Yesterday it's two weeks after my first chemo and when I run my fingers through my hair, I watch with a kind of revolted curiosity as a large handful of follicles are dislodged.
For days I've felt a burning sensation at my roots, as if someone is pulling my hair. Actually, it hurts like Fuck, as we Australians like to say.
How much does Fuck hurt? I hear you ask. That is a good question but I do not believe it has been quantified in clinical studies yet. I just figure Fuck hurts a little more than Shit and considerably more than Fiddlesticks.
It's the day that my isolation period for low immunity reaches its climax, seven unremarkable days that comprise an eclectic mix of energy and industry, malaise and boredom.
There are five high points:
- I submit part of a long-term writing project to my client (ka ching!) ;
- I finish the last few requirements for my Certificate III in Fitness;
- Last Saturday, instead of walking the five kilometres I manage every day this week, I jog it - albeit at the pace of a one-legged 90-year-old man.
- I manage two outings, one when I have coffee with a friend (Emmily) and two, when Al and I go to Trivia with the gang (and win!).
For the first five days, my mum and aunty are here, cooking me curries and cooking everything they can lay their little Sri Lankan mitts on. They make me about 2,085 curry rolls. They create feasts of such magnificent proportions I have to remind them that it's just Ben and I!
By the time they leave, I am channelling my inner Oompah Loompah. Even the dog is looking bloated.
I diarise each day but it makes for soporific reading.
The one helpful thing I note is the way my sleeping patterns are disrupted, including two nights of terrible insomnia when I have to recourse to a sleeping pill. (What fabulous drugs. No after effects.)
I also note that isolation is about as fun as doing an exercise class in a high care nursing home - especially the bit where you have to work up a sweat moving your ankle in a circle.
Where once I would recoil at the notion of WASTING time watching bad mid-day TV, I can now report that 'The View' is truly a boring, boring show: all those opinionated women talking over the top of each other. Horrible.
Where once I thought twice about pharmaceutical intervention, now I think I might name my first grandsons, Pfizer and Glaxo (what do you think?)
My motto has gone from Carpe Diem to Pass-the-Remote. I suppose I should be grateful that it hasn't become Pass-the-Kidney-Stone.
Today, Maria - the Michaelangela of hairdressing - picks me up early in her neat little beamer and we drive to Carindale.
I have a voucher for $75 from the Cancer Council to spend on a wig. My girlfriend Chris says she hardly used hers, but I know I have a couple of social engagements coming up when I would prefer that I looked less Humpty Dumpty and more, I don't know, Hairy McLairy?
The importance of hair, of course is not to be underestimated. In most societies it is a totem of sexuality and more. Although, I think in Donald Trump's case it's probably just a totem of sad-old-man.
So I suppose it's understandable that my impending defoliation has required some adjustment.
When we get to Starkles, I try on a few wigs. You'll have to guess which one I chose:
I have a good collection of ratty party wigs too, so I'm torn... perhaps I could go for one of the looks below:
The Fro (Cue Minnie Riperton)
After selecting my wig and purchasing some other hair - um, scalp - adornments, Maria and I do some Christmas shopping and return home for - da da da sum - the last haircut.
We decide not to go for the Colonel Klink look and instead opt for, perhaps a Le Beau (all you Gen Ys out there - look up 'Hogan's Heroes').
Here is what I look like:
The roots continue to hurt afterwards but at least the follicles being dislodged aren't so offensive.
Soon, I realise the soap opera that is my life will make the transition from "The Young and the Breastless" to "The Bald and the Beautiful".
Soon, I shall have to add a position on the billiard table to my personal Karma Sutra, preferably with my head positioned neatly over a corner pocket.
So what can I do other than celebrate the hair and now ... and hone up on my bad-hair puns.
To be continued...