A day in the life of an alopecian

 

My morning routine is so much simpler – no washing, drying, styling my hair, just a little buzz with the razor to ensure the bits that still grow keep in time with the bits that don’t. I’ve got used to shaving my head now but I still dislike doing it. Every day I hope to see that the hair on the top has started growing so I don’t have to shave the rest…one day it’ll happen, everything in it’s own time I remind myself.

I make myself look in the mirror, just for a few seconds to remind myself that this is who I am and that’s okay. It’s funny, I think people around me are more accepting of my baldness than I am. That’s how they see me now and that’s how they love me, I just wish I could do the same for myself.

I’m going through a phase at the moment where I am desperately missing my eyelashes. Partly because the pollen count has been high and my eyes, with no barriers, have suffered a lot this year. But mainly because I miss putting on mascara! I loved wearing mascara – as well as eyebrows framing our faces, there’s something about long lashes that make eyes prettier. I think one day I will have to spend some proper time trying to conquer falsies but for now, the naked is eye is what it is!

Today I am venturing out, some days I constantly think people are staring, some days I couldn’t care less but mostly I feel a constant shadow of self-consciousness. I am very aware that I am more than likely the only bald woman in the vicinity and I stick out like a sore thumb. Some people offer sympathetic smiles, some avoid eye contact and others can’t help but stare gormlessly. It’s been a while since comments have been passed but today I’ve had two encounters.

  1. In the doctor’s surgery the receptionist assumes I have cancer and asks how my treatment is going. Now, normally in this situation I’m happy to explain I don’t have cancer, I have alopecia but today, in this situation, in this environment, I feel guilty and uncomfortable and I simply reply with, “it’s fine thanks.” WHY?! I then feel even worse because I’ve basically let that woman think I am having treatment and the people in the line behind me now think the same and I’m faced with four other sympathetic smiles and oh dear god, please let the ground open up. Sometimes I just don’t have the strength to explain. I know that’s no excuse but that’s how it is. I want the moment to pass as quickly as possible with as few words as possible.
  2. I hear a shout…”hahahaha that lady hasn’t got any hair!!” A nine-year old girl sitting in a restaurant with her family decides she can vocalise her amusement at my appearance. Again, normally with children I let if go over my head because, they are children. But today it hits me like a ten ton truck. I stop and stare at her with my best teacher stare which makes her look down and cower in her seat. Her mum looks and me and looks away instantly – with embarrassment? – and her dad pulls her down in her chair and mutters something out of my ear shot. I stood there for several seconds and then walked on, tears in my eyes as though someone has just punched me in the gut. As I walk away I regret instantly that I didn’t approach that child and her family to educate them. Ask the parents to explain to their children, who are old enough to know better, why some people a) don’t have hair, b) look different and c) why we shouldn’t publicly humiliate those people because of their differences. And tell that girl, her words have hurt me, a stranger who she won’t think about ever again but that I will continue to think about her for days to come because her words and laughter struck a chord deep down that hurts like hell. That she needs to think before she speaks and be kinder to people.

Like I say, thankfully these interactions don’t happen very often – thank goodness. It still stuns me how hair can have such an impact on me, my self esteem, confidence…everything. I am not okay with being bald, I am not okay with it at all. Every single day I long for my hair and it scares me to allow the thought that it may never come back. I am good at dusting myself down and moving on because there is so much else going on in the world, my hair is not a biggy.

I walked past LUSH as well today – they had a new product in the window, a cubed product on a lolly stick…of course I went to take a closer look. Hair oil on a stick – wow! I loved a good hair oil treatment but wait, I don’t have hair so I can’t use that. Damn. Luckily I can use a bath bomb – every cloud eh?! There was an article on FaceBook today about a guy who had a hair piece attached and he was SO excited to have hair again after being bald. He spent £90 in the supermarket on products and he couldn’t have cared less! He was saying loudly down the ailes, “look I’m buying shampoo, SHAMPOO, for my new HAIR!” What a legend – it made me smile from ear to ear.

These are the things that catch me unaware and it’s funny because conversations that people apologise for like complaining about a bad hair day or grey hairs etc, they don’t touch me. They don’t bother me at all. Maybe it’s because these conversations happen with friends and they are natural, normal conversations for girls to have together and I’m just happy to be involved in them. I find that I can make jokes about my baldness in these stations…I don’t have the issue of grey hairs etc!  What I do miss is the getting ready to go somewhere and brushing my hair or playing with a strand whilst watching TV…like I say, the little things.

Today the weather is cooler and I miss being able to wear a hat or having my hair clipped back but I have to admit, over the last month I experienced for the first time a sense of not missing my hair. Albeit fleetingly, but in the heat we’ve had and with no air con, the thought of drying and styling my hair – no thanks! But as Dad said, I think I’d quickly get over that if I meant I had my hair back!

As I get ready for bed and moisturise my face I think of silly memes that go around about how far up do bald people moisturise because, where does your forehead end?! Bloody stupid meme if you ask me! I run my hand over my head sometimes, almost as if I am apologising to it for hating it so much and reminding myself that my bald head is a part of me that I care about and maybe, just maybe if I try to accept it and love it more, it will reward me with some regrowth. Maybe. Hopefully.

And then I get into bed, thankful that the stress and dread of hair on the pillow in the mornings is gone but still after all this time, finding the feel of a pillow on my head is still strange and prickly. As I turn over onto my side I will occasionally flick my head like I used to, to ensure my hair is out of my face….phantom hair – who knew that was even a thing?! And then I dream, and coming to think of it now as I write this, I have never been bald in my dreams. I always have hair…a dream is a wish your heart makes.

Happy Sunday all,

#hairlesshannah

 

 

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April Favourites

Another month gone which only means one thing – another favourites post!

Health & Beauty

This item is something I’ve used for several months and LOVE, it’s Zoella’s ‘Let’s Spritz’ body mist which is just divine. It’s quite a strong, long-lasting scent so could be used instead of perfume to be honest. It’s such a fresh smell, perfect for this time of year. It’s available online or in store at Superdrug for £8 which is a steal.

zoella

Then, of course, I have had a few new LUSH items to add to my list. Their Easter range was incredible. My favourites were these Bubble Bar carrots! Three in a bunch but one carrot was more than enough for one bath so really it was 3 for the price of 1 so yes, I went and stocked up before the range finished. You might be able to grab some in the bigger stores – if you can, buy them! And then, instead of a chocolate egg this year, mum and dad for me the ‘Which came first’ LUSH Bath Bomb – it was huge! It came apart like an egg to reveal a mini egg inside and the colours and noise it made as it plopped in was brilliant…it really doesn’t take much to make me happy does it!!!

This item was a by chance buy when I was in Superdrug, it just goes to show that by putting items in pretty baskets whilst you wait in the queue will entice people to buy more! I love moisturising my feet so these caught my eye although I did think they were a bit gimmicky. They’re called Foot Nourishing Socks and wow, how marvellous they are! I tried this honey and almond pair and I gave mum a peppermint pair to try and we both loved them! They looks ridiculous but feel a-maze-ing! Normally £1.99 a pack but at the moment they are on offer at £1.49 and I will be heading back for more. You snip the socks in half, pop them on and seal them with a sticky tab and leave them on for 15-20 minutes. When you remove them the lotion just needs to be rubbed in but your feet will feel pampered, soft and smell delicious! Home spa eat your heart out!

Now this item is possibly my favourite of my favourites this month. If you know me you’ll know I’m a big water drinker. I don’t drink tea or coffee and very rarely have fizzy drinks or squash. But I haven noticed lately that although I am drinking water, I’m not drinking anywhere near enough. And then I stumbled across this Joseph Joseph click water bottle and it is genius! We are meant to drink 2 litres of water a day which seems like a lot when you say it out loud but this bottle makes it seem manageable. Simply put, each bottle is just over half a litre, and when you fill it and screw the lid back on it will click and show one little dot. The next time you fill, it will click and reveal a second dot and so on..the aim is to get four dots which will mean you’ve drunk you’re daily requirement. Mum has bought one too and it’s become a silent competition between us to see who achieves it each day! I think I have done it most days bar a few but it most definitely makes me aware of how much I’m drinking and strive for my target!

TV

Oooooo TV has been so good this month! Where to start, these aren’t in any particular order and if you haven’t seen them -why not and when are you going to catch up?!

Broadchurch

Broadchurch

This was the third and final season of this classic whodunnit series. It was gripping, emotional and at times quite a disturbing watch but brilliant. So well acted with humorous moments added by the two main actors, Olivia Coleman and David Tennant. They are such a great duo who have a perfect onscreen chemistry as the two detectives leading the case – in this series focussing on a rape. It keeps you guessing until the end and I will really miss it being on our screens. Series 1 and 2 are equally brilliant and if you haven’t watched then you must find a way to catch up on them all.

Car Share

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It’s back! (enter me doing a little chair dance with little whopping noises!) Peter Kay is a comedic genius. The way the world is at the moment we could all do with a good belly laugh and seriously, this is the programme to meet that need. Sian Gibson is his colleague who he car shares with to get to work and the conversations, sing a longs and story lines that follow are just spot on. This is the second series so I would highly recommend you go back to watch series one because it will set up the relationship between the pair and I guarantee you will laugh until you cry at some episodes. TV at it’s best, Peter Kay, I salute you.

Designated Survivor

designated survivor

Granted we are a family who was in love with ’24’ when it was on our screens and we do love a bit of Kiefer Sutherland. So when Dad was recommended this new Netflix series it didn’t take us long to get hooked. And when I say hooked, we watched every episode available in a week – whoops! So now we have to wait for every Thursday to roll round when a new episode is uploaded – proper old school! We hadn’t realised that in America when congress are gathered all in one place, one person is secretly nominated as designated survivor and is taken somewhere else, in a safe place, incase something catastrophic happens to congress and that person will then step in as president…get where this series is heading now don’t you?! It won’t be everyones cup of tea because some of it is for pure entertainment and you have to get past the fact that it’s unbelievable and just take it for good telly. It does have some fab twists and turns and some sneaky ’24’/Jack Bauer lines are in there so you’ll be saying ‘Dammit’ before you realise and be wondering why you’ve never tried talking in a hushed, whispered way before! We love it and I’m sure you will too.

Line of Duty

line of duty

I. Love. This. Show.

Is that enough for me to convince you to go and watch? Okay..I’ll expand. I have watched every series, and every series gets better and better. This is series 4 and you can watch it as a stand alone although again, go watch the previous series as they will help you with characters etc – series 1 and 2 are on Netflix now. The premise of the show is based around AC-12, the anti corruption unit who need to work together to solve crimes and uncover corrupt officers in the police. It’ll have you on the edge of your seat, it is so gripping. How a 15/20 minute interview with four characters sat around a desk can keep you so engrossed is writing at it’s best. This Sunday is the final episode of the series so don’t start watching then, go start from the beginning – you won’t regret it!

And that’s it for this months favourites, not many but my goodness they were good’uns!

Have a brilliant weekend – I know you will because it’s bank holiday and I will see you in May!!

#hairlesshannah

Chill out Tuesday

Hello! Welcome to the second Tuesday blog. This week I’m going to be doing a blog that has been requested by a couple of people…how to have the ultimate chill out evening. Learning to unwind and de-stress is so important in the world we live in. Every one of us will have something that riles us up over the course of a week whether it be work related, personal worries and stresses or the fact that traffic and road rage destroyed our day from the out set! Therefore it is so important to take time to focus on you. To realise that the most important thing to focus on is you, because if you aren’t taking time out to restore your batteries you won’t be any good to anyone!

Everyone will have different ideas for what their ultimate chill out evening will involve. Mine however includes baths, pampering, beauty products, PJs and either a good book, chilled music or my favourite TV programme or film.

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The main part of my chill out evening is my bath. I will start the bath running while I gather all my bits and bobs to create the perfect setting. Dimmed lights and a nice scented candle (for me a Bath & Body Works one every time) always make the mood immediately calming. Once the bath is starting to fill I will pop in my LUSH product of choice. If I have a Bath Bomb like I did in these photos, I will also add in some Sanex unscented bubbles so that I get colour and bubbles! Some people do choose to throw in a Bath Bomb and a Bubble Bar but for me that becomes too expensive. At this point I will also put my towel on the radiator (in the colder months) so that you don’t get that horrid cold shiver when you get out later.

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Here are a selection of the LUSH baths I’ve had and the names just incase you want to go out and have a splurge!

(From L-R)

1 – Northern Lights Bath Bomb   2 – Sunnyside Bubble Bar     3 – Avobath Bath Bomb

4 – Ickle Baby Bot Bath Bamb       5 – Autumn Leaf Bath Bomb    6 – Dragons Egg Bath Bomb

7 – The Experimenter Bath Bomb    8 – Bright Side Bubble Bar   9 – Lava Lamp Bath Bomb

10 – Twilight Bath Bomb

I will then set up my entertainment (!) whilst the bath finishes filling! I normally watch something on the iPad which I prop up on the basket next to the bath. Occasionally when I don’t want to concentrate on a screen, I will have my chill out playlist going which is lovely when you’re in a candle lit bath – heaven. I do chop and change the playlist but just incase anyone is interested, I’ve listed the songs that have made the cut at the moment for you:

  1. Patty Griffin – Up to the Mountain
  2. Gallant – Weight in Gold
  3. The Beach Boys – God Only Knows
  4. Simply Red – For you Babies
  5. All Saints – Pure Shores
  6. The Script – I’m Yours
  7. John Legend – Stay with You
  8. Kelly Clarkson – Breakaway
  9. Ray LaMontagne – Trouble
  10. Coldplay – Us Against the World
  11. Beverley Knight – First Time
  12. James Taylor – Sweet Baby James
  13. Otis Redding – These Arms of Mine
  14. Bruno Mars – Count on Me
  15. Jack Johnson – Banana Pancakes

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Obviously I wash (shock horror) whilst in the bath and due to my skin sensitivity I have to be careful with what I use. I find that the scented Dove products are fine for me or I opt for Johnsons. I love using a body puff as it allows your shower gel to go further and I find them gentler on my skin compared to sponges or flannels. I’ve got a bright yellow one at the moment which was given to me as a ‘piece of sunshine’ which always makes me smile! Since being in Dubai I have definitely started looking after my skin more. I exfoliate once or twice a week and my go to product is called ‘Rub Rub Rub’ and yes, you’ve guessed it, it’s a LUSH product. It’s bright blue in colour but has a fresh but not overwhelming scent and isn’t harsh on the skin.

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Once a week I will give myself a face mask or face exfoliation when I’m in the bath. I absolutely love using Clarins Doux Polissant which is a gentle refiner and has tiny microbeads resulting in an extremely gentle but effective face exfoliation. Although cheap and cheerful, I find the face masks from Superdrug are really lovely. I really like the Manuka Honey Peel Off mask but I have never had a bad experience with any in this range so I’d highly recommend them.

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You may find that depending on how long you want to stay in the bath, you may have to top up the hot water which is no big problem. Something I have never owned but am tempted by is a bath pillow, the better ones have little suction pads underneath so you can position it perfectly without worrying that it’s going to slip.

Once you’re ready to get out, make sure you have your choice of body moisturiser ready. I go for Dr Organic Aloe Vera Skin Lotion or another LUSH product called Dream Cream. Both are so refreshing on the skin and sink in quickly and aren’t greasy. It’s easy to forget to look after your feet so I always include them in my moisturising regime after a bath! My favourite foot cream is called, ‘Best Foot Forward Foot Butter with Peppermint Oil’ by Dirty Works. I get mine from Sainsbury’s but I’m sure you could find it elsewhere. Once the cream is well rubbed in, pop on some cotton socks and this will ensure that the cream is fully absorbed leading to maximum mositurisation.

Then you need to look after your face. I either use the Dr Organic Aloe Vera face cream or the Clinique Moisture Surge however, Dream Cream can also be used on your face. Twice a week I also like to apply Clinque’s ‘All About Eyes’ cream which is a moisture surge for the under eyes, reducing the size and colour of circles. Then a little layer of Vaseline to keep your lips moisturised too is a must do.

I always have my baths when I know all of my other jobs are done and anything that’s needed first thing in the morning is ready to go. That means I can then either get straight into bed and spend some time reading or continuing to listening to calming music or I can snuggle up under a blanket and watch some TV. Something that I would recommend is to not have any screen time i.e TV, iPad, phone, computer within the last hour before you are going to sleep. I find that when I do this, I get to sleep much quicker and sleep much more deeply and wake up feeling more refreshed the next day.

As strange as it is, I don’t like hot drinks but I know that many people find having a hot tea or hot chocolate helps them relax and sleep better too. Some people will even have this when they are in the bath although it’s more common for people to have a glass of wine or a soft drink whilst soaking! Each to their own!

I have always been a stickler for making my bed in the morning because then when it comes to bedtime, you are getting into a welcoming bed rather than one of mess and chaos which would destroy your relaxation of the last few hours! There’s nothing better than sinking into a freshly made with plumped up pillows and warm covers! My most relaxing evenings are aways made better when it’s been sheet washing day – I’m sure most of us will agree that fresh sheets are one of life’s true luxuries…or maybe that’s just me!! Sadly, alopecia has only robbed me of hair from the neck up but that does mean that the fab feeling of getting into a freshly made bed with newly shaved legs hasn’t been taken from me! Some men will never understand the joy of that feeling!

So there you have it, a simple yet fulfilling way to spend an evening which will guarantee you have a happy and productive day when you wake up.

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Happy Tuesday!

#hairlesshannah

History of #HairlessHannah’s hairstyles

Hair, or lack of it is one of the reasons I started blogging in the first place. Since losing my hair, it’s made me obsessed with looking at people’s hairstyles and I find myself longing to be able to brush my own hair, wash it, dry it, straighten in, curl it…all the things that when I had it, I found a drag! Hair was always the feature that I loved most about myself so I find it so hard that I no longer have that, there really isn’t much I like let alone love about myself now.

Over the years I have had so many different styles so I thought I’d take some time to look back at the good, bad and ugly decisions I’ve made and share them with you!

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So here I am, age two, blissfully unaware of the child abuse my parents have inflicted upon me!! As Jack said the other day, it is like they picked up the bowl from the table, plonked it on my head, cut round it, placed it back on the table and poured my cornflakes in! I have to say though, when watching back video footage of me dancing to Kylie, this hairstyle does have the most amazing swish about it that no other hairstyle could produce – every cloud!

As you can see here, over the following year, I just grew the hair out into a mohawk/the most incredible bowl hair cut you ever did see – simply horrendous!

Polaroid Picture Frame: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/photo-paper

Ah, age 4 and the hair is slightly better, grown out in a softer style with a much improved fringe. However….let’s talk about the outfit choice. Wow. I mean, I am obviously suitably happy with my clothes, the pose oozes confidence and just look at the stance and the hand! Yes, I do believe I styled that out beautifully even if it does look like Maria from The Sound of Music has pulled down more curtains to create this atrosity!

Polaroid Picture Frame: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/photo-paper

Two years later and I have to say, the hair is looking good! I loved having long hair, mum enjoyed crimping it and I remember loving laying at the end of mum and dads bed with my hair hanging over the edge and Dad brushing it with my much-loved orange brush, pretending to be Vidal Sassoon! I often just wore it down but I did like having pony tails and occasionally rocked some bunches. It was the 90’s!

Not being one to keep a style for long, by my seventh birthday I went for the chop! From long locks to my first ever, grown up, silky bob! From then on, the trusty bob often became my go to hair cut, it’s always suited my face shape – so I’m told – and I always found it quick to wash, dry and style. I loved this cut and was thrilled at my choice!

Polaroid Picture Frame: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/photo-paper

Oh good lord. What. Was. I. Thinking?? Why did my parents let me do this? Why did my hairdresser let me do this? Oh the shame! From my gorgeous bob to this. At this stage of my life, let’s just say I wasn’t yet ‘developed’ and I will never forget the day the balloon man at Stone Park Farm said to me, “Yes young man, what would you like?” I died on the spot and from that moment on I regretted this hair style.

Polaroid Picture Frame: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/photo-paper

Then I stumbled across this little beauty! Mum used to take Jack and I to have professional photos each year when we were younger – what you can’t quite see if the very fetching waistcoat I was wearing over a white shirt, I was so classy! The hairstyle is gradually starting to grow out and yes, it is in great condition but I look at this photo and see a nine-year old styled as a forty-year old woman!!

Polaroid Picture Frame: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/photo-paper

Luckily, and ironically, my hair always grew super fast so by the time I was almost ten, the hair had grown out and the trusty bob was back – hallelujah! (seriously, I was such a poser though wasn’t I!)

Polaroid Picture Frame: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/photo-paper

I can’t believe I am actually putting this photo out there for all to see! There is literally nothing positive about this photo! The hair has grown again but is just hanging there with the most hideous, neon, looped headband ever to grace this Earth. Then we move down to the braces – I was so uncomfortable with those on and remember really not wanting to go to have these photos done but I’m glad in many ways because otherwise there would be no documentation of this stage of my life. I won’t even comment on the top apart from saying , 5, a fan before they even became a band!

Polaroid Picture Frame: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/photo-paper

I was such an awkward teen! I felt awkward in my body and awkward in my style but this night I was going to a party and clearly figured that shoving a fake white flower (all the rage in 2002) in my hair was going to make everything better. It didn’t.

Now, finally, these are photos I can look at and think, yes, I got it right here! I had lost a shed load of weight, had my highlights done and went from a long bob to a graduated bob which has to be my all time favourite. I had also discovered straighteners here which changed my life!

2008 saw two very different styles (as you can tell, I really am one to experiment with my hair which is why I miss it so much!) I went from very light blonde to a gorgeous chocolate colour. However, that didn’t last long, I had got quite fond of my blonde hair and I missed the graduated bob too so, I changed it back again! I was lucky here because I had vouchers for a make over day so I had the colour and cut included in the day and they did a really good job. That is something I really miss and something I took for granted at the time – actually having my hair done and having control over it and being able to make choices. I loved being able to reinvent my image and I loved having my head massaged and being pampered.

Polaroid Picture Frame: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/photo-paper

A year later I let the bob grow out but had a wispy fringe cut in – thicker, fuller fringes were okay for me when I was younger but they aren’t for me now. This style of fringe didn’t bother me too much and on days that I didn’t want it, I was able to simply clip it back – perfect.

Polaroid Picture Frame: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/photo-paper

Here we go again – you can see the pattern here can’t you?! Blonde to brown, short to long, fringe to no fringe – I really did like changing things up on a regular basis! I do enjoy having darker hair, I’ve never been brave enough to go black. It is much cheaper to maintain as you don’t get the whole root problem but I have to say, having lighter hair is my favourite. At one point I did go short and red at uni, sadly there isn’t any photographic evidence of this, or that I could find at least and I have to say, I’m quite glad about that!

It seems like the art of crimping came back into my life in 2011. Only for fancy dress purposes of course but actually, I quite liked it! My hair here was long enough to put up in a pony-tail which I quite enjoyed but also, I purchased the doughnut rings and experimented with using them. I may like to change my hairstyles and colours frequently but don’t let this fool you, I was never very good at the actual styling. I mostly went for a side clip, the occasional poofy back clipped fringe thingy-ma-bob and when I was feeling especially creative, would pop in a bow, I know, get me! So using the doughnut was a challenge. I did achieve the required look a few times but the time it took to get there wasn’t worth the end result! At one point I  did spend some time learning how to curl my hair using straighteners which I grew quite fond of. It was nice to have a bit of volume and I enjoyed mixing it up.

Then we come almost up to date. When I moved to Dubai it became clear quite quickly that hair was going to be an issue! The weather meant that keeping any style for a prolonged period of time without using a ridiculous amount of products was quite unobtainable due to the heat! But also, finding a decent hairdresser was like finding a needle in a haystack. Amongst our group of friends we had several disasters and tears shed over the most hideous cuts known to man. Frustratingly, once I did find a good one who did my highlights and styled it beautifully, one month later it all fell out! Blinking typical! I loved living just down the corridor from my friends though, especially friends who knew how to do pretty things with your hair! I became quite accustomed to a french plait!

Polaroid Picture Frame: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/photo-paper

This is the last photo I took before my hair started to fall out again. As you can see, I really didn’t do much with my hair in Dubai and the trusty hit clips could be found most days keeping my hair out of my hot face! Also – please note that we are very happy in this picture because we are at the most amazing cinema with blankets and reclining seats! One of the things I miss most about Dubai!

Polaroid Picture Frame: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/photo-paper

So there you have it, the history of my hair! I have only included this one photo of the last year or so – I am currently styling out my Lidocaine patches like a badger – much easier than doughnut rings and curling tongs! But if you’re new to the blog, check out my post called, ‘Hair today, gone tomorrow’ under the category titled ‘Alopecia’ to fill in the blanks.

At the moment I do still have the hope that one day my hair will grow again, whether that be next week, month, year or decade. One day I will learn to properly style my hair and not worry about spending money to treat it like it deserves. Look after your hair guys and gals, because like many things, you don’t realise how much it plays a part in your life until it’s gone.

Have a fab weekend,

#hairlesshannah

 

 

Christmas present haul

Christmas may be a few weeks ago now – I know, how did that happen? – but I wanted to have a go at doing my first ever haul blog! They are blogs and vlogs that I really enjoy reading and watching, probably because it satisfies the nosy parker in me but also because I like to get ideas for nice gifts for people when an occasion next comes up. I haven’t included every single gift I received but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t love and appreciate each and every one. So before I get started it’s disclosure time…this isn’t about me bragging about what I got, it’s just me having a go at writing a new type of blog.

As with every year, I was so lucky with the gifts I received, most of them being total surprises and I didn’t have one single gift that I needed to exchange or take back – score! The first gifts I want to show are some of the gorgeous LUSH bath bombs and bubble bars I got. I have taken them out of the beautiful gift boxes as I wanted to use them ASAP! Honestly, I know I go on about LUSH a lot and I will be doing a Blog in more detail about baths and relaxation, but seriously, if you haven’t ever shopped there – go. Yes, it is on the pricier side of bath and beauty products but I’d rather have fun baths than a run of the mill, boring, functional bath!

The first set I opened was called ‘Happy Daze.’ It included The Experimenter Bath Bomb, Fizzbanger Bath Bomb, Brightside Bubble Bar and The Comforter Bubble Bar. I was so thrilled with this set because out of the four, three are my favourites  and since trying the Fizzbanger, it’s safe to say this set will now feature on any future wish list!

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The second box was a seasonal Christmas selection box was called ‘Festive Friends.’ Inside were three gorgeous LUSH products: the Butterbear Bath Bomb, Father Christmas Bath Bomb and the Penguin Bubble Bar. You won’t see the Butterbear in the photos because I’ve already used him up! It was another product I’d never tried and again, LUSH didn’t let me down. I’ve always loved a musk scent (who remembers White Musk from The Body Shop?!) so this one suited me to a T.

Whilst on the theme of bath and beauty products, I want to mention the other skin care items I got. My skin has been even more sensitive than usual lately. On one of our many trips to Holland&Barrett, we discovered their skin care section. Mum has restocked my shelves with their Dr. Organic Aloe Vera skin lotion and the concentrated Aloe Vera cream which is the only thing (along with Clinique’s Moisture Surge) that my skin can handle at the moment and I LOVE them. They don’t have a scent as such but they aren’t greasy and dry on your skin quickly which is a positive for me. You don’t need to apply much of any of these Dr. Organic products, they are thick but they go a long way which means you don’t need to buy them frequently so are very cost effective. High Five!

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I also received a gift which will be really useful; it’s called, This Works, Super Sleep Dual Pillow Spray. The set contains two 20ml sprays, a sleep plus pillow spray which is a “fast acting, natural remedy to restore a healthy sleep pattern,” and deep sleep pillow spray which is “a best-selling natural sleep aid that inspires feelings of calm.” An absolutely spot on gift for me at the moment seeing as sleep is very important and can be a painful, disturbed experience.

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I haven’t been able to photograph my next gift because it was in use from Christmas Day! Mum and Dad got me the most amazing Dreamland Intelliheat Premium Fleece Dual Control Fitted Electric Underblanket. Now seriously, anything that’s name is that long and that detailed must be an out of this world product! And on top of that, it was a Which? best buy – wouldn’t expect anything less in terms of research from my Dad! It has two controls which means you can heat one side of the bed or both (I opt for both because I don’t have anyone else to warm up the other side for me!). When you are getting ready for bed you set the controls to ‘quick heat up’ for five minutes and then set the under sheet to your own personal preference once the time is up. You can set it to heat the bed for either one hour or nine. This is my only negative thing about the product – it would be good to have an in-between time setting, like four hours because at the moment, nine hours is too long but an hour is too short – first world problems or what?! Then there are five heating options, the last few nights when its been freezing I’ve gone for five but really, three is the optimal temperature and enables the perfect nights sleep. All old woman jokes aside, I really have found that it’s helped with my muscle pain during the night. Like with hot baths, heat does seem to ease pain and I haven’t felt as stiff when I wake up (!) Honestly, one of the best presents I have EVER recieved! I believe Mum and Dad got it from John Lewis but I’m sure there are other places it can be purchased from too.

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Next up are books. I got four this year and all serve a different purpose!

  • First up, Mum and Dad gave me a  Dorling Kindersley photography book aimed at helping beginners. It takes you through everything you will need to know as a beginner and uses step by step pointers and photos which is a real positive for me as I’m a visual learner. It teaches you about ISO, aperture and shutter speed as well as shooting in various locations, lights and photographing  different subjects. Photography is a hobby I want to learn more about this year so I was really chuffed with this book.
  • Then I opened my annual diary from WH Smith’s. It’s a beautiful, bright, butterfly themed, page a day diary which is what I have used since I was twelve! Spot on Mum – thanks.
  • Next I opened a hilarious book from a friend entitled, ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight. I’ve heard so many people talk about this book, although the title is funny, having browsed over the first few pages, it seems like there will be lots of things to take from the book to implement into my life. I’m looking forward to reading it and will feed back once I’m finished!
  • Then finally I received, ‘The Christmasaurus’ by Tom Fletcher – yup, the guy from the band McFly! He is also the author of the series of children’s books, ‘The Dinosaur that Pooped…..’ series. As a teacher, I know that children adore these books and as an avid follower of Tom on YouTube, I’d followed his writing and publishing process, so was excited to get my hands on the finished product. The book has already been commissioned for a stage show next Christmas and is being made into an animated movie – amazing, what a talented guy.

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I have an inkling that people may have picked up on the fact that I am partial to a quote here and there! The plaques and shaped quote gifts I received were all so lovely, meaningful and ones that Dad is going to have to come and put up for me – I mean, what else is he going to do with all this time on his hands now?! I don’t know where they are from but if you like the look of them as gifts for people, all you need to do is search the internet and you will be bombarded by similar things. They may not be big or expensive gifts but personally, I think they are a perfect sentimental gift for someone you care about. The one Mum gave me about socks, is an example of one that isn’t soppy but one that I will read over and over and always have a little chuckle to myself because we all know it’s so true!

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You will also see that I received my own personalised recipe book – so cool! I already have one but it’s the one I was given when I went to Uni and it’s quite small and won’t fit in the recipes I find in magazines etc. So this one is perfect. I am going to transfer the recipes into the new book but also make sure I cut and stick in the recipes that Mum hand wrote because they hold a sentimental value to me. There’s something about keeping handwritten recipes that hold a bit of family history in my opinion.

Luckily my friends know me very well! I received three, yes three Mahogany Teakwood Bath and Body Works candles! One all the way from Chicago and two from Dubai – seriously, so happy! I also received one other beautiful candle and a gorgeous, stripped wood tea light holder with butterfly detailing. I don’t have a problem – promise.

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My brother treated me to a necklace that I have had my eye on for ages. It is designed by a lady called Anna Saccone who is part of the Saccone-Joly family who are vloggers on YouTube. Each necklace has a Zodiac design on which means you can buy in accordance to the recipients star sign. You can choose from silver, rose gold or silver gold plated and they come in L, M or S sizes which is a great feature. Mine has the Taurus sign and is in rose gold, it came in a beautiful display box and included the story behind the designs. Anna sells these pieces on stilnest.com and she also designs Zodiac style charms and bracelets. Beautiful gifts for all ages, I would highly recommend.

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I wanted to feature the gorgeous tree decorations I received. You may see a pattern occurring here – I may possibly like penguins! All three are from from three different friends and I love them all. One is a wood carved decoration with my named carved into one side and a Christmas penguin into the other. The next one is a glass Christmas penguin and the third is a glitter covered, more traditionally shaped bauble and I love him! Also along the penguin theme, a friend bought me a penguin pen which I will use to plan future blogs – another quirky, fun gift.

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Finally, I wanted to mention a gift that you won’t be able to find or buy anywhere but that I am in love with. When I went to Egypt I purchased some beautiful material from a market at such a cheap price and had the idea that I wanted to use it for a throw or some kind. I mentioned it to Mum and Dad when I brought it home but never noticed that it had disappeared! So when I opened up the most beautiful quilt/bed throw and pillow on Christmas morning, I was in total shock! It was beyond what I had imagined for the material and I will treasure it forever. It was made by one of mum’s friends from choir and I would highly recommend her if you need anything like this made, she has done such a great job.

So there you have it, my first haul!  I hope you enjoyed it and that you may have some gift ideas for the coming year, let me know what gifts you loved this Christmas…that way I can continue to indulge in my nosiness!

Happy weekend!

#hairlesshannah

 

Raising Eyebrows

This week I took back some more control, made my own sunshine, put my anxiety to one side and got two tattoos…on my face! Yes, people, I am now the proud owner of two, brand spanking new, hair stroke eyebrows that, even if I do say so myself, look pretty damn awesome! As with everything recently, I have had my eyes opened to a whole new arena: I never thought I’d ever get a tattoo or have semi permanent make-up but as with everything else, if it makes you feel better – do it.

As with most things like this, it’s better to go somewhere that has been recommended. I have started following so many inspirational women with alopecia on Instagram and one posted photos of her ‘new’ eyebrows that she had done in Canterbury. It had taken her four years to make her decision but she said how there were no regrets and she’d prompt anyone thinking about it to just take the plunge.

So, I started by ringing Helen Porter Advanced Cosmetics in Canterbury (www.helenporteruk.com) and had a lovely conversation with Helen Porter who owns the business. I knew almost immediately that this place was the real deal: she was calm, patient in answering my questions and very encouraging. I took time to then look at her Facebook page at eyebrows that she’d done (search:Semi Permanent Make up by Helen Porter) and then spoke to mum about whether she thought it was a good idea. The waiting list was 7 weeks for Helen but I opted to have mine done by Steph and, within a week, I found myself laying on the treatment bed!

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Strangely, I wasn’t as nervous as I had expected to be – probably because it surely couldn’t be as bad as my acupuncture experiences in the last week…I won’t be going back to that woman! Yes, I was nervous because these tattoos, although semi permanent, would be on my face for at least a year before they start to fade, so they had to be done right – both shape and colour wise. I had my wonderful friend Claire with me who I knew would be honest about what suited me or not which also put my mind at ease and she was given the job of being photographer for the day to document the experience!

So, we started by looking at photographs of my natural hair colour and eyebrows so Steph could see what I was used to. She then started measuring my face – who’d have ever thought my face would be a blank canvas for an artist to draw on?! It seemed very mathematical – measuring from my nose out, having them set 3cms apart and using a rather heavy duty, ticklish piece of apparatus to do so!

Next, Steph set to work drawing on the template for my eyebrows – yes, we got the giggles and yes Claire had to step away with the camera because if this part went wrong I would have looked either permanently surprised or permanently naffed off! I then had to look in the mirror and decide if I liked the shape that had been drawn on – we edited them a little but overall, I was really happy. I was shocked at the colour and had to be reminded that this was just the template and it was block colour rather than hair strokes which is what I would have eventually. I must admit, I did feel like Boy George at this stage and did have a moment of doubt!

 

 

A question that I asked and many have asked me since, is did it hurt? The first outline did hurt, more so on my right hand side which is obviously where my weakness is at the moment but it wasn’t an unbearable pain. Helen did the outline and was very gentle and talked to me throughout which made me feel more comfortable. Once the initial outline was done, anaesthetic was applied and from then on I could barely feel a thing. In fact, it was the first time in five months that I didn’t have the irritating pins and needles in that part of my face and it was heaven. Once the initial hair strokes were in place, they had to be re traced twice more and then Helen came back to apply the powder base to give the final overall effect.

 

 

I then had another chance to look in the mirror and check to see if I wanted anything changed. One seemed slightly darker than the other so Steph adjusted that but apart from that, they were done.

For the first time in months I looked in the mirror and felt more like ‘me’ which was totally overwhelming. I knew how much losing my eyebrows had changed me emotionally but hadn’t realised just how much until they were back. Eyebrows change the shape of your face by giving  definition but I also felt like I had a bit more colour in my cheeks and that my smile was better placed. Obviously there were tears but for once, they were tears of joy and pure happiness.

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Aftercare was explained to me – no getting them wet or touching them for a week. They would scab over so needed to be coated in bepanthen cream using a cotton bud twice a day. I was also warned that because I have alopecia, the dye may not take as easily as it would for ‘normal’ skin but I wasn’t to worry, it would just mean that I possibly would need two top up sessions rather than one. I must admit I did make a panicked call to them this morning when little patches started to come off but as I’d never had tattoos before, how was I supposed to know that was normal?! The only thing I can compare it to is henna; the dark layer will fall off and leave me with the lighter tattoo underneath – I was a little worried at how dark they were but am confident that this isn’t the final colour I’ll be left with.

Claire said afterwards that it was already hard for her to remember what I looked like without my eyebrows but when we compared, side by side, it became even more apparent what a difference two strips of hair can make. When I think about that, it makes me excited for when my head hair comes back, I can’t even begin to imagine how that will make me feel. In a way, I’m almost frightened to let myself think that far ahead in case it doesn’t grow back but I must admit, it’s a nice thought.

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I paid £195 for the 2 hour session and the top up in five weeks is £75. I know this sounds like a lot of money, and it is. I would NEVER go out and spend that amount of money on myself but as my dad would say when buying a pair of jeans, spend your money in a good shop and you’ll save money in the long run! You can pay more for eyebrows, even in Evolution, because different levels of experience warrant a different price label, however, I cannot praise Steph and Helen enough. They were simply amazing and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to anyone. It’s amazing the range of treatments they offer and I’m unsure they are aware how life changing what they do for people like me is; within that 2 hour session they transformed me from a  girl who couldn’t look in the mirror to someone who could look in the mirror and smile again, and for me, there is no price tag for that.

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Now, as you know, when I got my wigs, we gave them names – Brian and Adam – because calling them ‘wigs’ somehow just seemed, for me/us, a hard term to get to grips with. So, naturally, trying to make light of tough decisions, I’d asked Cathy what she thought we should name my new eyebrows. Initially, we couldn’t think of any girl duos so we came up with possibles: Pinky and Perky, Ant and Dec, Bill and Ben. However, when I sent Cathy a photo of my new additions, she sent me a text that I will keep and treasure forever. Amongst friends, Cathy is known for her loooooong text messages because she likes to get all the details in and we love her for them, so when I could she was writing back, I was thinking, uh oh – what names has she got for them now?! But, in actual fact she sent a rather short text and in true Cathy form (known to be one of the only people to just give me a look and make me cry!) instantly made me cry because she hit the nail on the head:

“No name for them darling as they look so real why would we normally give our eyebrows names?! So, they’re just naturally now called, your eyebrows xxx.”

That was SUCH a special text to receive from such a special person to me and I will never be able to properly put into words how right she was.

Wednesday was my longest, most eventful day I’ve had since I became ill. I had the doctor first thing which I walked to (I’m trying to walk a mile every other day to build my strength up – excruciating but needs must) and then Claire took me to Canterbury. It was lovely as we had a nice lunch before my appointment and then we headed straight home but it meant I’d been out for almost 8 hours. I was on a bit of a high with my eyebrows but boy have I paid in spoons ever since. I’ve had a real flare, exhaustion like I haven’t felt in several weeks; I’ve slept so much more – with the help of new dose of tablets from the doctor – but my muscular pain has been so much worse alongside my sensitivity to light and sound. Don’t get me wrong, Wednesday was totally worth it, I just have to learn from it – I’m not ready for BIG days out yet, I didn’t pace it right, I probably should have got the bus to the doctors rather than walked as I did a lot of walking in Canterbury but, you live and learn and for now, I’ve just got to build my spoons back up again.

Also, I had some more sunshine thrown my way this week from an ex-colleague and friend who organised a cake sale at her hairdresser’s and raised £72 for Alopecia UK which is just amazing. Thank you Alison, your support has been fantastic. Also – thank you to those of you who have sponsored Jane for her run for Alopecia UK, every penny counts and doesn’t go unnoticed, both Jane and myself are very grateful.

 

 

To sign off today’s blog with something to make you smile, for some random reason my iPod souffléd to Jay Z the night I’d had my eyebrows done – 99 problems – and in my hysteria, without thinking, I changed up the lyrics – “I’ve got 99 problems but my brows aren’t one!” Gotta make my own sunshine right?!

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Hairless Hannah xx

http://www.helenporteruk.com

 

Different is beautiful

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What is the definition of beautiful? What does it mean to you?

It’s a word that people use often; what a beautiful sunset, a beautiful wedding dress, a beautiful flower, a beautiful person. When it’s used to describe something about  you, it makes you feel on top of the world, it’s an adjective that evokes an emotion that’s indescribable. But recently I’ve had to really think about this word because there is nothing about me that feels ‘beautiful’ right now. That’s nothing to do with anything anyone has said to me, it’s just how I feel about myself because of how I have grown up with society’s definition of beauty.  This is sad because our appearance shouldn’t be something that defines beauty, it should be the hidden beauty, the actual person, the soul, that makes the definition.

I’ve been reading about and following a lot of very inspirational people on social media and seeing the confidence they exude in front of the camera without any hair. They are redefining the meaning of beauty by making bald normal and acceptable. They aren’t ashamed, they aren’t hiding it away, that is who they are and they are proud of that. Being ill, loosing your hair, it makes you acutely aware of how the public perceives you and how society portrays beauty. Hair is something that we don’t think twice about unless we are having a bad hair day – it’s true, if your hair is good, then typically you feel good.  But when that element of beauty and feminity is taken away, you have to find other things to feel good about or learn to feel good having bald as your new hair style!

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As humans we pass judgements on people on the TV, people we drive past on the street, in shopping centres – that doesn’t look good on her, that really doesn’t suit her, what a horrible colour….it’s something we all do and infact, I did this morning. Whilst in the car with dad we drove past a woman with bright orange hair and I said, “why on earth would you want your hair that colour?” Well Hannah, she has hair, she is allowed to dye it whatever colour she blimmin’ well wants, it’s her choice and her choice alone and if it makes her feel happy and good about herself, nobody else matters! Hair does not define beauty, only we get to define ourselves.

The more I thought about it and researched, the more I realised a few things. Men who shave their heads are, on the whole, seen as more masculine, sexy – you don’t assume they’re ill and feel sorry for them but for women, it is assumed you’re ill, probably cancer because why on earth would you want to shave your head otherwise?! Or it is widely perceived that she is now deemed less attractive or sexy to those around her because hair is quite strongly linked to how attractive a woman is – do you prefer blonde or brunette – bald is never an option. One example sprang to mind; the episode of Friends when Bonnie shaves her head. Rachel actively encourages her to shave her hair off because she knows Ross will hate it, not find it attractive and will therefore definitely take Rachel back. They laugh at her, mock her, no one wants to touch it and when they do – “you can feel the skull”. Yes, it’s an episode of Friends and a funny one at that but I must admit, now I am a self confessed Baldie myself, it’s things like that that put worries into my mind about how people perceive me.

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This picture was brought to my attention this week and you could say was the catalyst to me writing this blog post.  Adam Levine, the absolutely gorgeous lead singer of Maroon 5. He hasn’t got alopecia, or cancer, he decided that he wanted to shave his hair – so what?! When I Googled it I was horrified at the search results and some of the headlines:

  • “Adam Levine shaves head, causes internet heartbreak.”
  • “Adam Levine shaves head, internet freaks out.”
  • “Adam Levine shaves his head and sends the internet reeling with sorrow.”

Hair is NOT everything. Yes, at the moment for me, it feels like everything because I don’t have any and I also don’t have any control over it but I am trying to train my brain into accepting that hair or no hair, I’m still me and my hair doesn’t have anything to do with that. I can’t let it define me. But seeing things like this on the internet doesn’t help. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions but sometimes, as Thumper would say:

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Hairless Hannah

xx

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you are my sunshine

As promised, here are the sunshine points of my week!

  • Feeling happy that I’ve managed to keep alive the lucky bamboo plant a friend gave me last week – believe me, I am not green fingered at all, this is a real achievement!
  • My light box was delivered and although the men in the house disagree, I think it  is amazing!
  • Having a visit from one of my best friends and her gorgeous baby and seeing what a wonderful mother she is.
  • Receiving several bits of post (I love post!) which made me smile.
  • Getting a message from an ex colleague who has organised with her hairdresser to have a cake morning and raise money for Alopecia UK – just amazing, thank you so much x
  • Starting to feel the benefits from reflexology and reiki.
  • Shaving my own head. I managed a few minutes in front of the mirror but have now realised I don’t need one, I can shave my head quite well by feeling..my talent is endless people!

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