What do you do if you start losing your hair?

Hair loss is quite devastating. I don’t think it makes a difference if you are a male or female. It all depends on how you feel about your hair and, if short hair, or no hair, suits you. For me, I always think I have a rather manly face if I have very short hair so when my hair started coming out in clumps I was so worried.

hair3 To begin with, my hair loss didn’t notice as it seemed to come out quite evenly, and I was pretty confident that, although it became very thin, it would just start to grow again and never notice. I was wrong! It then started coming out around my hairline and I had very definite bald patches. I was horrified! I started asking people in the waiting room at the post transplant clinic about their hair loss, and it was a common feature among all the people I spoke to. It’s great that when you have been through a common series of treatments, everyone knows exactly what you have been through and no subject is off-limits when it comes to talking. In fact I had the waiting room laughing out loud one time with my beard growth stories! It’s funny how you can lose hair on your head yet grow a fantastic beard that would rival Father Christmas!  No-one had a definitive answer as to what to do but as it’s growing now I thought I would share some of the things I did.

You can see from this photo how far back the bald patch went. It was both sides so no hairgood for a cover up as a middle parting doesn’t suit me. Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of the bald patches as I was far too embarrassed.

At first I tried taking supplements. I took Biotin tablets and a general “skin, hair & nails” supplement. When you have any illness you need to check with your GP/consultant that any supplements you take don’t interfere with your medication. I also used Watermans Grow Me® shampoo and conditioner. I loved the smell of it and it left my hair beautifully soft! After a couple of months my hair still had no visible signs of growth. Looking back now I realise that it was probably far too close to the trauma of surgery and the 36 tablets/capsules of medication I was taking a day at that time. My body needed time to recover.

I continued having my hair coloured but changed to non bleach products and instead of every 6 weeks I moved to 8-10 weekly visits to my hairdresser. I’m lucky to have a hairdresser who understands what I’ve been through and why my hair is like it is. She helped advise me into cutting it shorter, putting in more layers, and colouring in such a way that my hair looked fuller than it was. Some might question why I continued with colour. Well to be honest I had researched on what other people did and I didn’t see a vast difference and, although I work from home now, I wasn’t at the time and was more on show than I am now.

The next treatment I tried was to crush Biotin tablets and add to coconut oil and rub into my hair. I left it overnight and shampooed and conditioned as usual in the morning. Again, this left my hair beautifully soft and made me feel much better and I started to see some growth.  I was still on the supplements. For any treatment I think you have to persevere for at least 6 weeks.

I asked my consultant what I could do to speed up the process and he suggested REGAINE®   for women. It’s a foam which you apply once a day. The problem I found was that it needed to be applied to the scalp and not the hair and I found it very difficult to do with a foam. It states that once you start using it, and see hair growth, you need to continue using it or the benefits will be lost. I was also worried about toxicity. I’m not saying it was toxic but I need to be very careful with anything entering my blood stream as it can damage Morgan, my transplanted kidney. I used it for a while and I feel it helped but as I didn’t plan to use it forever I decided to stop.

More lately I have been using OGX®  Biotin and Collagen Shampoo and conditioner. It’s available from most supermarkets which makes it more easily accessible. I have come off all supplements now.

My hair is now growing and is stronger. I will never know if it’s just time I needed or if anything I did worked but I’m glad I tried them all.

I have what most people after hair loss have……the new hair has come back wavy! I can now see that I lost hair all over my head. I have a little Mohican going on at my crown (great huh?). I already had a cows lick hairline so with the new hairline growth I now have a very sticky out wavy bit! My wonderful hairdresser, Chloe, has taught me how to use hairgrips to hold this wavy part of my hair out-of-the-way so it looks better.  Simply take a small strand of it and twist it, incorporate a little more (like you would with a plait) until you have it all and then put the hair grip in facing towards your hairline. Like this…..

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I think it covers that patch well! I’m sure it can be done neater than I do it but it still looks great!

So now I feel that I’m finally out the other side. It’s taken nearly 2 years. I must admit than when you go for a transplant you are not warned about the many side effects that it carries. I guess the gift of life is far more important, and it’s really insignificant given the larger picture. I feel that everyone thinks that a transplant is a cure (it isn’t, it’s another form of treatment) so it’s assumed that I am now better and so they wouldn’t expect any side effects. If I mention my hair loss to anyone the usual answer is “but you look so much better in yourself so don’t worry”. I do worry though……I think most people do.

If your hair loss is greater than mine then it’s worth getting a good wig. Go to a proper wig maker and then get it styled properly so you get the best look. These days wigs are great and a lot of people use them as fashion accessories so no one will even think about it. I found a great fb page called Hair Necessity. It’s aimed at women with alopecia. The lady that runs that page, Rebecca, is inspirational! If you are looking for comfort and inspiration then it’s a great place to start even if you are a man.

As for me. This is my hair now. I still need to grow it out more to stop my wavy bits (it’s been straightened in this photo) but, I finally have reached a point where I’m happy with it. This is mostly thanks to Chloe at Hair L’Amour.

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I’m off to sort out my beard now so I’ll catch up later…….if you have any ideas or help for myself or others going through this then don’t forget to leave a comment. It would be lovely to hear from you x

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Testicular Cancer-operation day…….

So the day has arrived, and I must say that Darren has remained calm over the past week. I guess we both know that, these days, the anaesthetics are very safe and you get given anti-sickness drugs and pain relief whilst you are asleep, so by the time you wake up you feel fine and can even feel like eating. I remember in the “olden days” (when I was a child lol) having my teeth out under gas. That horrible rubber mask over my mouth and nose and me fighting to get it off until I was overcome by the fumes. I remember waking up after having 4 teeth removed (I didn’t have enough room in my mouth for all my teeth) and feeling awful! I was basically carried across the road to the park to get some fresh air. My parents were firm believers that fresh air was the cure for everything. It didn’t make me feel better that time!

So this past week I haven’t slept very well. It’s always assumed that I’m the family member with the health problems (since my Mum passed from kidney disease/heart attack). I’m not used to seeing Darren having many health problems, whereas I was quite poorly for 6 years and had numerous stays in hospital. I hid my kidney disease well most of the time though.

I feel very sad. I mean, he saved my life by donating his kidney so surely that should give him a health pass for life? I also feel guilty that he is having an anaesthetic with only one kidney. It’s not actually relevent to the operation itself but it does mean that some drugs, like anti inflammatory medication the Doctors may otherwise use, are no longer an option for him and really no pain-killer apart from Paracetamol type drugs. There’s nothing wrong with Paracetamol (I’ve been allowed only those for years) it’s just that sometimes you need something a little stronger. He isn’t allowed now he has donated.

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Darren has just gone down for surgery. He will have his operation and then be cared for in the recovery room for a while. I will see him in 2 or more hours time. I’m allowed to remain in his room and wait. It’s a lovely room and has a shower room/toilet so that’s great for me as I drink 3 litres of water a day! Darren is covered by private medical care. Under our local NHS hospital I wouldn’t be allowed to use a patients restroom so would need to go to a different floor if I needed it. As I work from home it would be difficult to keep packing up my laptop so I’m really grateful right now for this room! Not that this is about my comfort! It’s not a slur on the NHS in any way either, I might not be alive today if it wasn’t for them. For today though I am grateful for being in this hospital. We feel spoilt for the comforts of this room.

I have been using the internet to look up the percentage of testicular cancer being benign and the odds are really in his favour so that makes me feel a lot less nervous. We won’t have the results of that for a week or so but are both expecting the best result from this. The surgeons had their meeting yesterday and no one had ever seen this before so we are no further to finding out what it is without testing it in any case. One suggestion was a crush injury causing the tumour but I really think that would bring tears to the eyes and he would have noticed that?!

So I sit here waiting (and working) and if I get very agitated I might even take my knitting out to take my mind off things! There’s nothing like fresh woolly stitches on a knitting needle to give you comfort!

I’m trying hard not to think of all the things that could go wrong during the operation. There’s no room in my life for such thoughts (or so I keep telling myself). I’m not feeling alone. We’ve had so many messages of support and even FaceTime from my Daughter and youngest Granddaughter (little un doesn’t know what the operation is for but wanted to say good luck). I know my family/friends are just a phone call away but for now I just need to be calm and alone.

Having Aspergers means that emotions can be overwhelming. I tend to suppress them unless I am very stressed. Even then I just tend to hide away and cope on my own, so for now, I’m happy in this closed room with my own headspace and sit and wait for Darren to return. He won’t be long……just a few hours of worry that’s all!……….it’s actually getting dark outside already so it feels kind of comforting if that makes any sense?

I have snacks and my 2 litre water bottle to keep me going.

to be continued………