By Rhonda Eason
Transitioning to all natural just wasn’t working for me. I got sick of going to my office with hairstyles that I used to wear in the third grade. I obsessed over women on YouTube who demonstrated how to style transitioning hair into twists. I tried it. Major fail. In my frustration, I woke up one Saturday morning and decided no more! I was getting my relaxer back.
I got the relaxer. And that’s when I saw it. I was standing in the bathroom with a hand mirror, admiring every strand of my silky smooth hairstyle. To my horror was a quarter-sized bald spot at the top of my head. It was not just a clearly defined part because of my now super-straight hair. It was a spot, and it was bald.
I knew what to do. My sister began to lose her hair ten years ago for different reasons than my own and I recalled that she underwent a series of cortisone injections in her scalp. Now it was my turn. I didn’t waste a minute wondering how this could happen. I knew how it happened. I wore fantastically fun crochet braids the past nine months of my all-natural journey. It was a simple and cute style that I could achieve all on my own. Prior to that, my stylist installed weaves galore. When I wasn’t wearing weaves, I’d get my hair relaxed. Once a year, I’d rock my beloved kinky twists. Oh, I knew how it happened. So without hesitation, I hopped on my ZocDoc and made an appointment with a dermatologist for Monday morning.
Over the next few weeks, here’s what I endured:
1. Lab Tests – I had to go to the lab for blood to be drawn for at least twelve different tests to rule out any medical issues other than alopecia. I am not a fan of having blood drawn but I was anxious to rule out medical issues.
2. More Lab Tests – Surprise! The lab didn’t draw enough blood the first time around so they called me to say “Come on back!” Inconvenient for sure, but I was a ground troop moving in to wage war against my bald spot. I brushed aside my irritation and went back to the lab.
3. Vitamins – While I waited for lab appointments and test results, my dermatologist recommended Vitamin D and 5,000 mcg Biotin. I already take a multi and MSM, so what’s a couple more horse pills to the routine?
4. Qilib – Okay, here’s where things begin to break down for me. I have to use Men’s formula Qilib once a day. It’s a topical treatment similar to Rogaine. There are two different products that they offer – Regrowth and Revitalization. I use both, along with their Biotin vitamin. I’m not great at adding new things into my daily routine and this is one more thing I have to do. But, hey, it’s worth it… right?
5. Injections – After medical issues had been ruled out, my doctor informed me I have the type of alopecia that is permanent. However, we can give the injections a try if I want. I want! I begin my series of Kenalog injections. (If you think it’s distressing to have a needle slide into your fleshy arm, imagine what it’s like going into your scalp.) My doctor warned me, “I’m going to be your new best friend.” Once a month, every month until I’m satisfied with the hair regrowth I would have to see him for a shot.
6. Prescription shampoo – Ketoconazloe 2% shampoo to be used three times per week. Wait, what? She knows I’m black, right?
7. Prescription pills – My doctor recommends a prescription pill that can help with alopecia as well as my occasional acne.
“It’s high in potassium so no bananas…”
I ate a banana for breakfast that morning.
Seriously? I was having kale for lunch.
“…no sweet potatoes…”
“You can stop,” I said. “That pill won’t be for me. You got anything else?”
Why yes. Yes she did …
So here’s my day:
Morning – Think about hair. Take vitamins, apply Qilib Regrowth.
Lunch – Think about hair. Take prescription pill.
Night – Think about hair. Apply Qilib Revitalization.
Every other morning – Think about hair. Wash with prescription shampoo.
Every month – Think about hair. Make appointment for cortisone injections.
I’ve only been at this for a month and I am seeing signs of regrowth. But honestly, I’m starting not to care so much. I don’t want to think about my hair all day every day. I said that to my doctor the day I received my first series of injections. She smiled (almost as if she’d heard that before) and said that was a good thing. If I’m not stressed about my hair then we don’t have to worry about that hindering progress.
The hardest part in this scenario is spraying the Qilib on my scalp every day, twice per day. However, that might be a good thing. It’s been eight weeks since my last relaxer and my hair is thickening. It’s becoming increasingly difficult even finding the bald spot. Which means I probably will not stick with the Qilib and I’m definitely not sticking with using the prescription shampoo three times per week.
The solution for me seems fairly simple. Relaxers (which we know isn’t good for the hair) make the bald spot obvious. So I’m ditching relaxers for good. However, I won’t transition either. Once I get enough new growth, it’s big chop time for me!
There. Problem solved.
Rhonda Eason is the published author of the novels Jaded, Sweet Secrets, and the novella, Man for Hire. Her upcoming memoir, To Hair and Back, My Journey Toward Self-Love One Strand at a Time is represented by Jane Dystel at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.