If you’ve seen me on TV in the past year or so you’ve probably noticed something a little strange: A bald spot in the bottom left corner of my head.
OK, I know no one has been paying that much close attention to me. And rightly so.
But that doesn’t change the fact that I was struck with a sudden bald spot on the back of my head back in February of 2016. Now, it’s not a normal bald spot, it isn’t due to male pattern baldness – or at least I hoped it wasn’t – it was about the size of a coin and it was just above where my hairline started on the back of my neck.
It was first noticed by my ever helpful hair stylist who, upon shaving my head, said with complete nonchalance, “Dude, you know you’re going bald back here?”
To which I responded with dignity and grace by shrieking.
After I studied the bald spot for several minutes, forcing her to hold the mirror up so I could see it, I realised she hadn’t simply shaved a spot in my head just for fun – as my hair stylist is apt to do. So I immediately went on the Internet to look up what could be causing my ailment.
If you’ve never looked up an ailment on the Internet, let me be the first to advise you to never to do that. The Internet will give you every horrible reason you may be experiencing any symptom, and what the Internet taught me is that any symptom could be caused by everything from a common cold to some horrible uber rare virus.
So when I looked up what could cause a bald spot the size of a coin on my head, I was surprised, and relieved, to find no other causes for it other than something called alopecia areata. This condition is marked by clumps of hair that fall out leaving a smooth bald patch about the size of a coin. It’s an autoimmune disorder where the subject’s immune system for some reason targets hair follicles as intruders and kills them.
My body was killing my hair. Or at least a very small portion of it on the back of my head.
I went on to learn that alopecia is usually genetic and is sometimes triggered or worsened by stress; also, that in 10% of the cases, it can be permanent or lead to the alopecia spreading so that one has patchy bald spots all over one’s head, although usually the hair will grow back in a few months.
Stress was not a good idea so I decided not stress about it. Besides, it was on the back of my head. I never saw the bald spot anyway. It would grow back if I just forgot about it.
So I went to work. Which is usually about being filmed.
On some shoots, the camera guys would try to shoot me from angles that would not showcase my alopecia. In other shoots, the makeup artist would colour it in with a dark pencil, but at all times I never stressed.
Well, I didn’t stress until I had been walking around with a bald patch on my head for eight months. Whenever I got my haircut I’d ask my hairdresser for an update, and the reply was always, yep it’s still there like a hole in the back of your head.
It’d be gone soon, I said.
But it wasn’t.
Soon programmes I was in were airing on TV where there was no effort to hide my alopecia and I would see it glaring at me from back shots. In elevators with three mirrored sides, I would be shocked to see just how big the bald spot was. In short, I was starting to stress.
The doctor understood and prescribed steroid cream which I began rubbing into my baby-skin smooth bald patch at every opportunity. And the bald spot actually got bigger.
Part of my campaign to not stress over my bald patch hinged on people not bringing it up, either because they didn’t notice or they were being polite. But my new enlarged bald patch was all the rage. Producers I’d been working with for months were suddenly asking me what the thing on the back of my head was. People who had known of my plight with alopecia were looking alarmed as they told me it was getting bigger.
But all I could do was rub more steroid cream on it. Perhaps less vigorously.
And this month, my hair finally grew back. One year and half after first noticing it.
My alopecia is defeated.
Is there some lesson here? Was it my sheer willpower? Or my cool ability to stay calm? Or just my mental fortitude that helped me get through this ordeal?
No, it was the steroid cream. If it ever comes back, I won’t wait a year to use it.
Catch Jason Godfrey on Inspiring Homes on Life Inspired (Astro CH 728).