Deployment stress results in gray hairs

By Anita Tedaldi: PNT columnist

Gray hair is taking over my dark brown head at a rapid pace.

It’s an invasion that I fight with all my might, but one that is met with large obstacles, such as the expense of getting to a salon every six weeks to keep the enemy at bay. I know, I could color my hair at home, but my inability to complete tasks that require precision, rule out the die-your-hair at home option.

I was prepared to go grey in my thirties because all of my relatives on my mother’s side of the family went gray in their twenties. But I believe that in my case genetics is only partially the culprit, and that gray hair has drastically increased since my husband’s latest deployment, and since becoming a mom of five.

I guess I should be grateful I actually have some hair left.

While I’ve read that there is no scientific correlation between gray hair and stress, I’m convinced that a few days ago a large chunk of gray hair grew on the right side of my head when I momentarily couldn’t see my 3-year-old daughter in the pool and was gripped by sheer terror that she had drowned.

This past week, while still on our pseudo- vacation, we went to the base pool a few times. There were two very friendly lifeguards who helped me out with the kids on more than one occasion.

I felt we were safe and had taken all precautions because my three oldest daughters are very good swimmers and I had the perfect gear for my two youngest ones, pink life-vests and matching duck floaties.

But one afternoon, while in the water with all of my kids, I had to momentarily leave the pool to change my 1-year-old. I asked the lifeguard to keep an eye on my 3-year-old daughter Livia, who was glued to the side of the pool with her floating gear and refused to move even an inch.

It only took a couple of minutes to change the baby, but when I turned around Livia wasn’t there.

I quickly scanned the pool but didn’t see her, so I looked for the lifeguard who was also gone. Just as I was about to panic, I saw a chubby pink shape and a long slender figure with a red bathing suit near the candy machine.

Livia and the lifeguard had walked to get a snack. The lifeguard told me that Livia had informed her that while I was changing the baby she could become her best friend if she got her a snack. The girl thought it was funny and decided to get my daughter a small treat.

I was so relieved nothing happened, but my hair carried the effects of this stress in the form of the new patch of gray.

Perhaps my theory that deployments and mom stress cause gray hair has some validity.

My big test will be the Chicago trip. If I get back with a full head of white hair I’ll contact a medical journal to enroll in a study, or maybe I’ll just die my hair platinum blonde.

Anita Tedaldi is a freelance writer, mother of five and wife of an Air Force pilot. Contact her at: anita@anitaovolina.com