There is a particular certainty to cancer that can sometimes be comforting. We’ve talked about how “old friends”, certain side effects, from our last journey into chemo have visited us this time around. We take these as signs that the beneficial poisons are doing their job, and ensures us a positive outcome as it did last time.
With absolute precision, when you are on the receiving end of RCHOP, your hair starts to fall out day fourteen. Literally day 14, you can lightly tug on your hair and get more than a few strands coming out. Each successive day, they come out faster. By the end of the week, your head is for the most part a really patchy bald. It’s not without some warning. The texture of your hair starts to change. For men, their end of day stubble is generally softer and less new growth. Some people feel a tingling in their scalp first.
It does take a little longer for facial and body hair to completely shed. Other than the apparent visual changes, you find that there are other-not-so-discussed effects of losing your hair. That your head is colder comes as no surprise. But as you lose your body hair, you find the rest of you gets chillier also. Oh, but just think of all you’ll save on not having those regular Brazilians!
With no eyebrows or eyelashes, any sweat goes right into your eyes from your forehead. So much for Jeff Goldblum’s character in Jurassic Park with his chaos theory.
Without nasal hair, your nose just keeps dripping. There’s nothing to hold anything back until it’s absorbed. Skin is much drier, nails develop ridges and are more brittle.
Rich’s day fourteen was the beginning of this week and he’s right on schedule. Most everyone who goes through chemo with meds that will cause hair loss buzz their hair shorter prior to complete baldness. It’s a little more disturbing, and messy, to find hair here, there and everywhere and the longer it is, the more noticeable it is. Last night he brushed his hair and a significant amount fell out. He brushed his goatee too and that thinned as well. The precise timing of it is still something that boggles the mind.
We had a funny moment ten years ago when this effect started. Rich was relaxing on the couch with our cuddly cat Guilden on his lap. As he was petting her, his jeans were getting well covered with shed cat hair. Without missing a beat, Rich reached up and began taking HIS shedding hair and piled it on Guilden’s back. Finally she raised her head and looked up at him quizzically. As Rich looked down at her he said “Karma’s a bitch.” Our sweet Guilden looked at him square in the eyes for a few minutes and then settled her head back down on his lap and went to sleep… she had nothing to do but to accept the crazy payback moment. It still makes us giggle.
But tonight… tonight let the buzzing begin!!!