Being Transparent About Chronic Illness

I’m in need of a new hairstylist since we moved to the South and I went for a consultation with one today. I told her that one of my considerations is that I’m chronically ill. For me, the way that affects my choices about hairstyle are:

  1. I have limited energy and often do not style my hair.
  2.  I’m on a medication (prednisone) that has changed the shape of my face from oval with defined cheek bones to round and puffy. I’m self conscious about that and need a style to compliment my current face shape.
  3.  This medication (prednisone) causes me to have night sweats, so I wake up soaked with my hair matted to my head–one more reason not to bother styling it.
  4. I need to be able to wear my hair in a ponytail due to reasons 1 & 3. When I first got sick I had just had my hair cut and it was too short for a ponytail and it was a nightmare. So I want a cut that is stylish but it can’t be too short.

I had to take BG with me to the salon so the stylist knows I’m also a mom and I told her that I need something low maintinence because I don’t have the time or money for anything high maintinence, though I wish I did (I used to…). I asked if she can do evenings or weekends so that my husband is available to watch BG, as hair is expensive and a babysitter for several hours on top of it is more than I’m willing to spend on myself at this time (especially because of all my f*ing medical bills).

The stylist was awesome–so easy to talk to, knowledgeable, and passionate about her work. I loved her suggestions, but they are beyond my budget–I said $150-$175 is my comfort zone. I guess I am really out-of-touch with reality because stylist said most of her clients will spend about $250-$275 per visit (I assume this is before gratuity and not including purchasing the recommended hair products). Stylist said many of her clients don’t need to return to the salon for 6-9 months provided they use the right products to maintain their color, and with that in-mind I can see the rationale of spending $300 a pop–$600 per year–on services. Mr. MLACS probably spends close to $30 every month for a haircut + gratuity, so about $360 per year, and that’s for the most basic services. So is $600 per year on hair too much for me to spend on premium services? I know some women who color their own hair at home. I know others that spend $1200 every few months for extensions. So I’m not sure what the “average” woman invests in her hair. In any case, I felt sheepish about it but I asked Stylist to work within my budget, so maybe not her trademark balayage, but some blonde highlights that hide my gray hair and a cut that is stylish but functional. Stylist said she had better ideas and would give me $250 for $175 to get me “hooked” (ha ha) because she has a vision and it is ombré. I said I certainly don’t want to take advantage of her and please only do what she is comfortable with. But she waved me off. So I have an appointment scheduled. I hope she’s not just offering the extra services because I told her I’m sick–I never intend to play “the sick card” and would be mortified if that’s what happened here.

I also went to the dentist today. I have gingivitis that is aggravated by my autoimmune digestive issues and the medications I take that dry out my mouth. I was also having constant mouth ulcers that were deep and incredibly painful. My previous dentist just kept telling me to floss, and since my gums were perpetually sore and inflamed and bled easily, and my mouth always full of ulcers, it wasn’t something I wanted to do.

I established care with new dentist in November and his treatment plan has changed my life! He gave me an iodine mouthwash that really helped clear up the mouth ulcers. Then he told me to start rinsing my mouth with hydrogen peroxide every day. His dental assistant went one step further and suggested I use half water + half peroxide in my water flosser. The dentist also told me to floss with dental floss, uhg. I followed directions except that I used my water flosser 2x per day and still didn’t use dental floss. After a month I was amazed when I looked and saw all my gum inflammation was gone! I wasn’t bleeding anymore when I brushed! I hadn’t had a mouth ulcer since starting the treatment!

Then I got sick. I actually had to cancel a cleaning scheduled for February and straight-up told them I was very ill and would call to reschedule when I was well enough *to drive* myself to the appointment. They were like “Uh, sorry you’re sick…call us whenev”. It was awkward but I really couldn’t be bothered to come up with a chipper lie on that day.

But no matter how sh*tty I have felt, I have kept up with my dental treatment plan. And today I got to experience the fruits of my labor–a pain-free teeth cleaning with ZERO bleeding! Omg! I cannot even explain how proud and happy I am. And grateful to this dentist. At my first visit I had asked him about doing clear correct braces (cheaper version of invisalign) and he said I couldn’t even consider it until my gums were healed. And I asked him in all seriousness if he thought that was even possible, since they had been in bad shape for years. He said yes of course if I followed the treatment plan. So I asked today if I am a candidate for braces and he said yes! But then my bubble was burst when I was told it would cost $6500 up-front. I also asked about porcelain veneers but when the dentist said $17,000-18,000 with plans to replace them every 20 years, I nearly choked. Sheesh. I remember my Mom making payments to my orthodontist, but nowadays dentists/orthodontists exclusively accept cash or credit up front. And they encourage you to apply for “care credit” but let me just be honest and say that my credit score is sh*t and I’ve been previously denied, so I didn’t bother applying today. FYI, I am working on my credit but it’s a slow process because *defaulted student loans*. I’m embarrassed about that but lots of people in my generation got f*cked by taking out too many student loans. And of course I have a few old medical bills in collections because *chronic illness*. So I will not be getting clear correct braces anytime soon, and that bums me out. I guess if it was that important to me then I would find a way to earn the $6500. But I have no ideas how to do that as a SAHM because I refuse to do any P2P marketing (no plexus/rodan + fields/lularoe/lipsense/etc.) and I don’t know what I could make to sell on etsy and those “work from home” things are all scams and clearly I am not in a position to go to work (at least not for “fun money” but if my family needed me to I would).

I know it’s ironic that I’m sitting here worrying about my appearance when I have a rotting colon. I definitely struggle to feel like I’ve “earned” the right to spend money on myself and my appearance when I’ve been laying on the couch and usurping my family’s time and money with my medical appointments and bills. I’m just trying to feel like my old self–trying to feel “normal”, look “normal”, act “normal”. But also coming to terms with the fact that chronic illness is part of who I am now, and I’m tired of glossing over it. There has to be a balance, right?



18 thoughts on “Being Transparent About Chronic Illness

  1. I think making yourself feel great is important at the best of times, so making yourself feel great when your chronically ill would be worth every single penny!! I hope you love the new hairstyle! ❤

  2. Re the hair, I have no idea what a normal yearly hair bill would be. BUT, I think that whatever you need to do to help yourself feel better about your appearance, DO IT! Because feeling better on the outside often makes us feel better on the inside too. 🙂

    As far as the braces, I need them. Badly. I’m not at a point right now where we can afford them either but maybe someday…..

    Very interested to hear about the treatment plan that helped your mouth ulcers. I’ve had them for years, often 2-3 at a time. Sometimes they are so bad, I struggle to eat. To think I could possibly cure them with a simple peroxide mouth rinse… 🙂

    I don’t think you should feel one bit bad about spending some money on yourself. It will actually probably benefit Mr. and BG too because they will see you feeling good about yourself and that kind of feeling is contagious. 🙂 ❤

  3. Yes! Previously I have used steroid mouthwash for the mouth ulcers and it does help to heal them quicker and lessen the pain/inflammation, but does nothing to prevent them. You can ask your dentist about the mouthwash because it requires a prescription. New dentist gave me an iodine mouthwash that was also helpful in clearing up ulcers/inflammation (also requires a prescription). But what has really healed my gums is the faithful use of hydrogen peroxide. You can dilute it with water or swish it by its self. I put it in my water flosser and that makes sure it gets between my teeth. It helps kill bacteria and bacteria cause the ulcers (so says new dentist). Try it! XOXO

  4. Congratulations on getting your mouth sorted out. I’ve also been struggling with receding gums. That cost… $20,000?!

    I never pay more than $40 for a mouth cleaning and to take a cavity out in Japan. Yikes.

    I hope you’re hair looks lovely!

  5. I hope your dentist has you on a treatment plan that is working for you, but if you are having problems I highly recommend using peroxide/water as a rinse or in a water flosser at night before bed. I have grand delusions of all the cosmetic procedures I’d like to have done but every little thing is so expensive $$$ from botox to laser treatments (I’ve had both) to teeth to boobs and so on. Here’s some irony–I thought nothing of going under the knife for a boob job and tummy tuck but am terrified every time I think about surgery to remove my colon. Such nonsense. XOXO

  6. I am so glad to see such support for you dedicating valuable resources (space, energy, money, etc) to your appearance, self worth and esteem. Lady you deserve to feel good about how you look and feel in your skin. Period. That water flosser thing sounds like the bomb – thanks for sharing!

  7. It is apparent to me now that I am very low maintenance when it comes to hair. (Though I’m not sure my husband would say I’m low maintenance about anything, haha.) I cut it once or twice a year (I wear it long) and it costs me about $55 with a tip. But I know there will be a day when I will have to start coloring it, which is a much bigger commitment — and why I’m holding off as long as I can.

    And as for worrying about your appearance…girl, you deserve to feel good about yourself! Do it, and don’t think twice. xo

    • See–$55 per year is probably what I spend on hair products! I have some cray hair though and it must be tamed. You are a smart cookie and mad respect that you have the lady-balls to cut your own hair! XOXO

  8. yikes that does sound expensive. You should treat yourself and get the new hair cut/colour though. I think it’s important to do something to help you feel good about yourself. I spend about 50-80€ every six weeks here when I get my roots done plus blow dry/cut. Occasionally I colour my hair at home to save money which works fairly well though I end up missing some grey hairs if I do it myself so sometimes get hubby to help. x

  9. I for one believe you deserve to feel and look good about yourself. If having nice hair is what it takes to give you a boost on a bad day, then go for it! I remember during the early weeks of my maternity leave, when I was getting not very much sleep, felt like I had bodily fluids (breastmilk) everywhere, was fatigued and was hardly getting out during the day – all I wanted was to get a manicure. It made me feel so much better and more “normal” just to have my nails sculpted and cuticles taken care of and nails painted. It was a small thing but made all the difference to me, so I totally understand it. You do you. I would never think you didn’t deserve it. xxx.

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