We Are Both Right

It’s the Itchy and Scratchy Show!

lice treatment

Amanda was going to run a photo of a louse to accompany her post, but she can't stand to look at another one. Here's a generic picture of a comb instead. You're welcome. aperfect1©/stock.xchng

If, for whatever reason, I am ever asked to come up with a way to torture someone, and I mean, really inflict maniacal psychological warfare, I have the perfect method.

I will infest my victim and everyone who lives in their house with lice.

Think I’m being a little, I don’t know, soft on my potential target? Clearly, you have never dealt with these wingless bloodsuckers that will just not go away.

It all started two weeks ago when I found a single louse on my 3-year-old’s head. With my own head becoming suddenly incredibly, unbelievably itchy and my stomach plummeting into the basement, my husband confirmed what I couldn’t bring myself to say or even think.

We had lice. And by we, I mean two of my children (my daughter and my younger boy) and me. (My husband is voluntarily bald. Cheater.)

I remember very clearly my reaction. I went with the three-year-old temper tantrum route, shouting, crying, balling my fists and stomping my feet. The funny (heh – I don’t think the word “funny” has ever been used in conjunction with lice before) thing was, I didn’t even know what I was in for. Just that it wasn’t going to be good. And it wasn’t.

Oh it wasn’t.

Because it wasn’t enough for the universe to just give us lice. It had to take away our hot water in the form of a broken boiler. And have my husband be at work for the next 48 hours.

Me + three cases of lice – a supply of hot water – my support system = One ticket to crazytown with all the extra baggage I could carry.

When I am faced with a problem, I automatically go into research mode and this time was no exception. The problem is, all my googling was making me more upset, despite almost every article I read starting with the same two words: DON’T PANIC. (Yeah, right. There are bugs. In our HAIR. They are LAYING EGGS. Seems like a perfect time to panic to me.)

I think the hardest part for me through it all was the hopelessness I felt. Like swimming in Jell-O (with bugs in my hair). Because no matter what I did, no matter how much money I spent, no matter how much time I spent picking through my daughter’s hair or my own (I shaved both of my boys’ heads. I was not messing around), I felt like I was always a step behind. There was always going to be a nit I missed or worse, a bug I couldn’t catch. I can’t even tell you how many treatments my daughter and I wound up having (at least five each in the course of a week).

I turned into a crazy person, with the lice overtaking every part of my life. I read, reread and read websites, over and over again, looking for some easy solution. I washed and rewashed and washed again what felt like every article of clothing and sheet in our house. (Major props to my husband for doing six loads of laundry at the laundromat on Mother’s Day.) I bought every kind of treatment, preventative spray and anti-lice product out there. I cross-examined other parents for tips and tricks (Major props to Suzanne for sending me a list of of things to do. Interestingly enough, it also carried the “Don’t panic” propaganda.) Because there was a major outbreak of lice (seven cases!) in my daughter’s class, I spent some time on the phone with the principal of her school, peppering her with questions on she was doing to disinfect and clean the classroom and educating the kids and their parents.

Not to mention how I tortured my family. Begging my husband to comb through my hair. Chasing after all three kids with sprays concocted of mint and rosemary (lice don’t like these scents apparently). Making my daughter wear her hair up in a braid and plastered with hair spray . Not to mention the plastic shopping bag in lieu of her knapsack I make her keep her things in once she gets inside of her classroom — not a cool thing to do apparently.

But no matter what I was doing, no matter how busy I kept myself, no matter how in control I tried to put myself, the lice were always in the back of my head (literally!), taunting me. I couldn’t relax. Until now. Kind of. (Not really.)

Two weeks of this ordeal and I’m cautiously optimistic that we might have very possibly, potentially, perhaps, maybe have gotten rid of them. (I’m being intentionally vague and humble on the chance that one of the little buggers reads this and decides to come back and teach me a lesson.) My daughter and I each had a treatment today — the “OK, no live bugs in over a week but you still better do a follow-up” treatment. We both came back clean, save for a few stray nits on her head that I have removed. My head still itches, but both my husband and I have been through my hair up and down and side to side and can find nothing. I think I might have overdone it on the treatments and now I’m reacting to them, physically and psychologically.

I promised my daughter that after this treatment that I wouldn’t be on top of her with the combs and tweezers as often (I was doing it twice a day), but as I write this, I know this is a promise I won’t be able to keep. I’m still scarred. And scared. You hear that lice? I’m scared. You win. Please leave us alone!

Have you or anyone in your house ever had lice? When did you reach the point where you could say, “O.K., they are gone?”

By the way, if you know me in real life, please don’t mention my post to my daughter. She will reinfect me herself if she knows this story is floating around on the Internets.