Here’s one example of how we take things for granted sometimes. When I first got diagnosed, the last thing I thought RA would affect would be my ability to take care of my hair. I mean, it’s not that difficult when you think about it: you wash it, brush it, maybe use some hairspray. It’s really not hard.
I’ve always had an interesting relationship with my hair. When I was a Freshman in high school, I decided I was bored with my current hair style and wanted to be more daring. On a whim I cut my extremely thick, shoulder-length hair into a very short pixie. It was different, it was easy to manage, and I loved it. I kept it for the next 5 years.
Then I hit my 20s, and I realized I needed a change again. So I decided to grow my hair out. It was a pain, and it involved a lot of patience, headbands, and bobby pins, but I did it and I really loved having long hair again. The options were endless. Bun? Ponytail? Curly or straight? I could now do whatever I wanted.
But then a new problem arose. My new long and thick hair knotted quite easily. I didn’t have the strength in my arms to brush out the knots. Sometimes I couldn’t even lift my arms up above my head. That meant asking my mother to brush my hair for me every night after I showered. But then I needed to make sure that it didn’t knot again in my sleep, which meant asking my sister to braid it (when Mom and I tried, our braids were an awkward mess because of our lack of dexterity).
I was beginning to get really frustrated. I had waited two years to grow my hair out again. I was supposed to be able to use hair dryers and flat irons (nope, too heavy, at least sometimes) without issue.
I realized I had a battle on my hands: my hair versus my freedom/dignity. Maybe that sounds really dramatic, but bear with me here. For many women, hair is a symbol of beauty and confidence. And here I was, with little confidence in my ability to take care of the messy mop on my head. Which in turn toyed with my self esteem. In my head, I didn’t feel beautiful anymore because I couldn’t even do the simplest of tasks. The hair had to go, but not without one last picture:
The trip to the hair salon was a bit somber. Mom came with me, and when we pulled up to the building I seriously thought about calling it off and going home. But I knew I had to do it. I had picked out a really cool cut, so at least I had something to look forward to.
And so they chopped it all off. I was back to pixie short. While I miss the length, now I had something I could manage on my own. Plus, I wasn’t getting stiff necks anymore from all of the extra weight on my head. The only bummer was that I wished I had cut it because I really wanted to, not because of necessity. But no matter. Things were gonna be okay.
I didn’t snap a photo of that haircut, but I did take one of the cut I got this past Saturday:
Clearly, I went shorter this time. I mean, my head is shaved except for the top. This does require a tad more maintenance than a pixie, but it’s still so much easier than long hair. I don’t even need a brush anymore! I just slap in a little gel and some hairspray and done. The great part about this cut was that I chose to go this short. This was for style, not necessity. I think it suits me, no?