Before Bob the Brain Tumor barged into my space, I’d had long hair all my adult life and throughout most of my childhood. Short for me meant that my hair “only” hung to my shoulders, instead of to the small of my back or below. Sometimes I had bangs, and I liked that all right, but mostly I’d let my hair grow wild and free, parted down the middle.
When I learned that I was going to have brain surgery, I knew that was about to change.
I’d always wanted to donate my hair, so in the days before surgery, my sister bound my hair into neat little pigtails and lopped them off, leaving me with a moderately short ‘do that was somewhat longer in back. We tucked the tails into an envelope and put them away to deal with later.
As it turns out, the surgical team only needed to shave the front half of my head. We could have left the entire back half alone, and I could have ended up with a huge honkin’ mullet. Or a rattail down to my waist. Ah, well. Hindsight.
Also as it turns out, the surgical team could have shaved my entire head. I wish I’d known about that option, and I wish I’d known to ask them to do it.
Because of the risk that my stitches might get infected, I wasn’t allowed to get my head wet at first, and then was only allowed to use a wet washcloth to dab at my scalp.
Before long, that longish hair on the back of my head was lank and greasy, and no matter what I did with that damp washcloth, greasy hair flopped and clung on the back of my neck. The sensation was intolerable.
I proposed lopping it off. I may have been rather insistent.
My husband offered to ask someone he knew, a woman who owned a hair salon, to do the deed. Unfortunately, he couldn’t say when she might be able to do it.
Taking Matters Into My Own Hands
The way I remember it, it was on my second full day home that I asked our younger son to find me the barber scissors.
“Does Dad know about this?” he asked.
Normally, that might put my back up. My hair was my hair, and I was a rational adult who should have control over her own body. In this case, however, I was an adult on powerful pain relievers and medications intended to prevent swelling in my brain, and the “rational” part of that could fairly be called into question.
But I had discussed it with my husband, and though he wasn’t exactly in favor, he was in agreement that my hair was my hair, and I should cut it any way I wanted to. Besides, he said, hair grows. My son, bless him, produced the scissors.
I dragged a kitchen chair into the bathroom, goodness knows how, and my second afternoon home from the hospital found me sitting in there, serenely reducing the rest of my hair to stubble.
It felt wonderful.
It felt amazing.
The soft, bristly feel under my fingers was equalled only by the amazing sensitivity of my scalp as my fingers traveled over it. The dank, clammy feeling was gone, and my scalp felt so light, so clean and open. I could have sat there forever, running my fingers over my freshly shorn scalp.
The result wasn’t pretty. I still had stitches all over the front of my head, and my stubble was uneven where I’d tried to avoid them. But, oh, it felt delicious!
Not Quite That Short These Days
As great as it feels, bald (or nearly bald) isn’t a flattering look for me. At the time, pale and weak, leaning on my husband’s arm, I’m sure I looked like a chemotherapy patient. Now, I’d probably look like I just got out of Central.
I’ve thought about growing my hair long again, but I have to admit I’m rather taken with the ease and the feel of shorter hair. My hair today is between an inch and a half and two inches long, and feathers back in the most amazing way when I run my fingers through it. Another inch or so, and I’ll be ready to trim it back to an inch. Dandelion fluff!
It’s lovely and cool, it doesn’t tangle, and it doesn’t fall in my eyes. What’s not to like?
Playing With Color
My hair is a nice, soft brown. Always has been, except when my sister and I were little girls and the hot Texas sun bleached it nearly white. I’ve had perms, but I’ve never, ever colored my hair, except for those sprays you can get around Halloween. That’s not coloring, it’s painting!
I want to make up for lost time.
I want purple hair, turquoise hair, brilliant emerald green. Just for a day or a week, I want a rainbow mohawk. And when I’m done fooling around, I want a soft, rich auburn.
I won’t be able to see it. But you will. And I’ll know.