My Story by Karen Green

Post by Karen

I was 52 when my hair started falling out. At first, I thought I was imagining the extra hair coming out in the shower, but then I noticed that I was having to clean my hairbrush daily. I started to collect the hair that was falling out, and made an appointment with my GP.

I woke up each morning with hair in my eyes and mouth

My doctor suggested that it could be linked to stress, but that didn’t seem right – I loved my job in a local school, enjoyed weekends with my gorgeous family, and didn’t feel stressed at all! After a little while, I decided to visit a private GP and was instantly diagnosed with Alopecia.

I was sent to a specialist in London, and endured blood tests (all of which came back as “normal”), massive doses of steroids and anti-rejection drugs, and a sticky lotion which I was instructed to rub into my thinning hair.

My hair continued to fall out, and I woke up each morning with hair in my eyes and mouth. My confidence dropped lower and lower, and I didn’t want people to know what I was going through so became isolated and reclusive. I took a break from my career, and struggled to enjoy any of my old hobbies.

I stopped washing my hair as it was so distressing to see the hair come out in my hands. Because I had such little hair left, a wonderful friend agreed to come shopping with me for a wig – it was a humiliating experience that I’ll never forget. The first shop we went into used cling film and tape to make a mould of my head, and I was forced to watch as what remained of my hair fell to the floor around me. I didn’t recognise the person in the mirror, and a huge tear fell down my face as my friend turned to hide her own emotions.

Alopecia isn’t life-threatening, but emotionally it can destroy your life

The second wig shop was much better, and the man working there was incredibly caring and considerate; spending hours with me to make sure I found a wig I was happy with. Unfortunately the wig was itchy and I developed sores on my head, it also wasn’t particularly secure and I was in constant fear of it being blown off by high winds or pulled off by my grandchildren.

By the end of the year I had lost all of my head hair, eyelashes, eyebrows, arm and leg hair, and even my nasal hair. My fingernails had become brittle and flaky, and my skin was covered in itchy sores. My immune system was very weak due to the medication I was on, meaning I was constantly getting sick and taking a long time to recover.

In my desperation I tried a range of alternative treatments including having acupuncture needles stuck into my head, using an expensive laser comb, and trying bizarre diets, but nothing worked. I felt as though life as I knew it was over. It was the lowest point in my life and I slipped into depression. Alopecia isn’t life-threatening, but emotionally it can destroy your life.

I went back to see my doctor in a terrible state and was put on a huge dose of antidepressants. For 3 days I felt like I was living in an emotional haze and was completely detached from everything and everyone. I spent my days researching Alopecia and discovered that not only is there no definitive answer as to why it happens, but there’s also no known cure for Alopecia. I decided that I wasn’t going to let this condition control my life and started to rebuild myself – starting with having my eyebrows and eyeliner tattooed on.

Alopecia has changed my life completely, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to help others

I was incredibly grateful when I discovered Freedom Wigs – the confidence I felt when my first wig arrived was incredible. I decided to do everything I could to help other people who are affected by Alopecia.

I became a trustee for an Alopecia research charity, and was proud when we later merged with Alopecia UK. Being a part of these charities has been incredibly rewarding, and I thoroughly enjoy working with them to try and find a cure for Alopecia.

When the opportunity came to be an Independent Agent for Freedom Wigs I was delighted to accept it and so started Fantastic Hair.

Alopecia has changed my life completely, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to help others and try to give them an easier transition into life with Alopecia – although I’m hopeful that we find a cure so I can go out of business!