When Life Throws You Stuff, Make Stuffing
by Pam Fitros
(Grand Rapids, Michigan USA)
I just love the way she expresses her thoughts! Read what Pam Fitros has to share about her experience of hair loss.
I adore being a girl (technically on the far side of middle age, but who pays attention to the age police anyway).
And, I adore being a bald woman - A Boldly Bald Woman. Have bling, will travel. In my case that means a pair of interesting earrings. I travel light.
Why, you ask, am I bald?
• Is it chemo?
• Am I a late blooming skin head?
• An avant guard runway model?
Why, no. It's not any of those. I’m a sixty-four year old grandmother and newly minted entrepreneur (the last thing I ever thought I’d become – an entrepreneur, not a grandmother.)
I have alopecia.
What’s alopecia? Generically it means hair loss of any kind.
Specifically, the term for the disorder I have is alopecia areata. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the body’s own hair follicles, causes them shed their hair shaft and keeps the follicles in a dormant state thus preventing hair regrowth.
There are three main types of alopecia areata:
• Alopecia areata, which consists of bald spots or patches which may grow back in, fall out again, grow in, fall out somewhere else or grow in and never fall out again. I’ve had that as a child and at times throughout my adult hood, but not much, and not often.
• Alopecia totalis, in which the entire scalp is denuded and sometimes the eyebrows and eyelashes, is less certain to grow back but…sometimes does.
• Alopecia universalis, is the rarest and most severe form. The autoimmune system attacks all the hair follicles in the body, resulting in the loss of all body hair. Hair follicles become dormant. Chemical production keeps the follicles from reactivating thus preventing regrowth. This is usually a permanent and irreversible condition.
I’ve had alopecia universalis for about six years now. It could have been devastating. It certainly was life changing. It took a while to get used to the alien looking back at me when I brushed my teeth in front of the mirror.
I tried wigs. To fit in. To make others comfortable with my appearance. But wigs are hot and itchy. They catch on earrings and glasses frames and make giving really good hugs an emotionally draining obstacle course. And I get cranky when I don’t get enough good hugs. And wigs never let you forget you’re bald. There is a hypervigilance that goes along with wigs.
“Uh, uh, uuuhhhh. Don’t touch the hair!” I can’t count how many times I’ve heard that sing-song refrain from wig wearing women.
The more the wig ate away at my Pollyanna spirit, the crankier I got. The crankier I got the more the elderly residents I worked with became alarmed. One day one of them asked me what the matter was, why was I so unhappy? Was I alright?
“Noooo!” I wailed. “I’m not alright. I’ve lost my hair and I’m wearing a wig and the stupid thing gets caught on everything and drags around sideways on my head. I constantly have to check if it’s on straight. I’m sweating like a pig and I’m getting very hug deprived and crabby – it’s driving me crazy!”
After a moment of startled silence one resident shuffled up to me with her walker and whispered into my ear, “Then take the damn thing off!”
She was very hard of hearing and didn’t realize her whisper-volume was permanently stuck on LOUD. I looked around. The rest of the women were sagely nodding their heads in agreement.
It occurred to me that the people I was most worried about offending were the very ones who’d rather have real hugs than fake hair. When I got home that night, I took the wig off.
I no longer take responsibility for the comfort of other people. Since I left my wig behind and reclaimed my gratitude and joy, total strangers tell me I’m beautiful.
Well, I don’t know about being beautiful, but I’m happy. And I regularly forget I’m bald. The alien woman looking back at me from the mirror while I brushed my teeth has become a dear friend.
She has taught me my value lies not in the hair on my head, nor the shape of my body, nor the age of my bones. My value lies in my God given spirit and all that I can do with it to ease pain, encourage, challenge, love and help my struggling sisters to find and reclaim their joy until each has touched another and another and another and a bald head is just another statement of style and I’ve worked myself out of a job.
My outreach includes authoring the book, Boldly Bald Women, blogs, speaking, and building a business around my author platform that will enable me to increase my reach to more women struggling with the emotional and social impacts of hair loss in our hair infatuated society and support myself in the process.
A children’s book is in the making, as is a teleseminar series to help women deal with emotional and social issues around hair loss and answer some of the most pressing questions of woman newly diagnosed with alopecia.
Yes, I adore being a girl, old girl or not. And I adore being A Boldly Bald Women. I am blessed beyond measure.
Life threw stuff at me, just like it has, or is, or will throw stuff at you. You can let stuff bury you, or you can make it into something to reclaim your own joy and nurture others to reclaim their own joy. I’ve made my choice.
Turkey and stuffing anyone?
I invite you to visit BoldlyBaldWomen.com to access this special gift: Getting Past the Pain - 3 Things You Need to Know.
About Pam Fitros
Pam is the author of Boldly Bald Women, an international Amazon Best Seller. She is a survivor of both ovarian cancer and alopecia universalis – an autoimmune disorder that targets one’s own body hair and prevents regrowth.
Pam has found a life calling to educate people about female hair loss in a hair obsessed society and to support the women struggling with the emotional and social impacts of hair loss.