Not Ready to do Normal

I’ve come to a difficult time in my life. I need to find a new hair stylist.

I liked the lady that used to cut my hair; she was pleasant, didn’t coat herself in perfume*, and most importantly, never pushed me to buy products. I liked that.

So all was going well in stylist-land. And then I had my transplant. While this latest kidney has nothing directly to do with losing the won’t-push-overpriced-products hair stylist, it did indirectly put me a quandary. You see, the last time I went to my stylist was the day I committed the (ironically) unspeakable: I did the overshare.

Let me explain: the incident occurred at the end of August, nearly seven weeks post-surgery. Other than multiple hospital visits, clinic dates and various blood work excursions, I had, up to that point, not ventured out of the house. At all.** And then, on one difficult day, on the brink of yet another stress-induced mental health implosion, I knew that I needed to do. I needed to participate in some “normal” activities again. It was time. One of the most ordinary human activities that I could conjure up? Getting a haircut. I needed a haircut.

I made the appointment. I changed my clothes.*** I brushed my teeth. I stumbled out the door.

I did well at first. I (think) I smiled at the appropriate times. I turned down the complimentary coffee or tea the receptionist offered (that’s what you’re supposed to do, right?). I followed my stylist to her chair. She put the black plastic cloak over me and velcroed it around my neck. And then.

And then she asked the usual hair-stylist question: so, how are things?

I don’t know why I chose that time to fall apart and blubber about having an arduous transplant. Most people better schooled in social interaction would’ve lied**** and responded to her inquiry by succinctly stating ‘fine, thank you and how are you’. But not me. Nooooo. I’m the one who had to blurt. I blurted, snorted and (nearly) sobbed about how difficult it had been since the surgery. About how disappointed I was. I told it all. The lady sitting in the chair next to mine kindly turned away, as if her body movement could provide some privacy back to me. I was a mess. This was not the normal I had hoped for when venturing out.

My stylist, however, was kind. She, once I had completed my emotional unveil and once the shock had left her face at my unexpected response to her question, calmly stated, “that sounds awful. I am so sorry you’ve had to go through that. Do you know that my uncle also had a kidney transplant?” It was an acknowledgement, a small token of absolution. It was as if she had offered me a (hair) wafer along with the assurance: your sins are forgiven. Go in peace.

We talked about her uncle for the remaining time that she fixed my hair. And then we were quiet. I didn’t know what else to say. I was suddenly very tired. She ended up charging me a third of the regular price, hugged me on the way out, and said, “take care”. It felt like she meant it.





*me + overly perfumed ladies and (usually teen-aged) gents = unhappy unhappy very very very unhappy (brain).

**that’s a bit of a lie. I did go out. Once. In early August, my parents drove out to visit. When they were here, we went to the Assiniboine park play area. The kiddo loved it. I remember being hot (it was, after all, August. And, due to sun sensitivity induced by the multiple and large dose immunosuppressants I was taking at the time, I recall wearing long sleeves, black leggings, covered footwear and a sun hat. I enjoyed myself but sat in the shade. I would have enjoyed myself more had it been winter)..

***a low frequency occurrence at the best of times, never mind when depressed as a wet sock on a cold day.

****lying: the strangely acceptable (if not expected) behaviour in certain social situations. I am baffled by this, but usually at least try to play along.