Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Deed Is Done

Posted Nov 3, 2008 3:48pm

You know how you just can’t resist rubbing a guy’s head right after he gets his first buzz cut? It feels even better to be the rub-ee. Imagine how much fun it is to have your own fuzzy head and able to rub it any time you want! I look a little like a grandpa with a buzz cut, since my hair has thinned quite a bit, but it feels amazingly good. The shower feels awesome on my head, and after a shampoo and a drop of conditioner it’s very soft.

Yesterday Kanako called to assure me she would be over by 4:30 for the Big Cut. Kat had planned on visiting late afternoon, so I called to let her know that this was The Day in case it would freak her out. Heck no, we were going to make this a celebration (unfortunately without the wine).

My sister (a retired hair stylist) called from Mountain View to wish me luck, with her regrets that she did not live closer so she could be the one to do this. I still feel everything happened in the right sequence with my cutting it a little at a time over the week, but I can’t describe how good it felt to have it so tenderly shaved. It wasn’t like those military movies where they just attack your head and shave it to the skin. Kanako has given this gift to many of her clients, and she does it with such care. She started by trimming around my ears, and then actually worked in layers, combing and shaving a small section at a time. I wasn’t watching the clock, but it felt like it took at as much time as a real haircut.

We didn’t have a mirror in the kitchen, but I could see a mottled reflection of the top of my head in the shiny tiles on the backsplash of the stove. Kat took a few pics, they both complimented the shape of my head – and reminded me of the importance of always wearing lipstick and big earrings! When she was done, Kanako rubbed my head in quick motions to free any loose clippings – it felt so good I started tapping my foot on the floor like a happy puppy getting a belly tickle!!

I went to the bathroom to check out my new ‘do in a 360 degree view, and it was not the shock I had anticipated. In fact, it was not a shock at all. It’s a different look for me, but it is what it is. I’m comfortable going bare-headed at home, and wear a turban cap if I’m cold. For the time being, I just put on some big lime green earrings and touched up my lipstick!

We gathered up what hair clippings we could for the collection that I’ve been saving in a paper bag for the birds, and I vacuumed the rest. Finally, I can put the vacuum cleaner away – I’ve been dragging it around all week to clean up the ongoing hair trail. Shortly after Kanako left, another friend popped in with a gorgeous potted plant of enormous burnt-orange mums! She had read the carepages and knew about the event of the day; as a cancer survivor herself, wanted to offer her support. I asked her to rub my fuzzy head for good luck, since she has, as she said, “Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.” I just love this new sensation of head-rubbing!

When we first moved into the house, every time Dave went for a bike ride I’d paint a room, so he was never quite sure what he was coming home to find. Now that I’ve run out of rooms to paint, I had to do something to surprise him; why not shave my head? I know there’s an art project waiting to happen around this; there was just too much going on yesterday to get started. Everyone had left by the time he came home from his ride yesterday, and I was wearing a soft terry turban-hat when he arrived, since my head had been a little chilly. I was kind enough not to greet him at the door with a bareheaded “BOO!” When he had called earlier, I told him that Kanako had been visiting – he knew what that meant. As I pulled off the hat, he started to give me a sympathetic pout until I had him rub my head – for good luck – and we got a good laugh out of it.

Although this eliminates the get-ready time for doing my hair, the turban-wrapping can be quite involved. Here are some tips for wrapping scarves – cotton works best, and the long pashmina style shawls are my personal favorite. They don’t slip, and the length allows some pretty fancy twisting and wrapping.

If you don’t wear a head covering underneath the scarf, your head can look pretty flat. I like wearing a plain, fitted turban (either cotton or terry) for that. These are also very comfortable to wear alone to keep my head warm.

When it comes to earring, size matters! The bigger and more colorful, the better. There are some great finds for these and the scarves at Cost Plus (World Market), Ross, Marshall’s, TJ Maxx and Target.

So there you have it – a story, a picture and plenty of chemo beauty tips! Round 2 is this Thursday, and since chemo treatments have cumulative effects, I don’t want to even imagine what mysteries await. What I have learned is that no matter how bad it gets, there is always a solution, and it usually involves getting creative to find new resources and make the best of it. Like those who have gone before me and made my journey less terrifying, I offer what I find to those that follow me. Every person who has walked this path has an amazing story to tell, and I am honored and humbled to be among them.

I have been blessed with a warped sense of humor that focuses on the lighter side of what could be a terrifying experience. That is my means of coping, and simply an offering of a different perspective. My humor is never meant to minimize the impact that cancer with all its collateral effects can have on not only the patients, but everyone in their lives. The best thing anyone can do when you find out someone has cancer is to just be there for them in whatever way you can, and whatever way they need – listen, laugh, cry, send a card or email just to let them know you are thinking of them, drive them to an appointment, make some soup – big or small, every contact means so much. I love carepages; it has been my best outlet for expression through all this. Just knowing that you care enough to be following this story is absolutely the best thing you could do for me. Thank you, thank you. Have a wonderful, cozy autumn week!
Love, Laurie

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