Monday, January 21, 2013

The Beginning...

I'm a 36 year old woman  girl in the prime of my life, the very last thing I ever expected to have to worry about or experience at this stage in my life is hair loss.  And yet there it was, like a bad dream- a nightmare I expected to wake up from at any moment, but 6 months later and the nightmare is still going.  
     How it began?  Well I decided to lose a little weight, after my 3rd (and final) child was nearly 3 years old I figured it was time to stop blaming baby weight for the extra pounds and get myself working out again.  I started slow, with just walking and changing up my diet a little (cutting out the massive amounts of chocolate I had been allowing myself to consume each day) and before I knew it, I was seeing results.  My pants were loose, the numbers on the scale were reversing and I was SUCH a happy girl!  Instead of sticking to my routine I decided to kick it up a notch...I increased the workouts to include aerobics, longer walks and consuming fewer calories.  The weight was falling off at incredible speed, motivating me even more.  The workouts initially were recommended by a doctor after suffering from anxiety disorder for the past 15 years, which eventually led to heart palpitations (landing me in the hospital 6 times in one year) and had me, reluctantly but eventually, giving in to seeing a psychiatrist to "deal" with my issues.  Dr. J (my psychiatrist for the past year) encouraged the workouts as a way to work off stress and anxiety, but soon urged me to slow down after seeing the quick progression of a 25 pound weight loss in 3 months (Note: I was not overweight to begin with so this was a bit of a big deal).  After 3 months of working out I began to notice my long hair thinning, the ponytails were becoming smaller and smaller and my primary doctor and psychiatrist became concerned.  I added more calories and fat to my diet, I added vitamins and I cut back on the workouts, but the weight didn't budge and the hair continued to thin.  The doctor ordered a slew of blood tests to rule out something serious: tests on my liver, thyroid, iron levels, sugar levels and even cholesterol all came back completely normal.  To be honest, I was hoping something was wrong, then I would have an answer.  It was time to admit that my hair was just falling out yet the doctor wasn't concerned, the psychiatrist wasn't concerned and I was left to live in my personal little hell all alone.  
     I started my research on hair loss and came up pretty short on advice or help.  There were so many unknowns and so few people talking about it, was I really going through this all alone??  Eventually I realized (through research) I needed a dermatologist-except this time I was looking for a female doctor.  Someone who could at least empathize what it might be like for a woman girl suffering through hair loss.  I was on a 3 month waiting list to meet with the "BEST" doctor (as claimed by a magazine) in my city, so now I was forced to wait it out and worry.  Dr. J wanted to increase my anxiety meds, but I resisted so he advised me to find a good wig shop or some cute this his way of telling me to give up?  While that's an option down the road, I'm not about to throw in the towel just yet.  I was pissed with the lack of compassion or understanding I was getting, but I was dealing with older males who had NO idea!!  I just wanted someone to listen but I was afraid to tell anyone (with the exception of doctors) for fear of what others would think, how they would judge me or if I'd become less of a woman in their eyes.  I, instead, went to my stylist and had my hair chopped off up to my chin.  I don't know why I thought I would feel better about my hair by having it cut and colored more of a scalp-like color to camouflage any spots beginning to show through-but this seemed to anger the hair and the problem intensified.  This is the time I gave in and had to admit my hair loss aloud to my husband and my Mom.  Neither of them had noticed and both were supportive trying to assure me that things could surely be worse-it was just hair after all, right?  On one hand, I realize I should be thankful that it's only hair loss but on the other hand, I DON'T WANT TO LOSE MY HAIR!  
     I made another appointment with a light-laser hair specialist and had a meeting in which I was told I was a strong candidate for laser hair therapy, HOWEVER, I have to take special pills (supposedly pills that halt the DHT production), special shampoo, conditioner, scalp oil, etc. and I have to continue the therapy sessions and the use of these products forever!!!  The cost?  $3,500 for 1 year!  But I left feeling hopeful at least.  Someone had a solution, someone had compassion and someone was going to help me, but the reality of the cost eventually set in and I knew how impractical this solution was-especially with 3 kids who need college funds.  
     And so yesterday I FINALLY met with the dermatologist (after calling 3 times and begging them to bump me up-a spot eventually opened).  I was diagnosed as having 2 conditions: telogen effluvium (working out too much/eating too little resulting in hair loss) which triggered another condition: androgenic alopecia.  My heart sank.  What little information I did know, after doing all my research, I knew this type of alopecia was irreversible and unstoppable.  My hopes are deteriorating, but my new doctor seems optimistic.  So now I'm at the beginning of my hair loss help and starting with the scalp steroid cream at night and 3000 mcg of Biotin a day.  This morning I showered in water and falling hair.  I dried my hair as it rained down my shoulders and, although this is just the beginning, I'm exhausted!  I'm ready to wake up from my nightmare now, I'm ready to start living and stop obsessing about each strand of hair that flutters to the floor and I'm ready to regain some of that self-esteem of mine that has hit rock bottom.  Welcome to the beginning of my journey, and if you're experiencing hair loss as well, then welcome to the beginning of OUR journey- You are not alone!            

No comments:

Post a Comment