Guest Post: The Day We Got Head Lice

liceLast year a good friend of mine experienced the nightmare with the ick factor of 100 that is head lice. I asked her to share her story here on Mamatoga because any of our kids could be exposed, and it helps to be prepared!

It started out a day like any other. My two daughters, ages seven and nine got up for school. We rushed around, getting lunches and a missing sneaker. We finally found all of our missing pieces are parts and shoved everyone on their merry way. After a long day at work, I picked up the girls from their after school program and was heading home, when I heard the statement that now makes me cringe just thinking about it, “Mom, my head itches.” Of course, it wasn’t the first time I had heard it. A few days before, she had mentioned a few itches here or there. I had “checked for lice,” but I had never seen one! I looked online, but the drawings of lice and their eggs or “nits” were completely out of scale and hard to know how big or little they actually were on my daughter's hair. Several times I had declared her “lice free” and moved on with my day. This time, unfortunately, my mommy radar went up and my instincts told me that there might be something going on.

Of course, it was raining like cats and dogs. I was running to the grocery store with both kids, so I did what any good Mom would do. I called the pediatricians office to make an appointment so they could check my kid’s head. After all, what did I know? I had no idea what I was looking at, maybe they did have it! So, I called and spoke to a very nice nurse, who explained to me that my kids (yes, plural) had lice, no they would not see me in the office and gave me a laundry list of what to do at home from that point forward. No doubt about it, I was in denial. She could have told me that I won the Nobel prize and I would have believed her before thinking that MY kids had lice! We are clean, our house, although not spotless, is neat and fairly germ-free. How then, could my beautiful daughters get lice? I was outraged and very, very grossed out. I don't like bugs.

The nurse calmly explained to me, during my fit of hysteria, that this happens to most families throughout school. Children, especially girls, tend to get lice at least once during elementary school. She also explained that clean, long hair like my girls have is particularly attractive to lice. My hysteria, although still terrible, calmed down considerably.

Since I had thoroughly written all of the instructions on the back of a napkin while sitting in the front seat of my car, I didn’t feel terribly prepared to fight these bugs, much less calm down my hysterical children. We went for reinforcements. I bought all of the lice spray at the drugstore, and picked up the prescription shampoo my doctor’s office called in for us. I also picked up two new movies and a huge bag of M&Ms. I wasn’t fooling around, this was war.

What ensued was not pretty. I won’t go into detail. It is too horrible to explain. What I can say is that it did entail much bribing, cajoling and lots and lots of crying and that was just for me. The kids, of course, needing a bit of soothing also. Their Dad and I spent days combing nits and dead bugs out of their hair. It turned out that not only did my daughter have it, but so did her sibling, my husband and even myself. We were a family infested, grossed out and in lock down.

After several days of combing and the girls missing school, we were still not nit free and I was at my wits end. I had consulted with a few nurse friends, one whom was even a lice expert, heard many, many home remedies and had bribed my children with so much chocolate and TV that both were becoming boring to them. Despite all of my best efforts, I was ready to admit defeat. I needed help. I searched the internet and was lucky enough to find a company called “Miracles on Lice” in Ballston Spa. A family-owned business, they made a same-day appointment for our whole family and immediately calmed us down. They gave us great literature to read about lice. They checked all of us for nits and found that despite my best efforts we still had a few. They removed them one at a time and treated us with organic products, only letting us leave when we were completely nit-free.

Now that it’s back to school, I know that I need to pack lunches, find missing shoes and to pay close attention when I hear the words, “Mom, my head itches.” The only difference is that now I don’t miss a beat. First, I comb their hair with a good, tightly bound lice comb. If we find anything at all, we call Miracles on Lice. Now, I sit back, watch a movie and let someone else do the gross part, like any good mother would do. Now, where are those M&Ms?

Check out Miracles on Lice on facebook here if you find yourself facing down this icky situation.