As anyone who knows me knows... I like predictability and order. I like to make plans.
Okay, fine... I like to be in charge. (Uhm.... I may or may not be a little bit of a control freak.)
This particular personality trait of mine has probably suffered/struggled the most in the nigh-on-five-year battle with the big C.
And while I have learned to let go of control of many things in my life... I could not, I would not, reconcile myself to letting my long, brown, hair just fall right out of my head. (Also, the dream lives on that I'll find a wig maker in the US who will be able to do what I want to do with my hair.)
So, I made plans to cut it this weekend.
I had texted The Designated Ball Family Head Shaver (Aunt Cindy) from the waiting room when I was checking myself in for chemo last week, to ask if she could come this weekend and do the duty. (Hair typically falls out 2-3 weeks from the first chemo treatment, and I wanted to make sure I had my hair cut before it fell out. Also, President's Day weekend affords a little extra wiggle room for travel time.)
She called right back - and had to talk to Judy, because by then, the hospital clerk was actually checking me in - to say she should come.
And the plan was on.
I added my cousin Rachel into the mix when I had a wild hair on Wednesday and asked if she would come with Syd. Bless Rachel's heart for dropping all of her many plans for the rest of the week/weekend (and the heart of her mother-in-law who took ownership of Rachel's five children), so she could be here.
I woke up this morning and... didn't wash my hair right away. (Because Rachel had spent the night here, while Judy and Cindy and Rae (Cindy's grandaughter, my cousin Amy's cute kid) slept at Jo's.) Rachel and I sat and talked and laughed and talked and... didn't get much done. (We heart Cousin Bonding.) Until around 11:00, when the actual grown ups came home and made me take a shower so I could wash my hair.
For those of you not in the know... when one is going to donate one's hair for a wig the rules are simple: clean hair, air-dried, with no product in it, bound in real rubber bands (not the fabric-covered kind we actually USE for ponies these days).
Since the official cutting time was 2:00, 11:00 was... sort of pushing it. (It takes my hair around 3 hours to dry. Crazy, right?!)
By 2:00, everyone was here (Judy, Cindy, Rachel, Katie and Jo), but... my hair wasn't all the way dry yet. So, we sat around and talked for a while. Judy made fried eggs and toast for lunch (my favorite), and then we passed around the sugar cookies that Jo had brought (because you HAVE to have sugar cookies on Valentine's Day!).
It was probably around 3:00 that I took my seat in the kitchen and they started putting the ponies in my hair. Because I want to use the entirety of my hair for a wig, ponies were positioned as closely to the scalp as possible. Starting at the top, and going down through my layers (this is when it helps to have cut your own hair, kids... you know exactly where your layers start and end), everyone took a turn in pulling hair into ponies and/or cutting them off (save the Ball Family Designated Head Shaver, because her responsibility is to SHAVE the hair, not CUT the hair).
All in all, we ended up with 11 ponies. They're small, roughly four ponies for each layer. But they are long. (18 inches. Every blessed one of them.) And when you put them all together, it's still enough hair to fill the lap of a grown woman (with... erm.... not a small lap).
Cindy then took hold of the clippers and shaved my rag-tag ponytail haircut into submission. As per the instructions from the doctor, we didn't go directly to the skin. My hair's about 1/4 inch long right now, which is as short as they recommended going. As you may recall from my recent ACNE post, my skin is all kinds of irritated and sensitive these days, and the thought of razor burn on top of what is already swollen and tight makes me cringe. (Who's kidding who? I have the face of Gollum right now, and didn't want to risk continuing what's happening on my face up onto the top of my head.)
So, that's it.
It is done.
18 inches of hair - a literal lap full of hair - has been removed from the top of my head. On the one hand, it's surreal. I can't believe I'm really here, at this place. But I am. And I'm okay with it.
The truth is, the chemo had already changed my skin - and, by association, my scalp, and, thus, my hair. The hair I brought home with me from the hospital was not the same as what I wore in. That made it easier to cut.
I'm so incredibly grateful for the support system that I have, near and far.
Today was a good day. Spent in the company of some of the women whom I love the best.
And now I get to try and figure out scarves and beanies and all of the other head coverings out there, besides hair. Should be a real adventure.