Student or Learner
I can still remember the story as if it all happened yesterday. It was a blazing day in July, July 14th 2009 to be exact. I was on a trip with my parents and some close friends. We were going sightseeing in Phimai, a 40 minute ride from the city. In the middle of the fierce midday sun, I was enjoying taking pictures of the dilapated ruins in Phimai Historical Park. It was what you can call a normal family day. I was content with my life. I had the best family, the best friends, and a life that everyone would envy. Everything to me seemed so perfect, until my life started to fall apart on that very day. The harsh rays of sunlight made me sweat and, for that reason I wore my hair in pigtails so my lengthy, straight, coal-black wouldn't irritate me and as soon as I tied up my hair, I could completely feel the warm breeze of summer that came by without having to fuss about my hair getting in the way of the fresh and summery scents that kept hitting my face. The grass inside the park looked freshly cut so I sat myself down on the sea of lush green grass and turned my back to the camera. A count of one and two, followed by a shout of my name. I immediately turned back and asked my friend what was wrong. She started to stroke the back of my head and I looked at her confusingly. In a panicky cry, she said to me that I had lost a patch of hair covering a surface of 1x4 sq.cms. In between the pigtails that I had tied up. I did not believe her and I thought that it was merely just a joke that my friends wanted to play on me. I thought what a nonsense it was to joke me about something that couldn't have happened. I told her to continue taking pictures but instead, she called my mother. My mom came to take a look at my hair and uttered out a small cry of bewilderment. To that moment, I still did not believe what both my parents and friends saw, until I saw it with my own eyes. My friend, knowing that I did not believe a word of what she and my mom had said, held up the camera in her hand and took a picture of that bald patch of hair. I looked at the camera with shock. The only thought in my mind that one instant wasó'What is happening to me?'
Two months later, I had lost 3 patches of hair and each one was getting bigger and wider. The one in the back in the middle of my head was still the same size. Another patch was the rear of my head. The whole row of hair from under my ears and below had disappeared. The biggest patch of hair that disappeared was about the size of my palm. It was on the top rightmost part of my head. Luckily I still had enough hair to cover it. I became devestated and heartbroken. I remember when I look at myself in the mirror I keep thinking 'I don't even know who you are'. I was in my last year of high school and I loved my hair more than anything else. My hair was about 40 centimeters long, straight, and pitch-black. I loved having it to play with and I loved to have my friends play with it.
Then, in late August, I started to notice some more patches of hair loss. I was afraid. In the shower, I would see chinks of hair scattered all over and my pillow whould have strands of them. My closest teacher advise me to seek counsel from a doctor whose clinic was just on the opposite side of my school. I called my mom and had her pick me up after school. I arrived at the clinic and waited for my queue. When I was called, I walked into the doctor's office with my mom. The doctor had me take off my band from my ponytail and took a look at my hair loss. He sat down, grabbed a big book from his office desk and hurriedly turned the pages. He stopped at a page and said to my mother that I was diagnosed with a disease called Alopecia areata. Alopecia areata is the name for a condition in which round patches of hair loss appear suddenly. What is shocking about that is that it is a very rare autoimmune disorder that happens for unknown reasons and results in severe hair loss, meaning that you don't know when it's going to happen and where it's going to happen. There are three stages: first, there is sudden hair loss, then the patches of hair loss enlarge, and last, new hair grows back. This process takes months and sometimes more than a year, but the hair will grow back for most people and rarely never grows back. So, the doctor gave me a steriod cream to apply to my affected spots everyday before going to school and before sleeping. I did that for 2 months and there were no signs of my hair growing back. I decided to cut my hair short because I could deal with seeing all my long hair stuck to my pillow when I woke up and whenever I comb my hair.
I heard about a scalp specialist from my friend and I begged my mom to take me there. The clinic's name was Svenson, a famous clinic dealing especially with scalp problems. My mom took me there and the dermatologist used an instrument, somewhat like a microscope, to examine the patches of hair loss. She said that I was diagnosed with Alopecia areata, just like my first doctor said. My mom asked if there was any cure and the doctor said that it would take about 4 months to see progress. She also said that the hair loss was because of the stress and tension that I get from using the computer too much making my head ache and become tense. The doctor explained that I would have to come to the clinic everyday or every other day to wash my hair with a special non-chemical shampoo, apply some liquid to help my scalp grow hair, and get a massage to relieve my pain and aches. My mom paid 30 thousand baht for the treatment. My heart nearly broke seeing my mom work all month and having that money be used on me. I went to the clinic every other day and by January, some of my hair loss has grown. Although it may not be the same color anymore but I was happy once again. I constantly look at myself in the mirror and think that someday, it will become as long as it used to be before I cut my hair. A few weeks before the treatment was over, I noticed some new patches. I couldn't believe it. I had lost my hair once again and I can't even predict when it is going to grow back again. My heart broke into pieces, thinking that this clinic was a fraud. They didn't cure me at all. Newer patches of hair were falling again. This time, even though not as big as the first time but in more places. I couldn't take it any longer, I went to the hospital to take a blood test. All of my blood results were in the margins but at the lowest margin of normal standards. The hospital's doctor recommended me to go see the dermatologist in the city. I went on that very day. I told the dermatologist that I was diagnosed with Alopecia areata and she looked at my parts of hair loss and confirmed that I certainly have this condition. I didn't like it when I had to listen to every doctor I went to see say that I'm diagnosed with a disease that I can't even spell. I have no intention to listen to what is happening to me since I could not accept myself. I can't even look at myself in the mirror. This dermatologist said that I could choose to inject the steriod directly on my scalp with a needle. All she would do was inject the needle to every 1 sq.cm. on the parts that have loss of hair. I had more than 15 needles injected on my head that day. It hurt but I was just hoping that it would be worth the hurt. That was my last doctor that I saw. I came to university knowing that all of my hair had not fully grown yet but I can still hide it from others. Only my best friends knew about my condition. I lived me freshman year fully with a fresh start, and now, the disease has come back again. After attending a camp in October I realized that my hair started falling again. This time in new places, my sides and my topmost of the head. But this time, I noticed that my reactions with the hair loss is completely different. I didn't feel embarrassed or wanting to hide. I could show my friends what was happening with me and they didn't laugh or make fun of me. I knew that I had taken a step in becoming an adult, for I learned how to accept myself for what I look like, while others still depend on artificial products.
Once you accept yourself, no matter what you look like, you will feel such a relief like this huge weight has been taken from your shoulders. This is a hard disorder, and I admit I have been really depressed at times and sometimes I still get upset about everything but then I remember, what does it really matter? People still like me, the right guy is still standing with me, and it doesn't change where I want my life to go. I think you will find that you will become even more sensitive to other peoples problems. At least that has been my experience. Alopecia sometimes responds to treatment but a lot of times it doesn't, and because they don't know what causes this disorder, there isn't really anything that you can do to stop it, slow it down, or make it reverse. I hope you find self-acceptance, and the ability to let things happen as they may and not worry about things you can't change.
If there's any good thing living with alopecia can do for you, it's make you more sensitive and responsive to the support needs of other human beings. Like most, if not all, of life's challenges, coping with alopecia calls attention to the very human need for acceptance, affirmation, and other forms vital emotional assistance. It's yet another reminder that it is not good for humans to be alone, isolated and insulated from the embrace and encouragement of those around them. As you deal with alopecia, let this teach you positive lessons about how to deal with others. No one needs exactly what you need, but all of us need for those who claim to love and care about us to truly understand and make a genuine effort to help meet our most profound and pressing needs.
Last edited by orangeparser; 10-Jan-2011 at 18:50.