Edited to add: The thought here grew from a longer post call Thinking of Kendra and here include visual aids to expand upon the original thoughts...
Last week, I had just about convinced myself it was time to cut my hair again. For almost two weeks now I have been unable to brush it out myself, due to length. As it was growing out (just a little past my shoulders now), it was a "good problem" over these past couple of months. The struggle reminded me that it was actually growing. But once it got to the point I couldn't do it myself at all, it became overwhelming. While my heart in no way wanted to cut it, my quest for independence left me little choice.
|Taken several months, probably close to a year, before my strokes.|
|December, maybe 5 weeks after initial cut.|
|Long hair, wadded up under my head, in the hospital bed. So uncomfortable!|
In December, after over a month of dealing with the first cut, it was driving me so crazy that I begged for an even shorter cut.
I kept that short pixie maintained for the next several months:
|Hospital homecoming day, December, 2011.|
|End of school year, 2012.|
|Late July, 2012.|
It is getting there (though I can no longer achieve this pulled back style on my own). But last week, despite the emotional turmoil, I asked my husband to start pointing out shorter styles he might find attractive.
|Two months ago, Feb., 2013.|
I know most won't understand or be able to relate, and I am, in no way, judging anyone who has made different choices. Part of me tells myself this is a sign of emotional weakness that it matters so much to me. After all, it is only hair! It would be so much easier, so much more practical, to cut it. Kendra did and I rather envy her cute, one-handed-care cut. For me, the continued growth of my hair is somehow a marker of progress and recovery. To cut it again would be some sort of admission of "defeat." I just can't go there yet.
Here's what I wrote about hair last May (at not quite 7 months after the first strokes, many other long theological thoughts at that post as well). Describing the recovery journey: It is like waiting for my hair to grow - it obviously is longer than it was months ago, but it would still be described as "short." At what point does it become long again? Who defines that? Am I looking for Rapunzel length or just past my shoulders? For me, pre-stroke, it was about to my waist but that will take years and years to achieve and will be considered "long" well before that. There are so many versions of "long," taking vastly different time frames to achieve. So is the quest for getting better, what one might call "better" can be measured by such different perspectives but it takes a long time either way! The journey seemed endless after just a few weeks, a few months, still.
Today I have managed to get it almost all pulled back into a jaw clip sort of bun on my own. While I can't curl or do a "half up" style by myself, don't have the dexterity do do a ponytail, and find it much too painful for anyone to work the ponytail elastic for me, maybe this will be a doable summer option? (It waits to be seen it today's outcome will be replicable in the future,)
November, 2013 update: The jaw clip has not proven to be a replicable solution. I have learned to occasionally manage hot rollers in my hair though (putting them in almost exclusively with my right hand, but able to get my left arm up onto my head long enough to get clips in place!), and while I still can't manage any kind of "half up" style, I have found some gentle ribbon-like pony tail holders that don't hurt my head too much for me to wear if someone puts it in a whole ponytail for me! I sometimes manage to fairly comb out wet hair on my own after a shower now. Dry hair usually still requires someone else to brush for me. I recently posted some related thoughts on hair and head coverings if you are curious about my thoughts.
October 2016 update: I have long-since master the jaw clip and moved on to Flexi Clips. I can wash and comb/brush my own hair, wet or dry. Here are other five-year reflections and a current picture.