Wig Out

The Sunday before last, Chris and I went for an early morning mountain bike ride, then out for brunch. After we returned home, he made eye contact with me. “Should we do it before you take a shower?” I nodded and headed out to the back porch. I wasn’t especially excited about this event, but my hair was looking especially scraggly and, as he had promised to do when my hair looked too bad to keep hanging onto, Chris was offering to shave my head. After enduring more than six weeks of shedding, the realization that it was time was equally traumatic and therapeutic.

When Chris got started and I watched the first few clumps of foot long blonde hair fall to the ground I began to cry as it suddenly became real. After allowing myself to cry for a few minutes, I decided that I needed to stop. Crying about it wouldn’t change anything and, in the scheme of things, I really didn’t have that much to be upset about anyway; there are so many people who have way bigger problems than a bad haircut, and, in all fairness, Chris did a really good job so I did not even get a bad haircut.

Monday morning came and I was faced with the daunting prospect of wearing my wig. I stayed awake for a good portion of Sunday night reading tutorials about how to tape or glue on wigs. In the preceding weeks, I had spent outrageous amounts of money not only on the wig and shipping and handling to have the wig recolored (gratis), but also on a collection of glues, tapes, solvents, and skin preparations to make wig wearing possible. To my surprise, when the time came, I just couldn’t do it.

I spent most of last week wigless because it just seemed more practical for my lifestyle. I could not imagine standing in the bathroom at work using a solvent to remove my wig before changing into my running clothes at the end of the day. I also couldn’t imagine the fear that would strike each time Kai grabbed a handful of the wig hair. Would she pull it off? Would it rip?

No. Wig wearing did not seem right for me.

Friday night came, and along with it came an opportunity to get dressed up. I had plans to attend a bridal shower being held in the beautiful garden of a historic mansion in town. As I put on my favorite dress and a few pieces of jewellery, there was something missing. Hair. You can’t get all dressed up without hair.

I pulled my wig out of the closet and tried it out again. Just as I feared, it still screamed “I have a wig on”, but, that night, the wig look was more appealing than going without.

Chris double-checked, “Are you sure you want to wear that in public? What if something goes wrong?”

Without even thinking twice, I knew that I wanted to wear it. What could possibly go wrong?

As I drove into town, air conditioning blasting, I noted that the outside temperature was nearly 90 degrees. The setting sun shined brightly though my windows and seemed to undo the efforts of my car’s air conditioner. My skin felt warm, on the verge of sweating, and the huge mass of hair on my head was not helping matters. Hopefully I would not arrive at the shower already looking like a sweaty beast.

When I arrived downtown and stepped out of my car into the warm air, it felt like a sauna. By the time I walked a block or so to the party, I could feel that my head had begun to sweat. For a split second, I worried about my wig, but that thought was quickly forgotten as I began chatting with the other shower guests.

As I got drawn into a long conversation with a few of the other guests, I could feel the sweaty head intensifying and I swore that the wig sliding around. We continued to chat, but I could not give my full attention to the conversation. I became fixated on the wig. Was it still in place?

Finally, I had an out. Our hostess asked us to wrap up our conversations and take our seats at the tables. I made a beeline to the bathroom to check my hair. It was obvious to me that it had slipped way out of place exposing a tiny bit of buzz cut at my hairline.

Had anyone else noticed? Was I the only person examining my hairline so intensely? I will probably never know and it doesn’t really matter as this single incident has made me too leery of wig wearing to venture out in public with it again anytime soon.

It is both amazing and ridiculous to me that, throughout this ordeal, the saga of real, fake, and missing hair has been as, if not more, traumatic and thought consuming than anything else. Fortunately, parting with my hair has, in large part, helped me get over it and move on.

Counter to my original expectations, I doubt that I will have the courage to break the wig out in public again.

  1. branny said:

    My mom had a similar experience. She maybe wore her wig once, like you. She really just needed it in her closet. Good luck, stay brave, and you’re more than your hair!

    • Brit said:

      When you first told me that, I thought it sounded crazy. Now, I’m totally on the same page. I needed to buy it so I wasn’t terrified leading up to the head shaving. Now that it is over, I don’t think I need the wig anymore. Thank you for sharing your mom’s story with me.

  2. Kier said:

    Wig or no wig, just do what makes you feel good! You could always get a great henna tattoo on your head!

    • Brit said:

      I wish I could wear that to work!

      I haven’t gotten brave enough to post a picture of my hair yet, but right now I still have some and it still seems to be growing. I’m not sure what will happen with the remaining hair over the next few months. Chris thinks I should make it into a pink mohawk, again, not work appropriate.

  3. Pauline said:

    Love you, Brittany. Your grace and courage is incredible.

  4. Being fixated on the hair issue really doesn’t seem that crazy to me, as I’m definitely a person who uses her hair as a security blanket.

    I think the pink mohawk suggestion sounds pretty rad. 🙂

    • Brit said:

      Yeah, he is going to make one for Kai when she has enough hair. Maybe I’ll rethink it then and we can be twinners.

  5. Lisa said:

    Work appropriate or not, these suggestions make me smile. And really… Would your work actually SAY anything? I kid. If you’re into pretty scarves that may be something to think about.

    Wig or not, hair or not, you are still gorgeous Brit.

    • Brit said:

      Scarves scream “I have cancer!” I’ll leave those for the cancer patients. 😉

      Buzz cuts just look butch, um, GI Jane…whatever.

      • Lisa said:

        I hear you; I suppose scarf with no hair does spell cancer. I bet you do look like a tough cookie, a’la Demi Moore with the short cut. In a very good way. 🙂

      • Brit said:

        Haha! Thanks! 🙂

  6. Sona said:

    I shaved mine after treatment 2 (I am a bit behind you in treatment, about to have 3a). Like you I had the wig taken care off before I even started chemo. The hair falling out was traumatic, but I found the actual shaving to be a relief.

    I had the same experience as you the first couple of times I wore the wig, felt like I may as well have a sign on my head that said ‘IM WEARING A WIG’. The next couple of times I became more comfortable and then a couple of acquaintances who didn’t know I was having chemo commented on how nice my hair was! Most of the time I go without the wig. It’s nice to know it’s there for the ‘fancy’ occasions though! Just think how nice our hair is going to be when it grows back 🙂

    I do really feel for you in terms of the heat though, I live in Ireland where summer and winter are the same thing! The only couple of times its been warm out I really suffered in the wig.

    BTW, congrats on the clean PET 🙂 I’m having mine Monday. Praying for the same outcome as you!

  7. susana said:

    Hi Brittany! I found your blog from the Hodgkin’s forum…I personally liked hats. They have lots of cute ones with bling etc. I had a wig that I wore to work though and I could not stand it at all!!! They shift and make you sweat or itch. I never liked scarves either. I usually wore a light cotton cap with a hat. At home…I just went bald loo! I hope you are doing well and I plan to try some of your very interesting and healthy recipes. Take care!! Susana

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