In exactly one day, I will be taking a trip from Toronto to Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania with my friend/CTSN Partner Suzette. Here’s why…
I have a lot of events coming up this summer, including a wedding, a trip down south, and hanging out with friends anywhere and everywhere. Having trichotillomania has caused me so much anxiety when it comes to even thinking about any of these. How can I go to a wedding wearing a beret, or a hat? How can I travel down south and keep a hat on 24/7 when it is 40+ degrees out? I began to have panic attacks and major anxiety thinking about what exactly I would do. I decided to start looking on the internet for some options as to what I could do with my hair for these events… Yes I could wear a scarf or do something to try and cover up my thinning hair, but it’s not the same. I started looking at purchasing a wig which would cost anywhere from $1300+ for a decent, natural looking one. I had previously purchased a wig when I was 12 to take graduation pictures, but felt so uncomfortable with the whole thing that I never wore it because it just looked terrible.
As I was looking online for options, I came across this website that stated a hair stylist had come up with a solution for people suffering with trichotillomania. As I began to look through the site, specifically the before and after pictures, I felt a flicker of hope that perhaps this could be my solution! The website stated that this hair stylist named Charlene Blacer had developed a cosmetic hair restoration process that took over 7 years to perfect and trademark. I noticed the before pictures… mainly young women covering their faces while showing their patches/balding heads. I could feel their pain, shame, embarrassment and lack of self-esteem. It is awful, especially as a young woman, to go through life without feeling confident or beautiful because we don’t have hair because of our own doing. I then looked over at their after pictures and saw the hope, genuine smile and happiness these women had. I wondered if I could ever get an “after” picture like they had, and feel the same way. Happy.
I slept on the thought of getting this process done but wasn’t sure what my friends/family would think about it. I hadn’t dealt with trich in 10 years and all of a sudden it comes back again with a vengeance. I was getting more worried by the day about what I was going to do with my hair, or lack thereof, for these special events. I decided to contact the owner of the salon, Charlene, and ask questions/ get a quote for getting the process done. It turns out the process would be $3000. The hope I had almost immediately vanished. Who has $3000 lying around, let alone for hair, something that is free and most people would never have to purchase? After a couple of days I decided to contact Charlene again and ask her more questions and get more information about the process. I was sold. The proof was in the pictures and in Charlene’s reassuring voice when she explained in detail what exactly I was paying for.
Here is how the process works. Charlene has designed a “Hair Net”. It’s a skin-like material that has human hair installed into the strips by hand. Then my own hair would be pulled through the spaces in the rows to make the piece look more natural and move like real hair. The net is installed or applied with medical adhesive glue and/or micro rings, and/or silicone rings. It is removed using a special solution. The thing that makes this cosmetic hair process so different is that it actually prevents people with trichotillomania from pulling the hair. The net covers the spots where someone with trich would typically pull. Most people ask me “Well won’t you start pulling from somewhere else then?” Typically no. People with trich tend to pull hair from the same spots because of the sensation. I have no desire to pull from any other location on my head except the very top of my scalp. This is why I am so excited to get this process done. Not only will it give me a full head of hair, it will also help my own hair grow back underneath the net in the meantime! Because the hair is human hair, I can sleep, wash, and style the hair like it’s my very own. I can have my hair up, style up dos, flat iron it, blow dry and curl it. I will even be able to swim this summer with confidence! The piece will have to be removed once a month in order to be cleansed properly with specific products and to wash the hair that is growing underneath the net. I will be spending two full days in Charlene’s salon. The first day I will be learning how to install/remove the piece myself, and how to properly care for it. This day is critical because it will teach me so that I will be able to do this process by myself once a month at home! The second day is spent having Charlene cutting my own hair, styling, colouring and installing the piece professionally. It is a lengthy process and I will be in the salon for at least 16 hours.
So $3000 is an incredible amount of money to pay, and I would not be able to afford this process/accommodations without the generosity and support from my amazing friends and family. I set up a fundraising page to help pay for some of the process and I am so thankful to every single person who has read my story, donated and provided me with support. I am truly grateful because this process will be giving me hope and confidence, which has been missing since I started pulling a year ago. Most of the money I have raised will go towards the actual hair being installed on the net itself. Human hair does not come cheap, most hair is upwards of $1000, hence why wigs are so expensive. Then Charlene creates the one of a kind, custom hair piece by hand for me which takes quite a while for her to complete. I am also paying for products, the lessons on how to install/remove the piece, and overall Charlene’s time and the piece itself. I will be staying in Stroudsburg for 3 nights and driving nearly 15 hours to have this life changing process done.
I also hope that this process will not only improve my life, but other “trichsters” in Canada. Although trichotillomania is a medical condition, unfortunately because I do not have private insurance, the cost is not covered. A big part of what I want CTSN to accomplish, is to help fund other trichsters to have this process done. We should all be entitled to feeling beautiful & confident without having to pay an arm and a leg. I hope that CTSN will be able to provide this remarkable life changing process to other trichsters when we become a non-profit organization.
Like I have said before, hair is just hair to people, but for someone with trichotillomania hair can mean everything. I am so thankful to be getting the chance to have this process done, and it would not be possible without the amazing support from my friends and family. So thank you, thank you, thank you to every single one of you. I am so thankful and appreciative of all your support. And I am so looking forward to sharing my “after” with everyone.
To learn more/see more pictures about the process, please visit Charlene’s site: http://www.cybermane.com/Hair_Loss_Solutions.html