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July 22, 2010

This is the ‘before’ picture. Our beautiful second daughter looking understandably nervous as she prepares to raise more than £500 for the local hospital.

She enlisted the help of her older sister.

What was she doing? The clue is in those scissor blades just peeping out above her head.

For about three years now, Susanna has suffered from intermittent problems of stomach pain, nausea and other nasty, gut-related symptoms. Crohn’s disease was suspected but, despite some very unpleasant tests, no diagnosis obtained until she had a capsule endoscopy. This amazing investigation involves swallowing a tiny camera which then transmits two pictures every eight hours to a data recorder that is strapped around the wrist. It’s the only way of looking inside the six metres of small intestine that lie coiled in the middle of our abdomens. Sure enough, Crohn’s was detected and she has been able to start having treatment.

Susanna wanted to raise money for the gastro-enterology unit at our hospital because, in her words, ‘it’s not the most glamorous of wards and rarely gets attention or sympathy’.

‘Patients often have to undergo very uncomfortable and embarrassing procedures to find the source of their digestive problems, which have sometimes gone undiagnosed for some time. The staff there are some of the only people willing to listen to your bowel complaints (a subject not many people want to talk about!), and don’t give up in trying to find the source of your difficulties.’

Getting her head shaved was a brave decision for a fashion-conscious 17-year-old.

Afterwards, I was shocked by how vulnerable she looked.

It got me thinking about the deep significance we attach to our hair and how much of our identity is associated with it. So many religions have something to say about it, whether it should be cut or not, whether it should be covered and when, and whether it is good or bad to shave it off. In Susanna’s case, it was definitely a good thing: she’s raised at least £600 and more is still coming in.

And actually, I don’t think she’s going to have much trouble carrying it off.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. July 22, 2010 7:31 pm

    That is awesome, huge congratulations to Susanna! I have a friend who has been suffering from Ulcerative Colitis (quite similar to Chron’s) so I know how hard it can disrupt your life. And it’s certainly true that people don’t really find it a topic of interest… I hope Susanna copes with it well and congratulations again on such an undertaking!

    • JoannaD permalink
      July 22, 2010 7:39 pm

      Thank you – I will pass on your congrats!

  2. July 22, 2010 9:17 pm

    Congratulations to Susanna on her fund raising head shave. You must be very proud of her.

    • JoannaD permalink
      July 23, 2010 8:07 am

      Thank you! She did well.

  3. July 23, 2010 8:35 am

    So brave! And, I love the last picture of her.

    • JoannaD permalink
      July 24, 2010 10:29 am

      If you’re going to shave your head, it probably helps that you can work the turban look!

  4. Judith permalink
    July 23, 2010 2:17 pm

    Susie Dobson, what a legend 🙂 Tell her to come back to LiveWires please! x x x

    • JoannaD permalink
      July 24, 2010 10:30 am

      Judith, she has defected to Riding Lights!!

  5. July 23, 2010 2:33 pm

    Oh, well done, Susanna.

    That’s a fantastic amount of money to raise for a unit she’s had to become acquainted with. I wish her well.

  6. July 28, 2010 9:46 pm

    Grand job that girl!

    How right you are about the significance of hair, its loss, or even hiding it is to us. But I also think there must be something very liberating about choosing to cut your hair. Hope Susanna is enjoying her liberation.

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