There are seven fundamental types of catastrophes. Beauty is not one of them.
These are the last pics taken before I lost 50% of my hair…
My hair was flourishing, the brows are another story, geez.. 🙂
There are few things I’ve ever felt certain of in my life, but my hair was one of them.
It’d always been difficult to manage on my own, taking me four hours to simply wash, condition and blow dry. When asked, I’d share that tidbit of info although no one seemed to believe me, but it was true. And if I surpassed my six-week deadline for a relaxer touch-up, it would get so thick at the root that my head looked larger than it actually was.
When I had no choice but to handle it on my own, I’d get frustrated and bitch & moan my way thru it. Now, I look back on those days, those years of frustration and miss what I had. Because everything changed in an instant back in 2006.
The day it happened…..
As usual, I’d been dreading wash day. It always took too long & the results were nothing close to a salon finish. But I setup for the process & proceeded to wash my hair, half my body hanging over the tub with the detachable shower head ready to go. But something wasn’t right this time, as I scrubbed my scalp and rinsed, I was losing hair by the handful. When I ran my hand across my scalp, long strands came out in bunches. This happened out of nowhere, no warning, nothing. I panicked and tried to finish up as gently as I could, but the strands kept coming & my heart started racing. I called the beau in to make sure I wasn’t going crazy. Anyone that’s ever experienced anything similar knows that’s how it feels at first, like you’re going crazy..
Once my hair was dry, I inspected it carefully & it felt as if two layers was suddenly gone. Having spent most of my life being teased about my low hairline, my scalp was now instantly visible from the front and my hair felt limp and thin where it had been thick less than an hour before. I saved all the hair and placed it into a plastic bag and spent the rest of the evening depressed & worried. Worry that turned into fear and fear that grew into frustration, as I started putting the pieces of a complicated puzzle together… a puzzle that dated back several years & one concerning doctor’s appointment.
The crappy diagnosis…..
Back in 2002, I complained to my doctor about weird symptoms I was having: sudden weight gain, severe acne, and extreme mood swings, to name a few. He listened to my complaints & said he believed I had something called PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), which “affects 40% of women & was no big deal,” he’d simply switch my birth control & “everything would be fine.”
Initially, the symptoms were mild so I just dealt with it, thinking my weight gain had more to do with a carb heavy diet & a stressful job than anything else. But the mood swings, constant irritability and severe acne was getting worse. During the next fours years I tried all sorts of skin care products, gained & lost (but mostly gained) weight, and had awful mood swings coupled with job stress, lots of it.
When everything fell apart……
Then the brick wall came in Oct 2005, when my skin was at its worst and nothing worked. I looked awful. Cystic nodular acne covered my face & I was terribly depressed. I worked in the corporate world, and had just accepted a leadership role, training and mentoring 50 new employees in my department. I had to be seen and interact with lots of people on a daily basis, which was extremely difficult while trying to conceal a face covered in acne.
In November, I sought out my old dermatologist who miraculously helped me achieve the best skin I’ve ever had and in less than a month. I was amazed. It cost a small fortune, but the results were so impressive, it was definitely worth the money. Who knew I’d lose my hair just a few months later, but that’s when I lost it! I was furious with my doctor and at my wit’s end with everything that was happening to me, so I got to researching and found my doctor’s diagnosis was anything but “no big deal.“
Becoming my own patient…..
I spent weeks researching everything I could about PCOS. Switched doctors. Got tested by my new doctor as well as a specialist. Declined the conventional meds prescribed by the specialist, and found a wonderful holistic doctor online, read her book, studied her website, purchased her supplements and experienced great improvement. Made some changes to my diet. Met with my dermatologist for my hair loss and declined a pricey scalp biopsy, opting to go a more natural route on that end as well. Finally, I found a wonderful naturopath doctor who spent two hours with me, discussing my condition and reviewing alternative options. Ultimately, the only conventional medication I agreed to was a low dose of Spironolactone (prescribed by my dermatologist) to help balance my hormones and benefit my skin. Everything else was the result of my research and holistic in nature. A full body approach was the best option for me. My skin cleared up first, then my hair stopped falling out & and my moods improved in the process. I felt a huge improvement by 2008, but it was a long two years…
Living with PCOS….
I still have PCOS, but it’s better managed now. I still have “flare-ups” which becomes evident by my mood, the way my body feels, and sometimes my skin. I still battle breakouts but nothing like before, and I can tell if the breakout is related to product irritation or PCOS, simply by how my skin feels, if that makes any sense. If you have PCOS, I urge you to research Dr. Nancy Dunne. Her resources have made such a difference for me, and countless others.
And just when things were getting better….
It was a long process, but my hair started back on its road to health. I was able to have it relaxed again, after a long hiatus. While it wasn’t as long as before, it stopped falling out & that was a blessing in itself, length aside.
So who knew a chance meeting with a former highly beloved stylist in 2008 would be such a huge mistake by 2010…… stay tuned.