Felicia. Zelda. Defiance. Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman. Warrior. An laoch is treise. (Translation: “The mightiest warrior” in Irish.)
I needed all of them as I made the long walk from my car in the parking lot, through the side door, down the endlessly long hallway, and past the busy café, where residents at the retirement community in which I work sat eating their breakfast and leisurely chatting over their morning coffee. I waved my usual good morning greeting as I walked by. Were they looking back at me normally or staring?
I made a beeline to my coworkers office. “You’re my spotter,” I said to Torrie, my coworker of eleven years, as I entered her office and shut the door. “If my wig is crooked or slipping down the back of my head, it’s your job to give me a heads up.”
She smiled. “It looks good Linda, but it is different,” she said. “People are gonna ask you about it.”
Not exactly what I needed to hear.
I took a deep breath as I left Torrie’s office and walked across the busy lobby, past the front desk, to the back office of the concierge area to get my mail. Two of my coworkers were sitting at the desk. “Good morning Linda,” they both said smiling. I repeated my spotter request. They laughed and told me it looked great.
My wig does looks great. Better than my own hair. That’s the problem. I’m used to my face. My look. Those who know me are used to me, not the snazzy Betty Bouffant perfectly coiffed hairdo I walked into work wearing on January 28th.
It has taken a while to post about day one with the wig.
I’ve had the benefit of having a few people in my life who have faced challenges with grace and humility. I hoped if I ever had to overcome challenges, I would meet them with equal strength. So far, I’m proud of the me who is dealing with Hodgkin’s. But day one with my wig was difficult and tested every ounce of who I hope I am.
I texted one of my running buddies as I sat down at my desk that morning. “Competing in our next triathon will be nothing compared to the challenge of walking into work the first day with my new wig.”
I remember what I felt sitting at my desk looking into the pocket mirror that morning with the door closed to my office. Everything after this is cake.
Tears sprung. God, this helmet of poufiness is not mine. Help me get through this day.
Turns out there were a couple of issues, easily corrected, but I didn’t know that at the time. One was the part. It was in the wrong place. It was a little too far to the side. The whole wig was also sitting a little too far down on my forehead. Those two things created a swooping bang that I had to keep pushing out of my face. I’m also used to tucking my hair behind my ears, which wasn’t possible due to the helmet like half moon sections of the wig that sit below my ears and are hidden by hair. Hair that can’t easily be tucked without exposing the wig’s rounded edges. Ughh!
After playing with it most of the morning I texted my hairdresser. Monday was her day off. “Ruth, it’s Linda. I’m having a wig emergency. Do you mind if I meet you at your house for a quick consult?” I was relieved to hear a quick ping back. “Of course, come on over.” Ruth quickly identified the issues with the part, adjusted its overall placement, and filled me with confidence.
Some of the challenges with having cancer have nothing to do with the physical effects of the chemotherapy. The challenges to my self esteem have been real and a little surprising. Why do I care so much? Appearance is enormously important in the culture in which we live. We’re all human. We subconsciously react to the people around us. Study after study confirms that attractive people create better first impressions, are treated better, and get better jobs. It’s a given.
But with 56 years on the planet, I’ve gained some wisdom. Physical appearance is not the only factor in determining a successful life. I’m comfortable with myself, and that includes my appearance. Would I like a less ruddy complexion, eyes that aren’t so close together, and a jaw that’s a little softer? Yes, yes, and yes. But I’m not consumed by these things, so why am I so consumed by what I look like wearing a wig?
After all, not having hair has had some positives. My morning routine is shorter. My hair drying time involves rubbing my head with the towel as I dry off after my shower. That’s it. Done. My 45-minute routine used to include towel wrapping, detangling, air drying, blow drying, and straightening. I’m actually a little off kilter with all the extra time in the morning. It has me wondering why anyone would spend so much time on their hair. I’ve always wanted a super short hair style, but never wanted to cut it too short. What if I didn’t like it? Now, I’ll get to find out!
I’m trying to stay positive. I’m finding it’s been enormously satisfying to overcome each challenge. The wig challenge was a big one. I survived it!
And I also discovered, no name is necessary. Linda Ann Lodigiani Edwards is good enough. I don’t need my wig to have an alter ego with a catchy name. So we can all call it whatever we want. I’ll probably stick with “my wig” most of the time, but let’s all feel free to refer to it by any of the other fabulous suggestions you all came up with. They were thoughtful and creative and filled with love. All good!