August 26, 2009

My Alopecia History, Part 1

I'm sitting at home, all by my lonesome, bored out of my mind. I'm not tired enough to go to bed, so I figured I'd just bore the rest of you, my loyal readers (all three of you).

This is the beginning; the start of baldness, insecurities, and who knows what else... Shall we begin? (As if you have a choice! Mwah ha ha ha ha!)

Sorry. Here goes...
Before.

(My two twin friends that have stuck with me through thick and thin, literally!)

It all started in the 5th grade. I was a shy kid, but I had friends, and I really enjoyed my place in life. One day (and for some reason I remember it quite vividly), I was getting ready for school, and I noticed a little bald patch on the top of my head. It was probably no bigger than a penny but it was very, very unusual. I showed my mom, but not wanting to seem too concerned, we decided not to worry about it and just see if anything else happened.

The entire rest of the day, I worried about it. We had a little dance festival going on that day at school and I remember that as I was running out onto the field with the rest of my class, I wondered if anyone else could see that little spot. (The insecurities were just starting to set in.) My concerns were still premature, but it also didn't help that we were having family pictures later that day and I had to worry about covering up a little bald spot so that no one could see it in the years to come.

Well, needless to say, that bald spot turned into a bald patch... which turned into several bald patches... which then turned into complete baldness... which eventually turned into no hair at all, anywhere. I even have the pictures to prove it! (Scroll down quickly as to protect your eyes from the awful sight!)



*Just as a side note, I've always been able to joke around about my situation, so I will probably be prone to making fun of myself at one time or another during this story. :-)

Anyway... where was I? Oh yeah.

In a matter of months, my hair was gone. It started to go during my last month of 5th grade, and by the beginning of 6th, I was completely bald. I was the only kid in school that got to wear hats. (I don't know why it never occurred to me or my parents that there were probably kids' wigs out there, but it was before "Locks of Love" and things like that, so I guess we figured hats were my only option.) I was lucky that all the kids in my 5th grade class moved with me into the same 6th grade class. Even our teacher was the same. I think that was a blessing I've never really thought about until now.

I still had some of the same friends, and also made some new ones. One of my best friends at the time really helped me when it came to making light of my situation. There were three, third-grade boys that liked to tease us, so in turn, we teased them right back. I recall a couple of times telling them to leave us alone OR ELSE! We teased that if I touched them, their hair would fall out, too. (Kinda twisted, I know.) I also remember working in the food line during lunch, and as I was handing out who-knows-what, kids told me I wasn't allowed to wear hats at school. I always enjoyed telling them, "Well, I can!" Sometimes my friend would even respond before me, "Well, she can!"

During this whole time, I tried a myriad of treatments to get my hair to grow back. I had started seeing a dermatologist by the name of Dr. Parkinson. To this day, I am so grateful for him because he really cared, and would find anything he could that might make even the slightest improvement. We tried cortisone injections, Rogaine (and at the time it was very new, so there was just prescription-strength men's treatments), various topical treatments, and I even tried tanning beds in hopes that the UV rays would stimulate hair growth. (Tanning beds have come a long ways, since those days, let me tell ya.)

I was very shy about my baldness, so I never left the house without a hat on. Even going to the swimming pool during the summer, I wore my little baseball caps in the pool and put up with the stares and pointing from all the other kids. What else was a girl to do?


My sister and my cousin stayin' by my side.

Amazingly enough, my hair started to grow back during the summer before 7th grade. But that's a story for another time.

To be continued...

14 Happy Thoughts:

Paige Hanna said...

That makes me hurt. I don't remember those days at all. Probably cause I'd spend all my time feeling sad for you like I do now. You are so strong to have gone through and still go through this. Its great to laugh it off, but quit making fun of yourself!

denverallens said...

I loved this piece. I am totally enthralled by your experience. Please take no offense at that. You are such a cool person and so beautiful that I can't imagine your life ever being like this. I'm glad you could find humor in it. I spent a lot of time in the hospital with ear tumor problems, and liked to laugh things off too. It really seemed to make it manageable.

Uptown Girl said...

thanks for sharing your story Amber, 5th-6th grade were so miserable for me and I wasn't even going thru anything like you! you are so lucky/blessed to have had awesome friends to help you thru.

Kimberly Giardino said...

Amber I sneaked a peek at your blog :) I think you are beautiful! I will never forget the day you told me you had a wig on!! I was floored! Always looks stunning!!

the farmboy's wife said...

I am so glad you posted this! I can't wait for the 2nd half! It was so hard for me being just older than you watching you go through everything. I am glad you found out what it was. I moved away and never heard the end results so hurry up with the rest! Love you! Cousin Lori :o)

Alice said...

I remember 5th and 6th grade being the time that boys were the meanest. Good for you and your friends for standing up for you when needed. I wish I would have more back then.

Can't wait for the 2nd half of the story.

Ranip said...

The next part of your blog takes place when I met you! I remember! It was in Mr. Davis band class. Go clarinets! Can't wait to here all about it!

catroller83 said...

Wow Am I knew you had it rough at at girls camp in 7th grade you kinda told me. you are a strong woman. I luv ya! and You are beautiful no matter what!!!!

Sandy said...

How hard for a young girl child! And, how beautiful you were even bald!

When I taught English in Mancos, CO, right out of college, our basketball coach had a similar condition: no body hair at all, not even eyelashes. That was well before bald pates were "stylin'" for guys even.

It's amazing what we live with and through with the Grace of God and the love of family and friends to become whole and OK people to ourselves and others.
With love,
your great Aunt Sandy

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful story, Amber! I am looking forward to reading more! - Alyssa

denverallens said...

Still waiting for part II! Hurry up Amber!

Kristie and Jake said...

Your such a strong person. Your amazing.I never knew your whole story about this. Can't wait to hear the other half.

Erin said...

Amber, wow that pic. I have one just like it. I think that was an embarassing/awkward time for all of us, with or without hair. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

mostlyprobably said...

I loved reading this! I remember when you first started losing your hair and you got to wear hats to school. I kind of thought you were the coolest person ever. I also remember inviting you to my birthday party in sixth grade and was SO afraid that you were too cool for me and wouldn't go. But I have a picture of a bunch of us at the park eating Wendys and you're sitting in the grass at Westmore, totally awesome and bald and your white hat, and I remember being so afraid that your hats were going to put you up on a higher level of awesome than any of us. I'm kind of cool, right?