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October 13, 2009

Four there - five back

Four of us flew to Disneyland two weeks ago but five of us returned.  I live in semi-constant fear of something like this happening and take every precaution that is practical but I let my guard down the weekend we went to Disneyland.  And it happened.

No no no no no noooo!  Not me!  I'm not pregnant!  It was that lousy louse.  The one that must have been laying in wait inside one of the 47 Mickey Mouse hats that Maddy tried on before she picked the one she simply couldn't live without.  The one we had her name embroidered upon to commemorate this blessed event. 

Mickey mouse hat 024

Okay, in case you haven't figured it out -- it's head lice, folks.   Our extra passenger was a lone eight-legged single mother setting up house in my daughter's hair.   Yep, that icky disgusting thing that happens to other people's kids:  Dirty kids with parents who don't floss, don't vote Democrat and don't have the good sense to hover over public toilet seats.  

I managed to raise one kid all the way into his 20's without having to know what a nit comb is but my perfect record was shattered yesterday when I caught a glimpse of something tiny and ambulatory in Maddy's hair and I quickly whipped out the reading glasses to get a better look.  

As I plowed into her hair with both hands, I whispered a silent prayer that it was just the usual random gnat but this time I saw teensy little white specks and my heart sank.    We were in the waiting room of our Doctor's office (Maddy has an ear infection) so I pulled out my iPhone and Googled "head lice" then ran to grab a nurse and had my worst fears confirmed.

We caught it really early but the treatment is the same and let me tell ya, folks...... it's tedious

Given the scarce number of critters, it looks like a first generation infestation so the time line takes us back about two weeks to Disneyland.  Since there's no outbreak at school, it really looks like it probably happened there (at the happiest place on Earth).  Maddy is shy so she wouldn't have willingly come in close physical contact with another child but she does love hats and she tried on plenty of them at the Mad Hatter store just inside the main entrance to the park.  After testing all of the various mouse-themed headwear options, she finally decided on the lovely generic hat you see in the photo above.   I remember having some concern about putting on all of those hats but I talked myself out of it like I've talked myself out of worrying about the uncovered head rest on airplane seats (am I the only person who is grossed out by that?).  

Anyway, just to be safe, everyone in the house was treated even though only Maddy was the obvious first victim/host of our little uninvited visitors.  There was some evidence that Gwen was affected but, thankfully, not as severely.  Nothing on me at all and nothing on Daddy (but we shampooed anyway). 

Everything has been washed in hot water.  All of the stuffed animals have tumbled for twenty minutes in a hot dryer.  All of the beds and car seats have been stripped of their covers and washed.  The house has been vacuumed and the areas that see heavy kid use have been sprayed.  All of the towels, coats, sweaters, PJ's -- anything the kids have touched in the last two weeks -- has been through the washer and dryer.  And now we wait and watch.

In a week, we repeat the shampoo and nit combing part of this nightmare.   Combing out Maddy's hair isn't that difficult since her hair is thin and silky but Gwen is a different story.  As much as I've always appreciated all of Gwen's amazing hair (and can't imagine ever cutting it), it's times like this that I wonder if it's worth it.  Thankfully, a good friend came over to help me comb out her hair - one tiny section at a time - and it took about two hours.    If there's a silver lining to this at all, it's that the shampoo actually smells good (in a just-picked-my-dog-up-from-the-groomer sort of way).   And would you believe that it leaves the girls' hair insanely lustrous and beautiful?   Yep, I kid you not! 

So there you have it.  I hesitated to even blog about this because it's gross and embarrassing to admit that your kid has head lice.  Ugh!  It's hard to even type that!  But it is what it is and it's part of our life story and maybe it'll make someone else feel less creepy when it happens to their family.  If it's happened to yours (or someone you know) and if you have a tip to share, please comment!  We'd really LOVE to put this particular chapter of our life behind us for good!


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