I don’t understand why it hasn’t happened yet. It was supposed to happen soon after the Vincristine. I’m confused.
So I ask.
And then ask again.
A different nurse of course. I don’t want to give away my crazy quite yet. There will be plenty of time for them to see “that” in all its glory.
They say it’s coming. Certainly after the Dono and the Doxo. But I can’t help but think, maybe … not. Maybe. Just maybe. Maybe he will be the one kid, ever in the world, that it doesn’t happen to.
Oops. There’s that crazy showing itself again.
Everyone I talk to says how traumatic it can be. For them to run their fingers innocently through their hair and have a clump come out. Not just strands. But clumps. How devastating it is for them to wake up and have them see big chunks on their pillow case.
I don’t want there to be more trauma. At all. Can we be done with the trauma? Please?
But I know this isn’t our reality anymore. I know that our lives will forever be learning to deal with traumatic events. Or worrying about traumatic events. Little do I really know at the time what experts we will become in managing all of this trauma, and later in life how deftly we will navigate worrying about its reoccurrence or side effects.
But I do, at the time, know that I can’t stop this from happening. This loss of hair which seems to be the very definition of what is to come. So I guess what I want more than anything is to “minimize” the trauma. For him. For him not to wake up one morning and look down at his pillow and literally find pieces of himself left behind there.
I’m the Mom. I’m supposed to protect him from trauma. And it seems thus far there has been little I can do to fulfill this role I am supposed to play. I would soon learn this next decision of mine would be one of many I would take that, for me, embodied walking the talk. They wouldn’t all be the right decisions, and they wouldn’t be the easy decisions, but whenever and wherever possible, they would no longer be made “for” me, or “for” him. They would be made “by” me. By him. By us.
So there I was. On the children’s oncology floor. Doing my best to do my best. For him. And selfishly for me too I guess.
And so the day came when I couldn’t wait anymore. I couldn’t wait for chunks to just to fall out. I couldn’t wait for any more trauma. I couldn’t hold my breath anymore wondering how he would deal with one more thing. How “we” would deal. I couldn’t wait any longer. I couldn’t let things be out of our control any more. And I guess I couldn’t wait for our new reality any longer. Because nothing shouts reality more than the bald little head. So I asked the nurses if they had an electric razor. They did. I asked them if they had time. They did.
So off we went that afternoon. After rounds. Hand in hand. To a little room I hadn’t been in before.
To get a haircut.
There were plenty of boys in the world with buzz cuts. Boys without cancer. It was the age that kids get lice and buzz cuts were very common. This buzz cut just happened to be a particularly close one.
This is the part of the story where I would love to say we went in smiling and came out laughing. That it was easy as pie. But no. The experience itself was awful. I tried to treat it like a haircut. I stood holding his hand while he sat on the doctors table, a nurse on either side. He had never experienced a razor before and was not impressed. Razors are loud. Particularly loud in that small room we were in. And he had already been asked to do so many things that were unfamiliar to him, in a place he had never been. The nurses, although they had done it for other boys and girls before, were clearly not hairdressers. He cried. My heart broke. There were times I was surprised there was anything left still to break. But break it did.
When it was done it was uneven and a little patchy. Actually quite patchy. The poor kid. It was honestly the worst buzz cut ever. There were still tufts of longer hair all over his head. I thanked my stars he was so young and never saw a mirror. And while I knew he would still have hairloss it would be so minimal now compared to his longer thick gorgeous head of hair he had earlier that morning. And that was what I had wanted.
As we came out of that little room I thought a lot about the moms of the girls on the floor. I thought a lot about the girls themselves. I thought about the teenagers. How differently it must affect them all. He was a preschooler. He hated the sound and feel of the razor. But once we got back to our room he was more than fine; smiling and laughing with Megan, asking to go to the playroom. One haircut. Check.
And I was like a soldier coming off a difficult but successful mission.
One opportunity have a little control over the amount of trauma. Check.
But wait … one nearly bald kid. That’s ok. It’s ok. It’s going to be ok. It will. No more waiting.
One reality check. Check.
Now let’s get this show on the road.