Friday, December 7, 2007

Lice Capades

Remember earlier in the week when everything went my way with the dishwasher and the washing machine and even the chimney? And so many of you commented about how lucky it all was?

It's a funny thing about luck. Some days it's with you and others...well, let's just say that some days I'm glad I blog. Wednesday was one of those days.

It started in the wee hours when Gumby had a bad dream and came in to sleep with us. Before long Surfer Dude followed. At around 5 am, when I took yet another elbow to the teeth, I finally gave up and went to sleep on the upstairs sofa, booting off a very disgruntled dog who glared at me for the rest of the day. Gumby is a lethal sleeper, but it was made worse by the fact that he was clawing at his head in his sleep, scratching it violently almost non-stop. This has been going on off and on for a couple of weeks now, and, since there's been a fair amount of head lice at his school I've been checking him (and SD) religiously - with no results. I'd chalked it up to a dry scalp (which both the FG and I have) and had been deep conditioning the bejeezus out of it with not a lot of success. I'd even commented on Diana's funnier than hell post that we seemed to have dodged the lice bullet. Our record of getting three kids to the ages of 10, 11 and 15 liceless appeared intact.

When he got up (still scratching) I took another close look at his head. Nothing. Moved him under a bright light. Still nothing. But his upper back was covered by this nasty looking red rash, which he said itched like crazy. I put calamine lotion on him, gave him some Benadryl, sent him to school and made a doctor's appointment for that afternoon.

We waited an hour to see our doctor, whom I love but who always runs late. He spent about five seconds looking in Gumby's hair and said

He has head lice.

And I said

He does not. Where??

And he said

Here. And here. And here. And...

And I said

Show me. I've been looking at his head for weeks and haven't seen a thing.

So he showed me. And I still didn't see the SOBs.

And I said

Oh come on. You know what I said.

It's an awfully good thing I don't do anything medical with my life, I'll tell you, because that could be really bad if I can't even see bugs.

So we went to the store and bought the kits to shampoo his hair with and spray down everything he might have touched in the last couple of weeks. (Uh, mom...about the lake's a really funny story about Gumby's "dry scalp" hello??).

Head lice removal kits (2) - $22.52

Then, while Surfer Dude and Sasquatch danced around Gumby chanting You have li-ice, you have li-ice, I stripped all the beds, grabbed anything that he might have worn in the last year or so and headed to the washing machine.

Uh oh.

My washer part that was supposed to be in on Tuesday still wasn't here. I had approximately 120 loads of laundry and no working washing machine. What's the only thing worse than doing laundry?

Doing laundry at a laundromat, that's what. In a college town. (At least I didn't go to the one that's part laundry and part bar. Man, that place is always packed). I haven't been to a laundromat since I was in college myself. The first time. I was so out of practice that I didn't even take laundry soap with me and had to buy those stupid little overpriced boxes.

5 loads of laundry @ $1.50 a load - $7.50

6 boxes of laundry soap @ .75 a box (because not only am I forgetful but evidently I can't count either) - $4.50

I had promised to get treats since SD and Sasquatch had stayed at home by themselves while we were at the doctors appointment, so I stopped at Dairy Queen and a Kwikshop (because god forbid they want the same thing).

Blizzard and slushies - $6.83

I drove home, still mentally cursing about forgetting the soap, and threw some chicken in the oven for dinner. Totally forgot that the red headed step child was at our house and didn't bring him anything from either place, which he will never let me forget as long as I live. By the time I figured that the washers at the laundromat were finished the FG had come home. He had to put the laundry room back together since he had moved both the washer and dryer for the repair man. I gave him instructions on putting all the pillows in the dryer and taking the chicken out of the oven and left him scratching his head madly as I headed back out to move our sheets and blankets to the dryer.

By the time I got there the place was packed and all the dryers were full. I passed the soap vending machine and got all ticked off again that I had forgotten to bring my own soap and had to buy their overpriced stuff. Finally got four dryers and threw my laundry in.

Fabric softener sheets 2 boxes @.75 each- $1.50

I had planned to put the stuff in the dryer and head home, but found out that the damned things only run for eight minutes and then you have to feed them another quarter. Eight minutes.

4 dryers running multiple times - $4.25

Got all the laundry dry and headed home to delouse Gumby and force everyone else to shampoo with the special shampoo. This should be fun, no?

Bottle of wine bought on the way home - $9.00

When I got home the FG was pulling dinner out of the oven. After they ate I took SD over to the light to look in his hair, and, once more, saw nothing. Then the FG remembered that he had a magnifying lamp out in the studio so he brought that in and set it up. I took SD and put him under the lamp to look at his head again under the magnifier.

Holy Mary, mother of god.

It is virtually impossible to gross me out, but I jumped away from the kid like he had a snake around his neck. His head was crawling. Strike two.

I can sum up the rest of the evening in two words - it sucked. We had to cut Gumby's and SD's hair. Sasquatch, the FG and I were all lice free but we shampooed with that vile stuff anyway. The FG and I each took a kid and combed nits out of their hair until I felt like gagging. (At one point in this I was walking through the kitchen and realized that I hadn't eaten any dinner. Grabbed the pot of rice, poured some soy sauce on it and had a big bite. And then looked closely at the rice. Brown rice. Brown looks exactly like lice nits rice. I may never eat rice again.

My friend Laurie arrived to pick up the red headed step-child. (From here on out Laurie will be known as Elly Mae so as to not get her confused with laurie from Three Dog Blog who, although she would be welcome on my doorstep anytime, has never been to Chez RC). She was all smiles until I filled her in on our day, at which point she shrank against my front door jamb in horror and shrieked up the stairs for her son to hurry. I had to laugh. I'd have done exactly the same thing. (I'm pretty sure I have done the same thing, actually).

It was almost midnight before everyone was showered, shampooed, nit picked and put to bed on fresh sheets and blankets. It had been a very long day.

As I write this my washer is fixed and I am methodically washing every piece of fabric in our house. The sofas and my car have been sprayed. I let Gumby stay home because I felt bad for him, so he's been totally taking advantage of that all day. I haven't worked up the courage to call my mother and tell her that we've infested her house.

I even called Laurie/Elly Mae and told her she could pick her own blog name and she said I could do it since she feels like I nailed everyone else with my code names and she trusts me. Sucker. I'm sure I'll be hearing about this one.

And on top of it all I cannot stop scratching my head. Or mourning the loss of rice from my life. And knowing that we'll be combing out kids hair until the end of time. Or longer.


ped crossing said...

Oh man! I am so sorry.

Not too long ago my hairdresser and I were discussing lice. A necessary topic when you work in an elementary school. She told me that tea tree shampoo will keep the buggers at bay. She has her little sister use it when there is a breakout at school. I believe it is more preventative, but it has to be better than the nasty chemical stuff.

I'm all itchy just thinking about it. Yuck!

laurie said...

oh golly. where to begin?

1) i thought you'd been quiet lately. now i know why.

2) maggots look just like rice, too. i got over it.

3) i've never been invited to chez rc

4) i think you deserved a much more expensive bottle of wine.

my two cents said...

I am half a country away, but after reading this my head is itchy. Oh, so soooooooo sorry! Keep using the shampoo on everyone.

I have a friend with four kids who spent about six weeks one winter dealing with this. Just keep using the shampoo on everyone one, and when you think it is finally gone, use it one more time. That's her advice!

If you get a chance, I want to see snow pictures, and for the record, there isn't jasmine blooming and I don't really like jasmine, but my roses are still doing well and I love them.

Sweet Irene said...

I think you bore up amazingly well under that huge incident. You did a super job of managing all of that. I hope that did the trick and that you are now all lice free.

Eileen said...

Lice is so frustrating! At my school it is a constant thing and I'm so lucky I have never gotten it, cause even when the kids know they have it they still run up to you and hug you. I don't want to hurt their feelings, but I always get a bit worried. I do know that you have to constantly comb out those knits!! Also, olive oil slows them down so you can see them better. Don't forget about the stuffed animals. Get those out of the house too!!
Good luck! I feel your pain, I really do.

ciara said...

yikes...when it rains, it pours, eh? i hope everything goes back to normal soon (insert your own definition of normal here).

hmmm that might be enough to give up rice, too...but i don't know. being part filipino i haven't been able to give up rice yet lol

Willowtree said...

Wow, what a coincidence! It was nearly midnight by the time you got to bed, and it was nearly midnight by the time I finished reading this post (I think I tarted sometime around mid afternoon).

PixelPi said...

I feel for you. Because I would have done all that while puking the whole time. Insects and larva of any kind gross me out. Really.

And if lice learn how to travel virtually over the internet, I'm just shaving my head. Forever.

And I'm never eating rice again.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Complete sympathy. Yukky, yukky, yuk yuk! Amy had lice a couple of times a few years ago and was doused in shampoo and all sorts of conditioning lotions. Be careful, they do actually become imune to the same one! They are vile little buggers. But they do only survive in clean hair. Since Amy's last bout of them which is at least 2 years ago, I only wash her hair at the most twice a week and she hasn't had them since - touching wood fanatically as I type!

Good luck. Crystal xx

Flowerpot said...

Yes, my head is itching too just reading that post! what a day, rc!

auntie barbie said...

Did you wash the dogs and their bedding? How about spraying the mattresses and furniture? Don’t forget the coats and hats. Lice happened to us years ago when the kids were in elementary school. I think its just one of those rites of passages you go thru with kids.
Oh, and thanks for making my whole body itch. :)

Potty Mummy said...

Poor RC. Lice gets to every house-hold with kids apparantly - we're still waiting but I have the kit on standby. There's this great nit comb they sell here called the Nitty Gritty NitFree Comb that you can use without the chemicals; you simply coat their hair in conditioner and then comb EVERYTHING out. (Mind you, I still have the chemical option too - just in case...)

Kaycie said...

When my oldest two were little ones, they stayed overnight at my best friend's house with her kids while I went out of town. I came home, collected my children and went home. A few hours later, my friend called to tell me that two of her four had lice and my children had SLEPT IN THE SAME BED with them the night before. Panic!

All four of hers ended up with lice. Neither of my got them, and we still have a lice free record, although I'm not sure how.

Lice must not like the way my kids taste.

Lil Mouse (Jill) said...

yuck. and sorry. that sucks. and now i'm itching.

The Rotten Correspondent said...

ped crossing - I'll buy some tea tree shampoo today. My hairdresser was telling me about a preventative shampoo, too. I wonder if it's the same one.

laurie - oh golly, where to answer?
1) you'd think people would be grateful when I'm quiet, but nooooo....

2) thanks. I'd forgotten that about maggots. But I did put rice in a casserole last night, so I think I'm working through it.

3) did I not invite you over yesterday with your shovel??

4) you and me both, sister.

my two cents - can you believe we've never gotten the little (deleted) before? And I'll post snow pictures as soon as I have a camera here when it snows. Now it's all melty and icky.

sweet irene - I think it's going to take a while to be all lice free. I think the little (deleted) are persistent.

eileen - tonight I'm going to coat their heads in olive oil and make them sleep in knit hats. I may even do the same thing on myself. Just because.

ciara - what really scares me is what if this is really normal for us??????

willowtree - have you ever considered a speed reading course? You'd have plenty of time for it if you'd just quit wasting time searching the web for fart videos.

pixelpi - I'm halfway to shaving my head myself. Just to be sure.

crystal - really? clean hair only, hmm? I wonder why that is, but I'll definitely give it a try.

flowerpot - it's the power of suggestion. My head feels like it's crawling. And it's not .

auntie barbie - THEY CAN GET ON DOGS?????? Oh fuck. Are you serious????

potty mummy - at least you're prepared. I had to call around to find out what the hell to do. I sincerely hope your luck holds out for you.

kaycie - isn't it strange how that happens? I'm a good example, too. Every morning both of my younger ones come in and snuggle with me in bed. I rest my head on theirs and their heads are on MY pillow. And still I've dodged them. FG checked again last night. I have no idea how.

lil mouse (jill) - it does suck. and I'm sorry I made you itch.

Tiggerlane said...

auntie barbie's comment made me cringe - DOGS?!?!?! WTF??? Good golly - just going to a public laundromat would be bad enough - but LICE? AAARRRGGHHH!

I'll drink some wine for you tonight!

Diana said...

Oh, honey, honey!

I am so terribly (snicker, snicker) sorry that you (snort, giggle) had to face this hell.

Really and truly.

It's just so damn funny.

Ok. No longer laughing (WITH you, not AT you, I swear).

One thing I'm glad I did was get a metal fine-toothed dog grooming comb to use and not those plastic ones that come with the shampoo.

And isn't that horrible shampoo? So sticky and nasty and you can't shampoo with something to get it out for about 24 hours. And who the hell said the nits were the size of grains of rice? About the size of 100th of a grain of rice, maybe, and the damn adults are transparent, except for their intestines full of the blood of your loved ones!!!! AAAAAaaaaaahhhh!

(Clearly, I'm still having flashbacks.)

Anyway, I'm here for you. Email me should you need any words of comfort or the sharing of a virtual bottle of wine.

(And that this WOULD happen when your washer was on the fritz!! You win. Sadly.)

Kimberly said...

You must be so, so worn out. =(

The Rotten Correspondent said...

tiggerlane - I hadn't been in a laundromat in years. Wow. It's like a Springer episode in there.

diana - yeah, go ahead and laugh. I should have known better than to comment on yours that we'd dodged it. D'OH! And you should see my hair from that shampoo. Like a cross between Rosanne Rosannadanna and Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein. With a little Medusa thrown in for good measure.


kimberly - I will admit that I'm a little on the whipped side. (And extremely cranky. Luckily(??) our power was out for several hours last night so I got to stop doing laundry. Heh. Any port in a storm.

pursegirl said...

Elly Mae? I'm searching here... don't wear ropes for belts (scarves, yes, ropes, no); have only a few pets, none of which are monkeys;don't cook or eat opossum; am from small-town-podunkville... the only other attribute of Elly Mae I can recall is her complete pollyanna/ditz quality. Hmmm... I'm going to need an explanation. And yes, I'm scratching my head. By the way, I saw Gumby this morning at school. He looked at me and said, "Hi Laurie." with a very downhearted voice. I think he's having a Samson reaction. He LOOKS fine, however.

The Rotten Correspondent said...

pursegirl - ah yes, I've been waiting for your comment. (Nervously, actually). You're right, no opossum and I've never heard you call a swimming pool a ce-ment pond. (Or whatever they called it).

It's partly that way you wear your hair sometimes with the little pigtails and the ribbons. And partly the denim capris with the pretty scarves belted through. But mostly it's that dead on wicked Missouri backwoods impression that you do so well.

I mean the name nicely. Really. Because let's face it. You could really f**k me up if you wanted to!

The Rotten Correspondent said...

And Elly Mae wasn't a ditz. She adapted to Beverly Hills a lot better than the rest of them.

Akelamalu said...

What a day!

Can nits traverse the internet - cos my head's itching like billyo since I read this?

auntie barbie said...

Nice reply.
Dogs have hair don't they? We can get fleas from dogs can't we? (By the way I know this one from experience)
When my kids had lice I called my vet who advised it wouldn't be a bad idea to shampoo the critters as well, just keep it away from their faces and ears.
Sorry to add that to your mess.

Mya said...

Just stick your whole family, home, the washing machine, press go...and retire to the warmth of the fireplace with a glass of vino. You've got me itching now too. Ughh.

Mya x

Rose said...

Man, that sucks out loud! SO sorry for you!

Jo Beaufoix said...

Rc what a nightmare. Miss E has lice almost constantly for the whole of year one as some parent somewhere wasn't delousing their kid.
The best thing to do, is get a nit comb and use it on wet hair that is full of conditioner. The little suckers can't hold on. Do this every other night for a while and you'll stay rid of them, and it's cheaper and nicer than all the chemical treatments. I am itching now.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

As a veteran of the head lice, my advice is don't use the chemical stuff. Wash their hair, put in conditioner, leave it in, then comb with the nit comb. Do this every night for two weeks. It works. Also, the reason you probably saw nothing is that head lice can change to the color of the hair they're living in. I had a dream the other night that I had head lice in my eyebrows!

Robin said...

Oh, dear...'.word.!!

I feel for you, even though this episode is long over. It never occurred to me that "nit-picked" had quite a literal interpretation (yuck).

(I saw this post a few days ago and intended to read it through before now...what a story!).

Hope you've recovered, but I'm right there with ya...eating rice would never be the same :/


Robin said...

Oh, dear...'.word.!!

I feel for you, even though this episode is long over. It never occurred to me that "nit-picked" had quite a literal interpretation (yuck).

(I saw this post a few days ago and intended to read it through before now...what a story!).

Hope you've recovered, but I'm right there with ya...eating rice would never be the same :/