Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wild Cherry or Devil Red?

Today, I got another call from daycare immediately after arriving at work. They wanted me to pick up my daughter because they decided to get their medical degree and determine that her circular rash was caused by her head lice having fallen into her clothes and mutated into body lice. They googled some photos for proof.

There are several issues with this.
1) head lice don't fall
2) head lice and body lice are completely different insects
3) head lice live on the head and body lice live on the body (and clothing)

Regardless, they bagged up my daughter's things and banned her from circle time and told the other kids not to play with her. (!!! - this is absolutely unacceptable, but it's not the point of THIS post) So I picked her up and brought her to the doctor at 11:50 instead of 5:30. From across the room, the doctor looks at my daughter's rash and says, "ah, Lyme disease."

A bit anxious due to the paranoia and google "proof", I actually sort of questioned her a bit. Could this possibly be body lice? She gave me a strange look (what are you smoking?), and explained how textbook the rash was for Lyme disease. So off we go for blood work, and medicine, and now the poor girl gets to take medicine three times a day for three weeks.

Back home, we have some lunch. I then go downstairs to clear out the delay on the washing cycle and have it start immediately instead. It's a fabulous feature of my magnificent, wild cherry colored front-loading steam washer - a delay option so the clothes can be ready when you arrive home from work. And that's when it hits me. I've done this before. Just last Tuesday, when daycare called me to pick up my daughter because of the lice. I'd set the washer to delay... and wound up coming home early and cancelling it.

You can only draw one conclusion from this "coincidence" - my washer is an agent of the Devil.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Bugs from Hell: Day 4

I had my 4th unpaid "vacation" day today, thanks to the lice. Because I clearly cannot find all the nits in my daughter's hair, I subjected her to the blowdryer and the olive oil treatment (not at the same time, which, as my husband pointed out, could be a disaster).

She was a good sport. I tried to make it more fun by letting her pick out her plastic bag hat. It had fish on it. (This is why I save plastic bags - see? They really DO come in handy. I'm kind of bummed I threw as many away as I did when we moved.)

Daughter and I are both getting bad dandruff, as a result of the frequent hair washings, combings, and hair drying, I presume. This makes it even harder to identify nits vs. not-nits.

I combed her hair out tonight and didn't conclusively see a single nit (there were a few questionables). The husband thought I had fewer nits today, too. Progress is good, but since a single mature louse lays 3-5 eggs per day, progress is not success.

I've decided to research the biology of the bugs to determine the best way to deal with them. The nits apparently only hatch in a cozy room-temperature-to-hot range (but too hot kills them - the only thing that does kill them). The lice can live for up to 2 days without eating, but they're actually susceptible to treatments. So killing them before they lay nits and minimizing the number of nits hatching on your head seem to be the keys to success.

In good licekilling news, it's supposed to be colder this weekend - below their comfort threshold. If we can manage not turn on the heat, all the nits in the house that we may have missed won't hatch.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bugs from Hell

We've just learned that our heads and home are infested with bugs sent straight from hell - lice.

As a lice virgin, the first thing I did when I picked up my daughter was to go to the drug store and buy a lice removal kit. I got the three-in-one kit. It came with a shampoo, a comb, a combing gel, and a spray. I also called the doctor's office.

So we (daughter and I) immediately went home and used the shampoo. This wasn't great fun for my daughter, who hates having her hair washed. But she was a good sport. You put the shampoo on, leave it for 10 minutes (rather frighteningly, the directions emphasize NO MORE than 10 minutes), and then wash it out. Allegedly, this kills the live bugs.

But lice don't just sit on your head and eat your blood. No, they have to lay sticky eggs on your hair. Sticky eggs whose name is very apt: nits. And the nits are immune to the shampoo. So you put in the combing gel and comb out the nits. You comb. And comb. And comb.

This is the really suck part. You can comb all day. But the next time you look through the hair, you are sure to find a nit. Or two. Or ten. Or fifty. And daycare won't let daughter back until she is nit-free.

So then you comb again. And again. And again. And pick at your child's hair like some weird mamma monkey grooming her young. You have to get all the nits. Because they will hatch. You don't know when, because you don't know when they were laid. But they will hatch before 7 days are up. And then they will be lice. And then they will lay more nits, that you will have to comb. And comb. And comb. So you have to get ALL THE NITS. Except you can't, and everyone knows this.

So some folks recommend shampooing again 7-10 days after your first shampoo. Other folks think the shampoos are dangerous (they are pretty scary chemicals), and you're better off with home remedies. And you're pretty much forbidden from shampooing more frequently than every 7 days.

So what are you going to do while the nits you miss hatch and crawl around happily in your head sucking your blood?

Today I came up with my first Lice Eradication Plan. Apparently it frequently takes 2 or more plans before you have Successful Lice Eradication. So we'll call this LEP #1.

LEP #1 -
Day 1: Daughter and I used shampoo. We combed nits. We washed bedding. We washed many other things. We put things that couldn't be washed in plastic bags. I used the terrible spray that most people advise against as it can make you really sick (so far, we are ok).
Day 2: Daughter and I combed out nits. We washed some stuff that didn't get washed on Day 1 (the sanitary cycle takes 2 hours!). We started vacuuming.
Day 3: We combed out nits. I put 75% of the bedding we'd used the last 2 nights into the wash, again. I am hesitant to wash pillows every night - I'm not sure they can handle it?? I did the "olive oil treatment" (daughter refused, and since I haven't seen any live bugs on her yet, I didn't push). I blow dried my hair, twice. After the olive oil treatment, I combed out my hair with our NEW, metal brush. I didn't actually see any nits on the comb, but it did appear I combed out a handful of dead bugs.

Day 4: We will just comb. I might make daughter do the olive oil treatment, depending on how things look. I might also blow-dry her hair.
Day 5: I will repeat olive oil treatment and wash bedding again. Vacuuming will also be done. And of course, combing.
Day 6: More combing. Maybe also washing bedding.
Day 7: Repeat shampoo. If things are not improving, may also try the vinegar treatment. This is supposed to kill nits. Wash bedding.

Then we'll reevaluate if LEP#1 seems to be working.

Monday, October 10, 2011

And this is why...

...we own so many towels.

Last week we had a ridiculous rainstorm, which resulted in local flooding. I was awakened in the wee hours of the morning by rain pounding against our bedroom windows (which are actually serving as our headboard, until my son finishes using his convertible crib/toddler bed). There was some thunder, but really most of the noise was the rain driving against our house from all directions. I comforted my daughter, who was also awoken by the rain, and checked the kids' room window, which leaks (another story for another day), to make sure there were no puddles forming, and all was well. I went back to bed.

A few hours later, I went down to the basement to feed the critters and see if there was any water, since it's been known to find its way in before, in small quantities. There were, disturbingly, what I will call "large puddles." Large puddles, and small streams, since the water comes in at the back of the house and then flows to low points in the very-uneven floor.

The last time we had water in the basement, I whipped out two bath towels and soaked it up, 1-2-3. This time, there was significantly more water. I sent my daughter (who is always eager to help) to get some towels. She came back with two. I started on one puddle and wondered if towels were really going to do the trick. I sent her back for more, anyhow. Meanwhile, my husband stared at the walls and muttered inanities like "I think it's coming in from here" or "I don't know where it's coming from" or "It rained a lot last night", with a smattering of helpful suggestions like, "use the shop vac to pick it up." He then went to go take his shower and left for work.

While the shop vac helped with the largest puddle, we apparently only have one power outlet in the basement, and the limited mobility made it of limited use. So the daughter and I emptied the entire linen closet. The wet towels went to the washer, where I just did a rinse and spin (why doesn't it just have a spin feature??) before sending them to the dryer for immediate reuse.

I didn't bother counting, but we have in the neighborhood of 18 bath towels and 2 beach towels, for a 4-person household that almost never has overnight guests. And my husband has frequently questioned the quantity of towels, to which I answer along the lines of "you can't have too many towels."

And I am right, of course. And now it's proven.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mystery poop (I hope)

The week got off to a fabulous start today when my son (14 mos) decided to have a triple-bout of diarrhea after arriving at daycare. Of course he was fine before being dropped off. And when I showed up (and could hear him crying from outside of the infant room), he immediately stopped crying as soon as he saw me and employed the use of one of his two words (ma!ma!ma!). As flattering as this is, it merely offset the irritation I had at having just spent as much time in the car this morning as I did at work.

Once home, the boy decided that he was perfectly fine and would spend the rest of the day babbling and strutting through the house, not the least bit interested in napping or (thankfully) having any more exciting bowel movements.

As the day draws to a close, I can only hope that the morning's intestinal excitement was a one-off and will not be repeated. Why the pooplosion? That is a mystery, for now.