Copyright 2007-2011 Kimberley Woodhouse

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Gazette Article SPA

Get a haircut, help a girl

Gazette, The (Colorado Springs), Oct 17, 2006 by ANDREA BROWN THE GAZETTE

When 9-year-old Kayla Woodhouse went to a local beauty school to get her hair braided, the student stylist got a bit nervous.

It wasn't the girl's long, thick hair -- or even the strange space vest she wore.

It was her mom.

She walked in pulling a big cooler, checked the thermostat and said her daughter was having brain surgery.

"It was my first week on the floor. I was like 'Whoa, this is way over my head,'" said The Salon Professional Academy student Katelyn Unger.

Five hours and 54 braids later, Kayla's hair was ready for the Sept. 26 surgery at the base of her skull to decompress her brain.

The brain malformation causing imbalance and migraines was minor compared with Kayla's other problems.

Kayla has hereditary sensory autonomic neuropathy, a rare and incurable disorder that lowers her sensitivity to pain and cold.

She doesn't feel pain until it is 20 to 30 times the normal intensity. She chewed Christmas lights as a toddler.

In addition, her body can't regulate temperature, so cooling functions don't kick in until it reaches a lethal high temperature.

The heat from a salon could kill her.

A Gazette story in May brought numerous community donations.

Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., The Salon Professional Academy, 4388 Austin Bluffs Parkway, will hold a "cut-a-thon" for Kayla's medical expenses.

A $10 donation gets a cut, pedicure, manicure or facial from the 55 stylists volunteering their time.

Kayla's braids cover the patch of hair shaved for her surgery, which appears to have been successful.

The main fixes for the incurable condition are a watchful mom and a NASA-designed cooling vest.

Kim Woodhouse carts a cooler of ice packs for Kayla's special vest and drinks to keep her hydrated.

"We had two places we could go this summer, the basement of Focus on the Family and the top of Pikes Peak," said the mom, who home- schools Kayla and her brother Josh, 11.

"She can't be anywhere above 65 degrees."

The air conditioner in the house and car runs year-round.

Kayla also has severe eczema and needs special skin-care treatments.

"Everything itches me," Kayla said.

"Except for me," said her friend, Danielle Aulino, who also had her hair braided in a show of support.


Copyright 2006