#28 Progress

Ever since I first was diagnosed with alopecia, I have kept a diary (of sorts) of the progression of my hair growth. This was, until recently, not my doing, and was actually mapped out by my various consultants over the years. They did this by writing down when I was going through periods of hair loss and hair growth based on any progress visible at weekly dermatology appointments.

As I have previously mentioned, through this mapping process we think that my trigger for hair loss is exams, as I’ve seen drastic hair loss after every set of ‘big’ exams. After my GCSE exams, I lost practically an entire head of hair, which had taken 3 years to grow back successfully. Throughout my A Levels, I had rarely any hair growth whatsoever, only really growing unpigmented fluff that was very thin and weak and it didn’t really grow much more than that. After those exams, I am certain that I lost everything again. Now, losing a few patches of white useless fluff is never going to be as devastating as having to shave off shoulder length hair, but it was still a bit of a knock. Alopecia isn’t something that you can ‘cure’, so I was expecting it all to fall out both times, but after all of my A Levels I did rather hope that the useless fluff would stay for a bit.

This will sound pessimistic to some people reading this, but throughout my A levels, and up to maybe a month ago (November 2015) I didn’t really believe that I stood any chance of growing back my hair until I had finished with education entirely, which meant in my mind until I had finished my degree at university. I arrived at university fully expecting to be completely hairless for the entirety of my degree, perhaps hiding the truth under a variety of wigs from everyone except those I lived with. My degree course has termly exams, and so I was never expecting to have a long enough period of recovery from exams to properly grow my hair back.

As I write this now, about a month before my first university examinations, I believe that I could have been wrong.

I’ve now had a 6 month gap from any exams. I have had a variety of stressful events since, mainly the whole adjustment to university life and the stresses that come attached with that like meeting new people, living independently, having to start a complete new stage in my education…but apparently none of that has had a single effect on my hair. Mid-October, a couple of my flat mates told me that they were sure my hair had grown since Freshers’ week (which I was unsure about, I mean how could they tell after a month of knowing me that the fluff had grown a tiny bit longer without my noticing?). So I decided to take a photo, and to continue taking a photo every month to see if they were right. As it turns out, they were definitely on to something,

Below I’ve included two photos, one from October 2015 and the other from December. Now, I am well aware that some people reading this will be new(ish) friends from university who have never seen me without my wigs. This is your opportunity.

collage

It doesn’t look like very much overall, but what I think must be made clear is that when I first lost all my hair all those years ago, it took about a year and a half to get to this stage, with numerous treatments. This hair growth has been achieved in 2 months without any treatment, I haven’t had treatment for over 2 years. I’m proud of what I’ve managed, and won’t be shaving it off as I did previously because I, and many other people including my flat mates and family, and intrigued as to what is going to happen next. I mean, I have exams in a month and my pattern of hair loss is directly after exams, so the obvious conclusion is that by February I will be back to the start. But then again, this rapid hair growth is not part of that pattern. I haven’t grown hair this fast since I was 11. So maybe there is the slimmest bit of hope that I won’t lose everything…again. I guess we’ll all just have to wait and see.

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