Don't shave someone's head with a beard trimmer

Don't shave someone's head with a beard trimmer.

More specifically, don't shave your wife's chemotherapy-thinned hair with a 20-year-old battery-operated beard trimmer. It's not efficient and it does not produce satisfactory results.

Not long after my last post, Amanda's hair was falling out fast and got patchy enough that she decided to go all the way and buzz it short. She'd already had a pro cut her hair from long to short and it looked great. Her hatchet job with kitchen shears actually looked good. But the rate of fallout became too much to endure any more. She asked me to take it off.

We were warned not to use a razor. The chemotherapy she's getting can reduce her platelets (meaning any cuts would bleed and be less likely to clot) and her white blood count (meaning a greater chance of infection).

Step one was with an old trimmer I use for my beard. I've probably had it for two decades. It runs on a pair of AA batteries and has served me well. It's slightly broken, though, and I learned quickly that what worked passably on thick facial hair did not work on dense but fine head hair. So, I moved on to using a comb and the trimmer on my Braun electric shaver. Better, but still bad.

We moved on to kitchen scissors. The hair came off much faster, but in chunks. Within minutes it looked like a very unkind and unstable individual had assaulted her. I'm thinking of what Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake used to do to unconscious opponents in the World Wrestling Federation circa 1988. We continued until ... I don't know what caused us to call an end to it. It did look better once she washed out the loose ends.

Victory for mommy! Gordon throws his arms up in the ay-er.

Since then, her hair has become thinner and thinner. She's pretty much bald. Stubble. Amanda's been wearing some neat-looking headgear. Some it is from the Sunshine Room at the hospital. Some are pieces she got from Often she'll go hatless inside the house. We all just forget that she's got no hair for a while. After all, she still has the same face! The baby certainly doesn't mind!

I think it's kind of cute. Yeah, sometimes she looks like a really tough broad. But the army-inductee look isn't so bad.

She's become used to being looked at. People look at her. People look at us. Sure, sometimes they're thinking "What's that fat guy doing with the hot chick?" and occasionally "Is that the lady with cancer who was on the CTV news?" but mostly I guess they're noticing she's wearing a head scarf and doesn't seem to have hair.

I'm surprised at how okay she is with that. Amanda's never been one for having people look at her, even when she looks her best. I don't know whether to call this new twist 'confidence' or 'indifference' because my own experience has been more the latter than the former -- I don't think I look good, but I don't care that people notice.

Whatever it is, I hope it sticks around when the treatment is done and she's healthy again.

A third round of chemo happens on Tuesday. Then about a month later it'll be time for that radical hysterectomy with a big incision and what we expect to be a painful and awkward recovery. Treatment will end with a series of intraperitoneal (IP) chemotherapy treatments. Basically, your abdominal cavity is a flesh bag full of your guts and organs. They make a port into that gut-bag and pump a heated batch of the nasty poisonous chemo drugs right into there in hopes of blasting any remaining cancer cells right to hell. Sounds super-effective but we've been warned that the side effects are, simply put, horrible.

You know what's not been horrible? People. People have been great. People at work, people at home, friends, family, stranger. Everyone's been tremendous. "Thank you" seems inadequate but saying more just gives me room to trip on my words and sound dumb. So, thank you. Thank you!

And the baby update: as of his last checkup, he's growing at a fine rate. Actually, his length and weight are good. His head is huge! The doc says he's in the 99th percentile, meaning out of 100 babies his age, only one has a head that's bigger around! He burps and farts and makes big stinky poops, but he's also smiling and waving his arms and we think he might start LOLing any time now. I'm loving it and I know Amanda is too, even though the side effects make it hard sometimes to even hold him in her arms.


  1. Safe to say, that massive head may come from you Scott!! He is simply gorgeous and lucky to have you both for parents..

  2. You are entirely endearing, Scott. It's so clear how much you love your wife and little guy. Not shaving with a beard trimmer is very good advice and I hope your readers take it!

    Best wishes, Catherine

  3. Beautiful baby ... and mom (first pic I've seen of her).

    We used hair clippers on Ron's head. Like you ... I kinda got to liking his bald head.

    Blessings to all of you.


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