It was a bald patch the size of a child's hand. On the top of my head.
Suddenly, three years ago, I had hair loss. One day hair was there, the next day it wasn't.
M.D. Web listed causes of hair loss.
I was sure the hair loss had to be because of my thyroid disease.
I scheduled an appointment with the endocrinologist.
At the doctor's office I showed her the bald spot.
"Is my hair falling out because of my thyroid?"
"Then what is wrong?"
"We'll schedule an appointment with dermatology for a biopsy."
A few weeks later, as I sat in the examination room, the doctor explained the procedure.
"I am going to numb your scalp with a needle, next I'll cut it open with a scalpel."
"Is it going to hurt?"
"You will feel a pinch."
With a scalpel he sliced open my scalp, took a piece of it, and placed that little bit of me in a glass bottle with water.
The sample looked like a piece of chewed bubble gum floating in water.
Then he stitched the cut closed.
"Mrs. Rivera, we'll send the sample to the pathologist. We'll get back to you soon."
When the doctor phoned, he said, "Mrs. Rivera you have a disease called Alopecia Areata. Alopecia Areata is considered an autoimmune condition, in which the body attacks itself, in this case its own hair follicles. It is caused by stress. Are you stressed Mrs. Rivera?"
"What do you do for work?" he asked.
"I'm a street worker."
Which caused him to ask again, "You're not stressed?"
Earlier that month another doctor asked me the same question.
It was after the funeral of an eight-year-old boy who was gunned down by his seven-year-old cousin. They found a gun in their house and began playing with it.
At the funeral, my feet felt like they were going to give out from beneath me.
Afterwards my daughter and I went to the mall.
I felt faint.
I said, "Porshai, I feel like I am going to pass out."
I sat down in a chair in the food court.
I reached for my cell phone. I handed it to Porshai. But Porshai said as I was handing it to her I fell backwards out of the chair.
I hit my head on the floor.
Porshai said my lips were quivering like I was having a seizure.
I urinated on myself.
When I awoke the paramedics were hovering over me.
They laid me on a stretcher, took me to the ambulance, then to the hospital.
The doctor did x-rays of my head. They took my blood and tested it. The doctor asked if I was stressed. "No," I said.
The dermatologist asked again, "Mrs. Rivera, are you stressed?"
"Yes, I am stressed."