“Just” a Haircut?

Getting a haircut is not a huge deal for most people. I personally love to get my hair done because it’s an excuse to sit back and relax and have my scalp rubbed while amusing the stylist with the result of my feeble attempts to cut my bangs (“Trish, please come in for a quick bang trim between cuts! You don’t have to live with crooked bangs!”).

If Robert doesn’t keep his curly locks cut, he tends to start looking like Einstein with his unruly head of hair. Add “helmet head” to it and he needs a sprucing up every now and then. I decided to add a mustache trim to this trip since the last time his mustache was trimmed I did it (see above re my ability to cut in a straight line).

Before . . .

The appointment was at the local JC Penney because Robert is treated well and there is easy access in and out. Parking is available in the shade (a must when it reaches 100 degrees as it did yesterday), the elevator is not too far from the entrance and the salon is just off the elevator. Add to that the availability of restrooms across from the salon and we have everything covered.

Robert had an appointment with a new stylist which puts my protective shield up a bit since I don’t know if she’ll be uncomfortable with a disabled person and I tend to prepare for the worst.  She started off making us wait 15 minutes (tick tock, people, we have a specific window between med times and thought three hours was more than enough for a 45 minute hair cut). She apologized profusely so I decided against holding a grudge, writing a letter to her supervisor and getting her fired. I suppose I can just be here for Robert’s haircut and not try to change the way Penney’s does business.

While Robert settled into the shampoo chair, the stylist asked me, “What happened to Robert?” Great question and I appreciate when people ask instead of staring in awkward silence. After answering, “He has epilepsy” and feeling the ears perk up of the other stylists and customers, I thought this was a great opportunity to talk about epilepsy and maybe teach a thing or two in the process.

While I sat congratulating myself for wanting to seize this educational opportunity Robert beat me to it.

Robert told his story of how he has had epilepsy all of this life but that it was diagnosed when he was seven. “At the age five, I started seeing things in the colors of red, blue and green.” He went on to describe his brain surgery on January 4, 1990, and how the doctor kept him awake during the surgery and showed him flashcards and asked questions during the surgery.

I’ve heard the story several times but was happy he had a new audience (the stylist who showed genuine interest and the others who pretended they weren’t listening). As I sat half-paying attention to the conversation happening across the aisle from me, (ever on alert in case he has a seizure) while checking messages on my smart phone (otherwise known as my addiction), I heard Robert say, “. . . and then the Lord spoke to me when I was 15 and told me it wasn’t my time and I was here for a reason.”

That’s new.

I set my phone down and listened to him tell Salita the Stylist about falling into a swimming pool while at our dad’s apartment and being in a coma for three days. She looked to me for verification and I confirmed the story was true. The details are fuzzy, even to me, but Robert most likely had a seizure and fell into the pool. Our dad pulled him out and Robert was in a coma and actually near death for a while. When I got the call, it was the first (and only) time in my life I was hysterical. Even though he and I weren’t close, I couldn’t imagine losing my youngest brother at such a young age.

I always wondered when Robert became so religious and couldn’t figure out where it came from. I guess if God speaks to you and saves your life, you listen.

Salita shared with Robert that she too was religious. She finished Robert’s haircut, trimmed his mustache and even trimmed his rogue eyebrow hairs. By the time the appointment was over, he was looking pretty spiffy and feeling happy to have made a new friend.

Looking spiffy!

On our way out, we made a quick stop in the jewelry department to resize his watch (since he’s lost a little weight) and then made our way out into the heat toward the shady car. Once I got him in the car, loaded his walker into the trunk and got in to drive him home, I noticed the familiar sight: head bent forward, slightly to the right, motionless except his right hand twitching and turning. I strapped his seat belt around him and waited a minute until he popped his head up, looking around to see where he was and greeting me with his usual, “Hello!”

Hello, Robert.  I hope you enjoyed your haircut.

Avatar of Trish

About Trish

I am Robert’s older sister and a freelance writer and am also a full-time Legal Administrator for a wonderful law firm (no, that is not an oxymoron). I am the caregiver for my youngest brother, Robert, who has suffered from uncontrolled epilepsy his entire life. In his late-40s now, he lives with me and my husband. I have somehow managed to navigate the maze of social services and government programs available to help Robert and continue to be amazed at the amount of time and persistence that is needed to do so. Robert finds happiness in simple pleasures like doing word search puzzles and watching his favorite shows (Family Feud and Jeopardy, of course!)

13 thoughts on ““Just” a Haircut?

  1. Jane

    Hi Trish:

    You are so amazing! Robert looks so handsome with his new “do”. How awesome that you took the opportunity to talk about Robert’s illness. I will take any opportunity that I have and/or am given to talk about Nicole’s illness. Too many people have never heard of pulmonary hypertension and that needs to be changed. I will even talk about congenital heart defects. I don’t think people for the most part have a clue how common it is.

    I’m glad that he had the seizure in the car and not in the salon. I’m sure that would have been uncomfortable for a lot of people to see.


    • Trish

      Jane, I love how you spread the word about Nicole’s illness. You are helping so many people by doing that. Seizures are tough to see (even for me, if they are different than his usual ones).

  2. Avatar of DeniseDenise

    Ooooooohhhhhhh, Trish! Oh, what a visit to the salon. Wow! He has a reason and you are so much a part of that. You give his reason a voice.

    Did you get goose bumps when you heard him say this?

    I just think it’s amazing what we learn when we think we are teaching others. :)

    And, Robert looks awesome!

    • Trish

      I like that you pointed this out, Denise. I hadn’t even considered that I was giving his reason a voice. Thank you so much for that.

  3. Bette

    Hi Trish,
    Thank you for sharing your outing with Robert with us – a bit of an emotional story…

    You are so wonderful in what you do, in taking care of Robert. You continue to anticipate and address in such a calm manner. Thank you for that example for me.

    Hope you had a nice fourth.

    You make every day special for Robert.

    • Trish

      Bette, Thank you for your comment. It means a lot because you are such an example to me. Staying calm is a strength of mine which has helped numerous times over the years (which is why it was so odd I became hysterical so many years ago when I thought we were losing Rob). Everyone at work jokes about how I stay calm when madness is happening. :-) I always say that only one person can panic at a time!

  4. G-J

    Trash, I love your stories of life with Robert. He looks great, you heard some new parts of the story and it sounds like Robert found a new stylist!

  5. Jo

    Trish or is it “Trash” (sorry G-J, I couldn’t resist…) :-)

    Spiffy Indeed!

    I can almost imagine the comfort it is for Robert that when a seizure hits and he “goes away” to know that you’ll be there when he returns and all he has to do is calmly say “hello.”

    • Trish

      Jo, Robert reminds me of Frosty the Snowman when he awakens and says, “Happy Birthday.” Robert always pops his head up after a seizure and says, “Hello!” Makes me smile every time.

  6. Avatar of KathyKathy

    Robert does do a do well :)

    I was thinking the same Frosty moment when Robert said Hello. It made me smile too!

    Trish, Thanks you for sharing Robert with us. I feel like I’ve learned a lot about seizures and remaining calm, unless it’s my turn to panic, should I ever encounter one.

    • Trish

      That’s great you thought of Frosty too! I’ll bet you are rarely the person to panic but if it’s ever your turn, I’ll let you know. :-)


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