Thursday, February 9, 2017

hair today, gone tomorrow (OMG how have I not used that title before).

This year, my hair went on an exciting journey... down my bathtub drain / into my garbage can. I lost almost all the hair on my head in a 6 week period. In my 18 years of bald spots, I've never experienced anything like it. I'd wash my hair and it would come out in chunks. I could've made a sweater from all of my hair that had gathered on my sweaters.

I finally decided to shave it a couple of weeks ago. It was a tough decision, but I (almost) immediately felt better about how I looked. And apparently I've got a great shaped noggin. Let me show you.















It's weird (and kind of amazing) having a shaved head. Washing my scalp is a breeze! And styling my hairs is an absolute dream. AND (perhaps most importantly) no more hairballs in my bathtub. See! There's (almost always) always a bright side.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

goodbye, 2016. and a lot of my hair.

whenever someone asks me if alopecia is caused by stress, i usually roll my eyes (super dramatically) and say that's what doctors tell me, but i don't believe it's true. i'm not sure why i'm so adverse to the idea of it being caused by stress. i guess because admitting that implies that i'm not good at dealing with stress, which apparently is the case. in 2016 i ended a long relationship, changed jobs and my sweet ma was diagnosed with cancer (don't worry, she's kicking butt. hi, ma!). it was a bit of a doozy year for me (calm down, it was full of great stuff too). i never felt overly stressed, but those that believe alopecia is caused by stress, would look at my hair and say otherwise.

i was lucky enough (or stress-free enough) to have a pretty full head of hair for the last couple of years. i am lucky enough to still have my health, family, good friends, a roof over my head, all appropriate appendages... but approximately one ton of my hair has fallen out over the last six months. i worked hard to keep my bald spots covered with headbands and sassy combovers, but i gave in and started wearing a wig to work this past week. for whatever reason (likely the same thing that keeps me from admitting alopecia is caused by stress) i really struggled with deciding to wear a wig again. i guess another "stressful" item i should add to my 2016 list is losing one ton of my hair.

if i believed in new years resolutions, i'd make"not giving a fuck about hair loss / alopecia" mine. but since i don't believe in resolutions (and still don't quite believe alopecia is caused by stress) i'll just have to make not caring about hair loss a goal of mine.

if you're here because you know me / love me (and my bald spots), happy new year and i love you too!

if you're here because you've got alopecia / hair loss, here's to the hair we do / don't have and knowing that it's not a measure of how awesome we are and how much we have to be thankful for.

now get out there and make 2017 a good one!

xo

for fun, here's a photo of my scalp and remaining hairs. i call this hair loss pattern the skullet OR the great lakes if you squint. enjoy!


Sunday, October 4, 2015

the itchiest (and most successful?) alopecia areata treatment i've found: squaric acid dibutylester

in may, my dermatologist and i set out on a fun new alopecia areata adventure where we made my body allergic to a compound called squaric acid dibutylester (which from here forward i'll just refer to as squaric acid because dibutylester is a ridiculous word to type more than once) by applying a concentrated solution of it to my arm. (see amazing bicep photo below). this photo does not do justice to how itchy this got. like, the itchiest itch i've ever itched. it took about a week for the reaction to peak and eventually the reaction had to be stopped with cortisone (yay, steroids!).












next step was a less concentrated formula that i applied to my bald spots once a week. on a scale of 1 to "the itchiest itch i've ever itched", the formula that i apply on my scalp is probably a 6 or 7. the sensation lasts for about 36 hours, then it gets flaky, then at day 7 it looks like a "normal" bald spot again and it's time to reapply. i'm so happy to say that it's all worth it because typically after a few weeks of applying, i can start to see hair growth. (see amazing scalp photo below).











the idea behind squaric acid is that when applied to a bald spot, the allergic reaction earns the attention of your immune system as something to fight, rather than fighting with innocent hair follicles. i believe this treatment is also done with poison ivy, the downside being that poison ivy is a substance that you could run into in nature, whereas squaric acid is man-made and there's very little risk of running into it on a hike and having an over the top allergic reaction. does that make sense? i'm not a doctor.

i'm still applying the squaric acid to my menagerie of bald spots every 7 days, and happily scratching away, eagerly waiting to meet my new hair sprouts.

yay, chemistry!

Monday, February 2, 2015

a story about the time that a hair product changed my life.

friends and strangers, gather 'round for a sweet little story about a girl with alopecia areata who wanted to confidently go out into the world, without wearing a wig. the story has pictures, calm down.

i'm a pro at rocking the female combover, unfortunately for me, one of my bald spots has gotten large enough that my female combover is coming up short. enter life changing product, sure thik. it's an easy to use, lightweight powder that's available in a bunch of shades (mine's medium brown, thanks for asking). here's how i use it: i sprinkle the powder over any bald-ish areas, gently pat it down, re-position my combover, give it a spritz of hairspray to hold it in place and voila! (see photo for voila moment).

















there are similar products on the market, but i specifically chose this for a few reasons:
1. the ingredients are natural. there was nothing crazy sounding that i couldn't pronounce.
2. my dermatologist gave it a big ol' dermatologist's thumbs up.
3. it's canadian (yay canada!). this point won't matter to you if you aren't canadian. it might not even matter to you if you are canadian.

i'd highly recommend this to anyone looking to cover thinning / balding areas. i live in canada where it's currently winter and sure thik definitely holds up against the frigid, snowy, windy elements. it's made it so much easier for me to go out with confidence (and without a wig). it's $30 for a bottle that lasts me for a couple of months. not a bad price to feel good about yourself.


Saturday, January 31, 2015

alopecia areata + gluten + steroids

a lot of people have a lot of opinions about gluten. perhaps not surprisingly, since i started blogging about my adventures with alopecia areata, a lot of people have told me i should try giving up gluten. due to my intense love of / addiction to gluten, i mostly laughed in these peoples faces (or to my computer if the comment was online). fast forward to two weeks ago when i started seeing a new naturopath. after an hour of her asking me questions about my health, my diet and my poop, she suggested that despite having no other obvious symptoms, i might actually have celiac disease. when she mentioned that celiac disease is an auto-immune disorder, the worlds largest, brightest lightbulb exploded above my head. my mom was diagnosed with celiac disease when she was a teen. i've always known this, but had no idea it was an auto-immune disorder and had never made the connection between her disease and my alopecia. my naturopath told me there's a simple blood test that can determine whether or not someone has celiac disease. i did the blood work that day, stopped eating gluten that night and felt the most relief i'd felt in a long arse time that maybe somebody (whom i'd just met, no less) had solved all my alopecia problems.

after two weeks of not eating gluten (and awkwardly staring at people as they ate gluten), my test results came back negative. the good news is that i don't have celiac disease! the bad news is that i still have alopecia areata.

my naturopath has suggested i try an anti-inflammatory diet consisting of lots of lean protein, veggies, fruits and beans, as well as exercising more and spazzing less. good luck, lindsay.

she's also tweaked my vitamin regimen a bit. check it:

natural factors, zinc citrate 50mg / day
nutrasea hp (high concentrate fish oil), 2 tsp / day
vitamin d, 4000 iu / day
thorne, ferrasorb (iron) 2 / day
natural factors, vitamin c, 1000mg / day
natural factors, biotin 300mcg / day

plus
he shou wu (from my tcm practitioner).

i've actually decided to stay off gluten. i've never been a farty person (i swear) but my stomach is totally silent since i've stopped eating gluten. downside, no more embarrassing stomach sounds during meetings at work.

in other news, my dermatologist is a little worried that my bald spots seem to be increasing. my hair is growing back much quicker with the cortisone injections, but he recommended 10 days of oral steroids to stop this round of alopecia areata and get some new hair sprouts, sproutin'. i told him i'd have to think about it, as roids sound kind of terrifying (side effects include being extra spazzy and eating everything insight). i mentioned the roids to my naturopath, and much to my surprise she was actually quite supportive of it. i see my dermatologist again at the end of february... i'll decide about the roids then based on how much hair has collected in my shower drain.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

an alopecia update, because (some of) you asked for it.

hi friends!

remember almost 8 months ago when i stopped wearing my wig? welp, i'm happy to announce that i'm still wig-free, although not bald spot free. i've got a few spots on the side of my head and one that's starting on the top of my head (that's probably noticeable to anyone taller than me, which is a lot of people).

i saw my TCM doctor about a month ago because i was getting nervous about my new spots. he reminded me that alopecia areata has no set path and unfortunately, there's noway to anticipate what its next, sneaky move will be. he told me to keep using that awesome 7 star hammer (LOVE that thing!) and keep taking the herbs he prescribed for me. i told him i'd been thinking about getting a cortisone injection in the spot on the top of my head, and he fully supported it.

so now, for the second time in my life with alopecia areata (15 years now) i've gotten a cortisone injection. the first experience (years ago) was not great. this experience, was much better. i went to my specialist (who's a dermatologist, i just call him a specialist because it sounds so special)... he also reminded me that alopecia areata is unpredictable, but that i'd never lose all my hair. he used the tiniest needles and basically circled the entire spot on the top of my head that's losing hair. it barely hurt (compared to the first time which hurt a lot). i'll go back in a few weeks for a follow up.

here are some things that had changed in my life, that might be responsible for the new bald spots:
i bought a house (a house that needed a lot of work, money and paint) so i might have been a tiny bit stressed. i started slacking on the treatment shampoo that a lovely woman in L.A. sent me (i have to sit with it on my head under a shower cap for 30 minutes and sometimes 30 minutes feels like a long time). i was also slacking with my vitamins (iron, biotin, magnesium bisglycinate). and was just generally busy, and didn't feel like i had a whole lot of time for myself (because any free time i did have, went into painting my house). i hate the idea of blaming alopecia areata on stress, but maybe it is a cause of it.

so i'm back to using my treatment shampoo, taking my vitamins and have stopped painting my house (thanks to a pinched nerve).

i've decided to not document this hair loss with photos, because i'm trying to ignore my bald spots as much as possible (which is a very tough thing to do). in general, i'm actually in pretty good spirits about it and am really just appreciating being able to get up and not have to put on a wig.

thanks to everyone who have sent emails sharing their stories, offering support and asking questions. i've never met anyone in real life with alopecia areata, but i sure have met a lot of amazing people with alopecia areata on the internet.

where the white hair ends.

welp, over a year ago when my bald spots started filling in with the whitest white hair i've ever seen in my life, 2% of me was disappointed, the rest of me was just happy to have hair that wanted to exist on my head (yay hair!). as the months went on and more of my hair started growing, i realized i had less white hair... was it that i had more dark hair growing in and it made the white hair less noticeable, or was it that the white hair started growing in brown? nobody knew. not that i asked many people. UNTIL ONE DAY i found this single hair, holding on for dear life to the tile in my shower.




















(note: it's hard to take a photo of a single strand of hair. just ask my cousin whom i forced to help me.)

the darker portion is the root end. magic! science! hair! there's that mystery solved.

for the most part, my bald spots do start filling in with white hair, and eventually their darker pigmented friends join the hair growth party. i've got a few chunks of white hair that i actually think look kind of awesome. my hair dresser wanted to colour them, but my TCM doctor insists that my hair couldn't take it. so here i am, wig-free (yay!) with a few bald spots (no biggie) and some streaks of the whitest white hair, that make me look a few years older, but that's cool. i honestly don't mind.

thanks, hair! i'm happy to have you back.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

alopecia. a haiku. warning: contains swears.

alopecia. a haiku:

you are so fucking
annoying, you little bitch
give me my hair back

Saturday, April 26, 2014

lost and found (or: the case of the amazing disappearing and reappearing hair).

welp, it's with an immense amount of pleasure that i post an updated photo of my hair. last night, for the first time in over 15 months, i went out without a wig / hat / scarf / other random object covering my head. it felt pretty amazing (and a little scary) but mostly pretty amazing. it's not a perfect head of hair, but it's 100% mine and i'm not taking that for granted.








i wish i had a better idea of why my hair has decided to come back, but my hair refuses to tell me. i've been really good about taking the herbs my tcm doctor gave me (and using that damn sugar plum fairy hammer - name changed to protect its identity). i definitely think that could be part of it. i've also been using shampoo that a lovely woman in l.a. (who also has alopecia areata) kindly sent me, which might be helping too. but ultimately i think these results are simply due to the fact that auto-immune system disorders are fucking wack, have a mind of their own and are on their own path of destruction (and regeneration). there haven't been any major changes to my diet, exercise or sleep habits. i think it's just pure luck, and nature running its course. whatever it is, as long as my hair is growing, i'll take it!

i do have some small-ish new spots, but nothing compared to the craziness of the photo from june of last year.

shout out to my amazing friends, family and strangers from the internet for making this whole sack of shit experience much easier and a lot less lonely. you've helped me regain my confidence, learn how to put on a wig like a pro, chill the fuck out and get over myself. this blog has been super helpful for me to track my progress, but it's also been great as it's allowed me to interact with people in situations similar to mine. strength in hairloss numbers!

Monday, January 13, 2014

splitting hairs.

alright people, it's the moment most of you haven't been waiting for. see attached photo for how much ass my hair is kicking. i do not care what colour it is. i do not care what texture it is. all i care is that it is my hair growing out of my scalp and it's almost passable as a head of hair.


what have i done to earn / achieve this glorious hair? i'm not sure. this might sound horribly cynical, but i don't think i can attribute it to anything i've done. i think this is just time passing and an icky disorder running its course.

i'm torn as to whether or not i should attach the less celebratory photos of how much hair i've lost on the right side of my head. i think for today, i'll leave it at this positive post of recovery.

3 cheers for hair!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

maintaining your high maintenance human hair wig.

my human hair wig is gorgeous. a work of art. the cadillac of wigs. i spent a lot of money on it, but the moment they mentioned the cost of up-keep ($60 every few weeks to have it washed and styled) i reverted back to my frugal ways. i told them it wasn't possible for me to make it in to have it styled every month and asked for tips on washing and styling it at home. i will now gift this info to you.

presenting (play drum roll in your head / on a nearby object) THE ALOPECIA PROJECT'S GUIDE TO WASHING AND STYLING YOUR HUMAN HAIR WIG. (end drum roll).

supplies required: human hair wig, towel, wide tooth comb, matrix colour care shampoo, redken all soft conditioner, moroccan oil, running water, spray bottle with water, somewhere to dry your wig (i use a doorknob or clothes drying rack), round styling brush, hairdryer / flat iron.
  1. make sure your wig is free of knots (i use a wide tooth comb to get those bad ass knots outta there). 
  2. i wash my wig under running water (synthetic wigs are fine to wash in a sink, running water is key for human hair wigs). always keep the water running in the direction your hair hangs - this keeps the knot monsters away. 
  3. hold wig under running water until it's soaked. with one hand, hold the wig, with the other hand, begin gently applying shampoo by lightly rubbing fingers back and forth over hair focusing on the cap of the wig. i also wash the inside of the cap. 
  4. rinse wig (with water flowing in the direction your hair hangs). 
  5. apply conditioner to the ends (not required on the cap). 
  6. rinse (say it with me: with water flowing in the direction your hair hangs). 
  7. gently squeeze water out of the length of your hair (do not squeeze the cap). 
  8. use a towel to gently pat off excess water. 
  9. apply moroccan oil to the ends as a leave-in treatment.
  10. hang wig on a door knob / lay flat on a clothes drying rack to dry (if you put it on a wig stand to dry, you risk stretching it).  
  11. when your wig is completely dry (mine takes approximately 12 hours) you can comb it with a wide tooth comb. make sure it's dry before you brush / comb it so you don't stretch your wig. 
  12. i find it easiest to put my wig on while i'm styling it. i spray my hair with water one section at a time and proceed to blow dry each section until it's straight. when i'm done blow drying i sometimes use a straightener or set it in velcro rollers to give it some body.
  13. leave house wearing wig and feeling like a million bucks.
easy! and a lot cheaper than paying someone to do it for you every month. maybe i should start a side business washing wigs.

i wear my wig 5 or 6 days a week and wash it ever 4 weeks or so. when i bought my wig and had it cut and styled the first time, i watched them use high heat hair dryers and straighteners on it. this is definitely going to damage your wig a bit, so be mindful of that while you're styling it.

if any of you are interested in step by step photos or a video of me washing and styling my wig, let me know and i'll make it happen.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

the (not so fine) art of dating while wearing a wig / battling alopecia / sporting bald spots.

i wish i could say that dating and being bald-ish was something i was good at - or even remotely comfortable with - but it isn't. although it has made for some great / awkward situations. when my alopecia areata started getting really bad about 6 months ago, it happened at the same time that my long-term boyfriend and i split up. the timing of it all was so bad it was actually comedic (in a sad way). we split up and i pretty much immediately had to get a wig (although i'd already been shopping for one). i'm not saying the two were related, but it meant going through a lot of loss at the same time. the loss of a relationship and the loss of my hair and confidence.

the amazing news is that hair loss and the end of a relationship, are not the end of the world. although it can feel like it is, it's best to ignore that feeling, cause that feeling doesn't know what's up. i've been out with a few guys who insisted they didn't care. i've been out with a few guys who pretended to not care, but i think they actually might have. and i've been out with a few guys who were definitely uncomfortable with it. i'd actually been on a bunch of dates (more than 10) with one guy who was never comfortable enough to see what was (or wasn't) under my wig and who seemed to think i should spend all our time together wearing the wig, so as to not burden his eyes with the painful sting of my patchy baldness. that one definitely didn't work out.

i've surveyed a few of my good friends about how i should broach the subject of alopecia with my dates, and the general consensus was that i should mention it when the moment felt right. i've found that there is never really a moment that feels right to tell someone that i'm wearing a wig because i currently have the worlds largest female combover. i'm an open book, so for me personally, i'd rather be honest with people about it from the beginning. i usually try to bring it up within the first couple of dates. if someone compliments me on my hair, i'll use that as a segue into wig-ville.

more than anything, i wanted other single people struggling with alopecia, or any kind of hair loss, to know that they aren't alone and that confidence comes from within. having a full head of hair would really help, but this is a chance to showoff your other amazing qualities (like your eyes, or your ability to juggle flaming bowling pins...) and be confident with who you are. one of the best pieces of advice / insight i've received in the last year, is that there's more to me than my hair. if there's more to me than my hair, then the same must apply to you. love yourself and be happy with what you do have - the rest will fall into place*.


footnote:
*i'm not psychic, so i can't say this with complete certainty. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

new adventures in old medicine.

i'm starting to realize there are two very divided camps when it comes to medicine. those who support modern medicine, and those who support traditional medicine (ie. traditional chinese medicine). i realize this is a great generalization, but in general, i'm very good at generalizing. i saw a "specialist" a couple of months ago, who was a complete arse and pretty much said that when i realized traditional medicine would fail me, to come see him (i not so politely told him that his "modern" medicine failed me first). anyway, that was my first taste of the divide between the two camps. the second came today as i researched the most recent treatment my tcm practitioner (traditional chinese medicine) suggested. albeit, the treatment has an interesting name... and the tool used for treatment is even more interesting / terrifying. it's called plum blossom hammer or seven star hammer and is a tiny "hammer" (nothing like a plum blossom) with 7 needles in it. i've attached a photo for fun.

i picked up the sugar plum fairy hammer (as i like to call it, much to my tcm practitioner's dismay) - it was $15 in china town. perhaps this is where i should include a disclaimer: i am not a doctor / nurse. i only pretend to be one on the internet. i saw my tcm practitioner today, he cleaned one of my baldspots and proceeded to "tap" it with this hammer for about a minute (which felt like a lot longer). it bled a bit and was a little painful during and after (not surprising, considering it's a tiny hammer with nails in it). the intention of it is not to aggressively tenderize your scalp, but to encourage blood flow and stimulate circulation. i don't know. remember when i said i wasn't a doctor? i'm hopeful that it will make a difference. my tcm practitioner thinks we're on the right track with the herbs i'm taking, and a lot of my spots are growing in (but i've also got a couple of new ones, which is a big bummer). i'm just trying to stay positive and open to every option. going forward, i'll be hitting myself in the head with my sugar plum hammer - one spot every 5 days or so.

as they say, keep calm and hammer on. (nobody says that, nor should they start).


Sunday, September 8, 2013

baby steps (and baby hairs).

i am the proud owner of a lot of new hair sprouts (and a few new bald spots - but let's not focus on those). my hair is coming in white. not blonde. not grey. white. although there's also some darker hair coming in. i hate to sound desperate, but i'll take any hair i get. check out this photo of my hair in april, june and then yesterday. i think i'm finally making progress in the right (and less bald) direction.











here's a list of what i'm doin' that may (or may not) be helping:

TCM:
i'm still seeing my doctor in traditional chinese medicine. i think he's amazing. every time i see him, he does accupuncture, as well as giving me chinese herbs to take twice a day. if you're in or near toronto, i'd highly recommend him. email me if you want his deets. 

supplements:
  • silicea, 1 tbsp / day
  • iron, 2 / day (thorne, ferrasorb - this is the greatest iron supplement i've ever taken. evar.)
  • vitamin c, 2 / day (natural factors, 1000mg)
  • biotin, 1 / day (natural factors, biotin)
  • vitamin d, 4 drops / day (genestra, d-mulsion)
  • magnesium, 3 before bed (canprev, magnesium bis-glycinate)
shampoo / conditioner:
  • giovanni, tea tree triple treat shampoo
  • kiss my face, whenever conditioner (i put this on my scalp, but use an intense conditioner for my ends)
and i'm still applying this cream to my spots:
homemade vitamin d anti-inflammatory cream:
 combine:
- d-mulsion (genestra) 30ml
http://www.rockwellnutrition.com/D-Mulsion-1000-Liquid-Emulsified-Vitamin-D-by-Genestra.html
- cosmaderm (aor) 30g
http://www.aor.ca/html/products.php?id=47
- aloe vera cream (ferlow botanicals) 60ml
http://www.ferlowbotanicals.com/50.177.0.0.1.0.phtml?hashID=38mu54pdtnhkbn297nfs6310p2

mix products and store in an airtight container. apply 2x / day.

most importantly: stay positive. (written by someone who sometimes sorta excels at it, and sometimes definitely doesn't).

Thursday, July 4, 2013

typical male reaction to a conversation about alopecia areata.

me: "i'm actually wearing a wig. i've got an auto-immune system disorder called alopecia areata, which basically means i've got patches of bald spots on my head."

dude: "does your alopecia affect anywhere else on your body?" (while not so subtly staring at crotch).


end scene.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

fear of flying - wig wearer edition

not sure if all wigs are like this, but mine has metal clips in it. tiny metal clips that love to pull out my actual hair. i should remove those. anyway, friday morning will be my first flight since getting my wig. i'm torn as to whether or not i should wear a hat, or wear the wig and hope they don't frisk my hair.

i'm currently thinking i should wear the wig (as they'll most likely definitely make me take the hat off to go through security) and then just deal with whatever alarms i might set off, when / if i set them off. i'm just a little worried they'll make me take my wig off in front of a huge line up of people. actually, i'm worried they'll make me take it off, period. i mean, if they make you take your shoes off, why wouldn't they make you take off a wig?

i'll post an update as soon as i've cleared security.

----

UPDATE:
airport security doesn't give a shart about wigs or what's under them. take that piece of info and use it however you will.


pins and needles.


warning / spoiler alert: this post contains a photo of needles sticking out of me.


last week i had my first appointment with someone who specializes in traditional chinese medicine (tcm). he came highly recommended by a couple of my awesome co-workers. to super duper dumb it down, tcm works by s... no, you know what? google it. if you want to know how tcm works, google that shit. there's noway i can give it the explanation it deserves. i will say that this tcm practitioner checked my pulse in a million (or 9) places on each wrist to get an idea of how my organs are functioning. i will also say that somehow (through the magic of old school science and medicine) he was able to specifically ask if i'd had mono as a teenager. you'd be more impressed by this if you knew that i had mono when i was 18 and my alopecia areata started 6 months after that. impressive, right? he said my spleen isn't doing its job as well as it should be (slacker spleen) and he believes that is a result of the mono. he doesn't think the mono caused my alopecia areata, but he does think that the mono (and slacker spleen) have made it tougher for my body to deal with the alopecia.

i'm drinking a special tea 3 times a day (and fortunately it doesn't taste like garbage) and taking some herbs to support it. i'd tell you what the herbs are, but i can't because my keyboard doesn't have chinese characters. he also mentioned that he couldn't guarantee results and that we'd know more in 3 - 6 months. i have faith.

then he did acupuncture, which i decided to document in photographs instead of relaxing like i was supposed to.


oh! i've also added silica to my daily regime. i take 1tbsp of the liquid twice a day. it tastes like nothing, but the texture is really, really weird. it's somehow wet and dry at the same time.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

crop circles on my head.

people get so excited about crop circles when they appear in crops.
people get a lot less excited when they appear in someone's hair.

i think my scalp circles look kinda neat. not neat enough that i'd walk around with them confidently on display, but neat enough that i suppose this could be considered acceptance.

tomorrow i see someone in traditional chinese medicine.
i wonder what kind of horrible things they'll tell me to drink.
post to follow!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

wiggin' out. a girl with alopecia's guide to buying a wig.

know what's better than having a natural head of your own healthy hair? having a head of healthy hair that was created from the hair of strangers. well, maybe it's not better than you own hair, but it's a pretty great back up plan.

like many things in life, the experience of buying a wig will be whatever you make of it. i tried really (really) hard to look at it like the funnest, most exciting adventure i'd ever been on. it definitely wasn't, but it also wasn't the worst thing that's ever happened to me.

for me, the biggest struggle was deciding whether or not i even really needed a wig. even though i'd put down a deposit and booked an appointment for my wig to be cut, i still wasn't sure it was the right decision. i didn't actually know it was the right decision until i wore it out of the wig shop and in public for the first time. it was the best i'd felt about myself in months (and months). i definitely made the right choice.

here's what i've learned about wigs:

shop around. i'd recommend making an appointment and going for a consultation. for some reason, almost all wig websites are terrifying. don't be scared. if you're in or near toronto, here are links to the places i checked out:

if you want long hair, then european human hair is probably your best bet. human hair is much higher maintenance, but it looks (and behaves) like... human hair. it's also really expensive. my wig was $2800+tax (eek!). it was about $2800 more than i wanted to pay for a wig (or for anything, really). i'm so lucky i was in a position to even consider such a thing, and it's been worth every penny. maybe people are just being nice, but i get lots of compliments on it. people who didn't know about my struggle with alopecia just thought i'd had my hair coloured.

if $2800 is out of your budget, don't lose hope. if you have benefits, you might have coverage through work - check with your benefits plan. in canada, the government provides a tax credit for medical wigs (you just need a note from your doctor). click here to find out more. gabi's wigs had a wide variety of wigs (human and synthetic) for a range of prices. mine was one of the more expensive ones. the shorter the hair, the less expensive it will be.

bring a friend (or an entire entourage). i tried my best to not cry during my appointments, but unfortunately for everyone around me, i'm really good at crying in public. i have no shame. friends are good for moral support - unless you have crappy friends - in which case email me and i'll go with you. i'm seriarse. i'd also recommend bringing a friend (and reference photos) when it comes time to have your wig cut and coloured. the thing with wigs is that they don't grow. that's a pretty permanent (and kind of stressful) hair cut. i loved the colour of mine, so i just needed some layers and fringe added. the first cut was included in the cost of the wig, and they did a stellar job.

caring for a human hair wig, is a lot like caring for your own hair... if you were able to just remove your scalp. it's kind of like having a giant expensive doll. i brush my wig everyday. put rollers in for body. straighten it when it's actin' crazy. it's kind of awesome. the great thing about synthetic wigs is that typically they're all wash and wear, but you can't use heat to style them. human hair gives you a bit more flexibility in that sense.

as for my real hair, it's still falling out in chunks (but some of it is regrowing). i'm still waiting patiently for the growing in to catch up with the falling out.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

the state of the nation (on the top of my head).

sadly for me (and my hair follicles) my scalp is still rejecting my hair at a feverish rate. i'm continuing with all my vitamins + minerals, and applying the anti-inflammatory cream every night (ish). the cream definitely seems to help the hair grow back faster. click here for the "recipe" for the cream.
















in other news, i bought a wig this week. bye bye, combover! i went with human hair (it's the hair of four different women, somewhere in europe - thanks ladies!). it'll be nice to be able to go out with my hair down, sans combover and sans headband... even if it's not my own hair. it still needs to be cut, but will be ready in a week. i went to a couple different wig shops, but ended up buying one from gabi's wigs. gabi is amazing (and so is my friend who came with me and watched me try on dozens of wigs and cry a little bit). i got a wig that's pretty close to my natural hair colour, and a smidge longer than my current length. it will be the healthiest head of hair i've ever had. maybe it will inspire my hair to do some growing.