How’s the Hair? PART 1

When we found out the transplant would become a possibility, I realized: I care about my hair. DEFinitely not as much as Will Ferrell in The Campaign (or Anchorman) :), but I do care. I had never considered this before but I guess once you know you’re going to lose something, you start to appreciate it more.

I hadn’t been appreciating it… Me + high messy bun = BFFs. What style could be better than this 30-second, über-versatile ‘do? For months I sported a top knot literally every day. Whenever I’d wear it down people would comment on my, “long, beautiful hair,” and how they “never knew!”
Yikes! Guess I really confined my hair to exist strictly above my head? But designing your own head is fun. Why don’t I do that anymore? I always enjoyed it. So I adopted a new M.O. and styled my hair/did something funky—or at least had it down/plain—basically every day. I’m glad I did that because it’s gone now.

They said I’d start losing my hair 14 days after the initial dose of chemotherapy, so it started falling out last Monday. I made an appointment with my stylist—Carolina (-leena) at The Kindest Cut Salon—for the next day. I was donating to Locks of Love and couldn’t procrastinate any longer. In order to give the longest amount possible I found a short, edgy style I wanted to try. Carolina offered to take before/after pics, and then I enjoyed the challenge of styling short hair–it’s tough until you get the hang of it! And a real pain when your hair seriously starts falling out, i.e. Friday.


Appt at Rush University

Screen Shot 2013-11-09 at 7.09.23 PMI‘m always instructed to wear a head scarf and paint my nails black before my appointments at Rush, in order for the neuro on the other side of town to stay blind to whether or not I was in the treatment arm of the study vs. the control arm… Meaning, whether or not I had lost my hair or had obvious signs on my nails from undergoing chemo.

I’ve been a patient in the Multiple Sclerosis stem cell transplant study at Northwestern for over 4 years (awhile after we heard about it on the news), but I was randomized right off the bat to the control arm, so we flew right back home.

BUT a patient has the potential of crossing over into the transplant/treatment side of the study if his/her original EDSS score (scale that assesses the level of disability) increases by a certain amount, AND stays that way for at least 6 months. We all knew my score would be bad enough this go-‘round, but still, it all officially hung in this morning’s appointment. If the doctor assessed my score at the same level as in 2009, we would come home. Again. And it would be the biggest “never mind” of our lives.

I sat there answering his questions, doing the various exercises for him to examine my level of disability, and listening to him explain to the interns why I wasn’t capable of doing certain, very basic movements…
It totally caught me off guard when I started crying. It’s like my soul alerted my mind, “This is huge, Emily. You guys have been trying to get here for 4 years, and it’s happening right now.” The reality of it—and a sense of peace—overwhelmed me.

Dr. B handed me the sheet of paper with my score, which was more than high enough. Double my 2009 score. So it’s all a “go.”
“Full speed ahead,” as the nurse said who called me later to find out the news.

I’m full of gratitude tonight—gratitude in too many directions to process, so, now it’s time to sleep :*)