Well the inevitable happened... when you have four kids it's really just like you're waiting in a line for your time to come. And last week it was ours, ugh.
Let me rewind to last year, my oldest first year of school. That first "someone in your class had lice" letter came as a shock and I had a little freak out moment. At the time I did lots of investigating and discovered The Minnesota Lice Lady. I remember thinking: "Okay there's hope, if this ever DOES happen to us - more like WHEN it does, I know who I'm going to call" Fast forward after many, many more of those letters came home and I did checks and we were all clear, the anxiety related to this issue started to decrease.
This year however, with my oldest, Isaac, in first grade now, we've had about the same amount of letters in two months as we had the whole last year.
Last Friday we met up with some friends at the zoo. It was a fun 'uneventful morning', same story of a shit show trying to get out the door and what not. No one wanting to wear jackets even though it was forty degrees. But we had a good time, we watched a fun bird show for the first time, explore the rain forest, then bid farewell to our friends.
Their little boy was going around giving hugs and Isaac was being standoffish, which I took to being rude. I asked "why aren't you hugging him, he's wanting to say goodbye"
Which Isaac replies "because I have lice", UMMM WHAT!?!
"what makes you think that?"
"Well because there were so many letters at school and I've been itching"
"For how long?"
"like two weeks maybe" SERIOUSLY!
I kind of brushed it off, as we walked over to the monkeys. While watching the monkeys pick bugs out of each other's back hair I thought I'd take a peek in Isaac's hair... Hmmm these aren't usually there. "HOLD STILL" trying to get a closer look.... Maybe if I stare long enough I'll see if this something speck is moving. Hmmm there's a lotta little tear drop dots that I have not seen in previous checks... and there. What's that? YUP! That's movement. YUP! That's a bug. Holy freaking goodness, my kid has LICE!
Whelp, now what. Let me look in one of my daughter's hair. "Emma, come here honey let me see if there are any bugs in your hair." Looking, peeking, YES FREAKING HOLY GOODNESS, that's a huge one. Okay she has lice too. This is great, absolutely effing wonderful. "Mary come here for a second". Well, goodness, I don't see anything in your hair. But the other two, for sure something needs to be done.
I immediately get online and call the Lice Lady. It goes to voicemail but says I can make an appointment online. So I did that. I book two appointments ASAP for the next day's slot at 1:30. I send an email to my son's teacher letting her know our discovering to warn the other kids. And I email the preschool director to pass along the info. We make our way to the van, yes we were still in front of the monkeys.
In the van I am messaging Kyle, who is in a meeting so he has yet to be filled in on the news. I'm thinking what the heck do I do now? And I had some questions so I try calling the lice lady again and she picks up, I share my story. She is such a kind women. Making light of it and says "Let's get you in this evening. I know the website didn't show the openings but we'll get you all in so we can stop this party bus and you can get on with your life" So she gets back to me with an open slot maybe for 3:30.
We are still in the zoo parking lot and I call each kiddo over to my driver seat to inspect again as my friend from the zoo asked for a visual as to what she should be looking for.
Back to the phone call with the wonderful lice lady: I ask if there's any cleaning I should start on and she assures me of a few things I could do if I wanted to but they do not survive in the environment. That they start to dehydrate once off the human head and are pretty well dehydrated after six hours which is why you don't re-infest yourself from your bed because we're usually out of bed for ten or so hours giving them time to die off. They only survive well ON THE HEAD. Which also busts the myth that you can get them from sharing hats or coats, which is also not the case. They are shared from our besties and head to head contact. (If you want to read more, check out her website because it's VERY educational).
On our drive home the girls and Thomas all fall asleep so we kinda drive around for a bit. Biting our time until 3:30... she calls back and can't get us in until closer to 4:30 or 5. She is trying to call in another checker so she can get us all done at once. She suggested bringing two cars so the dad could take the two short haired kids and baby home when they finish and Emma and I (having long hair) would stay separate because we would take the longest. Which was a grand idea! So we drive home, meet Kyle there, strip the beds, I had some more Q&A with her on the phone and feeling a little better about the whole situation. She calls back again with a final update of 5:45 start time.
We go out for a bite to eat on our way since it was getting late and we 'head' there, haha! She does a head check of Kyle and Thomas real quick, who are obviously clear. She starts with Mary, then Isaac. Mary had one bug during the check, it wasn't a full adult bug (which are the only ones that crawl to a new head to start a nest), so the daughter (second lice lady) things it grew up on Mary's head. They charge for a head check, but if they discover treatment is needed you don't pay for the check on top of treatment. So Mary was marked down for treatment. Isaac of course needed a full treatment. His head was loaded the most (or so I thought).
They actually didn't find anything else on Mary's head, so the lice lady (owner and 2nd's mother) was thinking it was a transfer from the others. They finish Isaac and Mary in about 45 minutes time. This allows for Kyle to head out with them and the baby, which was a blessing because Thomas was just wanting to destroy the place and kept restarting the kids' movie they had going. Emma and I were next.
In this time I am notifying a few of our friends, I did NOT want to get this back and to help make sure that happens we had to make sure those in close contact weren't carrying them as well. We had some friends over on Sunday, they are going through a new home purchase and I felt just awful burdening her with this information. But I also didn't want it to spread or go unnoticed like it did for us. She actually had her husband bring in her oldest boy while we were there and had him checked. ALL CLEAR! Phew. (She brought her other boy in the next morning for peace of mind and was also all clear). I notified another friend we had a play date with as well as emailed Isaac's classmate buddy that he shares a locker with. I wasn't so worried about the locker sharing and coats and such because they just don't transfer that way. I was more so thinking about their heads in contact as the two of them try to access a locker at the same time.
Emma actually had quite the party house going on up on her head. We think she may have been the source for our family. I luckily had only 4 nits, so I had just been infected. They can tell how long you have it with how many of each bug they locate: nits, adults, teens, childs, and babies. Emma had a few generations. A few more than Isaac so they had to have been infected close to the same time. Maybe they were infected at the same time and Emma's batch just grew faster in her straight long hair. Although length doesn't have too much to do with it because you won't find them more than an inch or so from the scalp. They need the heat and darkness to survive. The cycle goes as such, an adult leaves a head, finds a new head, lays eggs (or nits) then dies. It takes about 7 days for those eggs to hatch. Then you have babies which grow up to children, then teens and finally adults. This growth takes about ten more days. The adults lay a new set of eggs (4-8 each per day) then die off, thus starting their happy home on a nice warm scalp. So Emma was estimated to have had it for maybe 24-35 days at least. HOLY COW! Maybe more like 8 weeks she said.
It's amazing to think that they were on Emma and Isaac's head for so long and we had NO clue! And I didn't have them until this past week and Mary didn't get it at all. That truly goes to show it's not about the environment. I mean they are twin sisters for crying out loud. They are everywhere together. It also gives me a theory they like long straight hair better. Can probably maneuver in it better than a curly mop of hair :-) lucky Mary.
I did end up hearing back from the locker friend a day or so later... and get this! Her response was "Oh yes thanks for letting us know, he had it about a month ago, his sister too." AHHHH!! Seriously!!! I so wish she would have told me THEN! We could have possibly caught it when it wasn't so crazy. So my advice, really if you ever find yourself with it, don't be embarrassed, don't be ashamed. It's not a sign of your cleanliness or anything about you really. But you could be sharing it with your friends. I have been watching kids every since this and they are just always smack dab next to each other rubbing their heads up on each others heads. In line, while they play, while they wrestle. That's why it spreads so easy with friends, and with close friends. It's not sharing hats or jackets, or hair bows, or dress up clothes. It's the HEAD to HEAD contact. And once you start watching you will notice just how much that happens. I have now been putting Emma's hair up every time she goes to school. The lice recommends braids and buns as it's harder for an adult to climb it's way in. Even the workers at the 'salon' didn't wear hair nets or anything, just had their hair up. My friend even said one had long dread locks. :-P
The lice lady has a 60 day guarantee. In order for it to be valid we had to return within 3-7 days for everyone that had treatment to get a thorough head check. We did this on Thursday and all four of us had the all clear! WOOHOO!! Let's hope we have no more situations such as this.
And ironic enough our check was right before the girls picture day ::eye roll:: of course it was!