Burnout

I am growing up.

Things are changing. My face is taking on an adult quality that it has lacked since I entered adolescence. People no longer mistake me for a sixteen year old.

I felt this acutely on Friday when a man with a badge stopped me in town. I said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m not twenty five,’ really quickly because I knew what was coming and they usually need you to be 25.

‘Could have fooled me!’ he said, his eyes already scanning the crowds for another easy target.

Could have fooled me.

Really? Oh no.

There are bags under my eyes and they usually go within a day or two but these have been here for two months. My face is ashy and grey. My lips are purple. I don’t know why. I look fine after makeup but without it I look like a pile of lumpy ash.

Other things are changing too. I am not happy anymore. I find it incredibly hard to smile, and I am pludgering on through my days with a grimace; a combination of four hours’ sleep, and a day filled with minute planning else none of my goals will be achieved.

I complain a lot.

My tummy is bloated. (It is. All the time. Another medical mystery to solve.)

I don’t like living here.

Everything is a mess.

Stop being a child, Damian.

My tummy hurts.

I’m tired.

And I am. All the time. Every day I dream of falling back on to my bed for a nap, but it cannot happen, and when bedtime comes my brain is full of information and is busy creating a list of things to do for the next day that it usually takes me a good hour or two to wind down and be ready to sleep.

I have four thousand words to submit on the 17th of May, and two thousand five hundred for the 15th. I have a large exam for the first of June, and I haven’t read six of the eight set books required for the exam. How will I read six books in two weeks? As well as teach a bunch of kids for three hours a day and go into work for two hours a day, and chauffeur my brothers for 1.5 hours?

I can do it, of course. I already have a schedule.

But when moody madam is tired, schedules are generally hard to keep up with and I am always one to two hours behind because sometimes I can be slow.

So, I think I am growing up. I am learning to live, slowly and painfully. I don’t have my own life plan because I am living with my in laws, and usually have to follow their schedules and take my belongings wherever I go. So my wash bag and a towel along with a change of clothes comes in the car with me, along with a change of shoes and all my study books and teaching materials.

Most my showers are taken at the gym, and I usually groom myself there because the bathrooms are not always free at home and sometimes I can’t use them. It’s weird. I take such quick showers, I don’t see why its a problem. But eh, I guess I have a system now.

The epilating is hard, though. I don’t have time for that, so I try to make time. Last week I got to epilate and moisturise my legs and arms properly for the first time since December. I only had fifteen minutes before I was being called out of my room, so I hurried. But my legs still feel amazing.

D reckons I need to make more of an effort with my appearance. I do, of course. I look horrible. Just awful. I don’t feel confident to wear nice clothes because I have a stress pooch. My tummy pooches out when I am stressed and also it is always bloated so I don’t feel great making an effort with my apparel. Must get that sorted. I cut out dairy and grains, so maybe I should try just eating fruit and veg for a bit.

D says in August we can start looking for our own place. Financial reasons, of course. August can’t come soon enough.

Anyway. I am becoming better at hiding my sadness. I smile and chat away, but sometimes I show my mum my moody feelings because I can be fully myself with her. Still, it isn’t nice for her to always see me unhappy. I should make a better effort.

I don’t want to, you know? I don’t want to. And all my creativity is running dry.

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Quest

Today, I had a day all to myself.

I woke up early, as I usually do, around 5:45am. I helped D leave for work at 6:20 and then I ran around gathering all my things like a maniac, throwing it all in my car and zooming off to the train station. As I started the ignition I realised my windscreen was frosted over. In April! Good heavens, what is the world coming to?

But I had a train to catch in 7 minutes and I hadn’t even collected my tickets so I zoomed off anyway, sitting low in my seat so I could see through the gap at the bottom of the windscreen between the hard frost on my car. Heater on full blast, windscreen wipers scraping away furiously as the heater melted the solid ice slowly but surely.

Parked in a carpark right next to the station, that charged me £4 for the whole day. Not bad for Britain, frankly, and for the area.

Grabbed my tickets and flew down the stairs leading onto platform 4, where a pile of people stood close to the edge, eyes bagged and clutching cups of steaming coffee with tired claws, as though they were grasping at their lifeline for the day.

For many, it probably was. A lifeline, that is.

Anyway. I was early for my train yay and as I stared at the large rocks surrounding the train tracks, right on the edge of the platform, my breath coming out in puffy little clouds (it’s APRIL!), I thought apprehensively of what awaited me at the other end.

I mean aside from getting off at the Grand Central in Birmingham and marching through the throng of town to Moor street and getting the train to Warwick and walking it to Warwick Hospital where a dermatologist awaited me.

She checked my hair. My scalp was perfectly healthy. The hair count at the back of my head was normal, but on the top and on the sides my hair count was significantly decreased. Widening part.

‘You have female pattern baldness.’

What. No blood tests? No genetic tests? No checkups? No second opinion? Is that it?

So it seems my research was correct, and I do have androgenetic alopecia? Inherited, most probably, from my father, who was bald at the age of 25? Well. I shan’t take that with a pinch of salt. I will have to get a second opinion, of course, but generally, I (almost) know what is wrong and what my options are.

Anyway. As I said, I had a me day. I went shopping in Birmingham and bought myself a really nice scarf with bold patterns. It would make me look quite classy, I thought. It smells like peaches and brand-new-ness.

I had a smoothie, and sat down for a little bit of spiritual contemplation. And you know what? I am content.

I (sort of) know what is wrong with me. I know it’s not the end of the world. I am a very lucky, very blessed young person. I have so much going for me, why should I waste my life feeling sorry for myself because my hair follicles are choosing to misbehave? Let them. I am me.

I am a Lenora Sparrow, aged 22 years old.

My MIL said to me today, ‘Oh I remember, Len, you had such thick, curly hair.’ because I lamented that I probably always had thin hair, but she (she’s watched me grow up you know) affirmed it. My hair was luxuriously voluminous and I am happy because naturally, I have great hair. It’s just this disease that is hindering it from flourishing.

Anyway.

I am content. There is a cure. There is help. Everything is not bleak. If you have stuck with me this far, I wish you well. So well. And I send you some love.

Time for a Chop!

I had a haircut today. The lady (who works from her front room) chopped off all my spilt ends and dried my hair so nicely that it bounced up in these wonderful voluminous curls all around my head.

I was so pleased, as you can imagine.

I feel quite brand new, and cleaner, somehow, without the frizzy mess hanging down in gloomy straggles from my thinning scalp.

She said to me, “Now remember, because you’ve got curly hair, you never really need to brush it. Just go through it with a wide tooth comb when you’re conditioning, and that’s all you need.”

When I do brush my hair it explodes into this fuzz halo around my head and it’s not particularly pleasant.

Anyway. Like I said, I have an appointment with the dermatologist later this month, so fingers crossed something good will come out of it, and if it doesn’t, then on we go on  a new route.

I will say though, that having curly hair is a blessing. I used to hate my curls, because they are so hard to deal with, but honestly, the way my hair becomes so voluminous after a shower, makes it so much easier to hide the thinning and balding. Small mercies, eh?

I do feel great today, though. Nothing like great hair to make you feel good, that’s what.

Wed 30 March 2016

You know, I forgot I turn 22 today!

My mum texted me yesterday saying ‘How are you Mrs 22??”

I racked my brains for a bit thinking, why on earth would she write that? Then I realised of course that she was the one who birthed me, and it was almost my birthday.

My husband doesn’t remember, though! I sat back and thought about it for a bit, and realised it actually doesn’t faze me. I know he loves me, and not remembering the date I was pushed out into the world kicking and screaming doesn’t make any difference to that fact.

Or does it?

I guess a tiny part of me would like him to acknowledge the fact. I know he has a million and one things running through his mind, though, so it’s ok. It’s OK. Okay. There.

Also today I was craving chocolate and my little sister in law who is eleven knocked on my door just now and came in with a pretty teacup filled with  Cadbury mini eggs. Which I thought was darling of her, and she deserves a big hug and a kiss from yours truly.

Anyway. I don’t know why I wrote this post. March 30 has always been a special day for me, because it’s just so symmetrical and in my diaries over the years it signified many growth milestones. Each March 30 was more dignified than the last, and each March 30 entry had better spelling than the last. Is it vain to pore over my own history like that? I don’t know.

I just remember small Len who kept looking down at her feet to see if they were any further away from her, and little Len who swore vehemently she would never become a ‘teenager’, and small Len who scoffed at the thought of boys and told everybody she would live in the countryside one day with animals and plants and run in the fields and lie amongst the wildflowers and adopt children and always always always play. She would never stop playing and laughing.

She was naive, and sometimes disillusioned, but she always saw life as an adventure and a happy place, and every month she had a ‘best day ever, even better than the last best day ever’, and she discussed how one can measure a ‘best day’ with her friends who, in those days were kindred spirits, and I don’t know what happened to her. She has vamoosed. She vanished and in her place is a girl who mopes a lot now and complains and is often sad.

So all the March 30s are little glimpses into what she became, and perhaps little motivations as to how she could go back.

Sometimes I wish she never grew up. Horrendous things happened to her and it was all my fault and I am so sorry, but I think I ruined her forever.

 

A Scattering of Thoughts

“Oh, you’re wearing a lot of makeup!” My mother squints at me in the dim light of her bedroom.

“I’ve been here for three hours how did you not notice?”

“I didn’t really look at your face,” was her nonchalant reply.

Well, that’s my mother. I do love her, despite our differences. She is a good mother, never mind she doesn’t like to give out hugs. She sacrifices a lot for us kids, and we don’t half treat her as well as she deserves. She comes from good mothering stock, that’s for sure. Her mother was wonderful. One of the best women I know. In fact, I will go so far as to say my grandmother is the best woman I have ever come across, and our family feels her loss very sorely. I mean, right now I could do with a soft warm hug that smells faintly of herbs. I used to play with my Nan’s hands; her skin was paper thin and so so warm and soft, her fingers swelled at the joints with arthritis, poor thing, but she would knit away everyday. I learnt how to do a braid on my Nan’s hair. Long and silver and silky smooth, although thin because she was on blood thinning medication and that made her lose a lot of hair. She smelt wonderful and warm and like motherly love. Do you know that smell?

Anyway. My mum’s going away for two weeks and she is stopping in Turkey for a flight change and I am scared and worried and anxious for her. I do hope she will be okay. She kept saying things like ‘I’ll leave all my bank details, and if anything happens you have to take my death certificate to the town hall and get a probate.’

I don’t want her bank details, I just want her. Oh dear.

Also yes I am wearing lots of makeup. It’s the end of the week. Tomorrow is bank holiday! I am wearing several layers including primer, foundation, concealer, bronzer, highlight, blush, setting powder, eyeliner, three coats of mascara and a lime-crime velvetine in Riot.

I feel very glamorous, even though my hair is a bush and you can see my scalp very clearly. I shall just muss it about and hide it and carry on with my work.

Ta-ra folks!

My Doctor Says I should Not Drink Coffee

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My. Doctor. Says. I Should, Not. Drink. Coffee

Even. Though. It. Kills.

Me

So I DON’T

Drink it

No I DON’T

Drink it

Even though it kills me.

Even though it kills me.

 

(This has a tune. I don’t know how to write the tunes I make up. But it goes somewhat like this: My DOCtor says I should Not Drink Coffee. Oh. I can’t get all the variations of tone in. Forget it. *sadface*)

A Disturbance in the Force

I have been re-watching Star Wars in preparation for the new film which will be released on the 17th of December 2015 (that is, if I am still alive to see it. Who knows, eh?).

love Star Wars!

My husband has never watched the films, and since I want to take him to the IMAX in Milton Keynes (4D cinema, folks, now isn’t that something?), I thought it was time to get him educated. He thinks the originals are cheesy (“what the heck is that tin can doing with them now!?”) but certainly a classic because they “pushed the boundaries of the time”, to put it in his words.

So Damian is now acquainted with phrases such as “the force” and “I am your father” and “do, or do not, there is no try” and so on and so forth.

So today, folks, I am feeling very down. I have just had a shower, and I washed my hair, my head turned upside down (because I hear it helps blood flow to the roots), watching the black powdery gunk that I shake into my hair daily to hide my increasing baldness swirling down the drain. I swung my head upright, shook my hair dry very gently in an old T-shirt, and stood before the mirror as the fog slowly faded away, to survey the damage.

My heart sank. A wide, shiny baldness greeted me in the mirror. The sparseness of my hair on top goaded me. I bit my lip, because there is no way I am giving into this. I feel dreadful, hopeless, but I am holding on to hope because I am on a journey to find a cure. This is not a post in which I lament my hair… or lack thereof.

I numbly shook the black powder over the bald patch, moving my hair this way and that to make it look thicker. Who am I kidding. All I have are wet curly wisps where once was a mass of thick ringlets.

Anyway, so, feeling blue, I emerged from the loo and pottered about, creaming my legs and arms and getting into my PJs.

I think I must have sighed a little, because Damian, sitting at the desk, typing out an assignment, turned around as I passed him and grabbed my arm.

“What’s wrong, Len?”

“Nothing,” said I, smiling at him.

He looked sternly at me, one eyebrow raised, and then said, “I sense a disturbance in the force.”

Well that made me smile. I still feel an ache in my heart, but all will be well, as long as Damian senses a disturbance in the force.

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Is This Information Understandable?

This is a scheduled post. I am still here, just drowning under a tottering pile of my work and maybe a little of Damian’s. Why I do this to myself I do not know. But I want that first class degree. So badly. So I am trying my best!

UPDATE: They have put me on iron tablets. Twice daily. The ferritin levels for normal hair growth should be 70mg. That is the level at which hair can grow anew. The lowest end of ‘normal’ is 20mg. The highest, 200mg. My ferritin level is 21mg. Just 1mg above the lowest end of the spectrum, and far, far below the normal rate required for hair growth. Ferritin of course, is to do with iron levels in the blood. They test for iron levels by testing for ferritin.

Have I repeated myself too much?

Is this information understandable?

I hope so.

I am genuinely hoping that this hair problem is to do with iron deficiency. I am monitoring my iron very closely.

I will say, though, that it was me who did he research on ferritin and read research papers written by doctors in the field. I then went to my own doctor with the information. She said she hadn’t thought about that before, and prescribed me some iron.

I am pleased she looked into it further, but can’t help but worry a little as I was under the assumption that doctors should know everything, and should look into everything, ruling each diagnosis out after thorough examination.

Perhaps that costs too much money?

Perhaps our NHS is too weak now, after the Tories have settled in like a disease, and we can no longer get the adequate healthcare that we deserve? After all, so much of our income goes to taxes to keep our healthcare service running!

I can still see my scalp shining like a lonely beacon, through the sparseness on the top of my head. But yesterday I straightened my hair after blowdrying it, and it looked fabulous. So, oh voluminous.

It was long, and the patch was hidden, and if I fluffed it up around my face well enough, it looked like I had professional hair, and plenty of it.

Oh, so voluminous.

A General Piece of Information

This is a small update to note that on the left side of my frontal scalp, a small bald patch is appearing. It is not in keeping with the diffuse hair loss taking place at the top of my scalp. It appears, curiously enough, to have accelerated the hair fall in that particular area more significantly than any other.

Once the side I showed to the public, being so full of hair and new growth, it has now become the shameful side that is a little worse than it’s symmetrical opposite.

I think that I am beyond being sad about it all. I just want answers now. I demand answers, in fact.

I am printing out a five sheet research paper on hair loss, possible causes, and have even delved into the pure biochemistry of it all, with some equations and explanations of the various enzymes causing my hair follicles to weaken and drop out at a higher rate than they deign to grow in. I have listed the possible inhibitors which will inhibit the inhibition that is causing the production of the evil sister of testosterone, and which is causing my hair to fall out.

You may think that this is pretentious. But I have been seeing GPs since 2012. GPs are not hair specialists, and most of those I spoke to about the medical reasons behind my hair loss (years of extensive research) hadn’t a clue what I was talking about. So how can they help me if they don’t know what I am talking about?

I am going to present my research to my General Practitioner when I go in on Monday to discuss the fairly normal results of my  most recent blood tests. I will discuss my conclusions, and use them as an earnest argument in my case to be referred to a hair specialist. I shall show my doctor images of my hair from six months ago, to today. There has been a significant change.

My doctor might think me odd, or assume I am suffering from hypochondria, but I shall persevere. I am quite tired of being shunned by the medical world. Hair matters, folks! It’s not cancer, but it matters.

I will end my post with a quote that I find oddly fitting, never mind it came from the mouth of an atrocious woman.

The distance the shot-put goes, depends upon the effort that you PUT INTO IT. PERSPERATION! – Agatha Truncbull, Matilda, (1996 film).

Thread-like Growth on Animate Being

Hello Internet.

I am Lenora and I am interested in politics, exercise, food, literature, nature and hair.

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Yes, hair. However not in the usual context you would imagine one would be interested in hair. I, for example, am not a hair stylist, nor do I follow the latest fashion trends when it comes to hair.

I just love hair, dears. Lately my hair has become extremely wispy on top. Normally when I wash it, and allow it to air dry, it springs into lots of wide ringlets that gleam and bounce, as healthy as you could imagine. My hair is my vanity, you see, and lately my curls are not curls, but pouffy wisps of nothingness.

I spent an hour sitting in this university library watching young ladies pass me by and my eyes are drawn to their heads. Brown hair, black hair, blond hair. Some reds meandering about, one very distinct pink, some greens and of all textures and in all styles. Some have straight hair, falling in gleaming, silky waves over their faces, covering every inch of their scalps. Some have curly hair, like me, but unlike me they can have middle partings, they can pull it back and style it most beautifully. Some have short hair, spiked up, some have pretty little pixie cuts, some sport pony tails, some leave their hair out, falling over their shoulders, framing their faces and adding to their beauty.

SO. MUCH. HAIR!

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I am so scared the loss of my hair will mean the loss of my beauty. Beauty is a very important thing, folks. I do care that people will notice this girl with no hair. “Poor thing”, they might say, “she must have had cancer. I am so glad I am not her.”

I know because I think that when I see girls with no hair. Well, I used to think that. Now I think, “we suffer in silence, together, sister”.

I have a secret scalp-hiding little trick, and it’s name is Caboki. It’s very pricey, and comes in a plastic tubular bottle with a silver top. The writing on it wears away so easily, which is a small blessing, really, because I don’t want anybody to know what it is when they look in my bathroom cabinet. The bottle is filled with millions of tiny little dark brown microfibres, the exact colour of my hair. When my hair is dry, and my scalp shines through right at the top of my head, I shake some of the magic powder over it and voila, I look like I have a wondrous full head of hair!

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Such a calming illusion, dears. Sometimes I almost think I actually HAVE enough hair to hide my scalp. But then I wash my hair and any such thought vanishes, along with my self-esteem, gaiety and hope.

My hope is still here, folks. She refuses to leave me, despite thousands of testimonials from women with the same story as mine. I refuse to believe there is no cure. Recently I have begun a clean diet to help my digestive system. My energy levels are up (as they should be, I am only twenty one), my exercise is getting easier and easier (might have to up my game), my digestive system is less irritable, more smooth (goodbye bloating!), I am taking probiotics and zinc and magnesium supplements.

I haven’t noticed any changes in my hair as of yet, though. We’ll see. It’s only been three weeks. It takes far longer than that, and a good amount of patience, perseverance and, of course, hope.

To all the beautiful ladies suffering with hair-loss out there.. if you are reading this, know that you are worth more than your hair. Know that you can hope, that there is something out there for you, and that you will be loved with or without your hair. Your suffering will only make you more beautiful.

Also, much love, hope and support.

Lenora