Don’t worry! Troi’s still got some hair left!
I find that hair is nice, and having it is even nicer. I am, in fact, a big fan of hair. So when I began losing my hair at an accelerated rate over the summer, I immediately took notice and found it mildly disturbing.
Four months later its unparalleled loss had not been ameliorated. As a cool and collected person known for my calm and rational reactions to daily life events, I was not particularly concerned by the slightly troublesome state of my once plentiful hair and saw no need to go to the doctor.*
*I was totally freaked out by my impending baldness and made a hysterical phone call to my doctor begging him to identify its cause and fix me immediately.
Several days after my doctor’s appointment, I was called in for a follow-up appointment, during which time I was informed that I am severely anemic, which if left untreated leads to rapid hair loss. The typical level of ferritin in a person’s blood (ferritin is a protein in your blood that binds to iron; its level is equal to that of the iron in your blood) should range from 18 ng/mL at the lowest end to 160 ng/mL at the high end. My ferritin level was, literally, off the charts at 10 ng/mL. I’ve never had a low score before (I was valedictorian in high school, graduated from college with a 3.92, and I still claim that my single A- in graduate school was wrongful assignation of an academic letter grade, although the court threw out my case and ignores my endless appeals), so I was distressed by my first failing score. And, not to sound overly concerned with aesthetic beauty as it is a person’s inner beauty that counts the most and blah blah blah whatever, but I was also concerned with fixing this anemia before the remainder of my hair decided to depart and join its fellow strands who have taken leave of my head.
My doctor was less preoccupied by my hair loss and more fascinated by my delay in actually investigating the etiology of my problem. “So you’ve been having this problem for four months? And you just now came to the clinic?”
“I’m a very busy and important person,” I explained to him, since I like to think that I am.
“Have you been tired lately?”
“Well yes, but that’s because I’m so busy and important.”
“Have you been dizzy? Fainting?”
“No. Yes. Just that one time. Oh and that one other time.”
And by this point in the conversation I’m feeling like a complete idiot. Primarily for being so vain that I considered fainting an insignificant detail whereas I perceived hair loss to be a highly traumatic and doctor-worthy event. But also for waiting so long to pursue the etiology of the problem. I suspect that my hesitation was due in part to mild embarrassment related to the nature of the problem. What healthy, active (active in that I run to my freezer to get ice cream, and run to the store to get more when it’s gone) 30-year old female experiences hair loss? I think I was sort of hoping it would magically regrow if I pretended it wasn’t a problem.
But since today’s appointment, I’ve done my web-based research, and it turns out that anemia is one of the most common causes of female hair loss, followed closely by thyroid disease, endocrine problems, connective tissue disease such as Lupus, and gynecological conditions such as ovarian tumors. My anemia, and many of these other conditions, are highly treatable. But, it turns out, you have to actually go to the doctor to treat them. So, Readers, learn from my impressive ignorance, and if you notice your hairs are beginning to stray, don’t wait four months to investigate. Or you’ll end up looking like me. 🙂