One of the side effects of chemo everyone knows about is hair loss, but it doesn’t happen the way you think it does. I was very concerned about when the hair loss would start. Turns out, it really depends on the type of chemo drugs you’re getting. The nurse who did my first round of chemo told me most people start losing their hair twelve days after the first round of chemo. That’s why I got my hair cut before going to Montreal.
Once I got it cut, I’d check my hair at odd times – give it a little yank and see if it was still firmly attached. It stayed attached quite nicely the whole time I was in Montreal, at least the hair on my head. This led to
Realization #1: Hair on different parts of your body falls off at different times.
It was not the hair on my head that started falling off first; it was hair in a more, shall we say, private location. It took another week (17 days after chemo) before the hair started falling off on my head. This led to
Realization #2: The hair does not all fall out at once.
It did not come out in clumps, like I thought. I did not wake up with a pile of hair on my pillow, like I thought. Instead, what happened was every time I ran my fingers through my hair, a few hairs would come out. It was kind of like when you brush your hair, but much more constant. My scalp was also very tender. This lasted for a few days before I started to notice bare patches on the sides. I had to wear a hat all the time just to keep my hands out of my hair, since I didn’t want all that hair on the floor.
The hair kept thinning gradually until the day after the second round of chemo. At that point, the hair was falling out in massive quantities and it looked atrocious – lots of bare patches, especially on the sides, so I looked sick. I couldn’t stand it any longer and made StatsGuy shave off what was left to 1/4″. At least at that length, the hair wouldn’t create quite as much mess as it was coming out. It continues to fall out, although much slower now. It’s not falling out as fast because there’s not as much of it left. Check out what’s under the hat:
There’s still some hair there, but it’s not something I even walk around the house showing much. This has led to:
Realization #3: The hair loss takes a long time.
I could just shave it down to nothing, but I kind of want to keep the stubble as long as possible. My eyebrows are a little thinner, but still there. My leg hair has just started to fall out (that one I’m not sad about – I’m hoping I’ve shaved for the last time for a couple of months), but my arm hair seems firmly rooted. We’ll see if I get a new wave of falling out next week after this second round of chemo.