Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Off with the Hair and Back to the Laughing…

I figured something out in the last couple of days. I am entirely too comfortable with this cancer thing for the rest of the world. What’s funny about that is that before I had cancer, I would have been one of the people that walked by me yesterday uncomfortably, made sure to look me directly in the eye, and say nothing about the hair. Then I would have obsessed about whether or not I did/said anything wrong. That’s crazy! But, nevertheless true.

Believe it or not, I’ve learned a lot of how people want to be treated from having this cancer and even more from my 5 year old son. I know that I’m supposed to be teaching him stuff, and I am every day. But, he has taught me things as well. And I don’t mean things about parenting. I mean Christ-like acceptance of others. It’s strange, but he has an acceptance and kindness of spirit about him that is almost not of this world. It manifests out of nowhere and when you least expect it, but it also never leaves him.

I first noticed it when he was 2 and we went to see Grammie in the nursing home. I don’t like nursing homes. Who does? They always have a bad smell and there is so much sadness there. I didn’t know how he would react because I was terrified of them when I was a much older child even. We used to go and sing to the residents at Christmas and things with my church group growing up. As bad as it sounds, I couldn’t wait to leave and some of the things I saw really scared me. Not him. He walked in that place like he owned it, talked to everyone like they really mattered to him, and wasn’t scared of ANYTHING.

There was one gentleman who had lost his legs to diabetes and was terribly overweight. This made his legs look like giant tree stumps in his wheelchair bigger around that Brayden’s entire body. It was a sight like nothing I had ever seen exactly and chest high to Brayden. Truthfully, it was quite shocking to both me and Mom. He didn’t say a word about it. Instead they discussed ice cream. I didn’t know what to say, but my 2-year old did. We were all in line for ice cream in the nursing home. Instead of staring at or talking about his legs, they just discussed ice cream. They were on the same wavelength, and Brayden made his day.

Sunday when I asked him to help me pick out hair for church, he said, “Don’t wear hair Mommy. You’re beautiful without it.” I would never have said that to my mom at that or any other age. Instead, I would have been making sure that she had the “right” one on at all times (even at home) and in constant prayer that it wouldn’t shift or blow off for the sole purpose of embarrassing me. I guess that’s also the difference between boys and girls. I was born to be the mom of this boy, that’s for sure.

So, back to my point…Day 2 in the office with the wigs. I wore the one that looks most like my own hair. It’s Mom’s favorite and my least favorite, for now. But, it does look the most like me. Someone who didn’t know me well or didn’t pay attention could think nothing of it. In fact I had a co-worker in the elevator ask me when I was going to start treatment. So, if incognito is the goal, mission accomplished sort of. Anyway, the cap on this one is so much itchier than the one I wore yesterday since I still have stubble on my head. (I’m told that will be different once it falls out sometime in the next week.) But for now, it is UNBEARABLE in that particular wig. It felt like the aftermath of a bad beach prep or stuffing stubble covered legs in tights three sizes too small. By 10:00 this morning I was in trouble and my head was bright red on top. So, I forfeited my normal lunch time and lunch money to run to Target and get an inexpensive microfiber hat.

I know what you’re thinking…another hat?? No, this was not another manifestation of my addiction. This was different. I bought this one for a scalp emergency and for everyone else in the office. It’s to leave in my desk for days like this one. The hair had to go! So, if you’re counting, it took less than a day and a half to get comfortable enough to be “hat only” within my department. But, as much as I don’t care it seemed inconsiderate of me to walk around the building with nothing but a hat on my head. Especially with all the ignoring the wig that was going on yesterday. (Still Funny to me…) So, when I get up and leave my desk I put back on the hair. It’s kind of comical really, the whole on/off hair thing. Hair on...hair off. Hair on..hair off. Hair on...hair off. Like the Karate Kid, only with cancer.

But here’s the thing…Cancer doesn’t give me the right to make everyone else in the building feel uncomfortable at work. There’s a whole lot more people here without it than with it, and they should be comfortable at work regardless of what’s going on with me. I don’t get to be entitled to walk around purposefully making people uncomfortable just because I happened to get cancer. That’s the way I feel about it anyway. I hate entitlement of all kinds, but that’s a whole rant for another time. So, I need hair on my head for all those people. My own department, well that’s different. And at my own desk, in the corner by the window…

So once I got the hat, I ran back upstairs, ripped the hair off, and put on my super soft hat. Relief! Then the nose bleeding thing started…It’s a side effect from the chemo that I am not enjoying. I’ve already got that horrible winter nose and it’s going to stay that way for months. Not fun. Don’t get me started on the acne side effect either. My face has texture, like the walls in my house. No eruptions, just a consistently inconsistent texture that is red and jacked up. What about all those women I see with beautiful chemo skin? Where’s my beautiful chemo skin that looks angelic??? If you're going to have no hair, you should at least get the beautiful skin. But, I digress...

So, I’m sitting in my cube trying to get my work done and dealing with no hair, a damaged scalp, bloody nose, and not too pretty skin. But, I have work to do. So, since it’s just me…I had my wig on a make-shift wig stand (a roll of paper towels) and a Kleenex crammed up my left nostril securely but with the majority of it hanging out to try and stop the nosebleed. So, I’m typing away, feeling pretty good about my progress on something, and around the corner comes one of my co-workers. Cast your mind...no hair, Kleenex filled nostril, typing away like everything is normal. That's not what he expected to see, I'm certain! Based on the look on his face and the 25 blinks he had in 3 seconds, I don’t think that’s what he expected to see AT ALL…Now, no one comes to my cube anymore. We’re in a “call-first” pattern even if you’re a couple cubes away. How is that not hysterical? I wish I’d had a camera.

And I can laugh about it no matter what happens while I’m there because I have my very special boy to come home to. You know, the one that doesn’t see missing limbs, missing hair, or any kind of disability. He just loves me the way I am, in whatever state that might be. That’s such a beautiful gift.


Triann Benson said...

That's hilarious!! Poor guy =)
Glad you are getting comfortable with the hair thing...so sorry about the nosebleeds =(

kitykity said...

Haven't I said to you before, more than a few times... you should just go without it. You ARE beautiful without it! In fact, that first night over my house, I was thinking, man she looks hot! :)) And I still think you worry too much about what other people think--I mean, it's nice to be courteous; but to alter your own routine to the point of making *yourself* uncomfortable so that others aren't... that just doesn't seem cool to me... do you know what I mean? Hope I'm not being a butt...


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