A Hairy Post-Craniotomy Situation

Getting your hair done after you’ve had a craniotomy can be tough.  In addition to the more obvious changes like new disabilities, memory problems, increased stress and agitation, there are also physical changes like bald spots, hair loss, and big old dents in your head. These are now part of the life and effect more areas than you can imagine.

If you’re reading my blog for the first time (or if you don’t remember every single thing about me- ha ha), after I found out my new lifespan odds, I decided to move across the country to warmer weather and better odds at a healthy lifestyle. While I was still on chemotherapy, my family and I moved to Southern California.

As we got settled, I started looking pretty scraggly.  On my type of chemotherapy, hair thins, but you still have some.  Lots came out while washing and styling, and I also had a surgically shaved spot I was treating with a lady-comb-over.  My hair became thin and frizzy with an orangish undertone, and I was desperate for professional help.  I had put off finding a new salon and stylist, and ugly enough things got even worse, so it was time to deal with them.

You might not know, but when your skull is cut, the bone isn’t smooth, it’s lumpy and sometimes the part they put back isn’t even with the rest.  Imagine a person you’ve never met is behind you, washing your hair, touching the place you’re somewhat ashamed of and you feel their disgust and loathing through the stiffness of their fingers and avoidance of the area.  As they wash and rinse, wads of hair come out into the sink and once you’re back in your chair, their reflection in the mirror shows their facial expression as they clean what was left behind.

A salon’s layout and use of space is another concern of mine.  I’m always afraid I’ll be placed in the chair closest to the door and my scar and bald spot will be seen by everyone.  My vulnerability fully exposed, and lookers appear grateful they don’t have to touch me.

I’ve heard of people with their own stylist being comfortable going back.  If a stylist is comfortable with the changes, that would be perfect, but I’ve also heard of people being surprised by their stylist’s reactions, so it’s not a given that going back will be easy.

Given my experience and fears, I came up with some areas of improvement for salons and hospitals:

  1. Stylist Training: I’d like to see additional selective certification/ licensure for knowledge of medical conditions that may effect the skull, hair, and scalp and identify them as a stylist comfortable with accepting said clients.
  2. Layout: Salons that are able to provide private or secluded areas or chairs should indicate such and clients can request those spaces.
  3. Hospitals, especially cancer hospitals should be able to refer new patients to friendly stylists by keeping a network of stylists with the “knowledgeable and comfortable” section in number one.

I would love to hear from you!  Please share your thoughts and experience!

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