About 10 or 11 years ago I was diagnosed with Graves Disease, an autoimmune disease that is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. Ironically, as a person who’s always struggled with weight loss, I thought hyperthyroidism would be the answer to my prayers. But, what I didn’t know, in my ignorance, is that Graves wrecks all kinds of horrible things on a person’s body and affects all systems of the body. I was told that with medication, it would go away and shouldn’t be an issue again. But, that information was wrong, and I’ve had three flare ups of this crappy disease—this past fall and winter was the most recent. I could go on all day about the roller coaster this winter, but this isn’t about that right now…
For me, the worst part of Graves has been hair loss. My signature trait, the thing I most loved about my body has always been my curly hair. I watched it go down the drain everyday and my scalp become more uncovered. After my heart attack, the hair loss worsened and I was persuaded to get a hairpiece. It did look good, but it was difficult to maintain and became a problem to match the color and texture to blend with my own hair. A year or two later I made a big decision and switched to a full wig.
For the last several years that’s worked out pretty well. I never really had a bad hair day and it took no time at all to get ready. But, the down side was that I was so self conscious and felt that everyone looked at me funny and knew I was wearing a wig. I’ve been in therapy for my hair loss. I’ve driven my family crazy talking and obsessing over it. When I work out at the gym it’s so hot and I get so sweaty. It cost a LOT of money, and yet I still had to get my hair cut. I would go to the wig store to get it cut, so that I wouldn’t have to take my wig off in a public salon. Days that I stayed home I would go without my wig, but I always worried that someone might come to the door unexpectedly. I had to put it on to go out for simple errands and so I’d avoid going out just to avoid putting it on. Not one day went by when I didn’t think about it. I told some people about it—some didn’t think twice and were supportive and others didn’t know how to respond. Why is it that people don’t think much about a breast enhancement, a nose job or a tummy tuck, but women who wear wigs feel like they can’t be honest with the people around them?
A couple of weeks ago I went to get my hair cut at by my hairdresser at the wig shop—she’s been the most wonderful, supportive person through all of this. It’s been so hot and my hair had gotten so long, so I asked her what she thought about cutting it really short—pixie short. After all, pixies are very trendy right now—I’d have the same haircut as Emma Watson. Well, Sandra thought that was a great idea and proceeded. When she was done, we both thought it was quite cute, and she even convinced me to go home without the wig on. I got out to the car and almost caved and put it on because I thought Boyd and Rachel, who were waiting at home, would be shocked to see me walk in that way. But I perservered and went home feeling naked.
When I walked in the door Rachel exclaimed, “You look SO CUTE!” even before I got near them. Boyd was a little more hesitant, but that’s just the way he is and eventually proclaimed me beautiful after close inspection. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve obsessed about this decision and they’ve assured me over and over that I should make this leap. The hard part was seeing everyone I know and coming out, so to speak.
So, today I was sitting at my computer and shot a few pictures. I liked what I saw. And, on a whim, I decided to post on Facebook to proclaim my newfound courage, and to announce it so that when I see everyone in person, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. So there you have it—me just the way I am, with a thin layer of hair covering my head, but a sense of freedom I haven’t felt in six years. Go me!