After 6 years of having kids in school (and 4 additional years of daycare), it has finally happened. One of the 'Tars has the dreaded LICE. I wasn't going to even write about it because it seriously creeps me out, but all of our firsts, from the great to the terrible, are documented here, so it only seems fitting to immortalize this milestone with the written word, creeptastic as it may be.
I noticed KayTar was scratching her head quite a bit the last week of school, so I asked our favorite nurse to give her a once over. I hadn't seen anything when I looked, but she has a lot more head checking experience under her belt and I trust her eyes more than my own in this case. I waited anxiously to hear back and was SO relieved when she gave me the all clear. Except...on Saturday morning, I spotted one in KayTar's hair. AGH! And another. Then another. It was SO icky. I know that lice have nothing to do with hygiene or cleanliness, I do. I know they actually prefer clean heads because it is easier for them to latch on to non-greasy hair. I know that they don't transmit disease and are more of a nuisance than anything actually harmful. But regardless of that, there is something so squicky about them. Yuck! I've had to hand deliver bowel movements, treat pus-filled MRSA infections, clean vomit and feces more times than I can ever count, but THIS grosses me out the most. Thankfully, everyone else had clear heads when checked...but we're watching for itchy heads, that is for sure!
I stripped all the beds. I collected all pillows, towels, laundry, stuffed animals (oh LORD, the number of stuffed animals that girl owns!), and other washable upholstery...washed it on hot and dried it on hot. I learned from several reputable sites (AAP and CDC, for example) that if you can dry something on hot for 30 minutes, you don't have to leave it bagged for 2 weeks like most people think. We vacuumed and sprayed the carpet, couches, and other things that didn't fit in the washer and then treated KayTar with Rid and then picked through her hair. Even with the recent haircut, OH MY GOSH, she has a lot of hair. It is a huge task to search through it, takes almost 2 hours. The nit combs that come with the medication are worthless, you HAVE to use your fingers to get eggs out. I could really benefit from having 3 hands temporarily. I ordered a special "professional grade" comb yesterday, it is the one the local nit-picking salon uses...it had great Amazon reviews. We'll see how it actually works. I've been redrying her bed stuff daily on hot and rechecking her head every 1-2 days. I was happy to learn that nits that are no longer on someone's head (like if a strand of hair falls off with one attached), the eggs will not hatch...they need the body warmth to survive. Lice and their eggs cannot survive very long without a human head, so environmental transmission is unlikely. Monday, I found another live louse, so we treated her again with Nix this time per the instructions in the AAP article. Yesterday, I found another live one. I know that it is just missed eggs that are hatching and we just need to keep nit-picking and getting rid of them as we see them, but I really just want them to be gone already. Give me a metabolic or neuro problem any day over this...I feel much more capable of handling it!
KayTar is, of course, handling it like a champ. If life were fair, she'd get to skip over this ordeal since she has more than paid her dues in other ways...but nope, it is just one more thing for her to tough out. And as always, she is doing it with smiles, laughter, and a good attitude. At first, though, she was pretty grossed out, too, and blamed me a little for finding it, "If you had just let me get my milk and not wanted to do my hair, this never would have happened!" LOL! But then yesterday, as I was checking her hair AGAIN, I let out a exaggeratedly whiny, "I don't wanna do this anymoooooore!" and she said, "Well Mama, do you want to have to strip the beds and rewash EVERYTHING?" I mumbled, "No..." and she said, "Well, then we are just going to have to finish this." Yes, ma'am! I also captured the louse we found yesterday and put it in a Ziploc baggie so she could see it and she asked me if we could squish it. I told her they don't die very easily like that and it would die all by itself because it can't survive long without her head. She said, "Oh! So the lice are like Lord Voldemort and I'm like Professor Quirrell?" (reference to Harry Potter and Sorcerer's Stone). She is so clever. And then we had a good laugh because Voldemort was surviving on the back of Quirrell's head...just like a louse! Let's just hope these lice don't keep coming back like Voldemort did!