Y'all, life is funny. Well, sometimes it isn't really funny but when you think back you just have to laugh so you don't cry. You know what I mean?
In the last month, we have dealt with the stomach bug through our family for over a week, colds, then more colds and this past Wednesday, we discovered something that I hope I never discover again. LICE.
Yep, my sweet boy, Mason, had lice. Then, because we had been sick and lots of snuggles had taken place, we discovered that I had them, too. And just for FUN (not) Maddox got them as well. Matt, the precious soul, didn't get them but trust me, he suffered in his own way with the great task of searching every inch of my head (and at times, the boys' heads) for LICE.
So, let me go back to the beginning. Some of our dearest friends dealt with lice last month. They aren't sure how it happened but assume it's from school. She texted me the day she discovered them and I ran to her aid with the special shampoo, combs, sprays, detangles, shower caps, vaseline, etc. I felt for her deeply because I recalled when I had them as a little girl. It's hell. I know it's not the nicest thing to say but y'all, for real, it's hell.
That day, I called my mom and she recalled when I had them as a little girl, too. It happened shortly after the fair came through town and she got a call from school after a head check and she learned that her elementary age child had lice. I may also mention here that I had the thickest red hair and it was down to my waist. Yep. God Bless My mother.
She shared with me that day about her feelings during that time. She felt like she'd done something wrong. She felt dirty. She felt ashamed to tell anyone about it. Isn't that awful? Here she was in one a super awful situation and she felt like she couldn't tell anyone? I talked with her about it that day and just felt so badly for her.
Back to this Wednesday, my sweet boy scratched his head. I didn't think much of it but then shortly after that, he scratched again. He RARELY scratches his head so immediately I feared the worst. It was just before nap time so I looked quickly in his head and I wasn't sure if I was seeing anything. He was exhausted so I went to lay him down. When he got up, he immediately scratched again and I just knew. I knew something was up.
I got him close to me and I looked at the crown of his head. Dang it. Just dang it. Matt was on his way home so I texted him and said, "No storytime. I think Mason has lice." Yeah, I'm sure that's EXACTLY what he hoped I was going to say.
(you've got to look close but you can see two little white nits. :-( )
Matt came home and he helped me look a little more and he just wasn't convinced. We got Mason into the bath, wet his hair and then we saw it, a live louse. Yeah, that sealed the deal for us.
I texted my friend who had dealt with them just last month. I asked for her advice but I also told her because I feared we may have gotten them from her children after a(n) (unknown) re-occurance or maybe we even gave them to them a second time if we got them elsewhere. I wasn't really sure but I had to let her know.
Thankfully, Matt and I were able to do all of the checking etc without Mason asking many questions. We were honest with him but also didn't want him to panic. "Mason, there are some bugs in your hair and they don't belong there. Momma is going to the store to get some stuff so we can get rid of them."
"Okay, Mom. Dose bugs hurt me?" "Nope, they are just annoying." "Okay, Mom." I love the trust of a child.
I called my mom. I called the doctor and discovered they don't answer prescription calls after 4:00. So, it may be the next day before we heard from them. I called my friend and asked if I could come get the Mac daddy prescription shampoo they had used. She said yes.
Also, while doing this, I was pulling all clothing, stuffed animals, bedding, etc etc etc out of rooms. I was starting laundry. I was lysoling even though I realized it likely didn't do anything.
The next many hours involved picking up RX shampoo from Kris, purchasing cans of spray, treating Mason, discovering I had them, checking Maddox, checking Matt, washing, drying, spraying, lysoling, wiping down, freaking out. You get the idea.
Mason was SO patient while we checked him and applied the medicated shampoo. I am still so proud of him. Matt was a saint. He did most of the checking.
Thursday, Matt checked Mason, checked me, checked Maddox and we discovered he had them so he got to wear a shower cap with his head coated in mineral oil and vinegar. So stylish, that kid.
Thursday night brought a scare because he found a live bug on Maddox. Another call to the doctor, the third one, I think, and we learned we could still see them alive on Maddox for 24 hours. Soooo exciting. Not. We sprayed everything down again Thursday night and put on the 47th load of hot laundry.
Friday morning brought a heightened emotions for me. This whole situation is just hard. I was exhausted from not sleeping well. Matt was tired from not sleeping well but he was back at work for a full day. At the same time, I felt good. Maddox's head had been clear for the morning check. Mason's head revealed three or four nits which was completely okay for this stage of the game. My head had been clear since Wednesday night. I was overwhelmed, too. I had done so much laundry but it was just folded and piled up tremendously on our bed. I continued to do laundry every few hours with towels that needed to be washed, dirty clothes, etc. Meanwhile, the day to day tasks of life for the week were completely neglected. I'd hardly cooked and we needed groceries. I hadn't worked because duh.
About that time, my dear friend, Kris, texted and said she was bringing me lunch from Zaxby's. She showed up with hot chicken and sweet tea and even a book gift for the boys and I breathed a sigh of relief. We were on the up and up. Things were sanitized. Heads were clearer with each scalp check. Boys were happy and compliant. Mason said "Why Kiss bring dat?"
I told him, "She's a good friend and she knew we needed something to brighten our day. I love her for being a good friend." Mason said "And Mr. Paul, Emily, Kiss and Nene. (their whole family."
"Yep. all of them, Bud."
This experience, which is still far from over as linens will be stripped daily for up to a week, furniture and such will be sanitized for a few more days, heads will be checked for up to a month (!!), etc, has taught me a great deal.
1. People are freaking scared of lice. (And I don't blame them.)
A few people that I talked to during this situation almost talked like they were going to catch them through the phone or text message. I know it's gross. Trust me, I feel gross about it but you know what? Life happens. No matter how hard we work to be clean and sanitary, bugs can still get to us. Think there might even be some correlation between sin and Christians there but I'll save that for another day. Side note: Many people have been very understanding, too. Thankful.
2. Dealing with lice can be humbling.
I hated to tell my child that he was dealing with something like this. Thankfully, he isn't old enough to understand how some feel about this situation but no one wants to hear that they have bugs. No one. I had to call our pediatricians office THREE times asking for help. I also had to tell them I was sorry because I had no idea that we had them when we were there on Wednesday morning in the well waiting room. Yeah, that stung a bit. I also had to call the early learning center where Mason has therapy and tell them about it. Not to mention standing in line in a store to buy "bug spray". Yeah, it's humbling.
3. I have a whole new perspective on what my mom went through.
My mom was a single mom working HARD to make ends meet and I believe she was off of work for the better part of a week trying to deal with these pesky bugs. She bought shampoo after shampoo, spray after spray. She combed and combed and combed and combed and combed and then combed some more. She enlisted help from her friends which I know was hard to do because, I mean, that's not the most fun phone call to make.
4. Lice are drawn to clean hair.
Yep, guess there are some perks to have dirty hair. Guess that's why Matt didn't get them. (Complete joke. :)) Also, heat kills them so DRY YOU HAIR WITH A HAIRDRYER!
5. For real, don't share combs or brushes.
When I was a young girl, I never did this because my mom told me not to but I mean, why can't the four people in my house share? Not anymore. Each Morgan has a separate bag for their hair utensils. :)
If you made it this far in the post, God Bless YOU! I was hesitant to share this but then I remembered that this is the story of our life. And while I wish it wasn't so, Lice are apart of this story.
I wanted to end my post by sharing part of what my friend, Kris, shared when went through the lice situation with her girls. I love this so much.
"People are funny. Your kid gets the flu, ear infection, strep (insert just about any other communicable disease) and a picture gets posted and you get sympathy and get well wishes. Your kid gets lice and you disappear, hide in the shadows and hope no one finds out.
Enough is enough... here you go, Facebook world... my girls got lice. I've been through every emotion imaginable. I've washed hair, combed hair, picked through hair, washed laundry, dried laundry, bagged stuffed animals, ordered prescription shampoo and held a devastated first grader because she had to miss her field trip. Sent emails, sent texts, made phone calls to friends we had contact with, teachers, preschool director and school nurse, and cried my own tears when the girls weren't looking to me for strength.
Once it is all said and done, I'm mad. I'm mad that we have declared as a society that it is "too embarrassing" to screen classrooms to stop the problem, even after the problem is detected. I'm mad that it is left up to the teachers to notice a student excessively scratching before they can be checked, as if they don't have children to teach and enough on their plates. I'm mad that despite my hardest efforts and will power to do the right things to fix us, I can send my kids back to school lice free and not know if the classroom is clean. District policy says that classroom screening breaks confidentiality. When does the well being of the lice free students trump the "stigma" of being sent home to be treated for lice? When we quit treating it as a stigma ourselves. When we don't hide in the shadows of what we are dealing with, when we don't cover it up, when we reach out to each other and know that we aren't alone. When the school districts can recognize that being sent home for lice is no more a breach in confidentiality than sending home a kid throwing up, a kid with a fever or a kid just not feeling well.
So where are the H girls today? We are at home, watching democracy play itself out on TV, we are treated and lice free, but out of respect for others, we did not assume that 24 hours was enough. We are doing our part to solve a silent problem, but a silent problem because of a stigma that society has attached to it.
The H girls did have lice, but I'll be damned if I'm hiding in the shadows and letting the broken system continue to propagate the problem."
And with that I say #EndTheStigma