Thursday, September 08, 2011

The "Dun dun dun"

Let me lead with a few quotes that I dug up on the ever-reliable world wide web.

"A common misconception is that lice infestation is a result of poor hygienic practices. In fact, it is actually believed that head lice prefer clean hair to dirty hair."

"Getting head lice isn't a sign of bad personal hygiene or an unclean living environment."

"Having head lice does NOT mean the person has poor hygiene or low social status." (ouch)

Now that we've made that nice and clear.... Sophia, my sweet CLEAN :) Sophia, had LICE!!!

Lice. LICE! I've heard of people getting it. My mom says some of us had it as kids. I don't remember ever having it, though I remember having a tick burned out of my head that was burrowing it's way into my skull once.

I knew it was one of those things you might face with school-aged kids. But I didn't think I'd face it like two days into first grade.

As it turns out, once I starting scouring the internet for information about it, she got it before school started... it takes longer than a few days to get to a point where you would notice anything. I had heard about it going around a bit before our trip to Hawaii, and freaked out, imagining it hitting us right before we left town and ruining the trip. But I checked the girls a few times and saw nothing out of the ordinary.... then took off to Hawaii and didn't think about it again.

I discovered it last Thursday morning, when I went to do her hair for school and she said it itched.... ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.... I get the eebi jeebies again just remembering that moment. I started inspecting her scalp right where she was itching and saw a couple of moving bugs!!!!!

"Roooooooooosssssss!!!!" Thank goodness he was still home. So after calling my pediatrician, he went out to get me everything we might possibly need to fight this INSANE war.

My ped told me to use 1 tbs olive oil, 1 tsp tea tree oil, and 1 tsp eucalyptas oil mixed with an equal part of Johnson and Johnson's baby shampoo.... to wash with it and leave it on for 30 minutes. We did it... and I started the dreaded "nit-picking" (never realized where that term came from, assuming it's from this?) One fell on the towel we were sitting on, and was still crawling....


So we went for treatment two, the stuff most people use, RID. But first I had to blow dry her hair since you have to apply it to dry hair. Now I'm picturing them flying all over my bathroom. Is your skin crawling? Mine hasn't stopped since last Thursday.

Now as much as I don't want to treat my kids with pesticides, that is NOT why I chose to try the other route first. I wanted to do whatever it took to kill these nasty bugs. But my doctor didn't even tell me to use the shampoos, they said that lice have built up a resistance to the pesticides used in the lice shampoos over the years, and that they are not as effective as they used to be. But that these oils did a far better job. And as a perk, they won't kill your kids. So I tried 'em. I wasn't so sure... so then I tried the other stuff too. In hindsight, I think a few just died a little bit slower of a death.

Which might not be such a bad thing.... they deserve it.

So back to the nit picking... where my hands dive into my sweet daughter's head of hair that I just saw crawling with live bugs.

I can honestly say that (at the time) it was one of the hardest things I've done as a mom. I was trying not to seem too disgusted... worrying it would hurt her feelings. And I still can't get over that while she has been SOOOOO sensitive and easily offended lately, she was barely phased by the idea that she had LIVE bugs in her hair. She was afraid to lay down in the bath water to rinse her head, for fear that a bug would come OUT of her hair and get in the bath and "get her".


But it didn't bother her that they had already infested her head. ?? Don't know.

The other crazy thing is that for school on Wednesday (the day before I found it), I had braided her hair in two braids. That means I'd parted it and really gotten my fingers in there, and I didn't notice a THING. These suckers are really small.... but what I really think happened, and it's really disgusting, is that some eggs had just hatched overnight. Which is why she was suddenly scratching.

Are you still reading? Or is this way too much information and way too gross. Eggs--- filled with blood-sucking bugs--- hatching in your hair.

It's like that scary story from those old "scary stories" books, where the girl has a big zit on her cheek and then it hatches in the bath and baby spiders crawl out. Oh no... it wasn't a zit at all. I think that haunted me in my preteen years. Maybe it still does.

Back to Thursday... BLACK THURSDAY, I think I'll call it. Because I will never forget that day. After the second shampoo, it was 11 am, and from that point, until a little after 7pm that night, I was hunched over Sophia, in all sorts of weird positions as she tried to get comfortable, picking through... almost literally, every SINGLE hair of her head. I put it all in a pony and took a small section at a time and went through a teenie line of hair... over and over and over and over.... most tedious thing I've ever done....

I fed Finn as quickly as I could when he needed it... Put out bowls of snacks on a blanket on the ground for the girls, and switched out movies, precisely FIVE times.... but other than that, it was eight hours of STRAIGHT nit-picking. Ross came home once in the middle of the day to help clean the house and wrapped his day up early. He took the two little ones for the last hour or so while Sophia fell asleep on the toy room floor with two strawberry girls in her hands, and I picked through the last small section of her hair with a big flashlight on her. Poor thing... she was so tired of it all.... but such a good sport.

(no idea why my font changed there... can't figure out how to fix it- sorry)

After they went to bed, we scoured the house, washed everything I hadn't already washed that morning, and bagged everything else (soft stuff... barbies, stuffed animals, clothes etc...) to leave it in the garage for a couple of days. (They say that lice can't live over 48 hours off the body, so to bag anything they could be hanging out on.)

I've picked through her hair every day since, and I don't think I'll ever be the same. I'm pretty sure I'll be doing a quick check every morning at breakfast for the rest of their childhood. Those nits are TINY... SO tiny, and practically invisible. They're not white like I've read some places online. They are... invisible. seriously. Or at least on Sophia's hair. They are pretty much sandy blonde. And it makes me sick that they all had to GET there somehow. And that I didn't see a darn thing until I started SEARCHING. Seriously. I don't ever want to go through that again. And I wouldn't wish it on ANYBODY.

Which is why I thought maybe just MAYBE it'd be helpful to write this all out for somebody.

In the future, if I ever get one of those notes home from school or think my kids were around some poor kid who got lice. (Um... by poor- for the record-- I mean some unfortunate kid who was unlucky enough to get lice.... not like some kid with no money. Got a mean comment... better just make that nice and clear.) I would wash their hair THAT DAY with the oil mixture... or the shampoo. Nothing kills the eggs... but if you got a bug in your hair from someone else, which is how it all starts... a shampoo could kill that bug before it lays any eggs and RUINS YOUR LIFE.

Ok it's not THAT bad. But almost. In hindsight... maybe it's not as bad to me as I thought it was?? But I think I've felt like that through every difficult mommy thing. It's always kind of empowering to realize you've survived something. Dramatic? Let me know if you think that after you've done lice. I could have died of non-stop heebie jeebies. And I was seriously considering shaving her head about three hours and three inches in to her hair. And I love her long hair!

Warning: if you google images of nits, bring a bowl, because you will want to throw up. And for the record, that is NOT what Sophia's head looked like. Her's were here and there, and SOOO hard to find... not some nest of white eggs like someone dumped tapioca on her head. But disgusting nonetheless.

We watched Jane Eyre a couple days after, and I couldn't stop thinking about what they must have done in the old days when they got lice. They must have had it forever. Or just dipped their head in kerosene like my grandma did. While that day, I kept thinking.. "it's 2011, I can't BELIEVE there's not a better way to do this"... I guess it could have been worse...

Am I gonna regret sharing all of this? Please don't shun us. If you do, we'll sneak into your house and give you all of our old hair ties.


Ashley said...

You handled it well!!! I'm a 2nd grade teacher in NC and I have had to deal with students getting lice more than once. And you were right on when you wrote that lice likes clean hair. Don't feel embarrassed about it. It's apart of life! Only a "snob' would turn their nose up to you for your daughter getting lice!!! I had it as a kid and I know how much of a nightmare it is for a parent!! You did AWESOME!

kerwin said...

My two sisters and I all had lice at the same time (well, it was discovered at the same time, I am sure one of us had it first and then was generous enough to share with the other two). My mother must have been pretty freaked out because I distinctly remember her enlisting our housekeeper and a friend to go through our hair out on the front porch. I can still remember the smell of that shampoo as well. It didn't strike me as odd at the time, but she probably didn't want us in the HOUSE! Can't say I blame her. I hope the housekeeper got a HUGE bonus that week.

Christin said...

My sister in law's boys had lice and she had to shave their heads. She said it was seriously a nightmare getting rid of them. AHHHHH!!! SO sorry.

Jennifer said...

Oh my gosh Lillie! I totally get what you said about surviving all these 'mommy moments'!!! It does empower you! I just had to smile through all this... my kids have never had lice, but I am going to fess up... I had it about 3 years ago. I was itching something horrible and I was at a baby shower. Holly started looking at my hair to see if I had dry scalp. Boy was she in for a treat!!! LOL. We both got the heebie jeebies and went home and shampooed. (great to hear about the oil alternative, that RID stuff is NASTY) So anyway, my husband sat all day and picked through my hair (I have ALOT of hair, he only found about 6 nits) I never knew where I got it and how the kids never got it. Crazy nasty stuff!!!! There, now everyone knows my little secret and hopefully I won't be shunned! LOL. Holly still love me, so I know who my true friends are ! :)

Jennifer said...

BTW, Holly thinks I might have gotten it from the movies. She actually wears a hoodie to the movies and then takes it home to wash it! (smart girl) OR the hospital. I had just given birth at JFK. Who knows.

Oh, and I'm sure everyone that read this will be itching all day... lol... I've already started :)

Lauren said...

Oh my goodness! Ewwww. So sorry, Lillie. Now I'll be scouring my kids' heads this afternoon. You did handle it well and I hope you don't have to deal with it again. Your pics from Hawaii are incredible. Jealous!

Lillie said...

I love people's stories! Thanks for making me feel better. Especially you Jen! Holly's a genius, I've TOTALLY thought about the movie theatre since all this.... YIKES. Glad to know you got through it. :)

Josie said...

Okay, I have heard that one of the easiest ways to get lice is with sharing helmets for sporting activities, like baseball, fencing, or biking. Never thought of those things before. After being a parent for 13 years the idea of judging someone about this is crazy. You go girl and thanks for the advice.

Lowdogg said...

I just wanted to say how much we've enjoyed visiting you in your home these last 8 years. And how glad I am that the hotel rates are so good out there in the summer.


Julie said...

I'm coming strangers nonetheless... That I've been there, done that! My youngest kept itching her head like crazy and I was sure it was because she wasn't rinsing all of the shampoo out of her hair. It WAS horrible and you do feel so dirty and dare I say, white trash? Because that's the stygma of head lice. That was always my biggest fear as a, in the world, can you ever begin to clean and disinfect? I wanted to go through my carpet fibers with tweezers! The bedding, the blankets, the toys, the brushes, the furniture, the nit picking(I even used a head lamp, ewww, ick!!!)...totally, TOTALLY overwhelming!! Now I don't feel so ashamed if someone so awesome as you has experienced the same thing! Sorry you had to, but like you said...we conquered!!!

Rebecca Smylie said...

This terrifies me because do they have lice shampoo in Senegal? I mean, I'm sure they do. Right?

Keith and Courtney said...

That is definitely one of the hard mommy things that I dread. Totally crazy how they can go unnoticed. I remember a pair of sisters in elementary school getting lice and they came back with short hair cuts. I didn't realize you had to pick them all out. I always assumed the shampoo stuff would just kill them and they would fall out. I think you did well. Hopefully you can check that experience off your "hard mommy things list" forever!

Abigail said...

I did enjoy reading your post- sorry it upset you so much though. I'm in the UK, and teach 4 year olds as well as being a Mum, and it's just so common, it's not that big a deal. My kids have had it three or four times, but it is mostly spread by head to head contact, so it is cuddly kids/kids with long hair that are most susceptible. I have to say, last time my little boy was so bad we did use a chemical shampoo on the whole family (and just the thought makes you itch for days, doesn't it?)
But the best way to get the lice out (and if you do it daily or every other day for a while, that gets the nits as they hatch) is to use conditioner. This also stops the nits sticking so well. You just wash their hair, condition it and don't rinse the conditioner, then nit comb. I have to confess, I quite like squashing the little blighters between my nails - makes a great cracking sound! Also, you can get metal combs with twisty teeth which are better than the plastic ones. And you can also get electronic combs (not for use with conditioner!) that zap them as you comb - I've heard they're pretty good, but have never tried them myself.

Kenna Moon said...

You've got tons of comments today! I just thought I'd add my two cents, as I've had head lice twice in my life - twice. In hindsight, it was probably worse for my mom. I remember sitting in chair in the bright bathroom, late at night, while mom picked nits out, and I had to have my hair cut both times, which is why I'd always wanted it long afterwards. When I realized I had lice again, I waited for at least a week to tell mom, because (in my childish logic) I didn't want to have to put her through that again. Luckily Sophia's hair is straight and relatively thin; even then, mine was thick and bushy, it must have been a nightmare to comb through, though the nits may have stood out more in my dark hair :/

Holly said...

Lillie- You are HILARIOUS!! I totally love the way you "write the reality of things"!! I laughed out loud a few times. Isaac got headlice about 5 years ago, and amazingly none of the rest of us did. I spent at least 3 hours on him (and he is a short haired boy.) After he was 'cleaned up' I gave him a buzz. The house, on the other hand took me at least 8 hours. I just remember the piles and piles of laundry, ugh!

My little girls think mommy just loves to play with their hair during sacrament meeting every Sunday. Little do they know that when they are laying their heads on my lap all relaxed they are getting a thourough 'cooty check'. :)

Jen told you about our adventure. Good Times! ;);) She and I just went to the movies tonight and niether of us brought our hoodies. oops! Hope we don't regret it. We are living on the edge!!

rochelle said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mandy said...

Okay, I have a major fear of my kids getting this. I don't know what my problem is but I completely freak anytime I simply hear the word. I feel for you. Glad you survived and if that dreadful day ever comes, rest assured I will be rereading this post ... but probably after I bleach and burn everything I can think of. :) Just kidding, maybe.

Meadowbrook Properties said...

quick warning - don't overuse any prescribed head lice treatments. many are cancer causing in large or frequent doses. i read about a woman who was so grossed out that she used the lice shampoo as a preventative measure when she was worried about a new outbreak. two of her children got leukemia... heart breaking. be careful.

Not zebras! said...

My sister-in-law swears by tied up hair and hairspray for her daughter as the best lice defense. Tied back/up hair is less likely to brush against other hair and hairspray over the hair makes it a little bit 'dirty' and helps keep those lice away.
Knocking on wood as I type this!

S.A.S. said...

So I thought you'd think this was funny, but here we are, it's 11pm and we're supposed to leave for a beach trip tomorrow morning with three other families we love. Tonight two of them reported that they'd had lice this week. They said they'd treated, etc. but one of them just found it today... anyway, I said "Paul, we're not going. I remember Lillie's blog post on lice and I can't risk it." Ha ha. It was stuck in my brain as this brave, noble, REALLY TIME CONSUMING thing you did to rescue little Soph from the bugs and I was scared for life of when it would be my turn. So you saved us, because with three little girls, good heavens.

Love and miss you Lillie. Don't the Biesingers need an East Coast trip this fall.... or next spring... or sometime SOON? xoxo