The energy of the mind is the essence of life. – Aristotle


Follicles of Hope


Photo by: Jessica McBride

READER ADVISORY: Some photos and descriptions in this story might be disturbing to some individuals. Use discretion when choosing to continue. Previous blog posts leading up to this story are located at the bottom of this post. It is suggested that the previous posts be read first for a full understanding of this post.

Every day, the step into the shower is a frightening experience. The refreshing tingle of shampoo produces apprehension. I close my eyes and gently massage my scalp with my fingertips, hoping I don’t pull out too many strands of hair.

Rinse. Examine the damage.

It never fails that I’m pulling hair from between my fingertips. To keep it from clogging the drain, I plaster it in a pile on the wall for disposal later.

Now for round two. I lightly smear the creamy conditioner into my hair.

Rinse. Open my eyes and hope for the best.

Again, I’m unweaving the long strands of hair released from my head from between my fingers.

It’s almost as if I’m counting each strand as I survey the damage.

With each wash or brush, I dread the horrifying affair of finding another spot. Each hair lost is another potential sign that I will never be rid of the baldness.

Early in 2015 I had raised my count to three spots. At my next dermatologist appointment, I was crushed. This saga was going to be my future. I would never have a full head of hair again.


Photo by: Jessica McBride

I think the doctor realized I was almost to the point of giving up. Without details, she mentioned another case she was treating. A female patient had a large bald spot on the back of her head that was continuing to expand.

The patient had come in for several months, and was hesitant to take Plaquenil to help. She had shared a bit about my case with her, that I had suffered from alopecia for three years and that I was having success on Plaquenil.

Success. I wasn’t certain she was still describing my case, but it still gave me a little hope.

The patient had decided she would try the “miracle drug.” I smiled.

When I got home, I compared some of the pictures I had taken and relived every advance and every set back for the past three years. Then I looked in the mirror.

I wasn’t fully recovered, but the progress was evident. The hair farm on my head was producing, slowly, but my scalp was yielding fruit.

At my next regular doctor’s appointment, she noticed the improvement as well.

I would give it a year. I would evaluate the progress then before I considered shaving my head again.

I would try and kill the pessimism with the optimism that there was someone else suffering just like me that I needed to give hope to.

For clarity on the story above, please read the blog posts below.