I made the conscious decision to shave my head when I found out that I was going to lose my hair due to Chemotherapy. Even though I was more or less prepared for the shaving, I do have to admit I was not ready for everything that followed! Now I was totally at a loss because I had never experienced baldness before. So now I was going to have to figure out how to care for my bald head.
Immediately after my head was shaved, I reached up and ran my hand over my now bald head. Even though it had been shaved as close as possible to the scalp, there were these tiny little spikes now in place of my long golden locks. At that moment, they were soft and barely noticeable. I just assumed that this was what being bald was going to be like for the next year or so. O.K., I can live with that!
My Scalp Hurts!
However, within just a couple of days, things started changing. My scalp began to H-U-R-T. Yes, I mean actual pain. And it was my entire scalp. It literally felt like someone was trying to pull out all of my hair. How would I know what that felt like? Well, years earlier I had gotten in a fight with my sister. She grabbed a huge handful of hair, and ripped the entire handful out of my head!! I do have to say this initial removal of my hair hurt many times worse than my bald state, but there was a close resemblance of pain, albeit not as painful from my hair falling out. But the pain was relentless. It would not let up. And…….I had no idea what to do about it.
Over the next week, as my spikes just sat there in my scalp, the pain never let up. It was driving me crazy. Also, when I would put on a scarf, it would get “stuck” on the spikes. I had to pay attention to the positioning of the scarf before I did the final tie in the back. Once the scarf was in place, it was almost impossible to pull it forward or back because the little spikes would stick to the scarf and hold it in place. This was not all bad. Now, with the spikes, once I positioned the scarf where I wanted it, I did not have to worry about it sliding off! Well, there was one positive for having your head shaved!
This particular problem almost drove me crazy! I had so many problems through this journey. This just happened to be another one that I had not anticipated having. How could I? I had never been bald. I also had never heard anyone complain about this particular problem. I never did discuss it with anyone, even in the support group. This seemed so insignificant compared to all the other problems we all were facing during our cancer journey.
I decided this was one problem I was going to have to solve on my own. Once my head was shaved, I decided to stop using shampoo. My reasoning was that I had no hair to wash, so why on earth would I need shampoo? But being 60+ years old, and washing my hair at least two times a week for my entire life, I couldn’t just bypass my head when I was in the shower. Also, as time went on, the spikes got stiffer, and even the pain in my scalp seemed to intensify.
Could Creme Rinse Be the Answer?
As I sat in the shower one day, I decided maybe I would just use the cream rinse on my scalp. No shampoo, just creme rinse. So I grabbed the bottle of creme rinse, poured a dollop into the palm of my hand, rubbed my hands together, and applied the creme rinse to my stubble. I left it on for several minutes, and then rinsed it out.
After a few days of doing this, my scalp actually calmed down and the pain was minimal. I also noticed that the stubble was softer. Maybe I was on to something! So I continued to do this, and after about a week, my scalp actually QUIT HURTING!! And my stubble on my head was as soft as the down on a baby chick! Now I actually enjoyed running my hand over my head. My stubble was so, so soft!
From that point forward, I never used shampoo again during my cancer ordeal. I only used creme rinse. I received Chemotherapy for almost a year. I had no hair, just stubble, during that whole time. I wore scarves and hats, and sometimes I wore nothing. I quit worrying about what people thought, and went out when I could. As time went on, I wore scarves and hats less and less. I actually really enjoyed not having hair and having to spend all the time on it that I had in the past. I spent about 10 hours a week washing, drying, braiding and combing my hair. I was so sick from the Chemo that I realized I just did not have the energy to put into hair. Now I had none, and did not have to worry about it!
When I finally finished Chemotherapy, I still continued to use only the creme rinse. My hair FINALLY started to grow! Halleluiah! And as it started to emerge, it was as soft as the down on a baby chick! I absolutely loved my super short, super soft hair! I really planned to keep my hair super short. It was so easy and convenient! I also had waist length hair most of my life. And it had always been a straight as a string. Now, as it was starting to come in again, it came in very, very curly! I had never had curly hair, and I really liked it short and curly! However, as it continued to grow out, it did not stay baby chick down soft. It started to turn a little coarse, and I decided to let it grow. My friends commented that they liked my hair longer. So much for standing my ground! I was easily influenced.