Sunday, January 27, 2008

I cut my hair



I know that doesn't have much to do with MS or Fingolimod, but in a round about way, it does.

I have grown my hair for several years. Not because it was a goal or anything, but more because I never got around to making a hair appointment. I got pretty good at wacking off my own bangs, so the rest could grow and grow, but the bangs, when they bothered me, were easy to trim. All which made the necessity of going to a salon and having a styled cut done optional.

My hair was also turning white. Notice I didn't say "gray" because that sounds like I am old, which I am, but refuse to believe, thus the term "white". Sort of a lighter than blond color -- that's how I perceive it.

Well, I've wanted to dye my hair, but didn't want to do that until I got it cut. Why buy 3 boxes of color when you could do it with 2, right? But here's the MS connection/catch: Perhaps it's only in my hypochondriacal brain that this issue lurks, but I have been deathly afraid that the chemical smell of hair dye or the reactions between the dye and my hair/scalp were going to trigger an attack.

I know that sounds silly, but after living with this disease and being in a long term state of denial, peppered with anxiety and worry, things like hair dye can become formidable challenges.

The turning point for me was realizing it's been 8 months now without a relapse. I can quit holding my breath and dare to feel normal for a few minutes. It's okay, I probably won't need the cane or walker after the experience. It's just that I feel like I have been tensed up for months now waiting for either a) another relapse or b) some nasty side effect that would cause me to have to leave the trial in which case I would then be waiting for "a)" again.

I sat down the other day and thought to myself "8 months. That's a long time, really. A long time to wait for another shoe to drop. And what have you done with those 8 months??!" (I can be hard on myself even tho I never pay attention to the voice in my head that's trying to push me to do things like be more organized and stuff like that.)

So I looked in the mirror, in a figurative way, and decided it was time to make some changes in my life that would mark a new beginning. To shed the depressed, tired, old shell of a person I had allowed myself to become and take back the person I think of as the true me.

While in the midst of this personal revelation and need for change, I visited my son's school. A teacher there who I have known for years said "Have you ever cut your hair?" I'm sure she didn't mean it in a rude way, she was smiling when she asked and seemed genuinely intrigued. That got me thinking.

I looked in the mirror this time in the literal way. Man! My hair had gotten out of control. It was raggedy and waist-length. Funny how fast hair can grow when you procrastinate about getting it cut. I've only been meaning to for a few years. :-)

So, to shorten this story up (yuck yuck) I got 12 inches wacked off. Then she styled it a little for me and fixed my bangs so that they look like a real stylist cut them instead of someone looking in the mirror trying to remember that things are backwards from the way they appear and if you move one way in the mirror, you're moving the other way, really. (a dangerous thing with scissors in your hand).

Then Friday I went and did it. I sat in a salon full of fumes with chemicals smeared on my head for 2.5 hours all in the name of Starting Fresh and Making A Change. I had the whole beauty parlor gawking at me like I was a side show freak after it was all over. Someone said Shirley should have taken before and after pictures because the change was so dramatic. Someone else said it took 20 years off my appearance. I was ecstatic.

Until I got home.

My nine-year-old saw my hair and made a funny face. I asked him if he thought my hairstyle and color made me look any younger. His reply was precious and I laughed until my sides hurt...

"It makes you hair look teenage, but it doesn't go with your 'old lady' face."

*sigh* Next comes makeup, I guess.

Hey, if I lived through a cut and color and the MS monster didn't attack me, maybe I could smear a little goop on my face to keep everyone involved from having to look directly at the unpainted old lady face staring out from inside this teenage haircut. It's not for me, you understand, it's for the benefit of those around me.

Thanks, Fingolimod or Avonex, whichever one of you is real... You have given me the proverbial New Lease On Life and allowed me to just exist like a normal person for a while.(Yes, I realize I was holding the camera really weirdly. My hands are not deformed, they just look that way here.)

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16 comments:

  1. You do NOT have an old lady face! You look beautiful, and I'm proud of you for facing your fears!
    lots of love! shelz

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  2. Awww you're a sweety, Shelz! Thanks!

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  3. Jeri you look great!

    Old lady face? I don't see any thing close to an old lady but I have to admit your son is funny, made me laugh out loud : )

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  4. Hmmmm - wonder where he gets if from???

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  5. Donna's Mailboxes and MoreJanuary 27, 2008 at 6:28 AM

    You look just wonderful!! Not like an old lady at all. You've come a long way and I love your blog.

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  6. You're too kind, Donna! And I actually restrained myself from Photoshopping that picture....however badly I wanted to. ;-)

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  7. Your hair looks great!! It is so important to feel good about ourselves, I'm sure there are huge health benefits to it.

    I'm in the same boat as you though with the chemicals. I am so sensitive to them I don't think I could sit for the 2.5 hours it would take to colour it. But I also went for a (long-overdue) cut the other day, and it feels great.

    Happy eight months and no relapse. I also went for eight months without one on the trials, but then I had a mini 'event' not a full-blown relapse, but some issues with my hands which I didn't like, so I treated with steroids. But that was two months ago, today, and I'm going strong. Yay!

    btw, I don't think for a moment that you're on avonex, speaking as someone that was on inteferons and knows people on inteferons.

    I am so loving this fingolimod thing. I love taking my little pink capsule everyday ;-)

    See ya around,
    Maggie

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  8. Jeri ~ Your journey has brought you so far, and your beauty has always been there, even before you got your 'teenage hair'. :-) It looks beautiful! ~kim

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  9. Jeri,

    Beautiful Writing...As Always.
    Beautiful Woman looking back at me in the photos.

    You shine Sistah!

    I'm proud of you for so many things.

    Suthrnjewl a/k/a Donna

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  10. Maggie, that means a lot to me that you think I'm on the real stuff. And yes, we do have to make sure we "feel good" so we can feel good. lol

    Sorry to hear of your mini event, but maybe it would have been major without the meds.

    Take care and keep popping those pills!

    Jeri

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  11. @ Kim: thanks for being so nice and being there for me! Nice to have people follow along vicariously on this journey.

    @ SuthrnJewl: After reading your writing it means a lot to hear you call mine "beautiful".

    Thanks from the bottom of my heart!

    Jeri

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  12. As I mentioned to you in the past, Jeri, I think you have a TRUE talent for writing. Your entire blog is wonderful, and you are very gifted. You are NO OLD LADY, all I see when I look at that picture is a beautiful, courageous, talented woman whom I am very proud to call my friend.
    Deborah

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  13. Deborah, you know you are my BFF&E

    Thanks for being so supportive and such a sweetheart. I only hope I can be there for you and David the same way you guys are always there for me.

    Thanks for being my friends. :-)

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  14. I want to thank everyone so much for always being there for my sister, just being her friend, and "sharing" this experience with her. I love seeing her from other's points of view, which only confirms what I've known all her life - that she's a beautiful, wonderful, extremely gifted, loving, strong, funny individual who is loved more than she could EVER know.....

    We'll discuss that "BFF&E" thing later......lololol

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  15. And I didn't even pay her to say that. :-P

    That BFF&E thing...ya gotta believe, it didn't mean anything. ROFL (psst! I'll email you later, Deb)

    I didn't know you were still reading this, Lorraine. :-D Love you!

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