As you may have read in my previous blog post, I started losing my hair 'properly' in February 2011. It took nine months to fall out fully and I lost it bit by bit. Prior to that, I had lost a patch at the age of 13, right on the top of my crown about the size of a 50pence piece, but it grew back over about five months.
The first time around, creative hairstyling was enough to cover a single patch and I was pretty much able to cover it. It didn't really cause me any lasting problems and I had my mum to check everything was covered. Second time around and the patches grew faster, multiplied and gradually I lost all my hair. This time, I had to deal with it and started looking at alternative hair solutions.
The first lady I came across was a trained trichologist, not far from me in The Cotswolds. I had an initial discussion on the phone and was lured in for a consultation with the promise of 'lots of things which could be done'. I had four or five patches by this stage and was concerned it was getting worse rather than better, so the £75 fee seemed like a fantastic deal. I arrived at the appointment to be greeted by a slick, efficient and somewhat sharp woman in a white coat; she barked at me to sit down and proceeded to brush my hair with vigour as she considered the issue. Inspecting the patches thoroughly she advised me that most probably my hair follicles had died, and I'd be unlikely to get my hair back. Devastating was the word which springs to mind, yet there wasn't an element of warmth in it, or understanding about how I might be feeling. Next she quickly brushed over the potential for wigs, advised me I could try a smelly topical lotion on the patches, sold me a dark brown cover up to make the patches less obvious and sent me on my way £250 worse off and feeling like I'd been through a whirlwind. One look at my mum's face and I knew she felt the same, but was hesitant to talk about it in case I gave up. Later that same day, I went online and read the reviews and whilst they all seemed glowing, many of the women seemed desperate for a non-existent cure, clutching at any small possibility of something which might help. Several of the same reviews also included assertions that their hair had returned after several years, but every single one of these women had also had a major lifestyle change - getting married, having babies or changing jobs all featured heavily!
Now I'm not saying Trichology is a bad thing, in fact it is inherently good. I have since met the very wonderful Mark Blake who although he is unable to help me, has a fantastic approach and is really proactive. Great for hair thinning, skin issues and any thing trichology! More info at www.markblake.co.uk
Moving on from this, I then came across a man specialising in hair loss solutions in Cheltenham. He was initially great; really positive, understanding and even had issues with male pattern baldness, so understood where I was coming from struggling with hair loss. Initially, he ordered me a human hair wig, which he dismantled and used to create sticky patches to cover the growing hair loss. These mixed in with my own hair, could be washed and brushed like normal and even had the perfect colour match, but that's where the benefits ended. They were difficult to get out, took nearly two hours to wash off the glue, oozed as I sweated and the glue stopped holding so well and worst of all the patches grew faster than I could book appointments to have them done. He was also unreliable, cancelled appointments last minute and generally let me down. By the end of it, I felt like I'd never find a good wig or have a good experience.
When the condition became too bad, I moved on from the sticky patches to a horrible, wiry, ill-fitting synthetic wig and from there to a custom ordered human hair wig which he measured in CMs instead of inches. The custom made order was due to take 8 weeks and instead I waited near on four months for it to arrive - then it didn't fit.
To say I was down in the dumps is an understatement, but then I found Emma. Emma who talked to me on the phone and to my mum, who made time on a Sunday to see me that week, who patiently listened to my woes, found me the perfect style and most importantly pulled off her wig in front of me. That was a key moment in my journey and one which has helped me get to where I am today! Thanks to Emma, I now love wigs (I currently have ten styles and growing) and I love the flexibility they give me! It made such a difference having someone who REALLY gets it and that's exactly why I've come on board with Aspire - to do the same thing for others!
On that note, one last things - here's a picture of me in Tenerife with my first, awful synthetic wig...
The poor synthetic wig - wiry, bushy and unnatural, with little or no movement and absolutely no style...