Last night in my dreams I had my long hair. I actually remember dreaming that I looked in the mirror and saw myself with it and thought, 'oh wow, my hair isn't gone after all.' It didn't really even start as a dream about my hair. But as soon as my dream self realized that my hair was back it became a dream about hair. I washed it and spent forever in the dream luxuriating in rinsing it and then combing it and it even had a nice wave in it. Lots of body. It was my old hair, only better. I never had body or anything resembling a wave or curl. Even perms didn't last more than a few weeks. When I woke up and realized that it was just a dream I was so disappointed.
I don't really hate my short 'do'. I even am pleased that it looks better than I imagined it would. But it isn't how I see myself deep in my subconscious, I guess. I started thinking about it and realize that I have my old hair in every dream. I can't remember a dream where I was bald or had short, short hair. Not that I see myself in every dream, but there is a self-awareness in dreams and that awareness has never gone bald and started over from nothing.
Losing my hair really hurt. It was like my identity fell out with all my hair. It was such a traumatic event that even now 7 months after I became a bald cancer patient the memory of it and the loss of it still hurts. The 'it'll grow back' crowd just doesn't understand that even after it grows back, the pain of losing it is still there. I still miss my hair. I fricken dream about it.
Ironically, knowing what I know now, if I had all my old hair back, I wouldn't even keep it. I would immediately go to the salon and cut it into a really cute swing bob or something. Perhaps it is just the lack of choice, the powerlessness and the devastation that illness + baldness creates that has left such a lasting scar.
I have such mixed feelings when people are so excited to see me with hair on my head that wasn't store bought. I know their excitement is mostly a good deal of happiness that I am well now and done with treatment. I just have a hard time being excited about it. Yay, I'm not bald, but I still hurt from having been bald. I still have the cancer bomb hanging there for the rest of my life. I still have a long road of awkward lengths to deal with before I get to choose how to wear my hair like other people.
But I am happy to be alive. Bitching about hair loss is just that, bitching. I know that chemo saved my life and I all I had to trade for it was my hair. They said 'give me your hair and you can have your life back.' Heh, 'and money, we want your money too. And you have to feel like shit for six months. And dream about your hair from time to time. And there is no guarantee it will stay gone. But give us your hair and we'll give you a chance.'
I guess it isn't so bad of a trade. It just sucks sometimes to be saddled with the experience of it. I read a few blogs of other cancer patients and out of the 7 that I read 3 of them have relapsed and another one is terminal. Not very good statistics and it isn't a very representative number, maybe I should broaden my reading list.
And that brings me to the whole question of what do we who have/had cancer call ourselves. I guess the common lingo is 'cancer survivor'. But for some reason I feel self-conscious using that term. Can't really explain it other than to call myself a cancer survivor might jinx my remission. It also makes me feel like there should be a lifetime network movie about me and I don't want to feel like a victim. I'm pissed off sometimes and I do say 'poor me' sometimes, but who wants to feel like they live in some movie starring Shannon Dougherty? Not me.
But I am not really a cancer patient since I am done with chemo. I still get my counts checked all the time and get PET/CT scans every three months. I still have a port implanted in my chest. I guess I will feel more like a cancer survivor when I feel less like a cancer patient.
On an interesting note that I have continually forgotten to blog about, I can't listed to my mp3 player without feeling sick to my stomach. I used to listen to it during chemo and now when I so much as take it out of its case my stomach starts to roll and I feel sick. I discovered this on the plane to NYC. I knew it was all in my head, a product of my brain mistaking the mp3 player as the cause of my nausea from chemo. I forced myself to listen anyway and after a song or two the feeling went away. It happened on the plane ride home too. Heh, even thinking about listening to it makes my stomach roll. It seems to be imprinted - mp3 player = yuck.
We took advantage of the weather yesterday and went to the park with Jackson. Elaine met us there and brought her camera. She sent this shot and I love it. The baby is not such a baby anymore. He is a little boy.
I had the opportunity to hold a 7 week-old boy today and man, I really want another baby. Felt so good to hold the compact little squirming bundle. Don't know if and when that could happen for us. A pregnancy for me would mean committing to 10 months or more of no PET scans. For some reason they won't give you radioactive sugar by iv if you are pregnant. When would it be ok to stop the scans? And do I have any unfried eggs after chemo? Questions that only time can answer.