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Thursday, August 4, 2011

7/24 - 8/4 Days 205 - 216

I swore I would be more on top of blogging and yet another 10 days has passed and I am just now getting the latest blog put together ... where has the time gone?

Is it just me or does the second half of the year seem like it is moving at a much faster pace than the first half?

Monday the long awaited day finally came, I was able to resume exercising!! 

I had been able to for a little bit after my hernia surgery, but then i had a second surgery, one I have told only a couple of people about... one that is very personal to me.  I am going to share the following with you all for a couple reasons: 1 - I feel there is a life lesson somewhere in the story I am going to tell and 2 - I want to share my get back in shape/re-claim my fitness with you all in hopes that it inspires some of you to make the big exercise related changes that you have been avoiding.

So, here it goes:

After my friends suicide and my fathers sudden death and everything that happened in between those two events, I, my body shut down for a lack of a better phrase.  I did not want to deal with any more loss, I did not want to feel anymore pain and I really closed off to a lot of things in my life.  As I did, my body followed suit.  In a matter of months I saw my full, thick head of hair reduced down to rapidly thinning, rapidly fading patches.

In the last two years I have tried everything.  I have been to several different doctors, all of which assured me the hair would grow back ... that it was merely a bodily response to trauma.  I tried rogaine, propecia, three different hair supplements, coconut oil, and two other oil's that I can't remember.  I have followed dietary changes, friends suggestions and tried out supplements and treatments that strangers passed on to me.  I had tried absolutely everything save for one thing...

I ran into a friend of mine at the gym about two months ago and she told me that her husband had just had hair restoration surgery.  A surgery that is 98% effective and permanent.  Essentially what they do is they cut a section of your scalp from the back of your head (this is called the "doner tissue") and then take all the the little hairs from there and transplant it into your head at the sites where hair has been lost.  In men, we do not lose hair from the backs of our heads and so when it is transplanted our body does not differentiate hair from one part of the head to another.  It simply accepts the doner hair as the hair that has always been there thus making it permanent. 

My friend who had the surgery was ecstatic with his decision to do so.  I will borrow his words as they echo my own, "I wanted to have the choice... to have hair or not have hair." 

As much as I try to stay positive try to focus on all the haves vs the have not's in my life, the issue of the hair and the way I feel about myself is one I have struggled to master.  I wake up and look in the mirror and the first thing I notice is my thinning hair line.  I have become self conscious about getting in the water around people because when I come out it is very noticeable how much it has thinned out.  My friends constantly re-enforce to me that they can not tell, that they do not notice, but that doesn't matter it's in my head and I can tell and I notice.  I got tired of worrying about it.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting to get something different.  I decided to take action to make a change.

So what's the problem, or what was the problem, why was I reserved.  A few reasons:  1.) Having just recovered from hernia surgery, taking on this new procedure would mean an additional two weeks of no exercise.  Two weeks, even three months (the time between May and now) is a blink of an eye over the spectrum of my life, but right now, while I have been living it, it has seemed like an eternity.  I have felt like a prisoner, trapped on the couch waiting to heal; wanting to go out and play yet unable to because I had wounds that needed to heal.  I have watched my body and my fitness level that I have worked at building for over 10 years rapidly fade away to lethargy and flab  Eating all the junk I have been eating definitely has not helped matters at all.  2.) Money - this procedure is an expensive one to have, one that insurance does not cover and one that I could not afford as most of my savings had just gone to paying for the hernia surgery... what do I do?

It's funny as I type this I have been listening to this audio cd about becoming a millionaire the "secrets" of getting rich.  In the section I am on the author keeps emphasizing over and over the importance of saving, never going into credit card debt, and always paying with cash.  I agree, to a point ... maybe that is why I am still not a millionaire.

The thing the audio cd does not discuss is how does one begin to place a value on their happiness.  What is that worth?  $29? $150? $1 million?  This is a question that I think only each of us as individuals can decide for ourselves.  Note: I am not saying my happiness is contingent on how the hair on my head hurts, I truly believe that comes from within.  However, it is something I have been struggling with for some time and I continue to allow it to affect me, my mood, and my self perception.  I have been excessively allowing the external to effect my internal.  I do not like this. 

I feel like the label, "balding" is something used to describe someone who is getting old - I do not feel old.  I want to have the choice as to whether I have hair or not.  It is amazing how much I have allowed this to affect my self confidence, my self esteem.  I recently watched a news report on men in a similar situation as myself, all were losing their hair at varying rates and all reported similar feelings: lower self esteem, feeling self conscious, wanting to have a choice in the matter.

I debated with myself over this non stop and then I finally came to a realization: The only thing that was holding me back from the surgery was the issue of money and my feeling that I should not spend money I do not have on something like this.  Why?  If I had the money, I would not hesitate.  I would have gotten the procedure done over a year ago!  I have been stressing out over the same thing, the same dilemma for over a year?  That to me is insane.  I stated to flash back over all the times in the last year that I have allowed this to dictate how I felt about myself.  Scuba diving, swimming, surfing, paddle surfing, kyacking, running in the rain, just plain ole frolicking in the water - I have ceased so much of play time in the water because I have been so worried about my hair and the lack of money to do something about it.  Again I asked myself what do I value my happiness at?  I had a decision to make, I was either going to shave my head completely or have the surgery.  I looked at the "Costco" sized bottle of shampoo I had bought not to long ago and realized if I shaved my head that would become useless...

I grabbed a credit card and headed for the doctor.  My final resolution: I have my whole entire life to work and earn money to pay this back.  MY WHOLE LIFE.  I only get to live today, tomorrow, and the next day once, so if I can do something about it NOW, why continue to live my life in a way I do not want to?  That is insane.  I wanted, I needed change - so I changed the situation. 

Today I am two weeks removed from the hair transplant surgery and nearly two months removed from the hernia surgery.  I am so glad I had both procedures done.  I still am having some side effects from both procedures, but in time I am sure they will dissipate.  What I have gained from both procedures though is control of my life.  I have changed the things that were bringing me down.  I have made peace with the inner debate of: "What do I value my happiness at?"  Do I worry about paying the credit card bill back?  Yea, a little, no more than I worry about paying any of my bills back.  This is a fraction of a fraction of the worry I had day to day over "how much hair was I going to see fall out in the sink, in the shower today?"

So what is the life lesson in all of this?  For me there were a couple:  What is my happiness worth?  This is something I have finally made peace with :) :) :) (self high five!!).  My whole life I have stressed about spending money.  I can not tell you how freeing it was to just let that all go to make a decision that empowered me in so many different ways. 

And while the post surgery head of hair is thinner than ever right now, I am not worried about it like I used to be; still a little self conscious for the time being, but not worried - it will fill in over the next several months.  And here's the real kicker - I wake up more motivated, more determined now than I did before, why?  I have changed my situation.  Before I would wake up look in the mirror and stress about my hair.  Now I wake up look in the mirror and am excited to see new growth.  So what person is going to make more money and be able to pay his credit card bill off faster?  The person who wakes up and stresses about the way he looks and allows that to affect him throughout the day thus not giving his best?  Or person #2, the person who wakes up and is proud of the decision he has made, who leaves the house feeling strong, feeling confident and determined to go out and give his best to the world?  Hmmmmm...

Change is an amazingly powerful thing.  As much as we sometimes fear it, change really does have the power to, well, change our reality.  One of my favorite expressions is: If you do the same thing you will get the same result, if you want something different you must do something different - change it up. 

Now I tackle the last piece of the puzzle re-claim my physical fitness and the time I have lost these last 3 months.  I have created a mini diary on the 1 year 1000 challenge facebook page that you can all follow along if you like.  I will include regular pics, thoughts, feelings, as well as what I have been eating and how I have been exercising to get myself back to the level I know I can be at.  You can check that out here: Journey to reclaim my fitness journal

Thank you for letting me share my fear, my insecurity with you all ... it feels good to get everything off my chest.

Enjoy the pics,

Carpe Diem,



  1. Well, Jesse, if you are that self conscience I am glad you made the decision you made about your hair, afterall you are young, if you were over fifty, and married I'd say forget it. Older men don't look so bad with less hair or gray hair, women are a different story. I am not fond of bald, Vin Diesel (smile) although he looks ok.
    I know you will reach your goal of more hair and an improved body, it's whatever makes you happy.

  2. Hi Jesse, Thank you ONCE AGAIN, for sharing & your honesty! So proud of you! Enjoy and keep us updated. Looking forward to seeing you and enjoying Cape Town with you soon - still assuming you coming here.
    Take care of yourself.
    L :)

  3. My happiness comes out of traveling (abroad usually). I save money for it, but I dare to use my credit card to pay my trips as I know I can pay it later. If I would have a job that would let me travel, I would be in heaven!

  4. Did you try petroleum oil mixed with ricin oil?

  5. Or noone ever told you, that bald guys can be more sexy?