Mother's Day arose grey and rainy. I got myself showered and ready, then got my kid showered and ready. My mom picked us up, and we went to church.
I'm still in between churches. If I could pick up the church I attended where I used to live and move it here with a crane, all would be well. Life doesn't work that way. I'll get there eventually. In the meantime, my mother has found a church she really likes, so I have been going occasionally with her.
This church has a hard core kids program and nursery. The area is complete separated with a locking door and entry area. You have to sign the kid in and out, and they give you a code number. If there are any issues during the service, your little number will pop up in the corner of the screen.
So it's Mother's Day. They sing some sappy song about a daughter always needing her mom and I cry. They sing some other song and I cry. Finally the preacher begins the sermon and I settle in. Then I notice our number has popped up on the screen.
I arrive at the nursery entryway to find a woman with my daughter. She informs me simply "they found nits in her hair".
They. found. nits. in. her. hair.
Deep breath. I need to escape. Get me to the bathroom so I can cry. And paw through my kids hair to find the nits. The woman, probably also a mother, tries to reassure me. Don't worry, lots of kids get lice. Meanwhile I'm hoping to God the ground swallows me whole.
Retreating from the nursery area, we encounter a woman in the doorway. Balancing a child and two cans of coke, she recognizes us from a local consignment sale. She obviously is aware of the diagnosis, because she, too, launches into her "it happens to everyone" reassurance. She then starts telling me exactly what I need to do to rid ourselves of the lice. "Wash everything in the house. Put stuffed animals through the dryer. Get the RidEx, not the other stuff, the other stuff doesn't work. Be sure to use the comb. You're going to have to comb every night for, like, a week. And wash everything for like, a week. And get the spray for the couch and stuff. Put everything in the dryer on hot, or use the spray. It's really horrible. But it happens to the best of us. I have three kids and they ALL had it. Like, three different times each. It's horrible. It's really really horrible. But you'll be fine. Bye!"
Meanwhile, I'm looking at my kids head. I don't see any nits. I don't see anything that looks like anything on her head. But I don't want to paw through her hair in front of these women, and these mothers obviously know more than I do about the subject, so .... just get me to the bathroom. I have a really good cry and then look for myself.
In the bathroom, I search her head. I find nothing. My mother comes to find us, and I report the conversation. I also report that I haven't seen anything. My mom looks through her head and finds something white and pulls it off the hair. I say "that just looks like fuzz to me" and she says "well, that's what they look like. Small white things."
Okay. So she must have lice. All the people that know much more about this than I do say so. So we go home.
I send my mother to the store for the chemicals to douse my child, a new pillow (which was on the shopping list anyway) and whatever else the store might sell that might get rid of lice. I texted her to check for Tea Tree Oil, which she bought. Despite it being close to nap time, I stripped her bed and began washing bed linens, I gathered all the stuffed animals to the basement, I pulled her bed away from the wall and swept and mopped the floor, and I cleaned the rest of her room like a mad woman. Then while she napped, it was on to my room. Clean sheets and pillowcases, dust mop for the floor .... But I knew I couldn't do all of it.
Did I mention grades were do the next day, and it was also Commencement? Did I mention I still had 60 exams to grade, 120 grades to calculate, and a 14 hour day to work the following day? I asked my mom to call my aunt to come help clean, her specialty. So since the "deep cleaning" wouldn't happen until the following day, I put off the dousing of chemicals, and just tried the Tea Tree Oil treatment I had read about online.
I combed her hair with a fine-toothed comb, since the kid had stolen the one that came in the kit and hid it somewhere (dirty laundry basket is where it was later recoved, several days later). I didn't see anything, but I combed every inch of her head. Maybe it was just a mild case. Maybe the TTO got them all out.
The next morning she woke up with two small white things in her hair. I pulled them out, thinking they were nits. I called daycare to tell them of our problem. I left the kid with mom and went to grade and calculate and pomp and circumstance and everything else a professor does on the last day of the semester. Frequent phone check-ins told me the consensus was my house was getting really clean, and my kid's lice seemed gone. Noone saw anything in her hair. When I came home for a break during the afternoon, I saw two more little white things, so I asked mom and her friend who would be watching her while I attended Commencement to be sure to do the TTO treatment again. If there were still white things the next day, we would move on to chemicals.
The next day I was off work. In the morning, two more little white things. I'd thought my aunt sprayed the furniture with the lice bedding spray. She actually used Lysol, which she'd heard was an insect repellant. I got frustrated thinking that we still had nits and the correct spray hadn't been used. I started dragging couch cushions out to the porch and began spraying the stuff.
In graduate school I became sensitized (allergic) to organic solvents. Like the ones used to dissolve chemicals like insecticides. So immediately my head feels like its going to explode, and I have six more couch cushions and pillows to spray. I did it in shifts, spending time in the fresh air of the backyard in between spraying toxic chemicals on my couch cushions in the front yard.
After her nap, a few more little white things. This is really starting to bug me. I'm treating with TTO, I'm combing, I'm spraying toxic chemicals in the house. Also, all I'm seeing are the nits. I'm not seeing actual lice. How are the nits getting there if there are no adult bugs to lay the eggs? This is really driving me crazy. But after a day of headache, I am NOT doing the chemical shampoo on her hair. That would probably kill me. So, one more night of TTO.
The next day we go to the doctor. She'd had green snot and congestion and cough for days, its about time to get that taken care of. Also, we can mention the lice issue, and see what the doc has to say. The intake person asks us lots of questions. When she asks when I started treatment, I said "Sunday". Then I clarified - I have only been treating her with Tea Tree Oil. She stops and looks at me. "Not the shampoo?".
No, I am one of those crazy mamas that cloth diapers her kid and tries "alternative" treatments. Not always. But this time, I did. You can see it in this woman's eyes. "Ha, this woman thinks that Tea Tree Oil gets rid of lice. Ha!"
The nurse practicioner checks my wee one's head. And checks, and checks. She finds something, but brushes it to the side. Checking, checking. The verdict: my kid has dandruff.
Whatever the ladies at the church saw, was probably dandruff. If it was big enough for them to see without pawing through my kids hair (and why would they be doing that anyway?) then it was probably dandruff. Since I treated with an oil, that probably got it. Since I didn't know what I was looking for, I assumed "white thing" meant nit. She said if you see the white things, try to brush them away. Dandruff brushes away. Nits don't. She said that TTO is an insect repellant, so treating with it - or using shampoo or conditioner with the oil - can help prevent, and can probably help with treatment (take that, judgemental medical assistant!). But it's unlikely that just using TTO will get rid of infestation. So, she couldn't be 100% sure because she didn't see what the church ladies saw, but probably ...
My kid didn't have lice, she had dandruff.
*Now that I've told the story, this post's title and first sentence may make a little more sense.