Log in

Rachel Coleman
Vanity: hair and nails 
30th-Jun-2016 01:17 pm
This morning I snipped off the last bit of cracked thumbnail.  Each of my rounds of chemo left a thinned, weakened strip across all my nails, which moved slowly from nailbed to tip, and when it reached the tip, it would crack very easily.  I usually keep my nails short, but that wasn't enough to prevent cracks and even small pieces snapping off under even mild pressure.  Just another tiny indignity of the whole process.

One crack, on my left thumb, kept extending itself back down the nail: I would catch it on something, and back it would go, down into the apparently-normal nail growing after all the chemo was over.  All the other weak patches were gone months ago, but that crack just kept renewing itself.  I've taken such care over that nail the last few months, trying not to catch it on anything, keeping it trimmed short, and finally, finally the very bottom of the crack has reached high enough up the nail that I've been able to cut the last of it off.  Normality restored at last.

As for my hair, I never lost it all, but it thinned out dramatically during chemo.  I estimated about 80% of it fell out. I'd leave hairs on every pillow, like a cat shedding.  I was so glad I'd had Tony clip it short in advance, it would have been unbearable to leave shoulder-length clumps in the same way.  Hair went from the rest of my body too - arms, legs etc.  Not hairless, but very thinly covered.

In January, after the last round of chemo, it started growing back.  My head felt like a dog with a winter coat growing in, two distinct lengths. I remember trimming it all back very short just to make it tidy, and then again (a little longer) when it was shaggy and unbearable.   I want to grow it out again, at least back to shoulder-length, so I've gritted my teeth and got through the shaggy stage and it's suddenly settled into something that is acceptably tidy with no effort from me.

And suddenly I've discovered that my hair is curly and springy now, instead of straight. It looks quite good (see userpic) and I don't dislike it.  It just feels unfamiliar, all the time.  I'm still waiting to feel like it's normal.

Today's bird: Merlin

Also posted at http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/638066.html with comment count unavailable comments.
30th-Jun-2016 12:48 pm (UTC)
Ooh, does that mean your hearing was unaffected? That always seems like such a very unfair side affect :(
30th-Jun-2016 12:50 pm (UTC)
I didn't notice my hearing being affected, anyway.
30th-Jun-2016 01:09 pm (UTC)
Hurray! (It's a hair loss thing, in case that's not obvious - the hairs in the inner ear never grow back, which can leave some people (like my cousin Molly, who is in remission well over a decade) permanently deaf.)
30th-Jun-2016 01:20 pm (UTC)
That hadn't occurred to me but it makes sense. I hope your cousin has the support she needs.
30th-Jun-2016 01:16 pm (UTC)
I have also ended up with curly hair post chemo -apparently it will either stay that way or it won't but if it's still curly 18 months on will probably stay that way.
30th-Jun-2016 01:18 pm (UTC)
Interesting! That's more than anyone has told me officially :-) (Perhaps I will mention it to the consultant when I next see her.)
30th-Jun-2016 02:11 pm (UTC)
I was told this by a Macmillan nurse
30th-Jun-2016 06:12 pm (UTC)
My aunt's grew back in like that after she had leukaemia but gradually went back to how it was before.
30th-Jun-2016 08:29 pm (UTC)
This is an interesting post, but I think you do yourself a disservice in calling it "vanity". I mean, sure, there's a pride-in-one's-appearance thing, but also it comes across more like a celebration of little milestones of getting yourself back, of little markers of the physical trauma ageing out and being shed.

I'm sorry if that comes across a bit let-me-tell-you-what-you-really-meant. It's probably that I've spent a few months this year on an analogous (but totally not the same!) trajectory of recovering from a difficult, traumatic time last year and very much noticing when the little markers or leftovers from the hard times eventually fade out or wear out or just...get outlasted, I guess. Outlived.
1st-Jul-2016 11:06 am (UTC)
It is of course a bit of both :-)
1st-Jul-2016 02:32 pm (UTC)
Fair enough!
This page was loaded 28th Mar 2017, 2:31 am GMT.