Yesterday I received a compliment that to most people, would sound like a nice thing to hear-but not a big deal. If anyone knew what a big deal it was to me, they would assume I’m shallow (so I’m writing about it and sharing with the world. Good plan, eh?)
So what were these nice words? “Your hair feels the nicest and healthiest since I’ve known you.”
This from a barber who trimmed my hair when his wife, my normal stylist, was too full of appointments to take me for a walk-in haircut yesterday. This couple has been my “hair people” for years and are like extended family to me.
At the risk of sounding like a crazy shallow person, this compliment not only made my day, it gave me hope.
All through childhood, teenage years and even my younger 20s, I had good hair. What I mean by good hair is, I could wash, blow dry and wear without having a lot of extra time, products or struggle. It was healthy, an attractive color for my skin tone and one of my favorite physical features. When you live a life where many of your physical features from your weight to your disability to your height are the focus of negative remarks, it’s nice to have that one physical thing about you that you can say is “good.”
When I was 25 or so, I started having severe problems with my hair to the point that family members would comment on how dry, stringy and lifeless my hair seemed. It turns out, Grave’s Disease caused this problem and my doctor told me the treatment would always affect my hair.
A year or two later, I had gastric bypass surgery and that causes a lot of hair loss the first year or so. As that grew back, I decided to get a perm to help with the lack of thickness and to take the attention off my thinning hair.
Since then, I’ve developed other auto-immune issues that have severely affected my health and it’s shown up with my hair and scalp. Dry, brittle, breaking, thinning hair accompanied by painful “pins and needles” on my scalp that resulted in open sores. I changed shampoos, tried soothing ointments, tried medicated ointments. Some helped, nothing made the problem go away.
Then two years ago, I had a life-threatening illness and the severe stress and trauma to my body made me lose about 20 percent of my hair. When it came back in, it came in with cowlicks, wavy in spots and a completely different texture. I was also going very gray. I’m only 34.
You’re probably saying by now that I should have gotten over it. But for me, the hair issues have been a constant reminder that things aren’t right. And as something that we always wear, our hair is something people always see and ultimately judge us on. A person’s hair condition is also an indicator of their overall health.
So yes, when I heard yesterday (and I agreed) that my hair feels healthy again, is thick again and feels almost “normal” again, I felt hope. Hope that perhaps some of the mystery illnesses attacking my body are getting under control. Hope that perhaps life might be settling back into some level of normalcy.
So what if it was hope from a hair cut. Don’t know about you, but I’ll take hope in any form!