21 February 2009

Tangled up in...

8:55 a.m. Feb. 21
My hair started coming out in massive clumps to the tune of Joe Jackson's "Different for Girls" on the radio.

The doctors told me when my hair started to hurt then I'd know it was about to fall out. I never knew hair could actually hurt, but it started to a couple of days ago. It's a strange sensation -- not "pain" so much as that dull ache you get when a ponytail's been in too tightly. I learned that it's not the hair per se that hurts but the hair follicles deep inside my insanely small head. Apparently, normal hair follicles divide every 23 to 72 hours but the Adriamycin chemo (a.k.a the red stew of death) lays waste to this natural process (among others). This junk is so toxic to your cells that your hair falls right out at the follicle. And it stings a little.

Still, short of wearing a frozen bathing cap around 24/7, or sleeping sitting up, there isn't much you can do about it. Thank God for Xanax (Mother's Little Helper, indeed.)

So, my hair has been aching for awhile now. I knew the fallout was imminent, but I was woefully unprepared for the sheer drama of it. I cut off all my hair on Monday. It was well-documented. I still can't believe how much hair came out of my head. I still can't believe there is some left in random patches on my head.

Seriously, it looked like a huge gorilla took a shower in my bathroom earlier.

One second, I'm lathering up my hair, singing along to Bob Dylan; the next, Joe Jackson's song is on and my hands and arms are like the Wolfman's. It was absolutely horrifying.

I got out of the shower, opened the bathroom door and in my best "don't panic" voice, said, "FYI, do NOT be alarmed when I come downstairs. My hair is coming out." I jumped back into the shower to get back to work. Luckily, James was able to contain the kids downstairs.

I spent at least 15 minutes pulling my hair out; it just kept coming and coming like some shitty magician's scarf. I don't think I'll ever hear Joe Jackson's voice the same again.

I spent another 15 minutes meticulously cleaning the bathroom like it was the scene of some heinous crime.

Then a radio intervention: Beth Orton's "Thinking about Tomorrow" came on. I love this song and it was perfect timing. A "so long" to my hair.

I spent another 15 minutes sitting on the floor in Caroline's Tinkerbell towel staring at my patchwork head in a shaving mirror, just breathing and looking like I have cancer.

For a moment, I was less horrified that I look like I have cancer than I was by the fact that I've gotten away with being a blonde for 16 years. My hair is very, very DARK. Holy crap.

But, as evidenced by the past six weeks on this Great Shit Coaster, things turn around quickly. My sister-in-law Paula took the kids bowling and to Friendly's. James took me to the Square Cafe for burgers and wine. In my wig. Then I was OK.


Roving Lemon said...

Holy shit, KJ. You are already brave anyway, and braver still to write this out for the rest of us.

Love to all of you from all of us.

N, D & B xoxo

Anonymous said...

I remember that day it was hard one for me as well. I remember thinking, now I look the part and I can't hide.

Diana said...


I'm here all week if you need to get out for a "fuckcancerini". Love you. xo

Dr. Nic said...

A tough day for you Kate - I have heard that no matter how hard you prepare for the hair loss it comes as a shock. Another step closer to it growing back, right ? Hang in there my friend.

Anonymous said...

Holy shit. Holy SHIT. HOLY SHIT.



Paula said...


This is just one other shitty thing to endure.. but endure you have... with beauty and grace... and as someone previously mentioned...now one step closer to growing back..

and p.s. some of us already knew that you weren't really a blonde!!!!

We Love YOU!


Anonymous said...


Thinking about tomorrow - sounds good to me! It's another day closer to NED!!!

I am also one of those people who knew you weren't a REAL blonde!

See you soon!


Auntie Joanne

jal said...

Blond, bald or otherwise you never cease to amaze, inspire and delight me. Love you and continue to send good NED thoughts your way.

Let me know if you're down for some f*#k cancertini's after work anytime this or any week. PF Changs also has an organic margarita that might be therapeutic.


KT said...


We all love you - blonde, brunette, bald, brave and beautiful! Just one step closer to NED. Hang tough, my friend!


Paula said...

Damn Kate.....six pounds. You knew I'd get on you for this! It's time to start eating those baked potatoes with butter AND sour cream. Christina's in Pembroke has hands down the best deserts from here to Boston. I'm coming by with white chocolate cheesecake on my way to NH.