Thursday, July 8, 2010

Traumatic Drug Screen

I started a new job yesterday. Like most companies, my new company requires a drug screen. For the past three companies I have worked for, the screening consisted of the traditional “pee in a cup” test. My new company, however, elects the hair drug screen. I’m going to take a moment to rant about how I was traumatized by this hair drug screen.

As some of you know, lately I’ve been obsessing about my hair loss. I noticed a significant change to the thickness of my hair after realizing that clumps of strands would fall out in the shower or whenever I ran my fingers through my hair. It was likely due to the extreme stress caused by going through the job transition.

I have been going to great lengths to preserve the hair that I do still have. I cut off about 7” to prevent the weight pulling at the roots (and donated the hair to the oil spill even though I suppose 7” won’t do much of anything on those oil filled beaches). I got some hair thickening serum from my hair dresser. I made up some brandy and ginger concoction that my mom gave me the recipe for since it’s an ancient Chinese remedy (did they actually have brandy in ancient China?) You can understand that no 29 year old woman wants to be bald.

And so, I have to take this hair drug screen. I wrongly assumed that they would snip a few strands and I would be on my way. Instead, I arrive to this ghetto 70’s looking building at the corner of Montrose and Milwaukee that claims to be a doctor’s office. I filled out my forms in the waiting room and was called into an examination room shortly after. The room seems clean but not sanitary and probably one of the sketchiest doctor’s office I’ve ever seen aside from the dilapidated dentist’s office in Panama.

I sit down in a chair facing the wall and the doctor with his 70’s mustache that matches his powder blue slacks tells me, “I’m going to snip a patch of hair larger than the size of a postage stamp.” And I’m like “WHAT? Are you kidding? I didn’t know you were going to take so much hair! Why do you need to take so much? Of course I start crying. I’m such a wimp. But I’ve been so stressed about my hair loss, that losing a 1” x 1” square shaven to the head was extremely traumatic. As he is snipping away, I hear him telling the poor medical intern that hair is the best way to screen for drugs because they can go farther back in time.
The doctor tells me, “Don’t worry, it will grow back in three months.” Yeah, maybe if you’re a guy with 1 inch long hair. Yes, then it will grow back. For me and my past-shoulder length hair, it will take several years to match the original length.

So let’s think about this for a moment. What about a guy who shaves his head bald? You know, those ones who are in denial that they’re going bald so they just shave it all off? How would they do a hair drug screen? Or what about a guy or even a girl who wears a frohawk or pixie cut? Even if there’s enough to cut off, they won’t get the same amount of history in the hair. So even if my 12” long hair (yes, I just measured it with a ruler) contained any trace of drugs (which I can assure you, there’s zero possibility of showing anything other than herbal supplements), how is that fair compared to a guy with 1” of hair? If your hair grows at a rate of ¼” per month, then the guy gives 4 months of history and I give 4 years of history. So while a hair drug screen might be more accurate, it’s certainly invasive and inconsistent when it comes to time history.

For now, I’ll just keep dousing my hair in the hair thickening serum, massaging my scalp with ginger-brandy, take prenatal vitamins and fish oil, and eat seaweed and black sesame seeds. Hopefully it will all grow back thick and healthy soon, otherwise, I might have to add Maine 'n Tail shampoo to the routine.

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