As you probably know, about 6 months ago we started to notice some patchy baldness on Roo's head. At first we thought it was just one spot, but it spread and spread, until now he looks like this...
Still, I was concerned that the hair loss pointed to a deeper issue, so several months ago I took him to our pediatrician to get it checked out. After a rather disappointing consultation with her (I'm not going to get into it here, but let's just say I'm exploring my pediatrician options...), we determined that it was not a thyroid issue and that it was time to talk to a different doctor. Our pediatrician recommended we see a dermatologist, so I made some calls and got us an appointment.
So here's a funny story... Typically when Roo needs to see a specialist, I call our local Children's Hospital and they have someone on-site. For dermatology, though, they have a variety of local doctors they recommend (none on-site), so I just wrote down all of the phone numbers and started making phone calls. As it turns out, I did this on a Friday, and apparently dermatologists don't tend to work on Fridays. I didn't realize that this was a "thing", but I called 6 different offices and only one was open! So I scheduled an appointment, even though it was over 6 weeks away. (Yep, I had to schedule today's appointment back in October! Who knew dermatologists were in such high demand?) The receptionist told me that they would send me a registration packet a few days before our appointment, so I jotted a very vague "Dermatology - 10 AM" on today's date on the calendar and left it at that.
Fast-forward to yesterday, when I realized that A-I never got a registration packet and B-I had no idea which dermatologist's office I had actually scheduled an appointment with! So this morning I was frantically calling every doctor on the list from our Children's Hospital web site. (And wouldn't you know, this time FOUR of them were open on Friday...!) I finally found our winner, and Roo and I set off for the visit.
As I mentioned, most of our visits take place at the hospital--or at one of the two connected medical arts buildings on the same campus. I didn't realize how spoiled I have become with their facilities and quality of care, but I will not take it for granted again. This office building was probably built AND last updated in approximately 1952. It was in a crummy section of town, it was run-down, it was... just not what I expected. But Roo seemed to thoroughly enjoy himself, and spent our FORTY-FIVE MINUTES in the waiting room entertaining everyone within ear shot with his "singing" and laughter. (I'm so thankful for that. Trying to contain a two-year-old to a small space with no food or toys for a long period of time can quickly take a turn in a bad, bad direction, but he was so good!)
Sooooo... after all of this build-up... after months of wondering, weeks of waiting for the appointment, many minutes in the waiting room... we had approximately 1.5 minutes with the doctor. BUT he confirmed that Roo has exactly what I suspected from the beginning: a condition known as Alopecia Areata. This basically means that his body has, for some reason, started making antibodies to fight hair follicles. His hair may regrow, it may not. He It might grow back for good, or he could have several more episodes throughout his life. Little is really known about it. But here's the good news: it's JUST hair loss. There's no underlying health issue, no other side effects, no related concerns. He's just bald & beautiful.
The doctor did perscribe two ointments to stimulate hair growth. So far I have not filled them, and I'm not sure if I will. First, because all treatments associated with alopecia are rather... hit or miss. There's no real guarantee that they will work, and they can't prevent future outbreaks. Second, any time you are working with medications, you're looking at possible side effects. One of the two ointments we would use is a steroid. It's a mild one, but still. We're just talking about hair here, folks. I don't know how much I want to subject my 24-pound 2-year-old to steroids so that I can comb his hair.
And if the ointments don't work? Well, the next step is to create an allergy in his body to something, which will theoretically stimulate the immune system, which could then stimulate hair growth. Again... I'm not giving my kid an allergy so that he can have hair. It's just not gonna happen.
So... I feel like all of our appointments thus far have been rather anti-climactic, but I'll tell you something I have learned over the past 3 years: Anti-climactic is pretty darn great. I'll take boring news over bad news any day.
And if you know anyone who loves kids but has that pesky baby allergy, let them know that we have an American Hairless right here... ;-)