Sunday, August 23, 2009

Myeloma transplant - Hair loss

Hair loss during myeloma stem cell transplant is inevitable as it is a side effect of the conditioning therapy.
Anticipating this and to keep hygienic, the day before entering the BMTU I had my head hair trimmed back to a number 2 and gave my beard a close trim.
Hair loss became noticeable about day 10 especially after showering. Eventually I lost 90% of my hair with only some minor body hair remaining. Be prepared for loss of hair from head, facial, eyebrows, nasal hair and public areas.
What surprised me was the loss of anal hair. I did not realise its presence until I wiped my anus and felt a different sensation.
Another surprise was the amount of heat loss from a shaven or bald head. To overcome this I always wore a cap or beanie. At night when it was cold I kept my beanie on. Myra knitted me a beanie in my Waikato rugby team colours. She knits loose letting a bit more air in so I wore that one when it became too hot for the others.
Having no hair and dry skin I maintained my moisturising all over including the scalp.
After transplant I always covered up or used sun block when outside. I have a fair complexion and can sun burn easily.
Hair re growth was first noticed 7 weeks after transplant day 1. My head hair grew back soft, golden and wavy. Pre transplant it was straight and grey/blonde. My beard grew back patchy so I shaved. It took a further 6 weeks before it grew back with normal coverage.
I was reluctant to look at myself in the mirror with a bald head; it wasn’t the me I was used to.
Two of my female myeloma friends were blessed with a stunning “chemo perm” after their ASCT, tight and curly. Both said it was a darker colour.
One amusing thing happened. Myra was helping me shower in the BMTU; I was having a difficult day feeling fatigued.
She said, “Look down there.”
“Where?” I replied
She said “Down there, the family jewels.”
So I looked, not a pretty sight at the best of times. It was disgusting, Looked like a plucked chicken, size 1. I made a mental note not to look again for a very long time.
There was an interesting reaction from our 2 grand children aged 8 and 5 after returning home from my second transplant in 2008. I had my cap on and asked if they would like to see my bald head. They said “Yes”. After taking my cap off there was a gasp and a step backwards, they did not like to see Grandad with no hair so the cap went back on.

This is one of “part 2” a series of postings relating to my autologous stem cell transplant for myeloma. As they are complete the posting series can be found under labels/part 2 [Part 2 link]

ASCT: Autologous stem cell transplant.
BMTU: Bone marrow transplant unit.

1 comment:

souris said...

I think this is very different incident! Thank you very much for sharing a incident which is happened with you.