Sunday, July 11, 2010

Day 279

Can you believe that as I type this my daughter is standing behind me checking my hair for nits.

I never had head lice as a child. I remember there being talk of nits, and it was always associated back then with the more neglected and bedraggled kids (rightly or wrongly), but I never actually knew someone who had lice. Yes, you could say it was a sheltered childhood.

The first time I came across nits was when Tahlia was going into year 2 at school. It turns out she has perfect nit hair - fine hair, plenty of it, and medium brown in colour with golden highlights. The nits can hide in the brown and plant their eggs on the gold. The interesting thing about our first nit experience was that it was during summer holidays. We'd spent most of our break at the coast, so when she started to complain about an itchy head I suggested it was probably sand. "Nit" was not in my vocabulary. That was on a Friday. By Sunday night she was starting to whimper that her head was driving her mad. Late that night I decided that maybe she had sea lice and perhaps I should take a look. I parted her hair and gasped. There they were. They weren't hard to find ... they were everywhere. Fleas. I screamed and called for Derek. DEREK!!! Tahlia has fleas. What the hell? What is this shit? He took to the Internet and seconded Professor Google for some advice. Professor Google told us they were nits. What?!?!!! Nits???!!! We looked at the pictures, printed them off and carefully examined the gremlins from Tahlia's hair next to Professor Google's file. Yep. That's what they were alright. And this wasn't some nice little pod of lice, not some country town gathering, not a nit mothers club ... this was Nit New York. They were everywhere.

My head is itching just remembering it. Tahlia, can you see any lice in there? No Mum. But my head is itchy ... so very very itchy. Nothing here Mum. Scratch.

Now remember, we had never had nits in our life. Derek had no experience with them, I had no experience with them, even Chelsea (my step daughter) had never had them to my knowledge. This was totally a new field of parenting. We did the only sensible thing. Panicked.

Geez my head is itchy as I type this.

At 9.00pm I sent Derek across the city to the only late night chemist within our radar. He came home with lotions and potions and a nit comb as well as a leaflet on prevention and some verbal advice from another chemist customer who was tsk tsk'ing him for buying chemicals to use on our children when there were more natural methods ... try burning them with a hair straightener (????!!!!!) While I appreciated the au naturale suggestion, this was my first nit infestation, and for Nit New York we definitely needed chemicals. And lots of them!

I didn't leave anything to chance that night. Poor Tahlia was dragged in and out of the shower and in her half wake state I was nit combing and then braiding each combed section into tiny French braids. Each dead louse was then displayed on a tissue for closer examination. Each egg was removed from the comb. It was a very long process. Hours. At midnight I was washing sheets (from every bed), spraying toys with Aerogard, vacuuming, sterilising every surface. I had teddy bears in pillow slips as I put them in the washing machine. It was overkill. But come on guys, it was Nit NEW YORK!

Feck, I am now scratching my head with a fork.

Poor Tahlia got reinfested twice over the next six weeks. When school returned it was declared a nit epidemic ... or perhaps pandemic ... and every night we were sent home to scour our kids heads. After her third infestation and quite a few days off school I declared the next nit-fest would end in a head shave. (An idle threat.) I was over it! I stopped washing toys and sheets and spraying Aerogard once I discovered nits need a scalp to feed off in order to stay alive. I soon discovered that nits love clean hair, so rather than wash her hair of a Sunday night so she had pretty hair for school, I would wash on a Friday night instead (a practice still in operation today). When nits were going around the school I would put conditioner through her hair (leave it in) and braid it so nits didn't find her hair so inviting. We had it sorted. She hasn't had head lice in three years. I think we've got it sorted. Phew!!

My head has finally settled down. Ditch the fork.

But then I got a phone call on Friday morning to advise that my niece who had been staying with me had a couple of adult lice roaming her beautiful long blonde locks. No eggs. Just some lice wandering through the beautiful landscape with backpacks on their backs. Shit. If lice are wandering through the golden pastures of blonde, they must truly be bunkered down in the warmth of brown. I sat down with Tahlia on Friday morning and the combing began. Nothing. But I'm not convinced. On Friday night we do the whole wash hair thing and leave in conditioner so I could comb and examine more closely. Nothing. Every day since I have been poking and prodding and combing. I am convinced those bastards have layed eggs in their somewhere. But no. There is nothing.

Head scratch (but in a pondery thinky fashion).

So if my niece left my house with a couple of lice off on a leisurely bush walk where could they have come from? No eggs in her hair, which means they are brand new to her neck of the woods. They need scalps to survive which means they've come from another living scalp nearby. They could well have hatched from eggs she had acquired from school, but then why haven't they relaid yet? They must be on an overseas trip (or over-head trip) which means their passports would have a home country marked in there somewhere. Where is their country of origin? It doesn't appear to be Tahlia-land. Hmmm. And that's when it occurred to me. ME!!! Could it be me? Arrrghhhhh. Scratch, scratch, scratch ....

Crap. Uncontrollable itch. Bring back that fork!! And Tahlia, keep looking ....

Chemicals. We need chemicals. And lots of them ...

8 comments :

  1. Ah crap...there I go itching like mad now! :p .you crack me up Leanne. We were like you, never had nits before, infact I was do proud that with mix back length hair and massive infestation going through my classrooms I'd never caught them...until LMA came home totally infested and then passed them around! Eww eww eww! I had to treat her hair every week and comb it every day and they still came back. It was horrible. However kind of thrilling to catch the ellusive buggars and squish them! Touch wood it's been a while here since they've visited! I tend to douse my head in chemicals too and then put a colour thru as well...surely they couldn't survive that chemical nastiness! I have my fingers crossed you're not country of origin! Nit NewYork...rofl

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  2. My eczema just flared up!

    Dang you woman! I totally empathize though. I'm the same way. Overkill, worry, outsmart. But then I smarten up and learn from the ones in the trenches eventually.

    I hope that time eases your pain. :P

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  3. Hah - did you read of our nit experience? I hate the damn things, especially as Boy 1 has the thickest hair since Guy Sebastion graced Australian Idol.

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  4. Fuck. I am itching now too. I got nits when I was six, from my Aussie cousins. I suspect I then infected my whole class.

    Thus far, Olivia has managed 5 school terms, nit free. 5 down, 46 terms to go.

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  5. I often wonder if teachers get off scott free. Given I have been doing the literacy thing at school the nit thing has been on my mind (and hoping not to be on my scalp). Anywho, Tahlia and I just had a massive mother/daughter de-lousing session and we appear to be nit free. I declare us Niticus Officus!! Phew!!! Funny little buggers. Keep us on our toes I suppose. Thanks for the laughs ... the understanding ... and the continued visits. Hope there isn't a cyber version ...

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  6. Damn. I can feel them now. Ick.

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  7. I hate lice. My worst nightmare! (

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  8. Ugh! I've never had to deal with them, hope to never. I would be most annoyed by all the laundry and washing that would have to be done!

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