Thursday, March 26, 2015

Lice lice baby!



Those horrific little bugs recently wreaked havoc on our household.

Before discovering our own infestation, three of Lowell's sisters announced- one at a time- that they had lice. When the third let it be known that her and her FOUR DAUGHTERS had it, I knew we were doomed.

With one hand scratching my head and the other hand holding the phone, I gave my pal Chelsea a dingle. I asked if she was planning a trip to town that morning as I feared we had lice and I needed someone to check the biggest mop of hair in the house- mine. She was doubtful and questioned my conclusion, "Don't take this the wrong way... but don't they like CLEAN hair?" I KNOW! I only wash my hair like twice a week (max), so the very notion that those little buggers could muddle their way to my scalp seemed unlikely at best.

Being the stellar friend that she is, however, Chels drove over and spent an hour sifting through my locks. Let me give you a little sample of her narration. "WHOA. Okay, it's okay, you're doing great...WHOA. Okay, wow. No don't worry. Okay... WOW. They're kinda cute little critters..." And she proceeded to pull out SIX FULL SIZED BUGS. Like, they were the size of MOSQUITOES. And they had been EATING MY SCALP. Neither of us had a clue that lice could POSSIBLY be so large and disgusting so we weren't even sure they were lice. Fleas? FLIES? Who the heck knows. We were debriefing about it later, and when I recalled that I had no idea lice could be so giant and revolting, she quipped, "no one did..." hahaha (and then she threw up in her mouth a little bit).

Now THAT'S a friend.
So, I did in fact have lice. And so did Fraser and Stefan. Fraser's shaggy 'do was hiding one full-sized bug and several nits (eggs). Stef only had a couple of nits. Chels went out and bought some pesticide for our heads while I sprung into action oiling us all up and trying to suffocate the little pests by bagging our heads.

I also took every other measure in my control to eradicate our lice population. I bagged anything cloth-like and put it in the freezing garage, I began what turned out to be one straight week of sanitizing clothing and bedding (thank heavens for our new front loader, and sorry Lethbridge for using the city's entire hot water supply for the week), I wiped our entire house down with lysol, and I continued to load all of our scalps with tea tree and oregano oils.

I buzzed Fraser's head then shed a tear.

I have to admit... the buzzed look has grown on me. I sort of love it.
Since Lowell's visual impairment does not allow him to see (and therefore pick) tiny nits, and my mommy was away for a month (WAAAAAH!), I had really great friends and sisters step up. Julie Anne, Michelle, and Shareen (none of whom live in town) all pitched in and picked nits that first week.

A super pregnant Julie Anne patiently picking away.
Out of everyone that checked my hair, Michelle was the only one with prior nit-picking experience (we can thank her five offspring for that)!
Fraser was sooooo helpful.
Lowell was super helpful despite his sucky eyes. He was my primary mental support (cuz seriously... lice?),  and he stayed home with the boys while I went to work. I slicked my hair in a high bun for five straight weeks and continued on my merry way. I was a 32-year old woman with lice and knew better than to rub my head in people's business. The boys, however, do not have QUITE the same awareness, so we kept them home until they were clear (which was only about a week).
Nearly three weeks after discovering the lice (and over a week since my second chemical treatment), I was SO excited to get my hair done. I warned my hair dresser that we HAD lice in our household, but I was confident we had kicked it. No one had checked my hair in three days, but the last check appeared clear.

Well not anymore.

My hair dresser put a tea tree treatment in my hair then sent me home. I was sooooo discouraged. I had to take SOME kind of control/action, so I buzzed Stefan's head.

A small tear may have been shed as this boy's curls fell to the floor, but now I kind of adore it.
And I SWORE that it would be MY head next.

Thankfully, Aaron & Megan were visiting from Fernie that afternoon, and Megan graciously agreed to break her previously-clear-of-dealing-with-lice nursing record and pick my nits. She got the most yet... about 50. SICK. The encouraging part, however, is that they were all like 3 inches down the hair shaft (so, old) and (theoretically) not viable.

Then Shareen found a couple.

Then Michelle got a couple more. Then Mandy was psyched to join the nit-picking party (she's an elementary school teacher so jumped at the opportunity for practise), and sifted through my hair with a flashlight during a power outage (that's commitment).

I LOVE that I have people in my life who would drop everything to do something disgusting for me. I, however, secretly hope I don't need to repay the favour for any of them as most of them have super dark, long, AND extraordinarily thick hair.

The first week of dealing with these giant pains was kind of exhilarating in a super exhausting heebie jeebie creepy kind of way. Like, SO gross, but also satisfying that I was kicking a bunch of tiny little butts right out of our lives.

By week four, however, it was just old. I WAS SO SICK OF LICE!!

And then finally. FINALLY. After multiple days of being checked and cleared (while continuing to oil right up and employ my nit pickers), I again became confident that we mutilated all the miniscule little monsters and life could indeed go on.

Chels book-ended the experience for me, and deemed me OFFICIALLY lice-free.
Aaaaaah. CLEAR.
Still... when Mandy showed me her favourite kids' book, I was like, "Too soon, Mandy... too soon." hahaha!

My head still itches like anything, but I'm optimistic that it's simply my scalp falling off (from all the chemicals)... NOT lice.

Things I learned from this experience:
1) Time goes by sooooo slow when you have lice.
2) Shower less.
3) Friends are good. Mine are the best.


PS- If you got through this entire post and aren't itchy, I commend your superpowers.

1 comment :

Shelley said...

Being that i work in the ER in vancouver's centre (close to the downtown eastside), we see patients with lice A LOT! No, i mean, everyday!! MASSIVE INFESTATIONS OF BUGS!! Allow me to share my expertise on this subject of how we handle this. This is what we do...

1) cut hair. We try to cut as much hair off as the patient will allow to make the job less tedious.

2) PESTICIDE! In ER we use NIX treatment. They make NIX for head lice and body lice. Tea tree oils and other natural ingredients will NOT work. With the NIX lotion in your hair, comb the hair thoroughly with a nit comb. You will need to repeat this process 7-10 days later in case some nits get missed and hatch later. It doesn't matter if your hair is dirty or clean (most of our patients are dirty) lice like it all!!

3) Wash, wash, wash! In ER, we either throw the patient's clothes away or double bag them and they can deal with them once they get home (read: patient is not allowed to open that bag while inside the hospital). In the household, i recommend washing clothing, bedding, towels, vacuuming sofas, carpet, and washing items like hats, toques, jacket hoods, etc. Putting items in plastic bags and freezing them not only takes a long time, but is also not necessarily effective. Lice are hearty little buggers and can often survive a freeze. They can't, however, survive the washing machine with hot water.

Hope this information helps. If you ever need into about lice, fleas or bed bugs, ask me. We see it multiple times a day in the ER....the worst infestations imaginable.