Yesterday was the procedure. I tried to write when I was done, back at the hotel, but I was pretty wiped out. I had trouble cranking out 2 sentence e-mails for work. I started my blog entry, but it came out something like “Blinx leffpish Bosley glurm,” so I just laid down and watched TV.
Now it’s the next day, and I have to say I’m surprised at how good I feel. After the surgery, my head was pretty sore, especially around the area of the suture where they took the donor tissue. I thought it was going to be a long, difficult night, but the medications they gave me really helped (more on this later).
So, I get to the Bosley office at 7 a.m. the day of the procedure. I’m greeted by Brenda, who is super friendly. Then I’m met by Papillion – who is also great, very friendly and helpful. First I have to fill out some paperwork – a consent form and a few other small things. Next, Dr. Winans came in for the final pre-operation consultation. We went through the plan for the day, he drew it out on this big chart, and we were good to go.
Then Grace, one of the technicians, came to get me and brought me back to the room. They had me take off my coat and shirt, and put me in a paper gown. They took my lunch order, and I put in my DVD. Then Dr.Winans came in to get things started. They gave me two sedatives – a valium pill, and two shots of something or other – I can’t remember the name. Truth be told, within about 2 minutes I couldn’t remember much of anything.
They anesthetized my head and took the strip of donor tissue, which was bigger than I expected. Then they microscopically pulled out all the follicles. Dr. Winans made a series of tiny incisions in my head – it was kind of like getting a bunch of small pin-pricks all over my scalp. Although, as I mentioned, I couldn’t feel much. Then Grace and another technician named Mari started to place the follicles into the incisions.
This is pretty much what went on all day. Every once in a while, I would need a little more anesthetic on my scalp, or a little more sedative. Each time, they were happy to oblige. I watched my movie and the staff continued to work.
After a few hours, a new nurse came in, and over the course of the day there were several people who were doing the actual implantation of follicles into the holes the doctor had made. And there were people in the lab who were continually dedicated to separating out follicles from the donor tissue for the operation. I was surprised, because I essentially had a team of 7 or 8 people who were totally dedicated to my procedure for the day, which I wasn’t expecting. Although the cost of the procedure is high, I can see now why the cost is justified – there were a lot of people working specifically on my hair all day. I don’t know if anyone else does it this way, but it occurred to me again as I sat through the day – you get what you pay for!
The procedure, as I mentioned, took all day, and towards the end it was getting pretty uncomfortable. First off, it gets tough to sit in basically one position for 8 hours. I was able to get up and stretch every once in a while, but it gets to be a little long. Also, after so many hours of work, the top of my head started to feel like it was about 5 inches thick. It felt like I had a glass bowl or a helmet on my head. During the last hour, I was looking forward to being done with everything.
Of course, eventually I was done with everything, and I was a bit relieved. I was looking forward to standing and moving around. Although, I was tired and still pretty woozy (hence my inability to write). At the end of the procedure, another nurse came in to give me a bag full of stuff and some instructions.
First, they gave me two kinds of pain killers and a few sleeping pills. The first 3 nights I was told to sleep basically sitting up – or at least with my head very elevated. They recommended that I prop myself up with pillows, basically like I was reclining in a La-Z-Boy. And under no circumstance was I supposed to sleep on my stomach. The whole thing is that you don’t want to cause stress to the grafts. Now, I can’t normally sleep on my back, so I was concerned – but they gave me 3 nights worth of sleeping pills, which put me down quick and I slept soundly through the night, without moving, in the correct position.
They gave me a few cold packs, and told me to keep one on my forehead for 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off, for as long as I could. They gave me some special shampoo to use over the course of the next two weeks, as well as special instructions for bathing. Basically, for the next two weeks I can’t apply a shower spray directly to my scalp – I have to use a cup or a bowl and pour either water or a water/shampoo mix over my head. I can touch the sutured area at the back of my head, but not the top of my head.
They also gave me a couple of pads to put over my pillow for the next couple of nights. When I woke up this morning, I had ‘oozed’ a little bit of blood and fluid from the back of my head, so I was glad I had the pad and hadn’t ruined the pillow.
They also gave me a cap – and told me exactly how to wear it. This is the only hat I can wear for the next two days, and I have to wear it really high on my head so it doesn’t touch the surface of my scalp. I basically look like a complete fool – I’m wearing this thing higher than my grandfather would. But, it’s a small price to pay.
So they ran through all this stuff, gave me instructions and a phone number to call if I had any questions, and that was it. Groggy from sedatives, feeling sore around my suture and like my scalp was as thick as a gymnast’s mat, I caught a cab back to the hotel.
Once I got back I took two pain killers, and it really helped the soreness around the suture on the back of my head – although it did not help my ability to write a coherent sentence, as I mentioned above.
I rested with the cold pack on my forehead, and shortly after taking my sleeping pill I was out. I woke up this morning feeling well rested, and as I said I was really surprised at how little my head hurt.
I went back into Bosley for a morning shampoo and post-op check up. Chris, a technician, took me into a small room and carefully shampooed my hair, cleaned up my scalp a little, and checked all the grafts. Then everyone said good-bye and that was it.
Now I’m on the train back to Portland, wearing my ridiculous hat. It still hasn’t really sunk in yet – I had a hair transplant. That’s it. It’s done. Now, over the next several months, I’m going to sit back and watch myself grow hair. What a trip!