Tuesday, May 10, 2022

My Post-Illness Hair Loss Story

 I've always had a love/hate relationship with my hair. It's naturally curly and not really the nice curls, it's more the unruly, frizzy curls that nothing seems to tame. I also just don't think I have a face meant for curly hair. It's just never looked right to me. But right now, I'm just happy to have hair at all. 

As I had mentioned in a previous post, I had Covid the beginning of January. I didn't get too much into it in that post, but I had a horrible time with it and was very close to being admitted into the hospital. I had Covid Pneumonia and while my oxygen levels remained on the very border of normal to low normal, they dipped dangerously low when I slept. After doing some research, it looks as though I may have been having some kind of neuro response when I would try to sleep and it felt like my body simply would forget how to breathe. It didn't matter what position I slept in. The second I would start to fall asleep, I would feel as though I was holding my breath and would wake up gasping. Kind of like an apnea, but not really. Thankfully, this went away a couple weeks after my lungs finally started to feel better. I also wasn't really able to eat much at a certain point and my white blood cells got pretty low. My body was without normal levels of oxygen and nutrition for a few weeks. I also ended up with long haul as well. 

It did take me some time to get better even after the worst of it passed. I believe this was due to my past issues with Mold illness and chronic Epstein-Barr reactivations. I had lots of strange symptoms for a while, even after I started to feel better. There's even quite a few that currently linger to this day and it's been 5 months! But there was one symptom in particular that I was not prepared for at all, which was post-covid hair loss, also known as Telogen Effluvium post-covid. 

At the end of March I noticed quite a bit of hair starting to fall out in the shower when I was washing my hair. I've dealt with some shedding in the past with Epstein-Barr, but this was a lot more. By the end of that week I had handfuls coming out. I stopped washing my hair every day and coincidentally, I had a couple friends post about post-covid hair loss on Instagram. That's when I started researching and found out so many people are dealing with this! It's actually sad that this is a bit of an epidemic and no one seems to be talking about it. I'm in a Facebook group specifically for those dealing with this, and last I looked there were over 11,000 members! I'm sure it's more by now. 


So for the last few weeks I've been having literal handfuls of hair fall out with each wash. I documented with pictures, rather than keeping the hair like some Docs suggest to that I could compare the loss over time. This started the very end of March, but I started taking pics when it really started getting bad. As you can see, it's quite a lot! And all of these, with the exception of the one noted, were only when washed or rinsed. I tried to minimally style, but a lot more would fall out when I did so. Also, my vacuum is filled with hair =(  I will say, aside from being sick with Covid, this has been one of the most traumatic things I've dealt with concerning my health in some time. I know it's just hair, but as a woman it's so hard. There have been so many days that I've just cried and cried. My son is graduating High School mid-June and that's been a huge reason as to why I've been so upset. I have been so worried  I would need to wear a wig to the ceremony. But you will see from the pics closer to now that it's a bit less, and yesterday was a lot less even counting the hair loss from styling (I forgot to take a pic).

Luckily for me, I had quite a lot of hair. It's very thin now. I've lost at least half, possibly a little more. But I feel truly lucky as some women really lose so much more. Lately it seems to be slowing down (fingers crossed). I'm not sure if maybe this corresponds with the length of time that I was very sick. It seems that those that are admitted to the hospital or need to go on oxygen, suffer the extreme shedding for much longer. I have been doing some different things, so I'm not sure if they are actually helping or if it's just a coincidence that I started them right around the time that my shedding started to slow down. It really seemed to slow almost overnight after using a couple things, so I wanted to share what I've been doing/using in case it could possibly help someone else. 

One of the big things with hair is that if you are malnourished, deficient in certain vitamins, lacking proper nutrition from nutrient-dense foods, etc your hair will suffer. This was the first thing I began to work on - mainly in the form of supplements, as I already live a pretty healthy lifestyle. One thing I do need to mention is that Telogen Effluvium is caused by a trauma, whether that be an illness like Covid, an accident, a surgery, or an extreme stress in ones life. The hair basically gets shocked into the resting phase for a period of time and it will fall out. You will actually noticed with TE that all the hairs that shed will have white ends. This is due to the lack of pigment. In fact, a lot of my hairs that are already starting to grow back in are white or a lot lighter than my natural hair. I'm not complaining! I'm just grateful that the shedding is slowing and it's growing. What I'm getting at is that you may not be able to stop the shedding. What was shocked from trauma will fall out regardless. But if you have deficiencies or other things also effecting your TE, this can prevent new shedding or prolonged resting phase. 

So I started with really being gentle with my hair. When I wash it, I do so without running my fingers through it completely. I'm just as gentle as possible. I did try a shampoo and conditioner that I thought might strengthen my existing hair, but I ended up going back to my current haircare, as the new stuff was causing too many tangles. I use Briogeo. I think if you are struggling with TE, maybe focusing on what makes your hair feel healthy is a good thing. I would just suggest that you don't use anything loaded with chemicals. Briogeo isn't completely clean, but it's a better option that most and my picky hair doesn't like a lot of the squeaky clean brands out there. 

After washing I very carefully press my hair with a towel, spray on my tried and true Honest Detangling Spray that I've been using for years (love the new one!) and use a wide tooth comb. At first I was using a brush and this was just pulling way too much hair out. I wish I had thought to get the comb early on. Then I use a terry head wrap. This allows my hair to dry a little and soaks up some of the water without anything pulling on my hair. I've been trying to keep styling to a minimum, so most of the time I let it dry as long as I can and I just pull it up in a loose knot with a silk hair tie. 

Beyond that, here are the supplements I'm taking. Please note that because I'm not a Doctor, and health is not a "one size fits all", that I'm not recommending what you should take. This is merely what works for me. I strongly recommend speaking with your Primary Physician before starting any new supplements and possibly even getting some bloodwork. 

- I use a Multivitamin. I know there's some controversy about whether they are good or not, as you can end up with too much of some things and not enough of other things. However, I notice a different when I don't take them, and I don't take full servings of other supplements, so this works for me. I like the Smartypants Women's Gummies. I know they have sugar and they aren't perfect, but I like them and they aren't extremely expensive. 

- B Complex Vits - These are important for me anyway, as I had my gallbladder out years ago and people without a gallbladder tend to be deficient in B vits. I take half the dose since my Multi already has B vits (just not enough for me). I don't really recommend a specific one. Just make sure they are methylated! 

- I take a Zinc Supplement from Organic Olivia. This one also has Quercetin in it, which is great for allergies and the immune system. The reason I love this supplement so much is because it has copper in it as well. When you take Zinc, it needs to be taken with copper. But you have to be careful because you don't want too much copper in the body either! Try to find a balanced zinc supplement. Many people that had Covid are deficient in Zinc and it can effect your hair. 

- I also found these hair gummies that I like. They don't contain collagen, which is a must for me, as I seem to be allergic. I do know a lot of women dealing with TE having been having great results in regrowth from collagen, so if you have a good one, go for it! I just personally can't use it, so I use these gummies that have Biotin, Keratin, Amla, Horsetail, and Silica. I think they must be working for me since my eyelashes seem longer and thicker! ps - keep in mind that Biotin can effect Thyroid panels. I you are being treated for anything Thyroid related or testing for Thyroid issues, make sure to stop any supplements with Biotin 3 days prior to testing and let you practitioner know you take it.

- The last one is another controversial supp for some, and it's Vit D3/K2. Over the last couple years I've researched quite a bit about the dangers of supplementing with synthetic Vit D3 and how the best way to get it is Sunshine. I do believe this to be true. However, when I was sick, it was freezing out and I couldn't get out in the sun. I've probably been deficient and though I can get daily sun time at this point, I still feel like I need that little bit extra and I started seeing a change in my hair fall. I take a chewable with only 2000 iu in it. It also has K2 which I always recommend. I also take this at night with my Magnesium Glycinate as this helps the D3 to properly absorb. I did feel noticeably different when I made this change. Even though I don't love the supplementation, at this moment in time I feel like the reward is higher than the risk. And I will ween off in a few weeks. 

- I also take Ashwagandha for stress! Stress is a huge thing with TE. I was literally so anxious and depressed at first, but I had to really surrnder and let it be. That's so hard, I know. But it was necessary for me to learn to manage my stress and not make the TE worse!

I also rotate some supp’s that are part of my normal every day regimen, but have backed off to focus on my hair health - NAC, a Thyroid/Adrenal supplement, NAD+, and CoQ10 with PQQ for mitochondrial health. 

The last thing I want to recommend is topical products. I have been using these hair oils and they've been working really well! RTHVI is an Ayurvedic company and uses all natural ingredients that promote hair health and growth, without added chemicals, silicones, etc. Hair oils can possibly clog the follicles and cause more shedding, so just make sure to use them carefully. I follow the instructions for the oils and only use them 3x per week. I also use them in the morning and leave on for 3 hours before washing. That way they have time do deliver the nutrients to my scalp without clogging. The company recommended their Ashwagandha oil for the stress on my hair and I felt like it helped after one use! They also recommended their Revitalize Growth Oil, which I love! The site also has tons of other amazing products, including shampoo and conditioner, though I haven't tried it. Just make sure that whatever you use, it's not filled with toxic chemicals, and silicones. That's the last thing you want to be putting on your scalp when you're dealing with hair loss! A weekly Apple Cider Vinegar rinse is also great! It keeps the scalp buildup away and is soothing. 

I also think it’s important to mention overall self-care. I try to watch my stress levels, I try to get some light movement in, get out in the sunshine, use my sauna blanket, do red light therapy, practice grounding outside, read books, etc. 

I'll do another update soon, but I truly hope this helps you if you're also struggling with TE. It can be so traumatic and depressing. Just know you aren't alone! If you ever want to chat, feel free to contact me anytime!! 

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Can't Look Away by Carola Lovering - A Book Review

Title: Can't Look Away
Author: Carola Lovering
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 320 pages
Pub Date: June 14, 2022
My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Book Details from the Publisher:

From the author of Tell Me Lies and Too Good to Be True comes Carola Lovering's Can't Look Away, a sexy suspense novel about the kind of addictive, obsessive love that keeps you coming back––no matter how hard you try to look away.

In 2013, twenty-three-year-old Molly Diamond is a barista, dreaming of becoming a writer. One night at a concert in Brooklyn, she locks eyes with the lead singer, Jake Danner, and can’t look away. Molly and Jake fall quickly and deeply in love, especially after he writes a hit song about her that puts his band on the map.

Nearly a decade later, Molly has given up writing and is living in Flynn Cove, Connecticut with her young daughter and her husband Hunter—who is decidedly not Jake Danner. Their life looks picture-perfect, but Molly is lonely; she feels out of place with the other women in their wealthy suburb and is struggling to conceive their second child. When Sabrina, a newcomer in town, walks into the yoga studio where Molly teaches and confesses her own fertility struggles, Molly believes she's finally found a friend.

But Sabrina has her own reasons for moving to Flynn Cove and befriending Molly. And as Sabrina’s secrets are slowly unspooled, her connection to Molly becomes clearer––as do secrets of Molly's own, which she’s worked hard to keep buried.

Meanwhile, a new version of Jake's hit song is on the radio, forcing Molly to confront her past and ask the ultimate questions: What happens when life turns out nothing like we thought it would, when we were young and dreaming big? Does growing up mean choosing with your head, rather than your heart? And do we ever truly get over our first love?

My Review:

Being a sucker for a good thriller, I was immediately sucked in after reading the plot of Can't Look Away. I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book and as soon as I did, I couldn't dig in fast enough. Once I started reading, I got sucked in and had a really hard time putting it down. I found myself taking breaks to live my life but couldn't wait to get back to the world of Molly & Jake. One of the things I loved most about this book, is that while classified as a Thriller, it has so many layers beyond that. The character development was outstanding. You really get a feel for each character and can almost picture them as if you're watching a movie. In my opinion, the best books are those that you can't remember if you read it or watched it! 

It's hard to really get into what I loved most without giving too much away, but I feel like Can't Look Away is just as much of a love story as it is a thriller. If one or the other is not your usual cup of tea, give it a chance, I promise you, the love is all necessary for the thrill! Everything in this book just progressed so well and was so well done. It truly got to my core, touched me in so many moments, and because I'm such a romantic at heart, it was really gut-wrenching for me at times. I got so attached to the characters and fell in love with Jake right along with Molly. This was one of the best books I had read in a long time and one of the few I would read again at some point. In fact, I think it would make an excellent movie or mini-series - fingers crossed!!! (Speaking of books to Tv/Movies….  One of my absolute favorite things to do when I fall in love with a book, is to cast it in my mind! I came across this site last year where you can do just that. Check out my stories and let me know if you agree)

The only slight negative that I have is that I was so torn throughout the story. But that's my selfish feelings, not any reflection whatsoever on the Author or her beautiful book. Being torn means you feel things and feeling things for people that only exist in a story is only possible while reading an exceptionally good book! Carola Lovering truly delivers. There was anguish, disbelief, anger, sadness, and even tears, which doesn't happen often for me! 

About the Author (from her website):

Carola Lovering is the author of the novels
Tell Me Lies, Too Good to Be True, and the forthcoming Can’t Look Away. She attended Colorado College, and her work has appeared in New York Magazine, W Magazine, National Geographic, Outside, and Yoga Journal, among other publications. Her novel, Tell Me Lies, is currently being adapted into a television series for Hulu. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and son.

also find her on: twitter - instagram - facebook

Ps - I was so excited to see that Tell Me Lies is being adapted into a TV Series on Hulu! I had read this book a couple years ago and really enjoyed it. Can't Look Away is not due to release until 6/14/22, so make sure to check out Carola's other books before you pre-order!!!

So many thanks to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me the ARC of this amazing book to review! And thanks to Carola for creating such beautiful people and stories!! 

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

I'm Back!

Wow! I really can't believe it's been over two years since my last blog post!! So much has happened in the world between then and now, it truly feels like a lifetime ago. I know I've popped in here from time to time over the last several years and have had grand plans of relaunching my blog, but this time I'm so excited that I can actually follow through with that plan! Me and my family came down with C*vid right after the Holiday (who didn't, right?!) and I had a tough time. I ended up with pneumonia and long-haul, while, my Husband and Son felt like they had a bad cold for two days and sailed on through. For me, it was one of the most weird, scary experiences, and while sparing this from turning into a C*vid post, I believe that my past issues with Mold Illness and Epstein-Barr are to blame for the severity of my illness. The point of this story is that because of my Long-Haul, I resigned from my job. 

Now I'll finally have the time to do all the things I want with this blog. I'm super excited because writing has always been a bit cathartic for me, and I could honestly use that right now. You'll definitely be seeing a lot more posts from me! Think Book Reviews (this will most likely be one of, if not the first official post), Organic Beauty posts, Wellness Gadgets, Healthy Recipes, and whatever else I feel like posting about! I'm also considering possibly moving this blog to Wordpress or Squarespace. If you have some experience with this or have any thoughts on it, please feel free to drop a comment below or reach out to me! I would love some honest feedback. 

I'm really looking forward to getting back into this again! I already feel more like myself as I type. Look for an exciting Book Review soon!!!