Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Itching

Remember when I woke up itchy last week from my new laundry detergent? Well, I'm so very sorry that I complained about that. Because, in perspective, that was nothing. At the time, it was a major ordeal. In retrospect, I'd love to have that itchy rash all over my body right about now.

Last week, Joe was out of town. After giving the little ones baths on Tuesday night, I noticed a little something that was "off" in Spenser's freshly-washed hair. It looked like a fruit fly or a gnat. But upon further inspection, it appeared to be a tick ... or worse. Head lice.

As I found a few of these bugs, full panic set in. This is our first case of lice. And there was some living in my girl's hair. I checked all the boys, and they seemed fine.

Joe was out of town, and because I wanted to treat this sooner than ASAP, I called his mother to stay with the children so that I could drive 20 minutes into civilization to remedy this problem. $58 later, I was armed with shampoos and sprays.

And then my hell began.


I shampooed and combed her hair for hours. (Not getting started until 10:30 p.m. and ending around 1-ish.) I was up until 2:30 a.m. doing laundry. Then laid in bed with an adrenalin rush (and complete and utter paranoia) until I first closed my eyes around 3:30. My eyes did not stay closed for long as the horrible bug dreams started and I woke up often to turn on the lights and inspect my bed. I didn't know if it was the paranoia, or sympathy itch, or lice itself, but I was one itchy mama. (Poor Joe was in Florida itching at the news.)

By Wednesday morning, after two hours of total sleep, I re-checked the boys and discovered lice. After a return trip to the store, and $110 later, I had enough shampoo and spray and new pillows for a small army. Or, in other words, our family. All in all, five of the six had it. Thankfully, all the cases were mild and I caught it just in time for it to spread around, but not totally infest their heads.

About 50+ loads of laundry later (I kid you not), I feel less icky in my house. I can relax when my head is on my own pillow. I cannot relax when I am sitting on the sofa (which is vacuumed daily now).

My hands are raw. I'm still itching up a storm (I did treat myself, just in case!). But I survived with minimal tears. I have never been so tired in all of my life. But, I had super-human strength that carried me through. All of my children got nice new hair cuts for Easter because I decided it would be easier on me to re-treat their hair this week. Spenser had her final treatment yesterday. Today is the day for the boys. So far, all is good.

So that itchy rash from last week? Yeah. That pales in comparison.

(And I feel that I must apologize to you now. I'm sorry that I made you itchy. Go ahead. You can scratch. No one can see you. And just be happy that you've been at a safe distance from us this past week.)

29 comments:

Suzanne said...

Sad to say, I know exactly how you feel. And here I am, two years later, just itching while remembering. http://aviewfromthesewer.typepad.com/a_view_from_the_sewer/2007/07/happy-birthday-.html

I still check the kids almost nightly and cringe when they innocently ask, "You looking for bugs, Mom?" as if it's the most normal thing in the world! This will stay with you for a long long time! LOL!

Katie Jean said...

Oh lera! I'm shuddering just thinking of that whole ordeal. Hopefully it'll be just a distant memory soon!

nikko said...

You poor thing! I hope you get a (itch-free) nap today. We have yet to get lice at our home. I'm hoping it never happens (knock on wood!).

Evelyn said...

Oh, you poor thing!! Every mom dreads this! It seems to happen to everyone sooner or later.

By the way, I've heard great things about using this line of products (http://www.fairytaleshaircare.com/) as a preventative measure. I'm going to start my kid on it as soon as she gets a little older.

nikki said...

Aren't you glad that's over?
Spenser's hair is cute though.

Kris said...

Yep! I'm scratching. Mostly because I have had lice myself. When my kids were at school we would get lice every 6 months or so. (Lice are well entrenched in the school system here. They are also resistant to most of the lice poisons now too!) Homeschooling is what eventually cured our lice problem! It's usually late at night when you discover them and then you spend hours and hours washing. (And washing and washing and...) My worst one was when baby no. 5 (newborn) was being passed around to her brother and sisters for a goodnight cuddle and when she got back to me she had a louse on her forehead! Eeewwwwwww! My poor tiny baby! Then the washing started. I was sooooooooooo tired!

Hope you got a cure a little more simply than homeschooling!

Karyn said...

You ARE wonder woman.

And yes, I was all itchy reading your post!

jessi said...

Ugh Lera! Did you get the super lice comb (metal and very close tines)? I had lice on my mission once and aside from washing everything (which was a huge ordeal as we washed everything by hand), I just combed everyday and after a few days they were gone. Maybe the comb can be a good (and fairly cheap - I think they run under $15 here) follow-up to keep them away...Good luck! You have my sympathy!

Myrnie said...

Oh no! Glad it's over...

mommiemarzie said...

Oh my! That's just no fun! I would be at freak out factor 5 too!
-Kathy

Gail :) said...

Her hair is Adorable! I am itchy now too LOL!

Stacey said...

I am so sorry..lice...why do they even exist?

Oh...thats right...to make moms life TERRIBLE for a few days!

I despise those little buggers!

misschris said...

Ok, girl. I've dealt with this twice on my big girl. The one with enough hair for three people. It is awful.

And do I ever have tips for you.

First of all, don't freak out now. Once you have washed everything in hot water and vacuumed the house, you're ok. Live lice cannot live off the host for longer than 24-48 hours. Nits can still develop into live ones,but it is RARE for them to have just dropped off the hair shaft and be lying about.

Do NOT go into overdrive with sprays and pesticides. They have proved to be more harm than anything else.

Wash the pillowcases every day -- or have them lay on towels at night.

Use Olive Oil on Spenser's hair every 3-4 days. I know it is tempting to do it every day, but once you have the live ones gone, it really does take a few days to see any developing nits. Let the OO soak in for a few minutes, and then do the comb through and nit-pick. The wire combs are better than the plastic ones.

Do this for 28 days -- which is the full cycle of the larvae to live louse... It will get faster after your first pick through, but you will continue to find some (fewer, though)each time until you find none at all.

This site: http://www.headliceinfo.com/ is a wonderful, valuable place for handy information and it will ease your fears quite a bit. Don't worry, the hard part is over.

Let me know if you need any more tips. (BTW, I also bagged all of her stuffed animals and toys that I could not wash in hot water... for 28 days.) A sheet over the sofa and anywhere they hang out is easier than vacuuming everywhere all the time.

And... ALWAYS bring a sweatshirt or something to put over the headrest at the movie theatre... We had two outbreaks locally that were traced back there. Just FYI, you know..

xoxoxo You can do it. Yes, it's exhausting. Court actually got used to it after the first night. I sat her down in front of a movie when I went through her hair. She thought it was kind of fun to be allowed to do that so late at night.

The Georgia Peaches said...

We had a bad case of lice that lasted several months! It was awful. The thing that finally kicked it for us besides everything that you've done is tea tree oil. Lice doesn't like it. You put it their hair after you shampoo it and calm it through. Good luck.

crazyqsis said...

Dippity Doo slathered on the hair works between washings and combings. My Mom was a teacher in a disadvantaged school district and lice was treated by some and not by others and became very resistent to treatment and to top it off my mom became alergic to the medicated treatments. they are very harsh.

Autum said...

Twitch, twitch...scratch, scratch ;)

Diane said...

Oh Lera! What a trial! My heart goes out to you and how tired you must have been. I hope the worst is behind you for good.

FinnyKnits said...

Oh nooooooooooooo! I remember this from elementary school. Sitting in the tall chair in the kitchen so that my mom could pick at me while the soaps were on TV.

YICK.

*itch itch itch*

Hope you get a good nap today. On a nice clean pillow :)

laeroport said...

ooohhhh.... i am so sorry. and i am itchy now. darn it.

get some rest, my friend.

Alicia A. said...

Oooooooooh nooooooooooo.

(fidget, squirm, scratch.)

barbara said...

You poor thing. Even the notes that came home from school that said to be on the lookout made me sleepless. If it makes you feel any better, my friend with 8 kids found lice the night before Thanksgiving at the exact moment her mother-in-law was arriving to spend the weekend. Good luck! At least your house is nice and clean!

erica e said...

oh horrible! and yeah, i involuntarily scratched my head reading this. sorry you had to go through this. yuck.

Kat said...

LOL ...I am itchy now. When I worked at the day care we had lice every few years that was super fun. You poor thing!!

amandajean said...

i can't imagine doing 50+ loads of laundry in that short amount of time. and your poor raw hands. i hope that it's gone for good!

jenny said...

Oohhh this bringsback memories. had lice TWICE when I was a kid. The first time my mom painstakingly combed my long hair for HOURS and HOURS. The second time? My hair got chopped. SHORT!

We have been having tick problems where we are. I am constantly on the lookout for ticks-- on the kids (the baby, too! He had one on his thigh!) and the dog and the cats. Ugh!

jenny said...

BTW-- itching now!! I think I'll go take a shower!

craftyclaire said...

Hi, I had this before Xmas and just after, but only spent c£5 ($10) on a bottle of shampoo, I already had the comb. Apparently once they fall of the head they die. But you do need to keep combing and reapply the shampoo a week later to get any lice that have hatched. It is a vile job to do. I too was so paranoid, I almost shaved my kids hair off! I treated my hair (long and thick) even though I found nothing.
Best of luck. My S-I-L is also going through this at the mo and is so paranoid, she doesn't believe she has got rid of them yet. Best of luck

Jessica said...

Oh Lera, I'm so sorry you are going through this. I don't know what it is about my hair, but those little boogers *loved* me when I was a kid. And my hair is so fine that those combs didn't work. My mom had to pick each nit out with her fingers. I think she about went blind!!

I feel for you, but this too shall pass. And it isn't it just typical that this stuff happens with Joe out of town? At least I know that's how it goes in our house :)

sue said...

I know how you feel. My daughter has had them on and off for 3 years now and it drives me crazy everytime I think about it (and itchy too). I have now found a product which is a mousse that you leave in their hair for 20 minutes and then wash out, comb out the eggs and lice and repeat every few days. I also found that a preventative spray works wonders and if you put gel or hairspray in their hair the lice dont like it. I hope it doesnt come back again as it does take some time to comb them all out.