With my hair still relatively short from cutting it a couple of weeks ago, I decided to give it a good look in the mirror after returning home one night from a friend’s birthday celebration on the Lower East Side. Doing this, however, only confirmed what I had already suspected for some time: My hair looked visibly thin on certain parts, i.e., top, sides, of my scalp and on other areas, i.e., temples, of it, I had no hair at all. I could also not help but notice how brittle and lifeless most of my hair strands appeared up close.
Before long, I found myself contemplating my hair loss whenever I had a free moment on hand; whether on break at one of the occasional vendor presentations that I attend every year or engaged in more everyday activities such as eating lunch at a fast food restaurant between sales calls and watching television in my apartment after a long day at the office, my thoughts managed to drift from the things, e.g., sports, latest in technology, that I find enjoyable toward my hair and lack thereof. I also developed a habit of combing my hair frequently throughout the day and checking it in a hand mirror that I usually carry with me in the hope that with all of the hairs on my scalp neatly styled and in place, I would detect the presence of vellus or baby hairs in the regions marked by baldness or significant thinning and boost the lowered mood and confidence levels that losing my hair was causing me to experience lately, but these attempts always ended in vain. To remember a time when I could see healthy hair growth over most of my scalp, I had to reminisce to my college days and the full head of hair that I sported while earning my degree.
In addition to repeatedly pondering the dramatic decline in the quantity and quality of my hair in recent years and hoping that my prayers for a miracle are answered soon, I paid close attention to the hair of nearly every man that I passed by wherever I went. On my way to work near the South Street Seaport, for instance, I often observed Wall Street executives dressed to the nines in worsted wool suits and hand-sewn silk ties stride confidently past tourist attractions and eateries considered among the finest in the city, but also noted that many of them were nearly bald or close to it. While walking through Central Park to admire the beauty of its fall foliage and spring bloom, I saw scores of fitness buffs, mostly in their 20s and 30s, sporting lithe bodies, sneakers equipped with premium shock-absorption technologies, and wristbands that represented the latest in performance-measurement gadgetries, but with very little hair on their scalps as well. My keen sense of observation regarding other men’s hair, I think that it is important to note, does not stem from the need to satisfy a misery loves company mentality; rather, it emanates from the goal of spotting a gentleman or two whose hair showed no signs of thinning or recession and could serve as the standard that I and friends of mine suffering from hair loss aspire to.
As the end of autumn in the year following my conversation with Thomas fast approached, I feared that my heightened concerns over my increasingly visible scalp would turn into an obsession and negatively impact the more important aspects of my life, such as my career and my friendships. Wishing to prevent the possibility of such an occurrence taking place, I began conducting research on the Internet about what causes hair loss and, to my good fortune, soon came across an article published in a medical journal that provided a very thorough treatment of the subject. I eagerly devoured its contents, my gaze traveling from paragraph to paragraph as if I were participating in a speed test, and while what I read added considerably to my nascent body of knowledge concerning hair loss and also helped bring me the sense of empowerment that I so anxiously sought, it is a depiction of the Norwood scale (a chart ranging from Stage I to Stage VII that uses images to illustrate the progression of hair loss on a man’s scalp, with the former representing a perfect head of hair and the latter, almost total baldness, with only a thin fringe of hair [reminiscent of a horseshoe when viewed from above] extending from ear to ear on the lower back portion of the scalp remaining) that I eyeballed afterwards in a piece extolling the virtues and potential risks of various hair restoration procedures penned for a popular men’s magazine by a well-regarded hair transplant surgeon that really caught my attention.
The dime-sized renderings of the male scalp depicting the varying degrees of male pattern baldness revealed that I stood in between a Norwood III and IV and, more importantly, made me realize that I had reached the point in my hair loss battle where I simply accepted that hair loss is an aesthetic ailment that affects most men during their lifetimes and silently suffered the same fate (Norwood VII) as some of my friends and family members or felt that I was not destined to become almost bald and created a hair growth program that if followed assiduously offered me a strong chance to regrow my lost hair. To determine which path to take, I first discerned that the long hours at work had led to (1) the caliber of my diet deeply nosediving as of late and (2) my motivation to workout greatly waning. Frozen dinners that contain more grams of fat per serving than protein, for example, were replacing healthy, nutritious home-cooked meals almost every evening. Instead of performing in my building’s on-premises gym one of the challenging exercise routines that a personal trainer whom I know had designed for me, I grew content lounging on my couch chatting on the phone and catching up on the day’s news.
I then thought about the positive, upbeat frame of mind that briefly eyeing — though not as chiseled as when I eat well and exercise regularly — my body’s well-defined pectorals, biceps and midsection in my bedroom’s closet mirror after showering put me in everyday and the almost complete reversal of spirit that I had been experiencing over the last couple of months subsequent to my gander shifting up to my scalp. Starting my day on a low note, the severity of which, I concluded, would probably increase as my hair loss progressed is something that I did not find particularly appealing and, thus, despite being acutely aware of the commitment that would be required to reverse the poor dietary and lifestyle habits (which my initial research identified as the primary factors responsible for my rapidly balding scalp) that I had acquired because of my increasingly demanding work schedule, I opted to attempt regrowth and, hopefully, the restoration of the thick, abundant hair that I once possessed. Almost of equal importance to the above-mentioned consideration in deciding to combat my hair loss, I did not want to wake up every morning feeling robbed of my youth.