Sunday, January 10, 2010

Take a Haircut, Anxiety!

Yesterday I cut my hair very short.  It is essentially a man's haircut now with lots of obvious gray. I did it to get myself used to being bald, to have a more accurate sizing for a wig and to have less hair to fall out in the next few weeks.  I might shave it at some point. We will have to see how the hair falls out.

Cutting my hair, however, triggered some anxiety in me last night that I had been staring down but holding at bay.  Only 4 days left to starting chemo and if all goes according to plan, 126 days after that until it is over.  Of course, my anxiety became full blown in the middle of the night as I thought about various side effects.  One that loomed large last night was tinnitus.  I love my hearing, which is much better than most at my age.  The thought of having ringing in my ears really upsets me.  Of course, I also think about the life threatening side effects -- neutropenia, which the nurse said occurs in 60-70% of cases, and kidney failure.  Will I be able to keep down enough water on days 4 and 5 to avoid having to go to Cedars to be hydrated?  Will my white blood cell count drop so much that I will have to be quarantined or get another blood transfusion?  If I have to go to the local emergency room, will they really have problems reaching my doctors at Cedars, like one person recently suggested?  So many unknowns and so much out of control for someone who needs to be able to control as much as possible.

I bought a cheap wig that I plan to have cut this week to resemble my former hair style.  I also have gotten many comments that my hair looks cute, punk, stylish, etc.  However, I cannot help thinking that getting the haircut and the wig is the final piece of control that I have for a while.  My anxiety arises from the unknown as well as the suspected discomforts and dangers.  Somehow I have to brace myself for this long process and stop trying to anticipate every problem I might face.   I need to cut back on the analysis and focus on the present, but not too much if the present is filled with discomfort.  I will make it through this.

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