How I felt when I first lost my hair. And how I feel now.
The First in a Series by Guest Blogger, Asta Cardinale

by Admin, 13th July 2015

When I first started losing my hair, I felt overwhelmed and scared. I didn’t know what was happening to me or why. Like most cases of Alopecia, mine began with a small round patch, about the size of a quarter at the back of my head. I figured it was just stress and that in time it would probably go away.

Back then, I was on the road a lot with my consulting job. One of these trips brought me to Hawaii for a two month stay. My hotel room overlooked bustling Waikiki Beach, the sparkling blue Pacific Ocean, and in the distance the imposing Diamond Head volcano. It was paradise. I doubt that I could have been more relaxed, but despite this my hair continued to fall out. I finally admitted to myself that it was time to get help. I confided in a colleague from the Hawaii office. When I showed her my bald spots she got on the phone right away to her dermatologist. I was fortunate that he had a cancellation so he was able to see me the next day.

The doctor’s office was in a high-rise building at the waterfront in downtown Honolulu. After waiting nervously in the examination room, the doctor finally came in. He asked me questions regarding my condition while studying my scalp.

‘This is Alopecia Areata.’ He said in a clinical voice.  I immediately burst into tears. My overreaction prompted the doctor to inform me that this was not a death sentence. He injected the affected areas with cortisone then scribbled some notes on my chart.

‘Don’t worry,’ he said. ‘It’s not the end of the world.’ This time his tone was more sympathetic. Before leaving the room, he handed me two scripts. One was for a topical steroid that I was to use every day, the other a referral to a dermatologist he recommended I see when I got back home.  Wiping my tears, I made my way across the room to a large window. The view below was of Pearl Harbor. Through the water I saw the ghostly remains of the USS Arizona crowned by the proud memorial. I thought of all the young men who had lost their lives trapped in the vessel. This surreal image immediately put my personal despair into perspective.

As soon as I returned home I went to the local dermatologist who started me on an aggressive course of treatment. I received monthly injections of cortisone, as well as a daily low dose of oral prednisone and I continued using the topical steroid. Initially, my condition worsened with the existing bald patches getting larger and new ones beginning.  I hid my spots by using a dark color stick (intended to cover gray hairs). I’d do a ‘comb-over’ and finish it off with a blast of hairspray to keep the hair glued into place. As more hair fell out, I started using headbands and scarves. The loss became significant, and in my desperation I went to a salon to get some clip-on extensions. I had barely enough hair to adhere the clips. I knew that if I lost any more hair, the clips would be totally useless. I was an emotional wreck. The stylist suggested I join a support group. I probably should have taken her advice, but instead I told her that I didn’t need the support group because my hair was going to come back. Somehow I was under the impression that if I accepted the loss, it would be permanent. I couldn’t allow myself to give in to the disease.  I felt that I was losing control and thought that by being stubborn I could ‘will’ my hair into growing back. I was in denial.

After a few months, the treatments did begin to work. That was my first bout of the disease and that time around I was lucky because my hair did return! At least it returned for a while. I’m quite sure my stubbornness had very little to do with it. I was so grateful to have a full head of hair again. When friends complained of having a ‘bad hair day’ I would just listen and smile, knowing that things could be a lot worse.

1 Comment

    • Norman
      Reply Cancel Reply
    • July 26, 2015

    A truly heartfelt story. This affliction needs much more attention in the public and medical eye!! More please! NBH

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