I haven’t been out and about as much as I’d like lately. Taxotere is taking its toll, and fatigue is reaching further and further into my life. What was originally a few days of being tired is now a week or more, leaving a week or so of time when I’m feeling good before the next cycle begins. I’ll take the days I have with gratitude, believe me, but it leaves little time for socializing. Most of my “good” week is spent running errands, catching up on my advocacy work, and getting some good writing time in.
But this was a good week – and I got out more than usual. I had a CBCRP meeting in Oakland and the bar mitzvah of a family friend.
For occasions like these, I spend more time than I should thinking about my head. It’s nearly bald – shaved close but not off – and I’ve been spared total baldness in favor of “fuzz.” The irony is that I gave up my long, curly fuzz for the short fuzz of a buzz cut.
There are practical matters to consider. Walking around bald doesn’t bother me, but it can be awfully cold! Scarves help, and it’s what I wear most days. But TSA can make me remove a scarf, and that’s a hassle. Plus there’s the shocked stares of pity by those around me, which I really can’t stand. So I decided to wear my wig to the conference. It got me through TSA in both directions, though it itches quite a bit and I worry about it moving around. To me it looks so obviously like a wig, but only a few in the know agree. I’ve had a number of compliments about my new ‘do, so I guess I’m fooling most of the people some of the time.
Fast forward to the bar mitzvah. It was the first time I’ve been in synagogue in a number of months, and while many friends know that I’m back in chemo, it’s not – of course – part of their daily awareness. The experience is very different – close friends do a triple take before they realize it’s me. I know my curls were my signature feature. I could have gone with a curly wig, and that might have made things easier. But I wanted something a bit different. Nothing drastic – I’m not the type to go green or blue, let alone pink, but something that could make an otherwise miserable experience fun was in order.
So I’m never quite sure how to approach someone. Do I start with an introduction, which seems awkward, but not as strange as the “who the hell are you?” look I sometimes get. Or do I let them go from confusion to concern to shock to recognition? I try to stay with John, to provide a context and make things easier…but even that doesn’t work. I’ll never forget the time, back in 2002, when a very dear friend was upset with John for bringing another woman to synagogue while his wife was sick at home – until she figured out that it was a wigged me.
It’s been an interesting social experiment, and one that I hope isn’t making others too uncomfortable. I’m no less sure what to do than I was 14 years ago, but I’m still here asking the questions!