This blog may seem a bit strange but there is this phenomenon known as "chemo brain". It's not endorsed by the medical profession and it does sound a lot like an aging brain combined with stress. However, it could be true. Cancer patients and their caregivers, at least, do find some comfort in using the term to "chemo brain" to explain the somewhat bizarre behavior cancer survivors often exhibit. It suggests that the condition is temporary rather than permanent insanity. Of course, some of us (and our family members) conveniently choose to ignore the fact that we had chemo brain symptoms long before we ever had chemo. Is this true in my case? I'll take the 5th and let God be my judge.
Last Friday, before chemo, I glared at my oncologist. "You said my head wouldn't hurt when my hair fell out!" Dr. Rank gave me that beautiful benevolent smile of his. Oh...oh... I was going to have trouble staying angry. "That's right. I told you the truth. I told your head would not hurt when your hair fell out." I tried to fix my glare back into place. I shoved my notebook of questions under his nose and pointed to where I had written in big black letters one night when I couldn't sleep. Head Hurts! underscored multiple times. "Yes," he explained patiently, "your head hurts but it's not because you're losing your hair, it's because it's trying to grow back."
That took the wind out of my sails for a moment. "What do you mean growing back? I grabbed a bit of stubble and yanked. Well, actually I gave it a tiny tug and the hair gently slid out. Really. You don't feel a thing. I'm telling you the absolute truth. You feel nothing. It's like picking a piece of lint or something out of your hair. It just slides right out of your scalp as nice as slick as can be.
That's when I learned the fuzz covering my head might look like living hair but it's not. It's dead...completely dead. The root is gone. It might be sticking out of my scalp but that's a mere formality. It's as dead as dead can be. It will not grow. It will not stay secure. It looks alive, but it's not. Stay with me here...
Two days after chemo, my body gets to work trying to build brand-new hair roots unless I have male pattern baldness or some other hair follicle disease which I don't. These new roots get busy growing new hair and if left alone, I'd have a 1/2 inch crop of new hair in about a month or so. That new hair trying to break through makes my scalp sensitive so that's what actually is hurting me...new hair growth. You don't normally feel that because, well, your hair is usually just cut down to the surface of your scalp (hopefully) and new hair doesn't have to break through the skin. Unfortunately, 12 days into the cycle, my new little roots get destroyed again. My hair should start growing back permanently on June 9 (two days after my last chemo). Yeah!
The point of all of this rambling is this:
1. Just because something looks like it's rooted and healthy doesn't mean it it. This is why it is important to be examined daily by the Holy Spirit. Looks can be deceiving.
2. True growth can hurt! While it is painful for the moment, it is sometimes necessary. My hair wouldn't do me much good if all of the growth stayed inside my head. As I'm quickly finding out, hair's primary purpose is not to make you look better. It protects your head from the cold, the sun, wind, keeps the skin from getting too dry, etc. I've discovered I'm more fond of it than what I believed.
[bible]2 Peter 3:17-18[/bible]