My hair started growing back this last week. My eyelashes have been s l o w l y creeping in for several weeks, and are at the point right now where it looks like I'm wearing mascara, because for the first time in months my eyes have some definition. My leg hair also ramped up a little (which means I'm taking more frequent showers, to shave, if for no other reason). The rest of my hair, however, was still pretty dormant. I've been estimating, based on previous experience, that I will be looking healthily butch by July, and won't feel the need to cover my head in public anymore, but I haven't had the full-brain radiation before, and I have no idea whether or not my hair return will be normal or not. In fact, I wasn't sure it would grow at all. There are also 10% or so of people on Navelbine who lose their hair, so it was, in my mind, in no way guaranteed that mine would start growing while I was still on treatments.
To my pleased surprise, about 5 days ago I noticed that the top of my scalp, previously smooth and strangely shiny, like pink patent leather, had thousands of teeny, tiny little bumps on it. Could it be?!? I thought. I didn't say anything the first day, and the second day I could see an even more pronounced bumpiness. "Ian," I said, "I think my hair's coming in! Look at the top of my head! Do you see bumps?"
Being slightly less obsessively aware of every small detail of my anatomy than I am, Ian was not so sure that what he was looking at was any different from anything he'd seen for the last several months but, being the diplomat that he is, he was noncommittal rather than outright negative. I knew though, I knew, and sure enough, two days ago, when I looked in the light just right, I could see thousands of teeny-tiny little hairs, almost clear, furring the top of my head.
Most of us are aware of what hair is like when it's growing in after being shaved, and this is not like that at all. When hairs are shaved, they are cut off, blunt, at the surface of the skin. These hairs, though, are all entirely new, and as such, are very, very pointy, so that they could break from the follicle through the surface of the skin. Since identifying my head hair as definite hair, I've looked closely at the rest of my body, and it's growing back everywhere. I have occasional itchy spots, where the sharp new hair has gone astray and grown in instead of reaching for the sun. My eyebrows are also making a comeback, although mostly in the places where I will be plucking them soon. And I've already pulled out a few mustache hairs, which were quite stubborn, as of old, instead of coming out at, basically, my whim, as in recent times.
It will be interesting to see what the hair looks like this time around, when it's really back. The last few times, it's grown in curly initially, then over a period of about six months has returned to its usual board-straightness. Even though the top of my head is covered right now, though, doesn't mean that the hair will be as thick as before the radiation. We shall see. In the meantime, please enjoy the following close-ups.
Eyelashes! It's weird to take a shower without them--lots of water gets in the eyes.
Look at the very edge of my scalp, and you can see the wisps of new hair. The bigger hairs are the few that never fell out. Also--this is why hi-def TV is so much not fun for aging stars and news reporters.