Side Effect Number One

Pointless ImageYou’d be pretty hard-pressed to pour gallons of random chemicals into a body and not expect any adverse side effects. The Googles define a side effect as, “A secondary, typically undesirable effect of a drug or medical treatment.” I define it as, “The reason I want to go take a nap for six months.”

I mean, wouldn’t that be sweet? Just sleep this whole thing off? I’d wake up this fall. Have a pizza and a beer and talk about how none of that was a big deal at all. But that’s about as fantastical as bags of money showing up for writing a blog. So let’s return to reality.

Today’s post focuses on just one chemo-related side effect. And probably everyone’s favorite: hair loss.


scumbag steve

When the question first came up while chatting with my oncologist (no, that’s not him up there) he said “by the second chemo treatment.” Unfortunately, my brain heard that as because of the second treatment. I was wrong.

Sure enough, the Monday before treatment #2, I was forced to put this on Facebook:

facebook status screenshot

When we arrived for treatment the following Thursday, we mentioned the hair loss process had begun. “When did it start?” the nurse asked. “About twenty years ago,” I had to answer. Because that’s the truth of it. I haven’t had a whole lot of hair to speak of lately, and I’m okay with that. I cut it myself and I actually like the way it looks. Here’s a pic from last year:

mirror self portrait

I even have, on several occasions, thought about shaving it off anyway, just for fun. I try to keep it cut it to a quarter inch, so it’d grow back in probably a week. What’s the big deal?

Well, now that it’s come to it (and knowing it will be longer than a week) I’m finding I’m perhaps more attached to my hair than I thought. Unfortunately, it’s not very attached to me. I still have “most” of it up there, but its hold is tenuous at best. And it’s getting a bit . . . well, spotty.

Though to be fair, it’s not the hair on top I’m attached to. It’s that stuff all over the rest of my head. I can totally deal with the loss on top as long as I can keep that awesome[citation needed] beard and ‘stache. That, plus a new pair of heavier, black-rimmed glasses: so that the entire package screams out, “Isn’t that Charlie Hills the best-selling author?!”

But alas, even those little beardy hairs are now barely holding on. There goes the dream.

So now I’m just left with: what will the final package look like? Because there’s only two kinds of bald.


awesome bald

And not so much:

not so awesome bald

So we’ll see. (Like, within the next couple of days.) I’ll keep you posted.

pointless closing image

27 Responses to “Side Effect Number One”

Charlie said
May 9, 2012 at 7:13 am

Stop the presses! This just in. Apparently I can no longer complain about never receiving bags of money for my work here, because, sure enough, bags of money have at last arrived:

Thanks to my thoughtful cousin John for recognizing my fine work here and rewarding me appropriately. (I suppose next time I shall specify the size of the bags and maximum amount of acceptable shredding, but hey, I’ll take what I can get!)

Helen said
May 9, 2012 at 8:18 am

I think you’re going to look good bald. My prediction is once you have a choice again, you’ll keep a bald head and grow the facial stuff back. Hopefully, the ear and nose hairs will go away and never return!

Kristen said
May 9, 2012 at 8:25 am

Bald is beautiful! If you’re really attached to the facial hair though, you could always invest in one of these:

    Charlie said
    May 9, 2012 at 9:01 am

    A few of those look positively Santa-licious. It’s good to know I have options!

      Kristen said
      May 9, 2012 at 10:36 am

      Exactly! You can change your look with the seasons. It might be nice to go hairless in the summer, but come fall and winter- Dumbledore and Santa beards might be a welcome way to keep warm.

      Jess said
      May 24, 2012 at 11:28 am

      If you’re going to have a beard wig, why go half way?

        Charlie said
        May 24, 2012 at 6:08 pm


Biz said
May 9, 2012 at 11:25 am

I think you’ll look fine with no hair actually Charlie – love the bags of money!! I love you!

Love, your prettiest sister, Biz

Michelle Nitengale said
May 10, 2012 at 5:48 am

Looking like Captain Picard would be awesome!! 😉

Stepanie said
May 10, 2012 at 7:11 am

Note to Charlie: the first two awesome looking bald guy picture don’t have facial hair either!

I L O V E that you are still writing while you are going through this. It’s therapeutic to ME. To hear your voice….the same one you’ve always had. Sharp, insightful, witty, thoughtful… Thanks Charlie. 😉

Stephanie a.k.a. Suzanne

Deb said
May 10, 2012 at 7:50 am

I stand by my original suggestion, Charlie. I say invest in a parrot (doesn’t every life faced with a health care crisis just cry out for the addition of a new time consuming pet!?) and a clip- on gold earring.

OR you could get a piercing…seems a lot of guys who don’t have “something” get “something else” to make up for it. So sure. A piercing. Or a pirate yacht. Potato potahto.

While you are shopping, be sure to pick up an eye patch for formal affairs. Nothing properly accessorizes a pirate wearing a tux like an eye patch.

And you’ll definitely need a tux for awards ceremonies, taking your neatly taped money to the bank, maybe even wear it to chemo, just to show how the Most Interesting Hairless Guy in the World rolls.

your prettier sister said
May 10, 2012 at 8:46 am

I’m sure you will look like the Bruce Willis type bald, not that kitty!

so sorry charlie! Do they make fake beards?

Julie said
May 10, 2012 at 9:11 am

Bald is beautiful and you know if you buff it to a shine, while sitting in church that child behind you can make faces and keep him/her busy the full service.
Pumpkin Seed Oil Charlie. My friend swore by it while she had to go through all of this junk. It calmed her nerves, her stomach and helped her skin too. Won’t help the hair but just maybe it’ll grow back red and curly.
Blessings Charlie.

Suzie said
May 10, 2012 at 1:52 pm

I too think you will look great bald! Nothing like that cat 😉 Glad the bags of money started rolling in…lol! Your sense of humor is the best though, keep on laughing, it is the best medicine 🙂

John Merriwether said
May 10, 2012 at 5:40 pm


It takes seeds to grow a garden. Hope those little bags turn into a bumper crop.

Don’t fear the bald!

Keep The Faith!

– John

    Biz said
    May 11, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    John, I wish I had the idea to send Charlie bags of money!

woze said
May 10, 2012 at 10:40 pm

There is a portion of the population that believes that Natasha Romanoff’s hair is shorter in *The Avengers* than it was in *Iron Man 2* because she experienced serious head trauma on a mission and had to have all her hair shaved off for the repair work.

Rest easy in the knowledge that you now look more like Natasha Romanoff did at one point. Like you, that point occurred while she was being seriously bad ass.

Stoic said
May 11, 2012 at 12:49 am

I can’t stop laughing at the picture of the cat! That look = priceless!!

JohnGL said
May 11, 2012 at 7:09 am

I’ve got plenty of hair and would be willing to share it with you but then you’d have to cope with the gray.

Oh, and I don’t recall wearing that funny hat and furry-collared coat when I asked you about the hair loss thing.

Stay healthy my friend.

Laura said
May 11, 2012 at 9:05 am

Bald men are SEXY!!!

Tim said
May 11, 2012 at 11:32 am

I can tell you from experience that it’s great to shave it all off. I was surprised at the people who came up and rubbed the top of my head, and I was always thankful that most were women. Do it!

I do have to ask, though: is that a pic of a bald cat or a Chihuahua gone terribly wrong?

Mark said
May 11, 2012 at 7:07 pm

I have always loved your blog! Get well soon!

Charlie said
May 12, 2012 at 11:34 am

Update: that “new pair of heavier, black-rimmed glasses” have been ordered. After a lifetime trend of my frames getting smaller and thinner and more “invisible”, I’m at last taking an abrupt turn towards something (I hope) I like. I know I liked them in the store. Now we’ll just need to see if that feeling lasts over the long run.

It’ll still be about a week before they arrive, but here’s a sneak peak:

Mom said
May 14, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Retro! Those look like your Dad’s glasses!

    Charlie said
    May 14, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    It’s that trademark Ray Ban shape. A classic…

      Holly Hills said
      May 21, 2012 at 12:16 pm

      I know I have photos circa 1974 with your dad with those glasses on..keep the faith…thnking of you.

Cindy B said
May 18, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Your mom’s right – the glasses look like your dad’s, although of course, he had MUCH more hair.