Wig shopping – Saturday 22nd October

Feeling a bit wobbly but there’s lots to do; not least I need to prepare for my imminent baldness.

So far all I have is the turban that my daughter has bought from ASOS which is very Joan Crawford. Beautiful though it is, I think such a sophisticated look needs a very sophisticated and beautiful face. Unfortunately I have neither, so it’s on with the search for a wig.

All I can manage for breakfast is some cereal rather than my usual hearty bowl of porridge and there’s a strange aftertaste to my early morning cuppa. Before I can get on with the day there’s a whole battery of anti-nausea drugs to take and my husband, quite expertly, gives me an injection to boost my white blood cells. I sense that he is enjoying this new experience. Maybe this appeals to the frustrated doctor in him or, more likely, he just loves jabbing me in the stomach with a sharp needle.

My daughter and I head off to a well-known department store in Oxford Street. I had phoned ahead and was told that they had a private room where chemo (which is the polite term for bald) patients can try on wigs.

When we get there we have trouble locating the wig department and eventually find it in the basement among the young and trendy fashion concessions. The lighting is dim and the music loud and there is a queue of people snaking around the counter. I sense that trying on wigs maybe a Saturday afternoon pastime for these young girls.

 Among the racks of hair extensions and glitzy accessories there are polystyrene heads sporting wigs that look like an exhibition of scalps. My daughter is taken with a long auburn coiffure and tells me this is my big chance to change my image.

Waiting patiently in line to try on some of the merchandise, a very camp young man invites me to try some revolutionary new hair straighteners that I am unlikely to need any time soon. When it’s eventually my turn, the evidently very bored and tired assistant tucks my hair into  something akin to a pop sock which gives me some idea of how I will look once the hair is gone. It’s a very scary moment but I try to stay upbeat.

Without a word, the robotic assistant pulls the auburn wig on my head. My daughter thinks it looks great and takes a picture for posterity. With the change of colour I look like my younger sister which is no bad thing and the assistant looks as if she wishes I would either buy the damn thing or go away. It seems she has nothing else to offer and isn’t even going to ask me why I want a wig. It’s hot and noisy and I am beginning to feel very tired and very old. Although it probably won’t be long before my hair starts to disappear, this doesn’t seem to be the time or place to find the solution.

 Although relieved to breathe in fresh (well as fresh as it gets in Oxford Street) air outside, I am not tempted by my daughter’s suggestion of going for a reviving latte and a pastry. Clearly the chemo is taking effect.

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