1.) Any humor in this post is manufactured for cathartic purposes. Sometimes we laugh so we won’t cry.
2.) Post may include some descriptions readers find nauseating and overall repulsive. Hatching cycles may be mentioned.
3.) Lice is one of the leading causes of children missing school. Lice epidemics are often caused by parents not reporting cases due to social stigma. Stigma Figma! Check your heads people.
4.) A friend pointed me to this site: http://www.licehappens.com. It was hugely helpful. Yes, I called the “Liceline”. No shame no blame!
I found myself in Ulta again last week for some different reasons. “I’m looking for your, ahem, Fairy Tales, line of products. It’s for a friend.”
Yeah, that friend is called our scalps.
From the morning I made the discovery until this moment when I’m leaning against the arm of the couch with no throw pillow because all of my throw pillows are in trash bags, life has changed.
We are free and clear now, but still so very afraid. I kept thinking lice is like chicken pox, you get it once, suffer and then never get it again. Lice is not like chicken pox. Sometimes I’d tell myself lice was like the stomach flu, just lots and lots of laundry, sheet supplies dwindling, Travis wondering why he was sleeping on a Dora the Explorer pillow case. Lice is not like the stomach flu.
Lice is bugs in your hair laying eggs. Let’s just be honest about that.
It’s more difficult to get lice as an adult. But apparently not that difficult. On Dreadful Discovery Day, I had treated myself with the pesticides earlier (this is the chemical that the mosquito man blows out of his truck in the summer. You put it in your hair), but then did a thorough combing. I cannot tell you what I saw except to say I quickly realized I had two choices. One) Go to bed with bugs in my hair, or Two) Go to bed with mayonnaise in my hair.
The mayonnaise trick has been around for years, and yes, in my last case of adult head lice (I’m a veteran. They like really clean hair, so the websites tell me.)I had bought the mayo but just could never do it. I was in college then. I’ve matured, grown more brave, more desperate. It was 1 am, I haven’t slept in a year, I grabbed that mayonnaise, lathered it really well, stuck on a Hello Kitty Shower Cap and went to bed on my trash bag wrapped pillow. My last thoughts as I drifted off to a painful sleep were the serious words of the mayo-encouraging website “You may smell like a sandwich.” Whose sandwich? Maybe my bologna sandwiches from 1989. Why can’t I put some nice roasted red pepper humus in my hair?
I might never come back from the events of this past week. Not completely.
When you get lice, apart from the obvious horror and living out of trash bags, you get ushered into a Secret Inner Circle of SURVIVORS. Names are whispered in passing, “You know so and so, is a mean comber.” or “What’s her face – she can spot a nit anywhere.” I found myself taking hugely vulnerable steps. Texts sent out to people, asking them to comb through my hair looking for infestation. I needed experience. I needed skill. I needed a Take No Prisoners approach.
Because what Lice really comes down to, if you want to win, is combing. Endless hours of combing. We would eat gummi worms and watch movies and comb and comb and comb. Sweet Olivia hates nothing more than having her hair washed and having it combed, and for days that’s all I did. She had no blanket to hold, no stuffed animals to comfort her. They were all in trash bags. All we had was each other.
And our lice.
Sunday morning, we were free and clear. We went to church and I cried during Communion. “The body of Christ broken for you.” I came undone. Something about the bugs, and the combs, and the eggs, and even the mayonnaise gave me such a greater awareness of my humanity, of feeling unclean, yet being called sacred. I stood there and received the bread and the cup and thought of God taking on a body and a head and a scalp and no doubt lice in a time before NIX and mayonnaise. His body mattered. Our bodies matter. So do those of the masses of people around the globe who live like this without access to treatment or even water.
Sophia spent a few afternoons outside dancing in a shower cap. The neighbors shouted across the fence “Don’t come too close, our baby has croup.” “No worries!” I bellowed back, “We have head lice!”
No shame. No stigma. Sacred bodies. Sacred heads.
I’m available for combing. It’s best done in daylight.
Oh, and I have to tell you, the mayonnaise felt really good. Seven hours later, I was a bit greasy, but completely cured.
photos courtesy of “The Office” “Lice” Season 9 Episode 10