ACCEPTING MY BALDNESS. LIFE WITH ALOPECIA

BODY IMAGE, EMOTIONAL, HEALTH, INSPIRING, MOTHERHOOD, THOUGHT-PROVOKING

Some people’s vibe really shines through on their Instagram accounts and Jo AKA @baldmothertucker is one of those. Her documentation of adjusting to life after going bald as a result of Alopecia is frank but upbeat. Covering everything from the feeling of loss of identity that comes with hand-in-hand with hair-loss, to the joy of being able to ‘switch-up’ a look in the seconds thanks to her excellent collection of wigs.

  • In December 2017 I discovered a small round bald patch in my hair.  I wasn’t overly alarmed.  I was struggling with low iron levels after the birth of my 3rd daughter.  I had lost patches of hair before – they always grew back.

  • Always.

  • I booked an appointment with my GP, who referred me for blood tests. He wasn’t concerned, and stressed the non-urgent nature of the tests. 

  • The closer we got to Christmas, the more my hair fell.

  • Handfuls. 

  • Clumps in the shower.

  • Hair on my pillow and clothes.

  • A full hairbrush every time I blow dried my hair.

  • My head itched all over.

  • I started to panic

  • Really panic. 

  • I looked for miracle hair growth cures on the shelves at Boots – I spent hundreds.  I kept thinking ‘if the loss stops now, I’ll be able to cope with what’s left’.  I tried to wash and brush my hair less.  

  • But the loss was completely out of my control.  No matter what shampoo, lotion or potion I put on my head, the hair still fell.

  • I started to think I was dying, but my blood test results were healthy. I was packed off with a leaflet on alopecia and the promise of a referral to a dermatologist. 

  • I thought the doctor had missed something.

  • I cried.

  • A lot.  

  • I cried in the car.

  • I cried in the shower.

  • Christmas came and went, and more patches appeared.  So many patches, I could no longer hide the loss.

  • It got to the stage that I could gently pull the ends of my hair, and it would come away in my hand.  I wouldn’t even feel it leave my head.

  • I couldn’t focus on anything but my hair.

  • I resembled a hard boiled egg that had been rolled in pubes.  I could have counted the stands left on my head on my hands. 

  • I had to clipper the last remaining hairs off.

  • I felt disgusting.  Unattractive.  I didn’t recognise my face in the mirror anymore.  I looked like a potato.

  • Bedtime was the worst – as I would take off my make up which was a last reminder of who I used to be.

  • I was worried my husband wouldn’t find me attractive anymore.  I didn’t find me attractive anymore.  

  • I didn’t want him to touch my head, and I was really conscious of my head touching his skin.  It sounds ridiculous now, but if we hugged it felt too ‘skin on skin’.  I shouldn’t be bald.  It felt weird.

  • I had no self esteem.  I was compared myself to every other woman on the street.

  • I was ashamed that I was making such a fuss over ‘only hair’.  Ashamed that I might need a wig. Ashamed that I was ‘well’, and yet wallowing in self pity. 

  • I actually didn’t know what to do.  I couldn’t go back to work in a bobble hat. 

  • I had gone from hairy to bald in around 2 weeks, I hadn’t adjusted or accepted the new bald me.  I needed a quick fix to hide what had happened.  

  • It was only going to be temporary.  Baldness wasn’t a long term option.  

  • OF COURSE my hair would grow back – it always had before.  Plus I still had my eyebrows and eyelashes….

  • My mum suggested a local hairdressers that she thought sold wigs, and I made an appointment to have a wig fitting.  I went on my own.  I think my appointment was with Claire.  She was amazing.  My appointment was in a private room at the back of the salon, and she was patient, kind and sympathetic. She educated me on the different constructions of wigs, what to look for and how to care for them.  It was a lot of information to take on.  

  • I couldn’t believe the price.  Wigs are so expensive.  And you need special shampoo.  And special brushes. 

  • She suggested I take photos of each one I tried, so I get used to how it looks.  I had always had pixie haircuts or growing a pixie into a shit bob – so as I was buying ‘hair’ I was planning to make the most of it.

  • I chose a beach waved synthetic called ‘Evanna’ which offered me everything I ever wanted in a hair style.  I just wanted to blend in and carry on as normal.  But with better hair.

  • And that was what I got.

  • Evanna was a cool blonde, that had a monofilament parting and a lace front.  Both of these apparently add to the realism of the ‘hair’.  

  • Evanna was expensive.  

  • Evanna was a basic model.  I started to worry about how I would be able to afford ‘hair’.

  • I took Evanna for a spin on the school run that afternoon.  

  • No one batted an eyelid.

  • One mum asked if I had had extensions.

  • I felt relieved.  I wasn’t pointed at and ridiculed.

  • I decided to tell everyone who would listen about what had happened.  I couldn’t bear the thought of having people point and whisper behind my back, questioning my new ‘do’.  I wanted to get there first.  I felt that by educating people on what had happened, there wasn’t much else to be said.  It is what it is, and you move on.  I think this approach helped me come to terms with what had happened the most.

  • I also used humour.  If anyone pokes fun at what had happened, it had to be me. 

  • I can laugh at how ridiculous the situation had been.  And if I was laughing, I would let you laugh too.

  • Having 3 daughters, I was incredibly conscious of being open and honest with them about why my hair fell out.  I didn’t want them to worry I was unwell, or equally see that this had broken me.  

  • I didn’t want to obsess on how I looked in front of them.  And I didn’t want their peers to see a wig wearing parent as a weakness to tease them about.

  • And so life carried on.

  • I broke down in private.  

  • I became obsessed with peoples hair.  Jealous of ponytails.  Shampoo. Hair brushing.  Women with hair on their heads.

  • I bought myself new ‘hair’ to cheer myself up.

  • My wig collection grew from 1 to 3.

  • My pubes fell out.  Slowly at first.  I thought I was imagining it.

  • My eyebrows practically rubbed off.  I dreaded washing my face.  My hands would be covered in small hairs.

  • My eyelashes fell out.  Slowly.  I used mascara until the bitter end.

  • My nostril hair fell out.  After eyelashes, I missed nostril hair the most.  Having a cold with no nostril hair is a game of risk.  Snot free flows, without warning.   

  • My tiny facial hairs rubbed off.  Even my moustache.

  • My leg hair stopped growing, and finally my arm hair left

  • I was officially as smooth as an eel. A very cold eel.  

  • It’s so cold being bald.

  • My dermatologist appointment letter arrived.

  • My dermatologist was a beauty with silky chocolate hair that skimmed her shoulders.  I can’t remember her name, but I can remember the intense hair envy I felt sitting at her desk.  

  • She delivered the news that as my Alopecia had escalated to Alopecia Universalis – and I was unlikely to ever see regrowth. The likely percentage was insignificant.

  • I switched off after hearing that sentence.

  • I cried.

  • I bought myself new ‘hair’ to cheer myself up.

  • My wig collection grew from 3 to 6

  • And life carried on.

  • I started an instagram account called @baldmothertucker.  I felt particularly pleased with myself over the account name. ha!

  • I found it therapeutic to document my journey. 

  • And I found so many people going through the same thing. I took comfort in talking with fellow baldies.  Their help and advice helped me to cope on dark days.

  • Wigs became my new hobby.

  • I would swap hairstyles daily.  Changing up hairstyles to go with outfits. I wasn’t discreet.  I stopped caring who knew I wore alternative hair. 

  • Each hairstyle had a personality of their own.  Sometimes I would do the school run in one and pick up in another.

  • I cried much less.  

  • And life carried on.

  • I started to get used to seeing myself in the mirror.  With hair and without.

  • My daughters stopped asking questions, other than ‘can I wear your wig please’.  And my husband doesn’t even notice the ‘shiny bald elephant in the room’. He sees me for who I am inside & out.  

  • My wig collection grew from 6 to 11

  • Hope of regrowth slowly wavered.  Trying to find an answer is exhausting.  And expensive.  Whilst the NHS is wonderful in many ways, alopecia is an unknown entity.  And whenever I have asked for further investigation, I am given the response that Alopecia is autoimmune.  And private healthcare hasn’t been an option.  Im spending too much money on wigs as it is.

  • I chose not to go down the route of immunosuppressant drugs.  Which aren’t guaranteed for regrowth. But could’ve been an option.

  • And the energy used trying to find an answer, shifted to seeing the silver lining in a shit situation.

  • My wig collection grew from 11 to 16.  

  • Plus headscarves, hats and the occasional bald day out.

  • I have more good days than bad.  Trying to keep a positive outlook. And shopping for wigs.  You can never have enough.

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6 Comments

  • Reply Kat March 12, 2019 at 7:35 am

    I love how your positivity grows and grows through this list, i’ve just looked at your page and you look amazing in all of your wigs! I’m sure that you are a huge inspiration to anybody going through the same thing. Keep buying those expensive wigs and justify it by the money you have saved on hair cuts! Great list xx

  • Reply Tory March 14, 2019 at 3:19 pm

    Thank you for your honesty , the reality and for sharing your very personal private thoughts and experience , sadly I can relate to every word (except the children as that didn’t happen for me) alopecia found me three months after a bone marrow transplant and yes I was incredibly lucky to survive it makes dealing with alopecia no less painful or difficult

  • Reply Maris May 17, 2019 at 4:48 pm

    Thanks for your positive way to deal with alopecia. I’m not that far yet. Crying a lot and hoping my hair will grow back by itself. But reading your story gives me strength trying to deal with it. Love from Holland.

  • Reply Denise July 15, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    Hello, I love your confidence in bringing us your many different hairstyles as well as your comfort in showing your bald is BEAUTIFUL. Something I have not been able to do as of yet. It’s been since 2009 for me when my hairloss began. I love creating artful hair illustrations. And would love for you to be my first hairless model.? I would like to send you your very own @prompt_flare_designs I have just the style in mind . Headcover design. Let me know where to send It and what primary color would you like it to be. In exchange I would love a picture and or short critique video of you trying it on. Thank you for your continued motivation.

  • Reply Karen Crow August 13, 2019 at 12:02 am

    I came across your videos by chance then read your story. Can I just day that I think you are absolutely beautiful x

  • Reply Ilse October 26, 2019 at 9:44 am

    Beautiful written!! Exactly how my feelings sometimes are…

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