Monday, July 28, 2014

The Big Bad, Part 3

That Monday after the lice treatment, we sent the kiddo to school as usual. Any nits that had somehow been overlooked would not have been viable, so there was no reason to keep her at home. However...

I was tormented by the question of where the darned lice had come from. The potential culprits were school, church, or the gym. School seemed like the most likely, and I thought about the kiddo's class room. Each child has his or her own hook to hang their coats on, which isn't an issue in the fall when all they wear are light jackets. In the winter, though, when everyone wears thick, bulky coats or jackets, they all overlap. A critter could easily crawl from one coat to another. I had just had the absolute worst weekend of my life, and I was not about to let my family go through that again. I walked the kiddo to school, I ordered her not to let her head touch anyone else's head. No sharing hats. No using anyone else's comb. Then, the kicker: when we arrived at the door, hubby stripped the kiddo's coat off her and I stuffed in into her backpack. I let her know that under no circumstances was she to hang her coat up on her hook, and if anyone had a problem with that, they needed to talk to me. She agreed, maybe only because the memory of our miserable weekend was still fresh, or maybe because it was cold outside and she just wanted to go in.

Once I returned home, I stripped the kiddo's bed and washed her sheets, jammies, and her one allotted stuffed animal and baked them in the dryer. After school, as soon as we got home, I took her coat, scarf, and hat and washed and baked them, too.

That night, we slicked up the kiddo's hair and we all endured the torture of combing and head scrutiny. 

We stuffed the kiddo's coat into her backpack or into a plastic bag every day until the end of the cold weather. The daily washing and baking continued for two weeks. The nightly checks went on for months. I also recalled the Walgreen cashier's comment that hairspray keeps lice off, so every morning I shellacked the kiddo's head with Aqua Net.

One person who should have been on my side more or less told me that it was my own fault that the kiddo had lice. See if you can follow along: because we walk to school, the kiddo is usually late (not true). She likes to talk to people in the hall, so she is always late to her classroom (she does like to talk to her friends, but aren't there, like, staff who help get the kids to class in the morning?). Since the kiddo is "always" late, she throws her coat on the floor in the coat area, instead of hanging it up (it happened once or twice in the fall and was dealt with and and the matter was resolved). Lice apparently live on the floor and never die, so they just naturally gravitated toward her coat (so ridiculous that it doesn't merit further comment).  (Note: this is not the kiddo's 1st grade teacher, who is the nicest, most understanding person ever. Just saying...)

No other cases of lice were reported in the 1st grade, nor at church or at the gym...I was stumped. Perhaps if a clear culprit had been found and dealt with, I could have relaxed a bit, but, as I said, our new routine went on for months. We got rid of those vermin in under a week, but I was determined that they would not stage a comeback. We received a letter from the school, stating that "we have discovered one or more cases of head lice". Hubby blew up over that, saying "They didn't discover anything. I discovered them!"--true that.

 The hardest part was telling the moms of the kiddo's friends that she had been treated for, gulp, lice. I had told my one friend and had received such an understanding response, but I was horrified to tell anyone else. Then I got over it. I heard so many comments like "I had them when I was a kid" and "That happened to us last year" that I stopped worrying about being embarrassed.

Lice are not the end of the world. Rape and murder still top my list of scariest things ever, and really, there are worse contenders for spot number three. However, the stigma attached to lice is formidable, not to mention the fact that we humans are hardwired to dislike bugs. I have come to the conclusion, though, that my main problem with lice is that they are a violation of one's person. The unpleasant itching, the itchy, burning rash--yes, they make sufferers miserable, but their unwanted presence is torture. Lice clamp onto the hair shaft, and the substance that binds the nits to the hair is as strong as cement. Once they choose a host, they won't leave without a fight. My preventative measures were laughable, although the essential oils in Lice Shield seem to be good at warding off mosquitoes.

So, is your head itching now?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Big Bad, Part 2

Lice, screaming child, then a clothes dryer ready to die, and on a Friday night when everything was was the last straw. We couldn't be certain that the second treatment would work. We weren't sure the dryer would hold out. Clearly, the deck was stacked against me. I needed backup, but it was too late at night to call my friend and ask for help. I called the pediatricians' office and got their answering service, and asked to talk to the doctor on call. 

Well, guess who the on-call doctor was? The same doctor who had seen us earlier that day and who had missed the creepy-crawlies in the kiddo's hair. When she called me back, I reminded her of who we were. Then I asked her if she could hear the screaming in the background. She confirmed that she could, and I told her that it was coming from my daughter, who was enduring a de-lousing treatment. "You really dropped the ball, lady", I told her. She apologized. I told her what we had already done to treat the problem. She apologized again. I asked what else we needed to do to make it all go away. She apologized once more. "Stop apologizing and tell me how to fix this!"  

Dr. X promised to call in a prescription for a lice treatment that she promised would be more effective than any over-the-counter product. We would just have to wait until the pharmacy opened back up Saturday morning...

I was so relieved to have a solution that it didn't occur to me that Dr. X could have called the prescription in to a 24-hour pharmacy instead of making us wait. Neither did it occur to me to question her choice of treatment.

It ended up taking a while to get the prescription. Our regular pharmacy was out of the medicated treatment, and had to transfer the prescription to another pharmacy. In the meantime, my mom was warning me against that particular lice treatment, Malathion. I called the pharmacist to make sure it was a safe treatment. He told me it was perfectly safe, but that I must wash my hands immediately after applying it because it is such a strong pesticide. It seems that Malathion is flammable and can cause chemical burns. And the kicker: you need to leave it on the lice-infested head for at least eight hours. The next question was, did I love my child more than I hated the lice? The answer was yes, of course! I couldn't put a toxic chemical on my kiddo's head. 

I did go ahead and buy the Malathion, just in case I ended up needing it for myself. However, when I got home, hubby and I discussed our options and decided that we needed a second opinion. I called the pediatricians' office back and asked to speak to a different doctor. This doctor listened to my tale of woe and prescribed the latest, state of the art lice treatment: Sklice. And she told us that, since we hadn't used it before, we would be eligible for a coupon from the manufacturer. That knocked the cost down from about $300.00 to $25.00. You read that right. $300.00 for the most gentle yet effective way to get rid of lice. Even with insurance, it would have been $75.00. Would I have paid $75.00 or even $300.00 to get rid of the lice? Yes, indeed I would have, but I'm glad I did not have to. 

One Sklice treatment later, and the kiddo was live-bug free. There were still a few nits in her hair, but according to the package, they were not viable. (Hubby picked them out, anyway. He is my hero.) 

The worst part was over, but the hard part was just beginning...