JOE BLOGS: 5 things I've learned from my year with alopecia
Alopecia universalis is where you lose all of the hair on your head and body. Usually in a short period of time. For me it was six months.
Last weekend was the one-year-anniversary of me taking the plunge and shaving the scant remains of my hair off.
I've already written about the emotional turmoil it caused and how traumatic the event was but as I spend more time with it, I've begun to recognise some of the lighter effects it's had on my life.
Eye-wear accessories are not 'accessories'
I've no eyelashes, which results in a literal pain in the eyes and a metaphorical pain in the arse.
To counteract dust and loads of other stuff flying into my retina on a daily basis, I wear glasses. These glasses not only allow me to keep my eyes from turning red constantly, they also allow me to look like I'm far
intelegenter more clever than I am.
There is a community-run support system out there for people with alopecia
There are great alopecia communities and support groups that help people adjust to their new look.
Honestly, you’d want to hear some of the stories at alopecia support groups. They’d make the hair on the back of your neck... fall out.
Putting these stories together would make for a great theatre show. You could enter it in the Dublin Fringe Festival, although entering it in anything which contains the word 'fringe' might lead to an irony overload.
Alopecia lends itself well to Halloween costumes
Last year, just after I had shaved my head for the first time, I put together a decent Nidge (Love/Hate) costume and this year I went for Bane from The Dark Night.
Bald caps only bring the look so far and when you're looking for an authentic hairless costume, that's when alopecia really comes into its own. If I only had to have alopecia for one day every year, I would choose October 31.
Old acquaintances don’t recognise me
This can be an absolute god-send for someone who is relatively introverted. However, it can also be a little bit awkward. I was in a bar recently and there was an old school friend there. I saw him at the bar and didn’t say anything. Then I walked by him a couple of times. Still, nothing. I was flummoxed.
Finally, I got so pissed off I went up to him and said: “Hey man, it’s me Cian.”
No word of a lie, this was his response: “I f*cking know who you are, I just think you're a bollox.” Fair enough.
You become a faster swimmer
OK, this isn't true, but it's definitely something I've been questioned about since I've lost my hair. Other common inquiries include: 'All of your hair, like everywhere?', 'do people tell you that you look like Harry Hill?' and 'will your hair ever come back?'
The answers to the first question is 'yes everywhere. The answer to the second is 'apart from my own mother, no' and the third is 'I don't know.' I've been given contrasting reports and there is definitely a chance, but if I was to keep on worrying about that, I'd end up pulling all my hair out... metaphorically speaking, obviously.