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- I’m sorry. It was me. I just didn’t know.
I preface this with the admission that we have dry skin in our family. Really dry skin. Flaky legs, bumpy arms, itchy everything. So when my elementary school daughter said her head was itching and I saw dandruff, I bought some anti-itch shampoo and was done with it.
She said she had lice. I told her it was dry skin. She said she had big green bugs in her hair. I told her about the boy who cried wolf. That was more than two weeks ago.
Last night she again said she was itchy and that a bug fell out of her head at school that day. I sighed and acquiesced to look at her scalp. Oh yes, you guessed correctly. Lice. Many. Live and crawling around.
I applaud both my self-restraint and her lack of emotion. We looked at some photos online and I merely said, “Yes, I guess we need to go to the store tonight.” Psychosomatically I started itching everywhere on my body.
I instantly felt guilty that I didn’t believe her, that I didn’t check her scalp sooner, that I kept sending her to school with these to infect others. I felt even more guilty when I got to the grocery and saw that all three brands of lice shampoo were gone. Not a single bottle on the shelves. Crap. Did I do this? Did all the kids in her school have this because of my child?
A trip to another store rendered the pesticide (yes, that’s really what it is) that is socially acceptable to slather on our children’s heads. We did the treatment, combed out many live ones and figured we probably got some eggs to boot. Whew. And there was laundry. Lots of laundry. My daughter still frequently climbs into bed with the huz and me, and sometimes sleeps in another room other than her own. There was a ton of laundry.
Truckee Meadows Water Authority may have some questions about the spike in water usage, but I didn’t consider the damage to the environment. I used that hot water cycle over and over with gleeful abandon.
The school district policy says kids who have been treated for lice can come to school at their parents’ discretion. I wanted a second opinion. The next morning I stopped in at the school nurse before class. She looked and said, “All those white flakes? Those aren’t flakes. They’re all eggs.”
Holy shit, there were hundreds of them.
Again, I applaud my serenity at this moment. There was no screaming, no visible shuddering, no f-words uttered out loud. The nurse said this has been a particularly bad year for lice and my daughter was one of the worst cases she’d seen. (She may have said “THE worst”, but I blocked that out.) I told the woman about the empty shelves at the grocery. I didn’t tell her my girl had been itching for more than two weeks.
The pesticide said to only use it once every 7-10 days. If we still had a ton of eggs, what now? The school nurse suggested a Cetaphil cleanser remedy suggested by Seattle Children’s Hospital. http://nuvoforheadlice.com/test/?page_id=9#acceptLicense
We trudged to the store, bought the stuff and went to work. It was quite the operation. We used much of the cleanser, soaked her head. We blow-dried that hair within an inch of its life. We left the dried soap on her head far longer than the recommended minimum time. And the next morning?
Still hundreds of eggs and a few live bugs, though they looked rather feeble. I was crushed. I kept combing with the special little comb and a lot of eggs came out, but there were still tons in her hair. What the hell? Do we shave her head? Visit her doctor? I trusted the science. We’d done two treatments. I had to be at work. I sent her to school.
And when she came home that afternoon? All those eggs left in her hair? They must have been dead or dying that morning, because the vast majority were gone. She said she didn’t itch anymore, either.
We did another cleanser treatment few days later to ensure eradication, but the girl’s hair is as clean as a whistle. Nothing in there but hair.
So I’m here to apologize, to commiserate, and to educate. I’m sorry. I didn’t know, but now you do. (And there is no way in hell I’m putting my name on this!)