It began as all vacations should . . .

. . . with a diagnosis of head lice. Allow me to back up a bit. My daughter had been scratching her head for a couple of weeks. I dug around in her hair (multiple times) and didn't see anything. I do wear bi-focal contact lenses and my close-up vision is not great, but I felt like I'd been pretty thorough. I bought her some Neutrogena T-Gel shampoo and used it for a couple of weeks. It smelled horrendous but seemed to cut down on the itching. When I got my hair cut a couple weeks ago, I asked my stylist about it. "I don't think it's lice," I told her. "Do you have any theories?"

She told me that she thought it could be psoriasis or just seasonal itching, which she had seen in other clients. I decided to keep using the T-Gel shampoo and see how things went. Right after my daughter's birthday, I took her to her pediatrician for her seven-year wellness exam. I mentioned the itchiness no fewer than three times. The doctor poked around in her hair and said that he saw a few flakes. He said "No lice, just a dry scalp."  He suggested we keep using the smelly shampoo. I shrugged and figured the dryness would pass in time.

Fast forward to Friday night. We left for our vacation after work. We boarded the dogs with a friend of mine, so first we had to drive to her place. Then we drove another hour and a half to get to the airport. I had booked a hotel room* near the airport; we were leaving the next day. I had promised the kid we could go swimming Saturday morning. Our flight didn't leave until 2:00 p.m., so we had the time to enjoy a leisurely morning. She and I headed to the pool after breakfast.

We swam for over an hour. Well, I swam and she played with some kids who happened to be in the pool. They had pool toys with them and were kind enough to share with her. "Why didn't you bring pool toys for me?" my daughter asked.

"Well, because I'm a horrible mother," I said. "Also because we are going to a little place called Disney World today and I guess I thought that would be sufficient."

On her way to sunny Orlando
A few minutes later, we were back in our room and I helped the kid take a shower. Then I combed out her hair as usual. She was scratching her scalp.  I didn't have my contact lenses in (I can see close-up stuff better without them), so I decided to take a closer look. I saw some little white things. Shit. I grabbed a strand of hair and ran it between my thumb and forefinger. I looked down at my thumb. Was that a bug on the end of my thumb? Oh, sweet Jesus. I called P into the bathroom. "She has lice," I told him.

He poked at her hair for a few seconds. "No, she doesn't," he said. "You are just overreacting. As usual."

I looked at the clock. It was 10:10 a.m. We had to check out by 11:00 a.m. "Run to a drugstore and buy a lice treatment," I told him.

I stood in the bathroom scratching my entire body and head until he came back. My daughter could tell I was sort of freaking out but I tried to reassure her. When my husband got back, I quickly applied the lice killing stuff and waited a few minutes before rinsing it out. By then, it was 10:59 so we had to go. Still in shock, we headed to a nearby Qdoba for lunch. When we were done eating, we realized we still had a couple of hours before our flight departed. I decided to sit in the car with my daughter and use the nit comb that had come with the lice treatment. I ran it through her hair and looked down at the comb. Oh, geez. I worked on her head for quite a while and pulled out all sorts of gunk. I handed the comb to P so that he could go in the restaurant and clean it off. He looked down at it. "I'm glad we caught this early," he said. WE????????  One bit of good news, however, was that she had already stopped itching. We cleaned everything up and boarded our flight.

A few hours later, we were in Orlando. We felt excited and . . . itchy. I know it is just the power of suggestion, but it a mighty power indeed. When we got to the resort (we were joining another family on vacation), I delicately broke the news to our friends. God bless my friend Sherri. She is a pragmatic sort (she's an attorney so maybe it just takes a lot to freak her out) and just shrugged and said she wasn't worried. She has three boys and they all have short hair anyway.  It's not as though we were going to cancel our long-awaited trip just for some head lice. During the vacation, we were careful to keep track of our daughter's pillow and hat, spraying them regularly with the lice spray that came with the kit. We also repeated the treatment on A's hair and I continued to comb it daily with the nit comb. I even got to do this on Mother's Day which, I'm sure you will agree, is every mom's dream come true. My sister also told me to try tea tree oil, so we have been using that as well.

I have a few posts to share about our trip, so I hope you'll indulge me over the next week or so.

A couple of final thoughts on this entry:

1. My sister told me that lice don't like hair that has a lot of product on it, and they don't like dyed hair. I have been dyeing my hair since I was 17 (I found a childhood photo of myself recently and was sort of surprised to be reminded that my natural color is actually sort of a reddish medium brown). Between the dye, the gel, and the copious amounts of hairspray, I have convinced myself that the lice would find my head to be quite inhospitable.

2. We have decided to change pediatricians. There are other reasons, too, but in my mind it's sort of ridiculous for a pediatrician not to be able to diagnose head lice.

3. Yes, we have treated all of her stuffed animals and bedding (in case you were going to mention it).

4. She doesn't really want anyone to know about the lice, so don't tell her that you know.

5. As gross and distressing as this whole incident has been, I saw several children at Disney World who were there courtesy of Make-a-Wish. It occurred to me then, after watching a father shift his son from a wheelchair to the Buzz Lightyear ride, that scarier things than head lice can happen to a family.

*Side note: Clarion can kiss my ass. I requested a room with two beds and the chick at the front desk charged me $15.00 for this "upgrade." I'd like to see her try to sleep in a bed with a bony seven-year-old who sprouts extra knees after dark.


radioactivegan said…
I'm glad the lice didn't put an end to your trip! I'm excited to see how you all fared in Disney World (I haven't been since I was too young to remember).

Also, if I ever meet your daughter, I'll try to keep the lice thing on the down-low ;)
The Lovely One said…
Oh no! What a nightmare! I'm glad you were still able to have a good time. And yes, I would be looking to change doctors, too!
Anonymous said…
Call their headquarter about the "upgrade" fees. That's a bunch of BS.
Anonymous said…
Great post! I live in dread of head lice (well, it's on a very long list of dreaded items). We got a lice warning from school and that also caused me to itch for about a week. Luckily, we didn't seem to be impacted.

Sounds like you had a fun trip! We're hoping to go next year sometime. :)

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