Never Ending Bucket of Things…

Funny enough, I’ve never actually made a bucket list. I’ve lived through many deaths in my family, about 10 in total from the age of 11 to 17. I lost my grandparents within 4 days of each other, I lost an uncle to suicide, an aunt to cancer, another grandmother to cancer, and so on and so forth. We lost about three-fourths of my family. Maybe I didn’t create a bucket list because I no longer wanted to think about death? I just wanted to live? Well…I’m doing it now. And I should really live by it.

My Bucket List…

  • Complete my Masters
  • Work as a victims advocate
  • Establish new victim’s rights laws/policies
  • Go on a cruise – anywhere!
  • Learn another language, preferably German
  • Visit Ulm, Germany, where my grandfather was born
  • Scuba Dive
  • Go to Las Vegas
  • Get away to New York or Paris Fashion Week
  • Climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower
  • And the Statue of Liberty
  • See the Northern Lights
  • Go back to Ireland and see the Cliffs of Moher and go to Galway
  • Lose Weight
  • Get into a dress less than a size 20…
  • Fall in love (have yet to do this)
  • Get married
  • Have children
  • Build a fort in the living room
  • Learn to make exotic dishes/foods
  • Play a game of messy twister (Oh yeah!)
  • Tie messages to balloons and let them go
  • If I ever work up the nerve…Sky dive.
  • Go paintballing
  • Go Camping
  • Kiss some random guy
  • Write and Publish a book
  • Meet one of my favorite authors
  • Meet a celebrity
  • Go to Hollywood
  • Move out of state for a few years
  • Travel the world – anywhere, everywhere
  • Spend a whole day watching old Disney movies
  • Go to Disney Land (not Disney world, I’ve been there lol)
  • Have a paint fight!
  • Do this one Easter (Adults Only! Before you start, everyone has to drink a lot)
  • Road trip across country (or anywhere)
  • Watch the sunset and then watch the sun rise with someone I love
  • Carve my name into a tree with someone
  • Ride the London Eye
  • Visit Buckingham Palace
  • Take weird pictures with the Palace Guards
  • Stay the night in a haunted inn, hotel, building…
  • Disconnect from the internet or phone for a week
  • Go to Oktoberfest in Munich
  • Celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans!
  • Take a picture a day for a year
  • Start to journal/write every day
  • See the statue of David in Italy
  • See the Coliseum
  • Visit a vineyard
  • Be happy with myself
  • Walk the Great Wall of China
  • Visit every continent
  • See a volcano
  • Stand at the edge of the Grand Canyon
  • Explore the Pyramids in Egypt
  • Ride a Gondola
  • Get another tattoo in a different country
  • Visit Loch Ness
  • Have a UFO experience … 🙂
  • Find peace with religion
  • Travel and stay in hostels
  • Go to the airport and book the next flight to anywhere…be spontaneous with no plans
  • Own a home
  • See a Solar and/or Lunar Eclipse
  • Send a message in a bottle
  • Complete my Bucket List

I’m sure that’s not everything, haha.

Inspired by the Daily Post’s Daily Prompt

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Saturdays: Relaxation or Recovery

If you catch me on a Saturday night during the Fall or Spring Semester…I’m normally at home, on my laptop with a cup of hot tea. I may be working on a paper, or I may be procrastinating on said paper. I may be laying around with my cat or one of the dogs, talking to them like I’m having a full blown conversation (hey! they’re more like people than some of the humans I know). I typically have work the next morning, so I’m normally at home. During the semester, I really become a boring, old spinster. If it’s during the summer, I’m probably trying to catch up with friends who have moved on in the real world. Saturday’s are mostly relaxing. I’m not thinking about Monday – Friday yet because I still have a full day ahead of me.

If you catch me on a weekend where I’m celebrating my best friends birthday…then Saturday is all about recovery. Friday night was out of control. I don’t get to let go often, but we had been planning this night for several months, and I was ready for it. We went out, and danced the night away. Of course, the more alcohol that was consumed, the more bad decisions were made. There are a few things that I’m face-palming over today. But, for the most part, I’m recovering. My poor little foot was crushed by some 6’5″ Goliath who wasn’t paying any mind to the drunk midget on the dance floor. My knees hurt from dancing for 6 straight hours (an old injury from a car accident makes my knees hurt 10x as much as it would hurt). My stomach and my head are yelling at me and demanding that I never drink tequila again. I can count on 1 hand the number of nights that led to a day like today, but damn was it a good night.

Saturdays = Relaxation and most importantly Recovery……

ImageThis post was inspired by the Daily Post’s Daily Prompt

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Hair Loss: Procedure and Progress

I wanted to talk about the actual Hair Transplant in a separate post because I intend to post some of the pictures. Nothing too graphic, but the details may be a little more graphic than some people are used to. Just be aware of it…I don’t want to offend anyone, but this is my reality…

First, let me just say that the nurses/staff at the Dr. Ishii’s office were absolutely fantastic. They clear the day so that you are their only patient and you can have their undivided attention. I got there at 9:30 a.m., filled out the necessary paperwork, and then went into a small room near the front desk. Dr. Ishii came in and told me how the day would go – numb the donor site, remove the donor site, numb the scalp, create incisions on the scalp, and place grafts. All in all this was a 5 1/2 hour procedure and I was awake the entire time.

They marked the back of my head first, marking out a rectangle and cutting the hair short. The numbing was probably the worst part – I think that was the closest I had ever been to passing out. The needles were painful and there were about 12 needles used to numb the donor area – an area of my scalp from ear to ear removed to use for transfer. She left me alone for a few minutes to let the numbing take hold and then she came back to start removing the area. One of the weirdest things I’ve ever experienced in my life is the removal of my scalp. I could feel nothing but pressure and what I thought was water rolling down my neck (take a guess at what it really was). I could hear this tearing sound that made me think of all the times I’ve ripped strips of fabric for crafts. After removing the scalp she cauterized the wound and stapled it shut (now, I’ve only ever had stitches once in my life and I had never had staples. This was pretty weird for me too). Once again, she left me for a minute or two to get myself together and then they moved me to another room.

The next room I was in was about 3 times the size of the smaller room I had been in and there was a surgical chair in the center of the room. There were desks and chairs lined along the left side of me (in the chair) and a tv to the right. They let me pick out a few movies and put in “Top Gun” (when they found out I had never seen it, I no longer had a choice. They made me watch it – not a bad pick lol). Three nurses came in, sat down, and then each took a section of my hair/scalp. They sat in almost complete silence (except to comment on Tom Cruise every now & then) and sliced the scalp into single hair follicles. Dr. Ishii during this time had placed a pillow behind my head and began to numb the top of my scalp where the donor grafts would go. She made over 1,000 incisions in the top of my head during the entire movie. After she finished, the nurses continued working on the grafts, and they gave me lunch. Once the grafts were completed the three nurses stood together and inserted the grafts. That took another 2 hours with Princess Bride playing. This was more uncomfortable than anything, since there was a lot of pressure on the top of my head.

After all was said and done they gave me instructions, shampoo & conditioner to use (5 days later when I was allowed to wash my hair), CPM moist gauze that I had to put on twice a day, and a doubled prescription of Spironolactone. I couldn’t brush or wash my hair for a few days, and when I was finally allowed to wash my hair I had to use a cup because the shower head was too rough. The swelling was insane. I knew that the swelling was supposed to get bad…but it got REALLY bad. I spent a few days on the couch instead of in my own bed so I could stay on one floor – I know I wasn’t injured or anything, but I was emotionally and physically drained and exhausted because of the experience and the medication.

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The top of my scalp. I had a total of 1,200 grafts placed.

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My donor site

I lost a little bit of hair from the shock of the procedure. I had the staples removed the following week and it was impressively healed for it having been just a week. I was nervous about bumping my head on things because 1. the grafts could easily fall out and 2. the back of my head was still numb (actually, as I type this 5 months later, the back of my head is still partially numb) and I was worried I could hurt myself.

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I rocked hats for a few weeks.

I have been trying to document my results on my own with my cell phone for a few months now. I go back in May to do an actual photo comparison with pictures from my first visit to may. But, I wanted to see how it looked before the 6 month visit.

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The picture on the left is from 2 months (February) post surgery, the picture on the right is from yesterday, 5 months post surgery.

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This is my donor site scar. It’s healing nicely! I can wear my hair up without worrying about the scar showing.

The hair is also growing back from the surgery!

So, I’ll leave it at that. Sorry if I bored anyone! I just wanted to share and also get it off my chest. I’m happy – like, very happy. I see results already and even though it’s not much, it makes me feel a little better.

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Definitely made me cry…

I have hair thinning, and I am balding around the top of my head like an old man, but I am not bald. I do not struggle with that same symptom of Alopecia. However, the feeling is the same. I feel less beautiful, horrible, and exposed. I feel as though my femininity is gone. Alopecia as a woman does make you feel like less of a woman. But, the model in this story is absolutely beautiful – with or without hair.

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Hair Loss: Let’s talk about Hair Transplants

I do have to warn that this will be a longer post…

In February of 2013 we lost a family friend who was 23 years old, my age. He died from Kidney cancer, something he had been diagnosed with 7 years before. He made mistakes, he did things he shouldn’t have, and he hurt people along the way. But, what really got me was the fact that he never even had a chance to fix those mistakes. He was my age. Everyone deserves the chance to be young and stupid, and then fix things as they get older and mature. He didn’t have that chance. At 16, his life was over before it even started.

His death really made me look at my life. For the most part, aside from obesity and things like alopecia, I’m in relatively good health. I am an able bodied person. There’s no reason for me not to fix the things in my life that I can fix. So, I started with signing up for a gym membership. Sadly, I would be consistent for a few months and then stop for a month and then be consistent again. I’m not going to make excuses for myself, because there really is no excuse when my gym is opened 24-7. But, in that year, I have lost 20 pounds.

Another thing that I tried to change was my self image issue. It got to the point that I would wear my hair in headbands and not do anything with it because the thinning was so noticeable. I had more people looking or commenting, and I was feeling lower than ever about it. I would start most days with a shower and a cry. Finally I got tired of being sad and woe is me. I started doing some research and found a plastic surgeon who specializes in Hair Restoration at Johns Hopkins Hospital. I knew that this would be an out-of-pocket expense since the procedure is cosmetic, so I wasn’t sure I could swing the payment. But, after a sit down talk with my parents they convinced me to at least go and talk to the surgeon about the options, and if the cost was too high they would help me out, and I could make payments to them.

So, I scheduled an appointment Dr. Lisa Ishii in August 2013. She was the first person to sit me down and tell me exactly what kind of alopecia I had and how it was completely genetic – it can come from either your mothers side, OR your fathers side. Hair loss is not just a male thing, and it is not something that can be passed down mother to daughter. It can be father to daughter, grandfather to daughter. Whatever. Hair loss is hair loss. She wrote me a prescription for Spironolactone, a blood pressure medication that has been slowing down hair loss in women for over 30 years. She told me that she doesn’t know why it works like that, but it just does. She explained that I will have to take this medication for the next 8 – 10 years, daily. At some point, my hair loss will plateau. We talked about the option of the Hair Transplant surgery and she told me that if I was going to do it, I needed to do so soon. My thinning was no longer just on the top of my head, it was spreading to the back as well. They also took pictures of my hair. The nurse was parting my hair down the middle for the pictures and she just stopped for a minute. “How old are you, hun?” she asked. “24,” I replied back. She just looked at me for a long time and said “I’m so sorry…”.

I left her office that day feeling hopeful and angry. Why had no one, in the 10 years that I had been going to dermatologists and specialists, told me about Spironolactone? Why did no one help me out before my hair because so thin that I’m almost on the verge of not having a hair transplant donor site? I was mad that I had this genetic, uncontrollable condition and any expense was going to be out of pocket. I was just angry, emotional, and hopeful all at the same time. I cried that whole day.

After a week I went about scheduling my hair transplant. I had made the decision that I would do it. First, I needed to find out how much it would cost me. After a little bit of back and forth the price was set at $6,500 – not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I then went to the bank and tried to secure a loan. I was denied. I have no credit to speak of and student loans (i’m still in school). I cried the whole way from the bank to my house, uncontrollably. I know my parents had offered to help me, but there was this part of me that didn’t want to rely on them for something that I want, and don’t need. I wanted to do it on my own. But, that didn’t happen. So, my parents helped me, and I’m making payments to them.

I had my hair transplant on November 26th, 2013, during Thanksgiving break. It was the only time during the semester that both of my classes were canceled because of the holiday. Not to mention, I had to have a weeks worth of recovery time. By doing it during the holiday, I only missed one day of work and no class.

Will continue in separate post

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Hair Loss: Early On

In my day to day life, I have told very few people about my hair transplant. I’m embarrassed that at 24 I had [wanted] to do this. Before the age of 12, I had long (very long), thick hair. I would tie it in a bun and it would be wet for almost two days.

Hair 2.5

I looked like a freakin’ Cocker Spaniel…

Around 12 years old I was losing family members left and right, I was gaining weight, and I got this really bad sunburn on my scalp while at the beach. After that, I started losing my hair. My mom took me to a few dermatologists, and no one could come up with a reason for me to lose my hair.

Hair 3.5

7th grade, April 2002

As I moved into high school, I cut my hair short and pretty much didn’t let it grow past my chin. Keeping it cut regularly made it look a little bit thicker and healthier. The longer my hair got, the more stringy it appeared, and the thinner it looked. I dyed my hair all sorts of colors: pink, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple – you know, typical teenager things. Darker colors always looked better, blonde tones made me look a little more bald. I have this uncle who insists that the reason my hair is thinning is because I’m fat and I ruined my hair. He likes to stand over me and say “hahaha, at 50 I have more hair than you…hahaha”….as if it’s funny.

Hair 5.5

Armagh, No. Ireland, July 2012

My hair loss progressed. I started losing a lot of hair on the top of my head, so I started parting it on the side. It looked a little better. But, as time went on the top of my head got worse. Most pictures that I take of myself are missing the top portion of my head. If I’m in group pictures I try to keep my head tilted up a little bit. I will be in a conversation with someone, and occasionally I can see them looking at my hairline….It’s really embarrassing. My hair loss makes me feel like less of a woman. I’m already short and fat, why do I also have to be losing my hair? I was never able to wear pretty up-do’s for prom. I won’t be able to wear my hair up at my own wedding (whenever that may be). My hair will be forever bobbed and short. I cry if someone doesn’t cut my hair the right way, because it makes me feel worse.

Me myself and I.5

Top of my head conveniently missing.

For the most part, I’ve made do with what I’ve been given. But, I did have my breaking point over the summer.

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New Beginnings

Well, here’s my millionth attempt at using a blog. In the past I have been inconsistent with posting on any blog I may have had, but maybe that will change. I have a lot to talk about these days….granted, I have a lot to talk about on a regular basis (boy can I talk a person’s ear off).

I mainly am starting this blog to talk about a few things that are common place (weight loss, motivation, school, life, etc), and a few that aren’t so common (i.e. female hair loss, alopecia…). Actually, alopecia is uncommon to the point that I literally had to add the word to my personal dictionary…

Let me start with a short intro: I’m a 24 year old, female graduate student. I work 2 part time jobs and go to school full time. I am below average in the height area, [way] above average in the weight area, and balding. Want to talk about some major blows to your self image? Any one of those three things would cause some stress….all three in combination? Yeesh. I started gaining weight excessively in middle school during a time when I lost about 7 family members to cancer. I also started losing my hair around the same time – and no, the two weren’t connected, even though we thought they were. It took 10 years for someone to finally tell me what was wrong. Androgenetic alopecia (once again, I just added another word to my dictionary) is the term. It’s basically like male pattern baldness, but in women. It’s “uncommon, and exceedingly unfortunate” (as my doctor said) to have that happen at 12, but it’s the luck of the genetic draw.

My luck is fantastic like that.

Well, anyway, this blog is my way to get everything out while going through my journey. At this point, I am 5 months out from Hair Restoration Surgery (Hair transplant) and 20 pounds down. I want to document my progress, and let a few people know that they’re not alone.

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