. I had a bizarre vertical line in the vision in my left eye. The world for me was as if viewed from the window of a VW split screen campervan. It was still there the next day. First thoughts, was it a scratch on my contact lens? Naaah! Wouldn’t be in the same place both days. Worse still, had my age-related eye floaters finally got so bad that they were all holding hands in a stalactite/stalagmite arrangement? Grim thought. But not as grim as thought number three. Perhaps I had now got a brain tumour as well as all my other problems, and my sight was going to geometrically fragment so I ended up with the vision of a housefly.

Woman, get a grip! Eyelashes were the likely answer, and on close inspection there was the offending lash, breaking ranks with its colleagues and sticking down like a pig’s bristle. No matter how much I wet it, warmed it and bent it, it would not get back into line, so eventually I tugged it out.

This morning I noticed that my eyebrows had started to behave in the same way. I’d brushed aside a couple of ‘Dennis Healey’* comments without much thought, but, indeed, they have become as irrepressible as my lashes.

I don’t mind the bald head, but I’m really going to miss my lashes. So much, in fact, that I may have to try false ones. This is going to be one big learning curve for me, useless as I am at all feminine arts. They’ll be all over the place, especially now with my old people’s eyesight.

I’ll keep you posted.

*for non UK readers, Dennis Healey was a British politician with notoriously bushy eyebrows

A reasonable theory

I’m still feeling good with chemotherapy. There’s a vague worry in the back of my mind – an old wives’ tale – that if I have no side effects, it’s not doing its job. I’ve checked, and that isn’t supposed to be the case. I’ve also got visible proof that they gave me SOMETHING, and not a placebo, because I haven’t got any hair!

I’m really loving the baldness. It’s so easy in the bath. I also think it makes me look mysterious and futuristic. It reminded hubby and I of ‘Alien’. I was thinking Sigourney Weaver, but he burst my bubble by postulating Brain Glover. Damn.

Anyway, back to the theory. I am impressed by Dr William Li’s ‘Eating to starve cancer’ theory, from a brilliant lecture on Ted. He maintains that diet can starve cancer of its blood supply, and backs his ideas with real examples and evidence of proper research. (There is so much guff on the internet about wonder cures for cancer). I’m pleased to see that I’m mainly following his recommendations anyway, but I am going to increase my red berry intake by getting more red grapes and cranberry juice in my new marvellous machine, the Vitamix.

My goodness!

The medics have definitely got the recipe right for my chemo. I’m full of beans! 48 hours later, I feel better than I have done for ages, and am up at crazy-o’clock this morning doing chores, ordering little treats off the internet (oh, hang on – perhaps the drugs have given me bipolar disorder!)
Along with the 3 chemo drugs they give me an anti sickness infusion and a steroid, then I have two powerful anti sickness pill regimes to take for the next couple of days. Again, one of them is a steroid, I think.
Hubby shaved off the last of my hair last night. I was glad to see it gone, and also to have physical proof that they have given me some kind of chemo and not a placebo, as I feel so well.
If you’re having really bad symptoms with chemo, I think it’s worth asking the medics, because I believe it doesn’t have to be that bad – there should be a pretty good antidote to most symptoms?

Hair today, gone tomorrow

I just hate the hair loss aspect of chemo. Not that I’m bothered about my appearance – since teenage years I’ve considered myself more ‘useful’ than ‘ornamental’. It’s just how to deal with the stuff falling out all over everything. Trickling and tickling down my face in an ever-increasing avalanche.

I’ve had my hair cut short and started experimenting with crazy earrings. I’ve had pierced ears for 40+ years, but nothing ever showed under my bob, so had lost interest. The short hair was a really good move, as it was a kind of halfway house and got me reacquainted with my neck and ears for the first time in decades. It’s also not so bulky when falling out.

I’ve bought some really great turbans and bandeaux from a company called ‘Bohemia’. I’ve started wearing the bandeaux on their own, to hold all the cascading hair in, and to take me gently further towards the hairless look I will have for the next year.

Today I’ve experimented with a headscarf for the first time. I’m absolutely useless at all the feminine arts, and can barely get an Alice band on without losing my temper, but I’ve got to persevere with this headgear stuff. I like the way African ladies can get a lot of height into their head wraps, and found some cracking videos on YouTube, like Woman in The Jungle (Wunmi)

First attempt at tying a head wrap

I thought it looked quite good in the mirror! Takes a photo to show how crap it really is!

I’ll publish it anyway, just to give you all a good laugh!