Saturday, October 4, 2014

Facing fears again ... let's get personal

Sorry I haven't been blogging much - the last few days have been a shocker. A very dear friend of mine has suffered a ruptured aneurysm, so I've been worrying and praying for her a lot lately. She's come through surgery but there's still a chance she could suffer a stroke, so I've been praying for a speedy and full recovery. She's uppermost in my mind right now -- my issues and fears pale in comparison to what she and her family are going through.

But I have been filled with anxiety for another reason as well. I'm sure I've mentioned before that I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS. It causes, among other things, fertility issues and weight gain, as well as male pattern hair loss. My hair has thinned over the years considerably, but in the last five years or so it's become noticeably thinner at the scalp in particular. I had hoped weight loss would alleviate PCOS symptoms, but even with 105 pounds gone it's not getting better. So what's a girl to do?

In the past couple of months I've been exploring my options. I visited two salons that specialise in hair replacement. The best option is a hair topper, which is basically an extension that covers the scalp and blends in with the rest of your hair. You can get a clip-in topper like this one, or you can go with a bonded topper which is basically the same except they actually shave your scalp and use surgical adhesive to bond it to your head.  I've had so much anxiety even thinking about this - hair loss isn't something women like to talk about but it was time to face reality.

If I do nothing I'll continue to lose hair and balding is very hard for a woman to deal with. On the other hand, people will notice if I suddenly have thicker hair and might wonder if I'm wearing a wig. Good quality, real human hair toppers are very expensive - especially in Australia where everything costs more. So I weighed the options carefully. The bonded toppers I saw looked really good. They even brought in a customer willing to let me watch how hers was reattached (as you have to do every 6 weeks or so) and I got to ask her questions. She was honest with the pros and cons -- it can feel awkward to sleep on, your scalp can itch and you would have to lift the glue to get at the itch, and it can sometimes loosen up if you take a hot shower, but overall was very happy with her decision.

The second place does bonding, but also offers clip-in toppers. It wasn't a lot cheaper to be honest, but you wouldn't have the cost of reattaching it every 6 weeks. You can take it off when you work out so it doesn't get messed up and just pop it back on again later.  But sometimes the clips can be irritating and they can weaken your hair. Some women don't like the idea of taking their hair off at the end of the night and letting their husband see their real hair. I have no problem with that, my wonderful husband loves me at any weight, with or without hair.

I decided to try a clip-in. It wasn't as big a commitment, I could take it off if I didn't like it. Once you shave your head, if you don't like the bonded topper you'd have to find another solution while you try to grow your hair out again. Having made the decision and paid the deposit, I have been very excited over the last few weeks waiting for it to come in. It finally did, and I spent yesterday afternoon learning how to attach it and care for it. It was cut and styled to blend with my own hair, and ended up much shorter than I had planned but I now think that's a good thing. Instead of having basically the same hair style only suddenly thicker, it's a total and complete style change - the drastic change in style might take attention away from the thicker hair. I left feeling fabulous.

As I walked down the street, no one was looking at me as if I was a freak or wearing fake hair. And in fact a nice-looking guy on the train gave me a lingering look and a smile as he passed by. That gave me an amazing self-esteem boost. I looked good!  But I began to worry. These are strangers. People who are used to seeing my thinning hair -- that's a different story. It's a long weekend and I was grateful to have a few days to get used to it and be sure I can live with it before anyone I know actually sees me in it. Hubby asked me to stop into the store on the way home for something and so naturally I ran smack bang into a good friend and co-worker who did a double-take and stared at me. The moment of truth. She exclaimed, "You look amazing! Oh my God you look so good! It looks thicker!" I braced myself. Will she make the connection?  If she did, it didn't show, she really thought it looked great.

So now I worried again. How do I change my mind now if it's uncomfortable or I have any issues now that she's seen it?  I'm feeling anxious trying to figure out what I'll say when the inevitable questions come on Tuesday.  My husband thinks I'm worried for no reason. 'So what if they say anything, tell them it's a hair extension -- it is, after all.  If you had cancer or androgenic alopecia, no one would think it odd you wanted a hair replacement -- how is PCOS any different?' He's right. But I'm still afraid.

Then I found this blog called OutOfThinHair.com and in particular this post about her 'coming out story' and why she decided to go public about wearing wigs. She had spent years hiding her hair loss problem and didn't want to hide anything anymore. She said after she came out she felt so free. She could now wear different styles whenever she likeed without people finding it suspicious.

I'm still scared of seeing friends, family and coworkers for the first time with this new hair, but I've decided that if they do say anything or ask uncomfortable questions then there's no point in denying it. I can just say I got a total makeover that included a hair extension, cuz that's really what it is. It's just that this type of hair extension covers the top. What else can I say?  I'm happy with the results. The picture on the left shows how noticeable it was in photos. On the right is my new look.


21 comments:

  1. OMG - you look amazing. Seriously, don't even worry for a second what others will think, you look fantastic !!!!!!

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    1. Lynda, thank you! Hubby keeps saying it's just the first day I'm scared of and after that it'll just be natural and normal. I hope he's right. :)

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  2. This is a GREAT look for you. I go through the worrying about things too much as well. I'm glad, and I know you are too, that your husband is so supportive and understanding. That is a wonderful thing. :)

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    1. Thanks Caron. He is pretty great and I'm lucky to have him.

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  3. Anna, it DOES look AMAZING! Screw anyone's opinion! I find that in situations like this, best to go on the offensive: i.e., the moment someone gives you a look that you know is 'OMG!", just say "don't you love it? I got extensions and I feel AMAZING!'

    boom. Problem addressed and solved. :)

    When I was growing out my natural gray, I had to deal with this for over 6 months. It's really no different than losing a lot of weight. People notice, it's a good thing, and you OWN it, girl! :)

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    1. Gwen that's a great idea! Thank you, much appreciated.

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  4. It looks totally natural and I love the shorter style, it looks great on you! I think it's wonderful that you are taking care of yourself this way and I can't see how anyone would react any other way than positive and encouraging.

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    1. Kerstin thank you so much. I hope that's the case.

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  5. Your hair looks great!! I was so interested to read this as I have been contemplating getting a topper. I have had thinning hair for many years just due to heredity. I do have questions for you if you don't mind......how much dare does it take? Is it hot or does it make you feel hotter? you do take it off each night don't you? thanks for sharing.

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    1. Hi Kim. It's only my second day. The weather is getting much warmer here lately so I'll have a better answer in a couple of weeks regarding how hot it is. I chose a topper that has a very thin mesh base so it shouldn't be too bad. I do take it off at night both for comfort and to put less wear on the topper. Less restyling needed and hopefully longer life. You wash it once a week in summer but only once every two weeks in winter. They do sell special shampoo and conditioner because you can't use regular shampoos ... your own hair produces oils, but this won't so regular hair products would dry them out. They do sell a latex styling head with a clamp to hold it firmly on a table or counter edge for styling but they wanted $150 for that ... hubby found them on eBay for about $15 delivered so I'm waiting for that to arrive.

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  6. Anna you are beautiful! And I concur with everyone else 100%. Your hair looks amazing and suits you so well. Hold your head high and be proud for taking care of you. Can't imagine how you would get even one negative reaction. LOVE it!!!!

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    1. Thank you Leigh, you're so sweet. I will do my very best to walk in there head held high.

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  7. I love, love, love your new look. As I was reading your story, I thought to myself, what would I pick.... yeah! I would have chosen the second choice, too. Being able to take it off at night to sleep, etc.

    Thanks so much for sharing your story and I love your new look!

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    1. Thanks Karen. I may change my mind in future but this option gives me time to get used to it.

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  8. I've just got four simple words to say Anna

    YOU LOOK GREAT

    All the best Jan

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  9. Do you know I think I mis-counted it was three words and sincerely said.

    YOU LOOK GREAT

    All the best Jan

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    1. LOL thank you Jan, much appreciated, in any words. :)

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  10. You look amazing - the new style has taken years off. Anyone who has managed successfully to lose weight like yourself deserves a new look. Be confident and relish the compliments. Andrea of NZ

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    1. Thanks Andrea, you're very kind. Much appreciated.

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  11. Anna, you look absolutely fabulous. Head high and be proud.
    Run with it girl, and change those styles and colours as often as you feel you'd like to, simply on a whim - betcha the response will be gentle jealousy that you can look however you want, any day, not anything even slightly negative.

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  12. Deniz, thank you! I'm going to do my best ... tomorrow will tell. I'll be sure to come back and share the reaction.

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Sorry anonymous commenters, but you'll have to prove you're not a robot because the spammers were driving me crazy! They never get through yet they were persistent!