I have Alopecia Areata | Life 2018

The hardest part is overcoming the fear.

My fear.

My fear of judgment, of other people's opinion, of how they see me.

I am going for my dermatologist appointment later, my grandparents are coming with me. The two people that I have disregarded and taken for granted before are now the two people I can't live without. They are my rocks, my foundations. I'm glad they will be with me later.

My doctor will be a relative of ours, Dr. Paolo Lizarondo. He's my grandmother's nephew. I contacted him and sent him the photos that I have been taking to record what's going on with me. His first guesses were Telogen Effluvium or Diffuse Alopecia Areata. I'm praying that it is Telogen Effluvium, because it means that it's temporary. I would just need to determine my...

Update: I have Diffuse Alopecia Areata.

I was not able to finish this blog post due to time constraints, but let's continue where I left off.

Alopecia areata is an auto-immune disease that affects about 2% of the global population. I just computed this myself, basing on the estimate of the affected global population and the current global population, so please don't quote me on this. But imagine the odds. Out of 7.6 billion people in the world, I get to be part of the estimated 147 million people who get Alopecia areata. Cool.

I'm not complaining. I have already come to terms with my situation and is well over the self-pity zone. What I want to do now is recover and make sure I don't pass this on.

Dr. Lizarondo confirmed that I have Diffuse Alopecia Areata and that it was good that I was able to check with him the soonest possible time. He said that my case was very much active, and right now our goal is prevent any more shedding. I told him that I wanted to just shave it all off, but he convinced me to wait a little while -- two weeks actually -- and see how I react to the medication first.

I was also finally assured what the stubble and painful bumps were. The stubble was breakage, not regrowth, and the bumps were due to not washing my hair as often as I should. I was given gentle shampoos that are safe to use and he reiterated that this is not an external issue.

Due to the advanced state of my hair loss, I was prescribed steroids. 20mg of Methylprednisone to be exact. A corticosteriod, to be exact. Corticosteriods suppress the immune system, which makes sense, as Alopecia Areata is an auto-immune disease.

Long story short, my immune system decided to attack my hair follicles and treat them as enemies. My white blood cells gather round my hair follicles and basically bully them to stop hair growth. This weakens my hair and it falls out.

    Photo from JCI

Now the medication prescribed is to calm and/or suppress my immune system and stop it from attacking more hair follicles, which in turn should lessen hair fall. I also have an topical treatment and supplements.

I have a feeling that it's not just my thyroid that's causing this -- it could have also been the sudden increase of stress levels in most of my life aspects. Or my dysmenorrhea medications. Or genetics.

I have a lot of things to consider right now. I want definitive answers for what's happening. This actually sounds like a losing game because the only predictable thing about this disease is that it's unpredictable.

I'll have to make several doctor's appointments to get to the bottom of this. I want to get as much information as I can to be better understand this issue and how I can move forward.

As for now, I'll take my medications religiously and observe myself for two weeks. I won't try anything  else like I planned

Thank goodness for medical insurance. I don't know how else I'm going to afford all of this.

Information provided by my doctor, American Academy of Dermatology, Philippine Society of Cutaneous Medicine and National Alopecia Areata Foundation.

P.S. I know this post is unorganized -- just like my thoughts. I'm still trying to process everything in a logical manner.

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