Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Worst Haircut Ever

I went back to Joseph Paris today to actually place the order for my two hair systems. I decided to give Jimmi the day off and take my mom with me this time, since she wasn't at the first appointment last week.

After a much too eventful car ride, which included one closed road, one misleading street sign and one U-turn, my mom and I pulled into the New York Waterway Ferry parking lot in separate cars at exactly the same time. Fifteen minutes later, we were making our way over the Hudson River on a sunny, but hot and hazy day.

As we exited the building on the New York side, we grabbed the first available cab we saw. Noticing that all of the windows were open, I asked, "Do you have air conditioning?" "Yes, of course. Get in!" Still suspicious, but not looking for an argument, my mom and I jumped in and we were on our way.

It didn't take too long to confirm my original thought, as the sound of the air conditioner was not accompanied by any cool breezes from the vents. "Shouldn't be too bad." My mom said, "It's only a few blocks."


In New York City time, a few blocks in any kind of above-ground vehicle almost always means 30 minutes from start to finish. Today was no exception.

Luckily, we left enough time to travel, and with five minutes to spare before my 12:00 appointment, we hurried out of the little, yellow hot-box and into the building on Madison Avenue marked in large, black numbers "185".

Now for the next obstacle. Being severely claustrophobic, my mom is not a fan of elevators. But climbing nine flights in a sweltering stairway on a 92 degree day is not really the best idea either. So she did it. Without a worry, (or without showing me a worry), she walked with determination into the elevator, and up we went.

Wow. My mom really loves me.

Upon entering Joseph Paris Salon, we were greeted with the same video of bald to beautiful women, but this time, there was a small difference. A child. One of the photos this time was of a little girl - maybe about six or seven years old - who had lost her hair. The next shot showed her happily donning her long, brown wig. It hurt my heart. As much as this sucks for me, a child should never have to deal with serious illnesses. Not ever.

My thoughts were interrupted as Joseph Paris, himself, showed us back into his office. It was the same office as the first time, so no surprises. But today's experience was much different than last week's.

"So, tell me what's going on." Joseph asked with concern as he leaned against the table under the mirror. I immediately noticed that his fly was down, but I forced myself to look away. I grabbed my hair in two handfulls on either side of my head and said, "This is all gonna go away soon."

Joseph had heard it all before from so many others who had come to see him so they could save just a bit of dignity during their poison treatments. But he wasn't jaded. "Ok, we'll take care of that," he said with confidence. He pulled out a box with the synthetic hair system that was put on hold for me last week, then looked at my hair. He opened a small closet next to the mirror that had more hair color samples than I had ever seen, and started digging through them. It was almost amusing watching him pick up some hair, hold it against a color chart, shake his head, and toss it aside. He must've gone through 20 samples before he called in one of the hair system stylists to ask for a color that would match my highlights.
As we waited for the stylist to come back, Joseph said, "So, we're gonna harvest some hair today to make your hairline for the custom piece?" I nodded.

The process seemed simple enough when I read it online. They'll find a spot on my head that will be unnoticeable, and cut a one-inch strip of hair to be used to replicate my own hairline in the custom piece. Because it's actually my hair, it will look much more natural and be almost undetectable. Easy!

Joseph took a large chunk of my hair in the back of my head and stuck a clip in it to keep it out of his way. Just then, the stylist came back in with a color for my highlights. Joseph looked, compared it against my own highlights, shook his head and sent the stylist off again to find a better match.

Back to the hair harvesting.

Joseph took a one-inch strip of my hair, which I couldn't see since he was behind me, and cut.

Oh my GOD!

It was the most awful noise I had ever heard. My beautiful, amazingly long hair was being chopped within an inch of my scalp. But it didn't sound like anything I had ever heard at a salon before. It was like crunchy carrots. And it wasn't one clean cut. It was like a trying to cut a touch piece of fabric with dull scissors so you have to open and close the scissors numerous times just to cut a small piece!

Crunch! Crunch! Crunch!

I feel sick. I don't want to do this.

Joseph walked over to the table in front of me with a hand full of my shiny locks. It looked like so much. He proceeded to tape around the top of the harvested hair so none of it would get lost. Then he spoke, "Come over here, baby." And led me to a mirror. It was sweet the way he called me "baby". He was almost fatherly, and definitely showed sincere empathy.

I followed him to the mirror where he handed me a smaller, hand-held mirror. He had me position myself so I could see the back of my head. "You see? You can't tell that I cut anything. No one will know."

Ok, I got through it. It's over now.'s not?

"I'm just gonna take 3 to 4 samples from your hair so we have enough to make a good hairline."

Holy shit. Will I have any left?

Lift. Clip. Crunch! Crunch! Crunch!

The sick feeling came back as I swallowed the lump that was crawling up my throat and blinked away the burning sensation in my eyes. What's the big deal, I thought. It's all gonna be gone soon anyway.

Here he goes again.

Lift. Clip. Crunch! Crunch! Crunch!

I watched him take each sample to the table, wrap tape around the top, and line it up next to the one before it. There were a total of three, each holding the amount of hair on a Barbie doll's head, just five times longer. It was so much hair. I need that hair. That's MY hair!


Oh no! Here he comes again. He has the scissors. No, not again. No!

"No more." It was all I could manage before the dam broke and the tears started flowing.

I tried not to cry. I tried to be strong. But as I looked at large pieces of me laid out on a table, I just couldn't contain it any longer.

"Ok, we can stop. I don't want to do anything to upset you any more. You're going through enough," Joseph said with care.

My mom got up to console me, and I could see that she was holding back her own set of waterfalls, but she stayed stronger than I could. Joseph brought me to the mirror again to show me that, in fact, each chopped area was safely hidden under the hair that remained in place. I dabbed at my eyes with a tissue, slumped back into the chair and found some courage I didn't know I had.

"Do you need more?" I asked while trying to keep my voice from quivering.

Joseph looked at me with honest eyes. "I can make you a nice hairline with what we have. But I'd really like to have one more cut to make sure I have enough."

"Ok. Do it."

I closed my eyes.

Lift. Clip. Crunch! Crunch! Crunch!

It's over.

Just then, the stylist came back in with what looked to be an exact match for my highlights. "Perfect!" Joseph exclaimed. "That's good for the synthetic hair. Now go find a match in human hair for the custom piece." I still find it weird knowing that I'll be wearing someone else's hair.

After the trauma of the cutting, the rest was cake. Joseph took more measurements. Then he took some pictures of the exact way I part and wear my hair. The custom piece will be recreated to the specifics of that photo, from the placement of the highlights to the direction of the hair, to the location of my part. There will even be a skin-toned slab of rubber under the part so when the hair is pushed to either side, it looks like a scalp.

Joseph told me that my hair would probably start to fall out after my second chemo treatment. "As soon as it starts to come out, call me. We'll get you in here, buzz it off, and do the final fitting of your hair system so it's perfect. We don't want you to go one day without hair."

I thanked him and he wished me luck.

My mom and I left the city and drove away in our own, separate cars. As the rain fell on my windshield like tears, I was aware of the fact that I wasn't crying. I don't want to cry anymore. I want to be strong like everyone says I should. I want to be brave. I gazed down at the teal and white cervical cancer awareness bracelet that my friend, Angel, sent me and read the words imprinted on it.

"Fight Like A Girl"

Good idea. I think I will.

1 comment:

  1. Relish every victory. Today you conquered the hair samples. Tomorrow you may have to conquer something else. But you WILL conquer each challenge. And one day you'll look back at this blog and marvel in the warrior that is you. xo