If you're a regular listener of the Wake Up Call, you may have heard me talking about how I shaved my head because of something called “Alopecia Areata.” Katie and Gavin LOVE to make a big deal about the fact that I always say “Alopecia Areata,” instead of simply “Alopecia.” I never know what to say because the condition is “Alopecia Areata.” I think (rather, I know) they just like to laugh about how something so little, in their eyes, gets me all flustered.
Now, if this is the first you are hearing about my shaved head, you may be thinking “Jason, what's the big deal? A lot of guys shave their head.” So, what's the story? Am I a drama queen? Am I making a big deal out of nothing? Yes, and no.
Here's the backstory (if you care to read about it). In October 2012, after getting my hair cut, I noticed a bald spot that was about the size of my pinkie fingernail. I was 99.9% sure the girl cutting my hair had accidentally nicked my head with the electric razor. I mean, I noticed a small bald spot after a hair cut! It was in a random spot on the back/right side of my head. This wasn't a normal bald spot. It had to be the girl cutting my hair. Right??? Wrong.
Between October and December, the spot grew in size. By the middle of December, the once tiny spot, was now about 2 inches in diameter. While running my fingers through my hair, I started to notice a few more spots that were tiny, just like the original spot that I first noticed. I'd be lying if I said this didn't freak me out. It did. I set up an appointment with my doctor, who then quickly referred me to a dermatologist.
In late December, my patchy hair loss was diagnosed as Alopecia Areata. If you want more information on the disease, Google it. The gist of the condition is that it's an autoimmune disease where your body attacks your hair like it is a virus. That's it. It's not dangerous. It's not going to kill me. The only thing that's going to happen is that my hair is going to fall out in patches. With the exception of now being more vulnerable to bad sunburns on my head, and as a result being more susceptible to skin cancer on my head, it's almost purely cosmetic.
One side affect (if you can call it a side affect) that I've really been struggling with is the embarrassment of having patchy bald spots on my head. I always feel like people are staring at me. Shaving my head helps hide the bald spots, but if I don't shave every other day, the spots become much more noticeable. When the spots become noticeable, I'm always afraid that people are going to think I am contagious or that I am sick and dying. Again, I'm totally healthy. I just have a head which happens to look like its been gnawed on by a rat. (A big jerk of a rat who likes to eat my hair in patches!)
I feel horribly stupid admitting this, but there was actually a day in early January when I forgot to grab a hat before I left for work in the morning. I didn't realize that I forgot a hat until I got to work, but as soon as I realized my mistake, I started sweating. I was nervous that people would laugh at the way my head looked. It sucked. Thankfully both Katie and Gavin were only a text message away and both were kind enough to bring me a hat.
Over the past few months, I've started to get more comfortable living with Alopecia Areata. For the most part, I've stopped wearing hats. I figure that if people stare at my head, there is nothing I can do about it. If people want to ask me questions about the bald spots, which they can and have, I'm happy to tell them what I know about the condition and the treatments that I've been going through. (Shots in the head! The record for one treatment was 50 shots. Yes, it hurt.)
I wish I could say that ditching hats and dealing with my patchy bald spots was something that came from person strength, but I can't say that. Maybe I am short changing myself, but the truth is, my attitude started to change after watching a video on Youtube that was shot by a teenage girl who also has Alopecia Areata.
All I know about her is that her name is Jasmine, she has Alopecia Areata, and she has an AMAZINGLY POSITIVE ATTITUDE!!! Watch her video! It's amazing and inspiring!
Hell, I have it easy. I'm a married Dad. I'm losing my hair in patches and I shaved my head. Boo hoo. Poor me. I look like every other guy who has a shaved head.
Jasmine? She's a teenage girl who is bald! Yeah, she's a teenage girl. She is bald because of Alopecia Areata. She is dealing with it like a champ. Hell, I was uncomfortable when I was a teenage, and I had my hair.
Jasmine's video is titled “Reasons Why” she loves being bald. I highly recommend that everyone take 5 minutes out of their day to watch her video. It doesn't matter if you have Alopecia Areata and are bald, or if you have long, flowing hair down to your butt, Jasmine's video is inspiring, funny, and truly refreshing. If you aren't comfortable in your own skin, maybe her video will help you realize that having a positive attitude about yourself can go a long, long way to in helping you find true happiness.