Sunday, March 6, 2011

I feel bad about my hair

Nora Ephron's neck problem is a damn luxury. I'm going bald. And I've been told there's nothing I can do about it. Mostly I deal with it through denial. In the mirror, I look at the front of my head, where my hair is thin but more or less covers my scalp. In Copenhagen, however, Other and I stayed on the fourth-floor of our hotel, and the only way to get to and from our room was to take the fully mirrored elevator. Every morning I woke up cheerful. Half an hour later, when I stepped into the "fun" house mirrors of the 'vator, I descended emotionally as well as physically. There was no denying that I look just plain depressing from the rear.

If I'd had to choose between my boobs and my hair, I would have kept the hair and lost the boobs. Sadly, I didn't have that choice. I lost the hair AND the boobs. Maybe I would have lost my hair anyway—my family runs to unmanageably thick tresses early on and unmanageably thin wisps beginning in middle age—but chemo certainly played a role. Taxotere (a.k.a. taxo-tears)  is known to cause permanent hair loss in a small percentage of women, a fact that has come to light mainly because women who get Taxotere are surviving their cancer long enough for the rarer long-term side effects to reveal themselves.

I'm one of the beneficiaries of Taxotere-promoted survival. I've lived so long—more than five years since diagnosis—that I'd like to put it all behind me and stop feeling like a cancer victim and start feeling like an ordinary person. But it's hard. I look 10 years older than my age and 20 years older than the preternaturally young-looking Other. When I walk down the street with him, I can practically hear people thinking how nice he is to be so affectionate with his mother.

At any rate, being boobless and nearly hairless is a cosmetic challenge. I try to wear at least one signifier of my gender every day: earrings, a necklace, a skirt, whatever. I've been trying to wear falsies lately in my effort to put the past firmly behind me and get on with my life. And I've found a pair that are tolerable, though not actually comfortable. Trouble is, the flat chest kind of explains the bald thing: people guess that I've had cancer. When I wear the falsies, people just think I'm an aging crone with a revolting hair problem.

So when I hear people like Nora Ephron whining about their necks or their thighs or their big butts, I have sympathy, but not that much.


A said...

Yes, damn those European mirrored elevators, but surely you are exaggerating! You gather admiring looks in public places all the time, not only because you're tall and beautiful but because you exude the longed-for wisdom of truly knowing that it’s what’s inside that counts.

Mia said...

Kindness above truth, but thanks A.