My Daughter Turned Me into a Stranger in 40 Seconds

I'm sure the pay is good, but still... (Also, life is short and fragile. Please do work you love.)

I'm sure the pay is good, but still... (Also, life is short and fragile. Please do work you love.)

Last week, my hair went kamikaze on me. If I touched my face, part of my beard would fall off. If I ran my hand through my hair (which I do a lot, it turns out) I'd end up dislodging enough hair to make a body wig for a small dog.

So my daughter shaved it all off. Now I don't know who I am.

A stranger looks back at me from the mirror. He has a weak chin. If I were him, I'd grow a beard to hide it.

I have to admit that vanity and insecurity have made losing my hair harder than it needs to be. Hairy me simply looks better in my eyes. It has taken me a long time to accept hairless me. I'm just about there now. Almost. Not quite. Actually not at all.

Believe me, I know how fortunate I am. Permanent hair loss has been hard on many of my friends. Mine will have grown back by spring. So please tell me to shut up.

Meanwhile, watch me completely lose it:


You Can't Best Your Elders

A 77-year-old man came on to the ward. He had never spent a night in hospital in his life. He was uncertain and looked frail in this alien environment. Completely lost.

That was me a month ago. Frightened and timid.

I'm hospital hardened now. I know the drill. I'm one with the rhythm of the ward.

The best thing I did was get the protection of a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. Hospitals are relentlessly noisy places. The headphones let me live in my own world. They are my shield.

I looked at the miserable man in the bed opposite mine. I explained what the headphones could do. Kept it simple. You know, old people and technology, it's like describing magic. Got to keep it simple. Told him if he needed some peace and quiet, he was welcome to my enchanted earmuffs.

He looked at me, smiled like a little devil and took out his hearing aids. They were the tiniest, most advanced I had ever seen. Like tiny beans of magic.

"Can't hear a thing without them," he said.

I laughed so hard, I almost popped out my port.

Laughter has great healing powers. Despite his vulnerability and worries, he had given me a powerful gift, not vice versa.

Losing Things: Fear 

I cried a lot in the days immediately following the initial news of my illness. Cancer carried away my sister. I was terrified of a similar outcome.

At one point, I convinced myself I wouldn't see the World Cup final on 15th July. I was dubious of even seeing England get all the way through their week at the tournament.

The fear is subsiding. Death is still an outcome for me. Let's not pretend it isn't. But let's also acknowledge that I'm not the underdog in this fight. Hope is powerful ally. It disables fear. I'm punching back as hard as Hercule is punching me.

In mathematics and grammar two negatives can make a positive. Here is another instance:

Lumbar puncture fluid analysis: negative on all counts

Bone marrow biopsy analysis: negative on all counts

That kind of positive news also makes me cry. And with the tears of relief, the fear washes away a little more.

If you'd like to receive a more detailed account of my tussle with Hercule, maybe you'd like to sign up for the Roger v Hercule newsletter here: Roger v Hercule.

Roger Overall