Hair. (or, “Balding Whack-a-Mole!”)

I have started then erased this post a thousand times.  I can tell its going to be a long post.  I’m in a weird place of needing to talk about something and having no idea how to go about it.  That always happens when I’m posting something that’s more than “this is what we did today.”  I over-analyze.

I actually debated whether or not to talk about this, but after encouragement from several people to just go ahead and put it out there, I decided I’d just go for it.  After all, I function much better when I’m transparent.  That might not always come through on the blog, but if you know me in real life, you know that I’m pretty open about everything.  Talking things through helps me process.

Actually, that quality has probably been a helpful thing in my life.  God has blessed me with lots of situations where I’ve had to let go and trust Him.  The fact that I verbally process in the midst of those situations has proven to be a great way to share the crazy, scary, amazing things God has done in my life.   I’m just not very good at keeping my experiences to myself.

In the past couple of weeks, God has given me another one of those opportunities to walk openly through something difficult.   So once again, for better or worse, I’m just going to put it out there and we’ll see where this takes me.

My hair is falling out.

I’m not talking about a little post-partum hair loss.  I was diagnosed last week with an auto-immune disease called Alopecia Areata, which causes my body to attack my hair follicles.  Crazy, right?  First my body attacks my babies’ blood while I’m pregnant.  Now it’s attacking my hair.

I found two large bald spots (about 2 inches in diameter) on the back of my head on December 21.  Since they were so big and in a place where it’s really easy for me to feel them when I run my fingers through my hair, they must have happened pretty quickly.   Within a couple of weeks, I have about 4 more small spots, and several more areas where I can tell I’m about to lose more.

Originally, I thought it must be hormonal after a twin pregnancy, so my doctor ran some blood work.  It came back normal, so he sent me to my OB, who sent me to a dermatologist.    The dermatologist positively diagnosed me and told me alot more about it.   Basically, my hair is going to fall out in patches.  It might start growing back in some of those spots, but then it will move somewhere else.  It’s random and unpredictable.   The best description I’ve heard so far came from Nate: “It’s like balding whack-a-mole.”   In my case, it is happening pretty quickly.

The dermatologist suggested I start getting steroid injection treatments into my scalp.  So I went back the next day and got 15 injections into the bald spots on my head.  It didn’t feel too great.  And unfortunately, there’s a good chance it isn’t really going to help.  Even if it does help, it’s only going to start regrowth in those spots and won’t keep any other spots from falling out.

So far, I’m able to cover the spots with the rest of my hair.  The problem is that I’m in the process of getting a very large spot right on the front top part of my head, and it will be impossible to hide.    The dermatologist says that when it gets to that point, the only thing I can really do is shave my head and get a wig.  Or shave my head and rock the rebellious biker-chic look.

So now I’m just waiting…and that’s the hard part.  Every day the spots in the front get bigger, and every day I wonder how long it will be until I have to shave my head.  I wonder how I’ll handle it emotionally when that day comes.   I mean, in the grand scheme, it’s just hair…  but it’s my hair, you know?  A pretty significant part of my physical appearance.   And still, part of me just wants to go ahead and do it so I can just skip this whole awkward in-between stage altogether. The waiting and not knowing is driving me crazy.

But then, it seems like God has been spending alot of time lately in teaching me how to wait and how to trust Him in the unknowns.  It feels like He’s giving me a masters-level education in these areas at the moment.  But I’m okay with that.

I know that God is taking my hair away because He loves me, and I am confident that He knows exactly what is best for me.  If baldness is best, I’m on board.  But I’ll be honest and confess that I don’t understand it.  I don’t see why this is better.  It’s hard to see the so-called silver lining.  But when I compare my blind vantage point with his all-knowing sovereign view, I’ll just choose to trust Him on this one.   That’s why He’s in charge and not me.

And amazingly, in the few short weeks since I’ve been dealing with this issue, He has already taught me a boat-load about myself and about Him.  Maybe I’m just hard-headed and it takes a whole lot for Him to get his point across with me, I don’t know.  But if knowing God better is a side effect of going bald, then I’m all in.

And if you happen to think about it, I’d love some prayer as I sort through all of this.  I am praying that I’ll be able to handle this gracefully in a way that honors and glorifies the Lord.  Of course I’m praying that my hair will just stop falling out, but I also know that God might have other plans, so I’m praying for an obedient heart either way.

I was reading last night and happened across the verse in Matthew where Jesus is telling the disciples  not to be afraid as they proclaim the Word because God loves them and watches over them.  He emphasizes it by saying “even the hairs on your head are numbered!” (Matthew 10:30)  I laughed to myself and thought “well that’s quite a job to stay on top of these days, because my number changes by the second!”  But it’s true.  God knows me well.  I’m his girl.  He loves me enough to keep track.   So every time I run my hand through my hair and another handful comes out, I’ll remember that God is keeping count… so I don’t need to.

Thanks to all of you who are willing to walk through this with me.  We’ll just wait to see what happens and take it step by step.  Nate is, of course, the greatest encouragement I could have ever asked for.  My family and friends have all made sure to tell me that they couldn’t care less if I am bald, and that’s actually reassuring.  Kelly has told me that, as my PR rep, she thinks I would look like a rockstar.

So here we go.  Just another exciting leg of the journey (:

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12 thoughts on “Hair. (or, “Balding Whack-a-Mole!”)

  1. Hey sweet girl – I am so stunned that I do not know what to say. I will tell you, however, that we have some family friends whose son has the same or very similar disorder. I am contacting them to find out for sure and am in hopes that they will have some words of encouragement for you.

    Loving you….. Ame

  2. Wow! Definitely never a boring moment in the life of the Bonham’s. So sorry you are going through this! I’m praying for God to give you comfort in this time and the needed encouragement. You will rock and be the same awesome Nikki with or without hair. Knowing someone personally that could benefit from a wig, also makes it mean that much more each time I donate my hair for a wig (I’ve given 18″ the past two times, and will be donating a 3rd time sometime this Spring!). Please let me know if there’s anything specific I can pray for or anything I can do. Love you friend!

  3. Hey Nikki,

    I’ve been trying to figure out what to say, and to be honest, I can’t come up with much other than to say I am so very sorry. Isn’t it amazing how much hair is a part of our lives as women (or at least as white, middle class American women … yes, I’m a nerd :) ) . I’m praying for you as you go through this.

    Oh, and for the record, I say go Molly Pearce with this thing. Like her, you have an amazing face. If it reaches the point of needing to go with a shaved head or a wig, I say be brave and try out her look!

  4. Nikki, I keep thinking to myself, “Why, Dear Lord, does this sweet, wonderful, obedient child of Yours have all these trials in her life?” The only conclusion I can come to is that He is using your transparency and wonderful way of sharing to spread His word and to show others how to maintain faith in the face of adversity. Jerry & I both consider you and your family as our own family and we will do anything we can to help you get through this.

    Get some cool funky hats if you want to cover up the spots or get some temporary tattoos to put on them. Something tells me if anyone can pull this off, it is YOU. I know as a woman, I’d be struggling with this, too. You are very brave to share this and that speaks so highly of your self-confidence. You are beautiful, inside and out, with or without hair and the one thing I know will remain constant is the laughter and love that we all see in those big brown eyes.

    We love you, Nikki…..

    Jerry, Kim, Jana, Steven and Darby

  5. Nikki — You are AMAZING!!!! I am old enough to be your momma, yet you continue to be such an inspiration to me. I think you are one of the most beautiful women I know — with or without hair. I do pray the Lord will continue to provide you with His peace about this situation. You are his special child.

  6. I’ll be praying for you! Thanks for sharing with us! You’re right, it’s just hair…but you’re right, it’s your hair!…we get it! I’m encouraged by your words of being on board with whatever God uses in your life to glorify Him. And I know how I am in situations like this (though I won’t say I’ve gone through what you’re going through), I’m on a roller coaster of walking in faith one moment, and the next upside down freaking out. So, I’ll be praying for you! That His peace and faithfulness will override/rule your thoughts/feelings through this!

  7. Nikki,
    I’m speechless. I had no idea, yet I feel so at peace that you CAN do this! You are such a strong woman, and I admire your faith. This truly is an exercise of trust. I will continue praying for you. So thankful that you have Nate as an amazing hubby who will help you walk through this and love you even more because of it! Let me know if you need me to do anything for you, roommie! Love you!

  8. Your honesty and openness are amazing and humbling. So sorry for all that you are going through, but praying for the Lord to strengthen and uphold you through it all.

  9. After we talked Sunday, I kept thinking about how much more gorgeous your eyes are going to look when your hair is not there to “distract” from them. You are beautiful in absolutely every way. When I grow up, I want to be like you.

  10. Hello, I found your blog through the January ’11 Reflections project. I was looking at the blog roll and just clicked on your name. So glad you shared this with your readers. It is helpful to all who follow Jesus to be transparent and you are here. Your heart and love for God no matter what your circumstances shines through here. I am a pastor’s wife and we have a woman in our church who has this same diagnosis. She wears a scarf to match her outfit. I hardly ever see her head but her love for Jesus with her bright smile is the first thing I notice. Thanks for sharing.

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