Last week I talked about nicknames on my Wednesday Hodge Podge post. I did this because for sometime I have been thinking about coming out of the closet. My brother died when I was almost 9 and by the time I was 12 I began noticing that something was not quite right in my world. At the time my medical condition was attributed to some medications I was taking. I had been diagnosed with almost non-existant Vitamin A, D, C, and Iron. So the doctors gave me mega doses of these vitamins and iron because my skin was ashy, my nails brittle and ridged, and my hair had begun to come out in hanks. I could rake my fingers through my hair and have a handful of hair when I finished. Every morning I would wake up and there would be remnants of hair on my pillow. I have to say I was pretty lucky....this happened during the late 60's and early 70's and wigs and hair pieces (falls) were in style. I owned several of them because my Florida godmother worked at a beauty shop. I had long ones, curly ones, short ones....and no one ever knew what I hid under my hat of hair....until Phys Ed my 10th grade year. During P.E. we were doing gymnastics. We had to walk on a balanced beam, swing from rings, do the pummel horse....and do floor exercises....one of which was a forward roll. My wig was not secured well enough and after the second roll....I continued....the wig did not. I can actually laugh about it today....but that day....that day it was not funny. I was mortified. I was especially mortified when some of the cool kids called me "Onion Head." My parents took me to several specialists who tried all kinds of treatments....but to no avail....they even took me to a psychologist who told them I suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome because of my brother's death and could even be pulling my hair out...which made me a freak. Eventually I made them see I was not doing that....and I learned how to do a sweep over...and my natural part dropped lower and lower. Many nights I went to bed and cried myself to sleep because I felt like I was a freak. I did not share this deep dark secret with anyone. I am sure my closest friends were aware that I was different....but I never talked about it. My self esteem was shot. I knew that there would never be a special man for me....who would want me? I met my first husband....and after a few dates....decided I would just go ahead and lay it all out.....I knew he would run screaming into the night. I carefully took out the bobby pins that held the sweep over in place and showed him....my biggest nightmare. He actually cried for me. When Frank and I had been dating a while I knew I would have to share this with him.....and I was terrified. It is my biggest fear in life.....sharing the secret....Frank held me tightly....and told me it did not matter....and I knew it didn't. My name is Karen and I suffer from a condition called alopecia areata. "Alopecia is the medical term for baldness; there are various types of alopecia, including alopecia areata. Alopecia areata is a condition that causes a person's hair to fall out. It is an autoimmune disease; that is, the person's immune system attacks their body, in this case, their hair follicles. When this happens, the person's hair begins to fall out, often in clumps the size and shape of a quarter. The extent of the hair loss varies; in some cases, it is only in a few spots. In others, the hair loss can be greater. On rare occasions, the person loses all of the hair on his or her head (alopecia areata totalis) or entire body (alopecia areata universalis)." I am fortunate that this is not me. Mine is confined to the top of my head only. "It is believed that the person's genetic makeup may trigger the autoimmune reaction of alopecia areata, along with other unknown triggers. Alopecia areata is an unpredictable disease. In some people, hair grows back but falls out again later. In others, hair grows back and remains. Each case is unique. Even if someone loses all of his or her hair, there is a chance that it will grow back." I have suffered with this for over 40 years and don't think it is going to grow back if it hasn't by now. So I found myself wondering....why me? Who gets this disease? I did a lot of research and have seen a lot of doctors over the years and I now know that "anyone can develop alopecia areata; however, your chances of having alopecia areata are slightly greater if you have a relative with the disease. In addition, alopecia areata occurs more often among people who have family members with autoimmune disorders such as diabetes, lupus, or thyroid disease." The last two were the kickers. I have had a couple of family members with lupus and every female on my dad's side of the family.....and my own mother have had thyroid disease....except me. I have all the symptoms of thyroid disease....but test negative every time. So...at 57 years of age....here I sit....battle scarred from all the years of name calling....sufferer of alopecia. But you know...I have learned it is alright. One day in church the preacher talked about hair and I sat up and listened carefully as he read from Luke 12:7: "But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows." Thank you God for giving me this verse. I will carry it with me daily. I have come to believe that my flaw....leads to my ministry. I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination....in the world's eyes....but in God's eyes....I was made in His imagine and that speaks volumes.
I am a woman who wears many hats and loves them all. I am a singer - I sing with the group Still Magnolias. I was part of the original First United Methodist Church Arbor Praise Team until we moved. After 24+ years of teaching English 11 and Spanish I - II at Benjamin Russell High School I decided to take a job closer to home. I now teach Spanish I & 2 at Randolph Co. High School and Wadley. I thought I was getting close to retirement and looking forward to it, but decided to move my cheese and try something different. I am a preacher's wife and a preacher myself. My husband Frank is the pastor at Rock Mills United Methodist Church and I am the pastor at Midway (Wedowee). It has made our conversations interesting, to say the least.