I am now a bald redhead.

Since my early twenties, I have suffered from a condition known as telogen effluvium. Feel free to google it, but it basically means that from time to time much of my hair falls out. It happens in response to some event that tricks all the hairs into believing they are all in the same growth phase. Weeks or months later, they all arrive at the effluvium (falling out) stage together. The result is a few weeks of shedding, followed by a few years of growing back. I am just finishing the falling out stage of an episode of telogen effluvium for the fifth time in my life. In a futile effort to save a few hairs, I have skipped a couple of visits to my hairdresser. One of the most frustrating things about having this condition is being dismissed when I mention it to my hairdresser. They always say, “Your hair isn’t falling out. You have thick hair. Everyone should have thick hair like you.”  I hate that. A woman knows when half or more of her hair falls out in one month. For crying out loud, my plumber knows, shouldn’t my hairdresser?  I stopped going to one stylist because she wouldn’t take me seriously. The last two times it has happened I have printed out articles on the condition and taken them to my hairdresser with the caveat “this is all I have to say about it.” I might not be bald the moment they see me, but I know where it all will end. I just want to discuss a style that will work with suddenly-thin hair followed by lots of little hairs growing in that stick straight out until long enough to lie flat. I don’t think that is too much to ask. But, alas, it is.

Speaking of too much to ask, I feel the need to vent right now about what going to the salon entails these days. It takes forever. Muscles atrophy and bedsores develop while waiting to get your grey hair colored. What is up with that?  I used to be able to get my hair colored and cut in a couple of hours. Now I feel like I need to drive the motor home so I’ll have a place to sleep and cook a meal. It is probably a sign of the economy but my appointment hasn’t been my own for years. I now share it with lots of other people. The salons don’t seem to value the customer’s time anymore. I like the first appointment of the day. That way I feel like at least I won’t be kept waiting just to get started. A previous hairdresser even screwed up that plan by not coming to work until the receptionist called to let her know her first client had arrived. Really? Really?  As if that isn’t bad enough, she would then put away her purse and belongings and walk to Peets for coffee before starting. Really? “You couldn’t have had coffee at home while waiting for the phone call telling you I had arrived?” I am the customer after all.

Appointments are very confusing these days. They mix your color, then do a consult with a walk-in before applying the color. The color finally gets applied and you get your now sore behind plopped into a dryer chair to “speed up the process.” A timer is set for 40 minutes. During that time a middle aged balding man comes in for his appointment for a cut.  After everyone admires him, he sits down for the longest haircut in recorded history. Every individual hair is cut with laser precision. He supervises every snip with a hand held mirror in between taking long, admiring looks at himself. My timer goes off and the stylist comes over and tells me I “need a few more minutes.” No, I don’t need a few more minutes, Mr. Middle-Aged-Crisis needs a few more minutes. About the time I feel my hair dissolving, he decides that he is happy with his haircut. Admiring him leaving takes a bit longer than admiring him arriving. After everyone steps out for a peek at his new Corvette, I finally make it to the shampoo bowl to rinse the dye out of my hair. The dye has been on so long that my scalp is brown now too and I look as if I am wearing a football helmet. My teeth are clenched so tight I fear they will fall out along with my hair, rendering me virtually unidentifiable by the time I get home. Oops, now that it is time for my blow dry, the homecoming queen contestants and a party of bridesmaids come in for up-do tryouts. My time, it seems, is up and I now have to decide between skipping the blow dry or haircut.  This step in the process has resulted in my hair getting very long and crunchy at the ends. I started cutting my own bangs years ago because my seven hours at the salon just goes by so fast, there is no time to have them cut. I hate going to the salon. I used to think the worst thing that can happen to you in a chair that goes up and down is a wisdom tooth extraction without Novocaine. I now know that isn’t true at all.

As a result of going nearly bald and having panic attacks every time I pick up the phone to make an appointment, I had several inches of grey roots. I realized that I look as bad as I feel and the time had come to fix the problem. This morning I walked right by the phone out to the garage. I got into my car and drove into town to the beauty supply store. A lovely young woman found the perfect color for me, gave me good instructions, wrote them down and sent me on my way with the confidence to color my own hair! I came home and a short 60 minutes later I was done and blown dry. The color is a bit more red than usual but I like it. Michael says I missed a few grey hairs but who cares?  My back isn’t aching from sitting, my ankles aren’t swollen from dangling, and I don’t fear deep vein thrombosis from inactivity. I am still bald and at risk of being asked to star in an infomercial for Bosley, but tonight, I AM NOT GREY!

Note the uneven bangs.

In closing, anyone daring to leave a comment saying “Your hair isn’t falling out. You have thick hair. Everyone should have thick hair like you” will be banned from this website for life. Or, at least until my hair grows back.

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  1. Tonya Taber says

    *hugs* I like the color. I added a few blondish highlights recently, but my gray is still showing. In fact I think it high lighted them. Anywho….you have earned each and every one of them, wear them proudly!

  2. MikeM says

    Being a middle aged balding man, my first thought was not to comment on this post, but then I asked my wife if I could get a Corvette….I’m not getting the Corvette.

  3. Nancy says

    Beautiful color and shiney.

    My hair has thinned out considerably like yours . Dr. says I have hasimoto disease (low T4 HIGH TSH) but wants to retest in 6-8 weeks to be sure before starting medication. Men don’t seem to be bothered by hair loss unless it’s theirs.

    I used to trim dogs – hard habit to break. So I just give myself a buzz cut every few weeks. I’m sure not gonna pay a stylist to do it. While the hair is growing in looks much thicker for awhile.

    I’m like 99% gray, I tell people I dye it that color so they’ll stop carding me at the liguor store,
    Nobody is falling for that line.

  4. Kathy says

    Hey, I like the color! I quit the salon years ago, and now sport my grey hair. Tell Michael you missed those hairs on purpose – “highlights!”

  5. Andrea says

    So I am not going to say it because I also know it is true. But wow I didnt know you had that much built up frustration over the hair salon. But as you know just the thought of a hair cut brings me to tears. Hope you feel better now.

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