Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Escape from Louse Mountain

I hate bugs. Ever heard me mention that? I. Really. Hate. Bugs.

And now one of my biggest bug-related fears has come true, not once, not twice, but thrice: Head lice. Head LICE. Not on me, which would be horrid enough. On my children. I thought we were going to escape them altogether. After all, I never had lice. Thomas never had lice. None of our siblings ever had lice. Hannah didn't get them at camp last summer when all of her friends did.

But two weeks ago, she started scratching. I didn't see anything the several times that I checked. But then, as I was holding the shower door for her, SOMETHING fell on my arm. It looked like a little bit of fuzz. But a more solid bit of fuzz than fuzz normally appears to be. And it fell from her head.

I have spent the past seven years hiding, as well as I can, the fact that I don't like bugs. That I'm pretty much terrified of spiders. I hide it because I don't want Hannah and Charlotte to have my ridiculous fear of these tiny creatures.

Leetle sidebar: My fear stems from an incident when I was very young: I learned upon kicking a log in my grandparents yard that said log was infested with now-angry Daddy Longlegs. Angry Daddy Longlegs swarm. Did you know that? I did not. Hence my life-long fear of spiders (do NOT tell me that "technically, they are not spiders." I know that. I get it. It doesn't matter), and other bugs. On contact, they all tend to cause the same creepy crawling of the skin.

And I think I've done a pretty good job not infecting them with my bugophoboa--in fact, a couple of years ago, at Happy Hollow Park and Zoo, Hannah actually held an African Giant Millipede--which, Jeezus Edith, some people keep as pets. So when the little bit of oh-dear-god-please-let-that-be-fuzz fell on my arm, I quickly and calmly-ish slapped my hand over it, ushered Hannah into the shower and ran to ask Thomas "What the hell is this?!" We had to Google it. It was a louse. It had friends. Lots of friends. My head began to itch. Not bugs--just psychosomatic.

We treated it with Nix. Twice. I made her wash her hair every day. We did the fine-toothed comb. Every day. We [[insert sound of shudder]] picked nits. Every day. I washed in hot water and dried on hot for 70 minutes all bedding, stuffed animals, pillows, clothes and anything else that would fit in the washer and/or dryer. Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum. The floor. The beds. The dog, for good measure. Finally, a little over a week later, they were gone.

And then they came back. Two days ago, first thing in the morning, she started scratching again. "No no no no! Oh please, no!" The universe turned a deaf ear to my pleas. Somehow, I missed at least two and those fertile little fuckers were at it again. Did you know they can hold their breath for an obscene amount of time, which is why just shampooing won't kill them? I did not.

Back to the pharmacy. Everything back in the washer and/or dryer on the hottest setting. Vacuum, vacuum. Bleach the sink and tub after the treating and [[insert sound of shudder]] nit picking sessions. Everything I've read says that lice are not an indication that you or your house are lacking in cleanliness, which is small comfort when the treatment is to clean yourself and your home harder than you probably thought possible.

Throughout all of this, I've been giving myself a mental high five because, as much as I hate bugs (have I mentioned that?), I haven't freaked out in front of the girls. Even when Hannah made me leave a live louse on a tissue for a couple of minutes because she wanted to see what it looked like. I almost offered to let her look at one online, but wasn't sure if the magnified images would, in a nanosecond, undo seven years of my not freaking out.

This morning all of our de-lousing efforts--not to mention Hannah's incredible patience with the fine-toothed comb in her very thick hair--were clearly paying off. There were very few nits left! And then, from the kitchen I heard, "Um, Mel? Bad news. Charlotte has them, too."

Frickemfuckemfrackem. I need a bigger washing machine.


Eddie McGlamery said...

Sorry to hear...what a pain in the ARSE!!
This line made me do an ACTUAL LOL!

"Somehow, I missed at least two and those fertile little fuckers were at it again."

Melanie K said...

I forgot to add that Charlotte's screaming while getting her hair treated and combed probably rendered at least three lice generations completely deaf. Hopefully the rely on a mating call to find one another. I'm not counting on it.


Jessica Córdova said...

I got a note home that someone in Antonio's class has lice. I've been doing the scalp inspection the last two days. Not easy with your fingers crossed....

Jen Myers said...

I am so so so so sad for you. Lice give me the heebie jeebies. We've only had a very minor brush with them, 1 nit and 1 dead one, but the washing of everything to be sure was such a pain.

I hope they are all dead and gone soon.

Melanie K said...

Not to worry--they are all gone. The piles of laundry, on the other hand, seem to be taking much too long to get smaller.

Jessica, as i am no longer picking nits [[ugh--still hate the sound of that]], I will keep my fingers crossed for you :)

Sharon Mitri said...

I just heard that there's now an oral medication that kills them. No more touching the filthy little buggers. I don't know how we avoided them. Read on brave soul...

"French medical researchers have recently demonstrated the effectiveness of a new molecule in the fight against lice. Faced with the emergence of increasing resistance to conventional treatments by these parasites, this new medication represents a real therapeutic alternative which is effective in 95% of cases.

This work has been published in the March 11th edition of The New England Journal of Medicine.

The drug is...
Ivermectin is a compound from the avermectin family which acts by blocking neurotransmissions in the brains of invertebrates.

The results obtained by the researchers are convincing: 95% of the 398 individuals who received Ivermectin were free from lice 15 days after the start of treatment, as compared to 85% of the 414 individuals treated with malathion. Ivermectin is already available on the market. It is prescribed, in particular, for treatment of scabies.

For Olivier Chosidow, coordinator of the study, no doubt remains, "When conventional treatments against lice do not work, taking Ivermectin twice, with a seven-day interval, offers excellent results and represents a real alternative to conventional anti-lice lotions."

uncle wally said...

You should look on the bright side - you cleaned the house while being distracted by something else. Once the bugs are gone, you'll have a sense of accomplishment, like, "hey, no more bugs, and wow, that laundry is spring fresh!"

Number Nine said...

I share your horror of bugs and applaud your commitment to saving your daughters from such fears, but I suspect they find their own. My daughter is terrified of snakes. While I don't like them, they don't send me into paroxysms of terror. When my kids were little we got the ominous louse warning from school. My neighbor and I assiduously picked our kids and our own hair searching for the buggers. Fortunately we escaped the doom, but embedded on my soul is the picture of Randi picking my hair and me picking hers. Now that's friendship, maybe a lousy one (sorry, couldn't resist)