NAKED… A LIMB SNAGGED IT AND TOSSED IT INTO THE AIR!
BY GLORIA FAYE BROWN BATES
My scalp tingled, and felt very strange. I was feeling fear, my stomach hurt. I wasn’t feeling well at all. I’d been through a major surgery, and now… had begun chemotherapy. I stayed in excruciating pain, now ‘this’ was happening.
I had to hold on to things to walk, my body was very weak and I’d lost all my muscle tone, my mind was in a medicated fog… always. Now… ‘this’ was happening… there was no mistaking what was going to happen.
The oncologist told me that some of the drugs that were in my particular chemotherapy treatments would most likely make me lose all my hair. She told me that I had the option to take chemotherapy… or be like some of the women who had cancer… opt not to take the chemotherapy treatments.
The oncologist told me that I’d be surprised how many women who were so vain over losing their hair… opted not to take chemotherapy to save their own lives.
I had long curly, beautiful hair. I didn’t want to lose my hair… it had taken some time to let it grow this long. Always… I got lots of compliments on my hair. I asked her did alot of those women die… she said yes, they did. It didn’t take me but, several minutes to decide to have chemotherapy.
Skip was always by my side.. I never went to tests or to anything medical by myself. Skip was always there with me. He asked the oncologist ‘where’ could he buy me the nicest wig that would look like my hair. She told him, and when we left the office… we went there.
Skip helped me to choose the wig, one that was almost as long as my hair, just as curly. It was an expensive, human hair wig… it was beautiful and lightweight. The lady gave us a box with the wig we wanted.
We got home and I put the pretty box with the wig up… just in case… really when I would need it. I felt that scared feeling in my stomach. I didn’t want to lose my hair… but, the oncologist said some of the drugs caused hair loss. I remember thinking in the past that ‘cancer made one lose their hair’… that’s untrue. Certain drugs will cause hair loss.
I decided I would go have my hair cut short… I had the feeling that it ‘was going to begin coming out’. My scalp felt so tingley, strange…. I’d never felt this feeling before. Actually… it felt like when I placed my hand on my hair that ‘my hair hurt’. The night before I’d felt this same sensation in my scalp, it hurt a lot to just lay my head on my pillows. I’d never ‘had my hair to hurt’.
I went to the beauty salon, I was so sad as I watched the lady cut my hair off. I’d taken such pride in my hair, it was long and beautiful, curly. I felt tears in my eyes, my nose burned inside, I wanted to cry my heart out.
The next morning I was alone, Skip had already left. I made my way slowly to the bathroom to take my shower. I got into the warm shower and began washing my hair, my scalp felt painful touching it. My biggest fear came true… my hair began coming out in my hands. I began crying.
My tears were mixed with water from my shower. I cried as I took my shower. I reached for my towel and began to dry off. I finally made myself look into the mirror… I began crying again.
I began wondering how could I go to bed tonight sleeping in a wig. I couldn’t imagine letting Skip see my head without hair! I could hardly bear seeing myself in the mirror. I had never felt less than a person in my life… as I did now. I had no hair, excepting on top I had some curls left.
I put the wig on, my scalp felt awful. It was tingling and felt so uncomfortable. I almost felt like I wanted to die… how could I let Skip see my head without hair, just how could I? I knew that I had to think of something because that was sure to happen. I couldn’t wear a wig all the time.
That evening skip came home, he didn’t notice that I had a wig on! It looked so much like my hair. As the evening progressed, I became more upset… how could I go to bed without the wig. I was in too much pain from the surgery to sleep on the couch. I had a incision that began almost at the top of my shoulder that rounded to almost under my left arm. The pain was unbearable… my hair loss only contributed to it.
I began sobbing. Skip quickly came to see what was wrong. I told him that I couldn’t just let him see me without hair. I was so embarrassed, so ashamed. I felt him put his hand on my shoulder, when he spoke, I listened in amazement.
He told me that this was only temporary, he loved me with his heart and I meant the world to him. He told me that the loss of my hair didn’t make him love me any less, that it would be growing back. What was important now… was to do all possible to get well.
When he said those words, I instantly felt like a thousand pounds had been lifted off my shoulders, I took in a deep breath… I knew inside that everything was going to be alright. That night I took the wig off and placed it on its stand. My scalp felt so ‘naked’… cool from the air. Now… I knew ‘why’ men who were bald, wore caps when it was cold! I was now… bald-headed… though I had several curls on top of my head. Skip nicknamed me his ‘Gerber Baby‘.
I never did get used to wearing the wig, though it was beautiful. I wanted my own hair back. I went through many weeks of chemotherapy, finished it. I began to notice that my hair was growing back!
One day we went to the lake… there were trees nearby. We were walking near them and… the unthinkable happened!
I felt my face turn red, I was so embarrassed! As we walked close to one of the smaller trees… a limb snagged my wig and took it right off and … tossed it up in the air! I felt like my dress had blown up to my waist… instead my wig was gone… leaving my scalp naked for God, and everyone to see!
I stood there… deciding whether to cry and melt into the ground from embarrassment… or the thought came to my mind that this was really funny! I was thinking that if I would begin to find ‘gentle, good humor’ in things… all would be better. Guess what I did?
I began laughing as I watched the expression on Skip’s face change to a smile! I was feeling better as I laughed! I could see Skip was so glad that I took it this way. I reached up on that limb and took my wig back and I… stuck in on my head!
I asked Skip if I had it on right… he said “no, it looks a little sideways!” I gradually turned it until it was right… Skip’s face was my mirror. I told Skip “I can’t believe my hair came off!” We both began to laugh again in a ‘good’ way. I thought to myself that… with humor in good taste… everything is going to be alright. It honestly made everything better.
It seemed laughter in good taste gave me hope, made me know that yes, indeed my rocky path was going to get better, though it took a long time. I was on at that time in my life, the hardest path I’d ever traveled.
When we began to smile and laugh, things got better. Even when I had injections it would hurt so bad, I would smile through my tears, sometimes I reassured the technican or nurse, that it was all right… I knew it was going to hurt, but, to get well I had to get through this. Sometimes, I saw tears in their eyes…. for me. I was amazed. Truthfully… I met more ‘angels’ on this path, though rocky, who went out of their way to make things better for me.
That was the only time I ever lost my wig! It never got caught on anything else to make it come off. When it became time to put it up, I was so thankful. I had it shampooed, fixed, rolled it up a certain way to keep the curls ‘just right’… stored it back in the pretty box. I never thought I’d have to wear that wig the following year… I did have to once again. I didn’t stay in remission long.
That wig was a life saver once again… it made me look normal. People complimented it… that made me feel like an imposter. I felt the need to tell people that it was a wig… I didn’t want them to think I was something I wasn’t.
The wig is gone…I think we lost it in the house fire when we lost all of our belongings. You wouldn’t believe all that happened to us in the past 12 years. I don’t, when I stop to think about them. I can’t look long, I have to go forward. I don’t want to get trapped in the past, I’ve come too far.
I’m glad to think of one good, funny thing concerning that wig… it really was funny when that limb snagged it like that… it bounced it up into the air, when it came down… it landed right in that tree! It created a ‘good’ memory… when it could very well have been a ‘bad’ one. I’m smiling gently as I ‘look back’. I hope you will, too. Everything turned out alright!