How I got here

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It is hard to summarize 25 years of history which ultimately lead to the life I live today. I will do my best to keep this short because I doubt that anyone would want to read a novel on my hair loss story.

I decided to start this blog so that more people can learn about alopecia, its causes, how it can affect personal and social life of the people who have to live with this disease and especially, I’d like to focus on the solutions I’ve found to help me keep living my life.

I was born bald. I was bald until I was almost 18 months old. Actually, my hair started growing in when I was around 12 months old, but it was so blond and so fine that I appeared to be bald. I had lovely golden locks of curly hair when I was a child. I hated those curls with all my tiny little heart. I longed to have bone straight hair like my mom and cousins. In my teen years, I got this lovely PUFFY hair. From age eleven to fourteen I wore my hair in a ponytail, it was so unmanageable…

As my mom has always had straight hair, I only found out the power of a blow dryer and round hairbrush at age 15. Despite my recent discoveries, I didn’t overuse heat tools. As I got older, my vanity grew proportionally and I learnt how to tame my curls. I learnt that once my hair was dry I should not go anywhere near it with a hairbrush or comb, or else I’d look like Christina Aguilera in the video for “Lady Marmalade”. I found out that there were miraculous serums which tame curly hair so I decided to accept and own my curls.

At age 17 I started to shed. My nails became weak and flaky. The topper layers peeled off, they broke, didn’t grow. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, a self-immune condition which I’ll discuss more in another post. Miss Thyroid was medicated with T4. My hair and nails improved after a few months on the treatment.

My hairdresser recommended a lotion by Kérastase made with Aminexil. It cost an arm and a leg, but my mom bought it for me and I used it. It worked quite well, making my hair prettier and fuller. Between age 18 and 24 I had, what I like to call, several “Mini-Sheds”. I mentioned it to my doctors, but they didn’t really care. A dermatologist once prescribed me a Minoxidil lotion. I used it for a while, but then I stopped as it made my head itch. I was 24 when I got married in 2009. I lost around 24 pounds before the wedding. Lost some of the pounds by dieting (with doctors accompanying my progress) and part I lost due to being my own wedding planner. It is hard to get married on a tight budget!!!!!!!

I started to shed a bit more before the wedding, but it was not alarming, I thought that it would just go on for a month and then stop on its own, as had been happening for the last few years or so.

June 20, 2009. They day I got married. When the stylist started to do my hair, a sudden wave of desperation hit me. I spent two hours in wide bobbies, after loads of teasing and tons of hairspray to get some volume, I must confess I was a little concerned, but I knew the guy was good and that it would turn out ok.

June 22, 2009. Honeymoon in the lovely beaches of Natal. Chunks of hair started to fall out. I came back to my hometown, São Paulo, and the shed continued.

It was worse than ever. In around a week I lost 1/3 of the already scarce and thin hair I had. I got a patchy head with almost no hair. I started to eat all the chocolate and sweets I could find. I was certain that the weight I lost before the wedding was causing this shed. In just a few months I gained tremendous 36 pounds.

After various doctors’ appointments I was diagnosed with TE, Telogen Effluvium, a significant acute loss normally brought on by stress or sudden weight loss. As my life was purely stress before my wedding I accepted this diagnosis. I treated it as prescribed and the shedding improved. I cut my hair in a boyish cut. That haircut would have probably suit somebody twice my age. I looked like a sheep. An old, ugly sheep. Horrible as it was, it did help camouflage the loss. I promised myself that as soon as I stopped shedding I’d save up all that I could to get hair extensions, you see, I’ve always loved long hair. When I was young I dreamt about having floor-length hair… Rapunzel was my beauty ideal!

I changed jobs, kept the treatment up, and a year later; in August 2010 I was watching a makeover show on TV and saw the makeover of a girl who was given LOVELY hair extensions because she had little volume. That reminded me of my self-promise so I decided to go for what I wanted – EXTENSIONS! I got them done on Monday. Got those awful things removed on Friday. I had a few hours of sheer joy, I had such a thick ponytail that the elastic band only went around it twice. An all time record for me, my natural pony took four or five rounds to hold my hair in place. Sometimes I used baby elastic bands and even with those I could go around three times…

The moment my hubby walked in, it was the end of it.

Not that he didn’t like it… he had even told me to get the extensions and all, but I had such patchy hair in the back of my head that the extensions only made that pop out more. “WHAT? HAIR LOSS? PATCHES? I’M CURED! I HAVE HAIR! IT GREW BACK!” I got a little make up case mirror and after quite a bit of twisting and turning, hums and has… I was able to see the damage. I still had a bald patch. The existing hair was so thin it didn’t cover the bonds properly. I was devastated.

Desperation.

I cried for half a day. I’m glad I didn’t have to go to work the next day, as I looked like a freakish frog. I had a week-long love/hate relationship with those long locks. I loved the length, but then I’d remember how awful the back of my head looked and then I’d just break down in tears. Got the extensions removed. Relief. From that day on, it was a downward spiral. My hair started shedding again, faster than ever. Some spots were left completely bald, and each strand of hair that was left was left too far away from the next strand. I found some life-saving friends online, ladies who suffer from the same or similar problems. It was (still is) very therapeutic to talk to them. One of them in particular told me she wore synthetic wigs.

I’d gone wig shopping in 2009, after my wedding. The wigs made me look and feel like Chewbacca! They were too dense, I felt like a clown. I gave up on the idea of ever wearing a wig. I started to lose grip. I had to wear a headband during almost two months so that I could hide the loss. Trust me, it wasn’t easy! That little arch can really dig into your scalp by the end of the day! I started to fancy some wigs I saw online… I tried to get different haircuts, different hair colours, whatever I could do to get my hair to look full. Nothing seemed to work anymore. I was defeated. I bought my first wig. Then the second, third, fourth… ok, now I own NINE!

In January 2011 I took a rather radical decision, I decided to buzz the remainder of my hair off.

Currently my hair is more or less half an inch long and I wear wigs on a daily basis.

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