I love being in England. There are many reasons why, but on my last visit, I found out that one definite reason was because of the type of hair I have. I have thin hair. When I walk down a high street in England and spot a bald patch at the back of a woman’s head, I know I am with my people.
Fine, thin hair can be genetic or a result of extreme stress. I have suffered from both, but genetic is clearly my reason for thin hair. My grandmother had thin, very thin white hair, with clearly visible bald patches. My mother had thin blond hair, then white thin hair with bald patches. She would gently comb her hair over the bald patch. Now I wage the same battle.
My hair has always been thin and when I last lived in London, I made an appointment with a hair clinic on Harley Street. (a street in London where many private doctors have practices). The clinic promised a thick head of hair. That was more promising than the webpages about women and hair on the health sites I read. One page included the following tip: ‘It’s difficult but try to come to terms with thinning hair. One way to do this is to make a list of all your good qualities and focus your energy on celebrating these attributes.’
True. Be grateful for what you have. That is important. But when I’m in the bathroom looking in the mirrors, one in front of me, and one behind me trying to comb over the bald patches, it is hard to focus on my good attributes. It’s all about covering the patch.
I arrived at my appointment in a timely manner and pressed the bell for the clinic. A middle-aged woman opened the door. She wore a classic tweed suit with the skirt just below her knees. Her hair was tied back in a tight bun, the very quintessence of a matronly British lady. She greeted me with a brief nod of the head and a brief scan up and down. Rather hostile for a greeting, I thought; she definitely possessed that air of British snobbery. She then led me to the waiting room. The magazines on the coffee table indicated the type of clientele that frequented this doctor: luxury lifestyle magazines like The Lady, Town and Country, and Tatler to name but a few.
After a brief wait, she escorted me into the doctor’s office. A handsome, tanned man whose native tongue was not British greeted me. I explained how my hair, which had always been thin, was becoming thinner. I shared my genetic hair history. With a warm, empathetic energy he nodded and put his hand through his thick head of hair, like a television commercial about hair products. He then assured me he could help me and proceeded to explain what I later labeled the vampire treatment.
“Our treatment is known as PRP the Platelet-Rich Plasma injections.” I could feel my head getting light just at the word injection. I am one of those people who need to sit down and look the other way when I receive an injection. I have been known to faint. He proceeded,
“We draw 30-60 ml of blood from your arm. The blood is then placed in a centrifuge. The centrifuge separates the platelets from the rest of the blood. Then 3-6 ml platelet-rich plasma is extracted. That is the magic ingredient. The concentrated and platelets are then injected into the scalp. Growth will begin.”
You must be kidding, I groaned inwardly, injections into my scalp? I could just buy Vitamin B or Rogaine and keep my fingers crossed.
“Injected?” I mumbled. “Into my scalp? That sounds hideous.”
“We use micro injections. A little discomfort.” Micro or macro didn’t matter to me. It was the thought of injections into my head in exchange for more hair that sounded very disturbing.
“How many times?” I asked.
“Between 3 and 6 and then maintenance treatment in about six months.”
“Why? When the hair grows doesn’t it just stay on my head?” I realized that was a ridiculous question, knowing my body would continue to age.
“Very good question.” He comments and pats my hand again. How I detested his patronizing behavior, and it really was not a very good question.
“You have thinning hair and with time it will get thinner and new bald patches will appear. Maintenance treatment is required.”
It’s hard work maintaining the body and appearances after 60. It’s like having to service the car weekly instead of every six months. The doctor then stood up, smiled, and opened the door for me whilst commenting,
“My assistant will give you a package explaining costs and arrange appointments. I look forward to giving you hair.” I remained in my seat for a few seconds. Why would I let this stranger take my blood out and then inject it back into my head? He glanced at his watch, looked at me, smiled, nodded at the open door. Question time did not exist. I smiled back, gathered my coat and purse, and left the room. The assistant smiled and nodded at me. Nodding and smiling appeared to be part of their sales technique.
“Here is today’s bill. Please pay immediately. We take credit cards. And here is your package.”
I paused and opened the package. Today’s 15-minute visit cost 300 pounds sterling, around USD 375. The treatments cost 500 pounds sterling, around USD 625 and extra for the vitamin B injections, he hadn’t mentioned. I paid for the visit, took the package, and left. The assistant understood what my non-verbal departure meant. She pursed her lips tight, lifted her nose into the air and tilted her head slightly, clearly suggesting I had fallen below the type of client they were accustomed to. She walked me to the door, opened the door and said,
“Good day Ms. Morris.” I stepped outside and slowly ran my hand through the remaining thin hair I possessed. You have got to be kidding I thought. I could never expose myself to having my blood removed stirred about and injected into my head.
I met Peter at a coffee shop on Marylebone High Street. As we sipped our coffees, I noticed there was a hair salon across the street.
“I’m going to make an appointment. Color and styling will be my path forward and the hairdresser can focus on covering the bald patch.” I declared. We walked over to the salon together. We were greeted by an over enthusiastic young woman who happily made an appointment for me. As I turned to leave, I noticed that instead of magazines on the coffee table, there was a massive bowl of Quality Street chocolates.
“Peter. Quality Street.”
Quality Streets are a brand of British chocolates. Each one is individually covered with foil of different colors. Although Peter is German, he went to boarding school in England and spent many years of his adult life in England. Our British background is one of the factors that attracted us to each other. Smiles appeared on our faces as we examined the chocolates.
“Here’s a caramel. I like that one.”
I opened the golden wrapper and popped it into my mouth.
“Turkish delight. Is one of my favorites.”
Peter stated as he opened the purple wrapper and devoured the chocolate with a big smile on his face.
“Uck that was an orange flavor.” I yelped as I bit into another.
“This one is coconut; I don’t really like that.”
Peter commented as he ate his second. As we stood there and unwrapped our third chocolate, a voice came from the background.
“We will see you next week.”
We both turned. Looked at her. Turned back and each took a big handful of chocolates and walked out. On the doorstep of the hairdressers, we continued to discuss the different flavors.
I rather have the bonding moment over chocolates instead of injections into my scalp. I have thin hair. This is who I am, and this is who I will remain. Thin hair, disappearing eyebrows, skin loosening, wrinkles appearing and weighing an extra pound or two, because I love British chocolates.