It all started with a phone call.
My sister wanted to know if Brigitte could come have a sleep over. Of course, how lovely! A night free from listening to my insomniac daughter yell at her best imaginary evil pony friend Nightmare Moon to "STOP IT" and "GET OUTTA HERE!". I of course. agreed immediately. Normally I would worry about sending Brigitte away for the night, but at Jaynas the girly-ness abounds and there is nothing but dressups, tea parties, and big girls to fawn over for miles. So...off she went. And then it happened.
As Brigitte was hopping into Jaynas car -- she reached up and scratched her head.
A simple, tiny, insignificant moment - that all mothers instinctively FEAR.
Jayna stopped in her tracks.
We immediately rushed over to inspect the mange of hair tangled about Brigiites head. Besides a lot of snarls and some sticky sweat...we saw nothing. Her hair was there, like a small matted dog resting atop her shoulders --nothing out of the ordinary.
Phew. No lice we agreed. We laughed some nervous relieved laughter. And off they drove.
Of course MY hair itched all night just thinking about it. I couldnt STOP thinking about it. So the next day when I took a bath I scrubbed my hair nice and thoroughly.
So thoroughly in fact, that upon stepping out of the tub I immediately spotted some tiny black specks in the water.
I scooped them out and studied them closely....realizing to my extreme HORROR that yes, they were in fact: BUGS.
The internal scream that followed was long. And deep. And then I called my sister. (with dread and trepidation seeing as she had just battled the lice off her own children's heads a mere few months ago.)
I picked Brigitte up from Jaynas and brought her home and doused both our heads in pure tea tree oil. Even now, the memory of that smell sort of makes me ill. Anyway, as I was dumping copious amounts of this oil on our heads the bugs were literally surrounding us in the tub. It was SO DISGUSTING.
I panicked and sent gabe to Walgreens to purchase every bottle of LICE MD available. He promptly delivered them to Jory and Jayna so they could treat their kids as a preemptive measure. I also MADE my sister pick through my hair strand by strand de-licing me. I bought a robi comb and made Brigitte sit down in front of me. As we sat there like a row of monkeys I was baffled. We found 1 random bug and NOTHING ELSE. I saw no signs of lice (billions of sticky eggs). I have to admit I was relieved. We caught it early I thought! TENDER SWEET MERCY!
Every morning and every night for 4 solid days I did the tea tree oil treatments on us. And EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. more bugs washed out of our hair. All day and all night I felt bugs crawling all over me. I had the kids on lockdown and my dear husband even made an announcement at Elders Quorum that our house was infested. Awesome. I was literally a CRAZY person during this time. I had my hair SOAKED in mineral oil, tea tree oil, vaseline, cocnut oil, YOU NAME IT. And then a very stylin bag placed over the mess so as to aid in the bug suffocation.
Although I am shamed to admit this.....
I also repeatedly subjected my daughter to these hair rituals. And everyone that knows Brigitte knows that her hair is her SACRED TREASURE. You do not touch it. comb it. or even THINK about braiding it or putting it in a pony tail. (lest you subject yourself to her wrath). Poor brigi. I raked through her mess multiple times a day. Scrubbed it with the tea tree. Did Lice Md treatments. And repeatedly explained that there were little tiny bugs running around in there that we HAD to get out! After a session she would sadly say to me "mommy but WHERE are my bugs? I want to KEEP my little lady bugs!" and then I would go into the "these are GROSS bugs Brigitte and NOT lady bugs" lecture. Bless her heart, she was expecting a handful of adorable ladybug friends to calmy walk from her head into her hands so she could take them outside and play with them.
Here is Brigitte during one of the many bag treatments. She was just doing a little light reading on the human parasites section of the enclosed brochure..... no big deal.
My friend Emily who is the cleanest person I know (Literally plagued with cleaning OCD) who also happens to be a lice expert because
her 4 kids had it TWICE this year came over and looked at Brigitte and I with a fine toothed comb. You know thats a good friend when she puts her own long curly locks in danger by even approaching our house! She saw NOTHING that would indicate Lice. NOTHING! I was relieved. And also....confused. There are no eggs in our hair and yet...every morning when we do our tea tree oil routine - MORE bugs are in the tub!? It was a mystery. And I was quickly losing my mind.
Meanwhile, during all the many many hair freak outs - the entire HOUSE FREAK OUT was occurring. Every piece of fabric we owned was bagged up. This included curtains, clothing, bedding, stuffed animals, dolls, literally EVERYTHING. I also bought one of these babies on craigslist new in the box for $10 and hit our mattresses and pillows with it every morning.
Wake up, strip bedding and pillowcases. steam pillows and mattresses. strip off pajamas. Do the same to each child. Take contaminated laundry down stairs and bag it tightly. Pull decontaminated towels out of the dryer and place contaminated towels in the washer. Do tea tree oil teatments on me and the kids. Count number of bugs. Cry. Get dressed out of the 'clean bag' of laundry. cry some more. Herd the children outside and leave them there while I steamed the crap out of the carpet and rotated laundry through the 'nuke cycle'. repeat repeat repeat.
I even woke up and found myself at 3 am dousing my head in mineral oil. I clearly needed medicated (like, for mental issues).
One night when I went in to tuck in Spencer I looked on his pillow and almost DIED. My goldilocks baby had been sleeping on a pillow of bugs. They were tiny and black and dead. I scooped him up and handed him to Gabe. Shave his head I said. And I walked away and shut the door. I hadnt really been worried about Spencer because he didnt have the long hair like we did -and I never found bugs in the tub after his tea tree treatments. But seeing them on his pillow put me in the dark place.
Spencer did NOT like his haircut. OH NO. HAIR. He would say as he reached up and rubbed his prickly head. He looked like he had endured 10 rounds of aggressive chemotherapy. (which lets be honest, he sort of had). I LITERALLY HAD A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN. When I saw him I cried a little. his heair. his one beauty. GONE.
(please disregard that he is helping himself to a little homemade "mud Juice" in his playhouse in the backyard in this photo. Hes a busy boy, what can I say?)
The next morning I called our pediatrician and begged her to call me in a prescription for Natroba, which was supposedly new on the market and a cure all. Sadly, they couldnt find a pharmacy in town that had it stocked.My sister called HER doctor and low and behold they found 2 pharmacies that had it! She reserved 4 boxes and I felt like Heaven itself had opened!!!
Later that night Jayna drove to Rite Aid only to learn that each treatment was nearly (choke in horror with me:) $300. I was devastated. Obviously we werent going to drop 1200.00 on a stash of lice killer. After some more online research my mom found an amazing 5 star review product that had incredible results. Supposedly it kills the lice AND the eggs. So we ordered 2 treatments for $60 and paid $30 to have them shipped 2 day express. Ask me if I enjoyed paying the cost of one new pair of really cute jeans - on Lice shampoo. I say, nay.
Finally on day 5 as I was wrapping my hair in a towel after taking a bath I happened to look down at the bathroom floor and see a teeny tiny bug - JUMP. I froze. I practically put my nose on the tile and gasped in HORROR. The bugs JUMP? I know through my millions of countless hours of online lice research that
LICE. DO. NOT.JUMP!
Oh my heck - we dont HAVE lice! I immediately feel relieved. And then sick. Because if these bugs arent lice.....I decided that they are FLEAS. I burst out into insane laughter. cackling if you will. The kind you do after you spend $500 on a prada bag and then realize it was made in a sweat shop from materials valued roughly at 49 cents.
I was looking intently at the floor watching this bug jump around when all of a sudden 3 more came out from under our linen closet - which is a tall skinny cabinet thing from Ikea. I stood up and scooted it away from the wall - BINGO. BUG CITY. I drenched a q tip in tea tree oil and as soon as I touched the bugs with it they died immediately. I got a little jar and filled it with rubbing alcohol and put about 5 dead bugs in the jar.
Then I called Gabe. GET HOME IMMEDIATELY WE HAVE FLEAS. He came home and we decided to drop a nuclear bug bomb in the house.
He spent 2 hours taping shut the cupboards and pantry door. Opening closets, and preparing the house for nuclear warfare.
He lit up 4 cans of cancer causing pesticide in each corner of each level and I packed up the kids in the car and grabbed my jar of bugs and headed to walmart. I was going to ask the pharmacist if he recognized the bugs (my friend Emily had taken hers on a post it note and her walmart guy confirmed they were lice.)
Well, typical in Walmart fashion the pharmacist held his hand up in my face and refused to help me. He told me (quite loudly) to go directly to central district health. that this was not his problem and he could not help me. (I will not tell you what I said as I strolled away with my 3 screaming greasy children).
We bought hats. And we got back into the car. I drove to a parking lot, turned on a movie and sat there all afternoon.
At this point I called my mom who was staying at my sisters house because we had nowhere to go! I couldnt go home because the house was being bombed. I couldnt go to a friends house because we had parasites. It was naptime.Everyone, me included was in a hideous state. We were wearing our awesome walmart hats....driving aimlessly around town. My mom said that we probably shouldnt come over because we might give Jayans dog FLEAS. (I think this was when I hit breaking point and actually started CRYING. Like a baby.
Meanwhile Gabe had lit up a chemical fourth of july in our house. And called his brother Lance to come spray for bugs. I picked Gabe up and we drove to a veterinary clinic, where he marched in with our small jar of jumping friends. He came back momentarily and very clamly stated that the Vet confirmed that they were in fact NOT. FLEAS. And that he had no idea what they were but suggested we ask someone at Zamzows.
We went to Zamzows. Again, nobody knew what they were. I was in TOTAL HYSTERICS. What ARE THEY I screamed to the heavens!
LET MY PEOPLE GO! (I had decided I was being sent plagues like Moses.). I took Gabe back home where he met with Lance to spray the outside of the house, and to go open all the windows so we could air out the hiroshima explosion that had just taken place. I drove back over tomy parking lot and sat there with the kids.
Apparently as Lance pulled up to the house he casually asked Gabe how long ago they started building the house next door. Gabe said about a week ago. And Lance said - and when did the bugs first show up? And Gabe said...about a week ago.
"They're SPRINGTAILS." said Lance.
Theyre HARMLESS. They crop up when new construction starts and their water source is destroyed. Or if you start to overwater your lawn. They probably just came over to the nearest source of water they could find - your bathtub.
They went over and turned over a log. BIllions of these little bugs started jumping about. Yup. Its springtails!
Gabe called and told me the news. harmless bugs? Non-parasitic? The horrors of the previous week flashed through my mind. I gazed into the rear view mirror and looked at my unfortunate hair that was rolled like a hay bale under my cheap hat. Brittle. Dead. Fearful of open flame. I looked at my children. Spencer looking like he had Cancer. Brigitte with the same dead mess of dried up hair that I had. I was defeated. LITERALLY EXHAUSTED.
Lance went on to explain that Springtails generally resolve on their own as soon as the construction dies down. They also do not feed on human blood, so there was no way they were living on us as I had originally thought. They would hop in the tub every night and every time we took a bath they either got inadvertently tangled in our hair, or as we got out of the tub and dried off with one of the towels from the linen closet (sitting directly over their gathering place) we "recontaminated" ourselves. And since they love warmth and moisture, I was pretty much re-creating home sweet home by keeping all our hair nice and wet 24 hours a day and wrapped in bags. My attempts to "suffocate" the lice actually created a nice safe holding place for the springtails. OH the INSANITY!
My good friend Amy cooked us dinner and we drove over and she handed me a pan of enchiladas and some cookies as we sat in disbelief over the fact that we had harmless bugs that I had literally NUKED into an oblivion -FOR NO REASON. we laughed. sort of. And I drove off heading to a park like a homeless person. I called my mother back and explained that we did not in fact have parasites - so the dog would be safe and could we please come over and eat dinner because now I had bombed my house and couldnt go inside. She agreed and so we went to Jaynas and sat there in silence. shuddering in horror at the days events. Looking at pictures of Spingtails on the internet.
THIS my friends is a springtail:
Not a lice. Not a flea.
I spent the night at Jaynas, woke up and took my baby to the disgusting laundromat with my mom where we sweated out 13 loads of laundry. I went home and had a carpet cleaner come and steam the chemicals off all the floors and rugs. I started unbagging all the toys, clothing, bedding, pillows, curtains, and fabric that we had previously bagged up. Countless hours of wiping and scrubbing chemical off of every bed, toy, doorknob, and hard surface was spent in my house.
The next day....my $90 lice treatments showed up in the mail.
I sat there looking at the box. Shuddering. CURSING. Shaking my fist wildly in the air DAMN YOU SPRINGTAILS!
Truth be told I still havent recovered.
Cost of 2 bottles of Pure AustralianTea tree Oil..........$15
Cost of LiceMD (for Me, Jayna, and Jory + our respective children) .............$32
Cost of 2 electronic lice detector Robi Combs................$70
Cost of hand held garment steamer..........$10
Cost of pointless naturopathic Lice shampoo.....................$90
Cost of 6 industrial cans of bug bomb.............$25
Cost of 3 very ugly walmart baseball hats..............$10
Cost of having our entire house professionally steam cleaned after the bombing.................$140
Cost of gasoline spent being burned while we had to watch movies in the car all day.........................$40
Cost of laundering 13 loads at the laundromat including soap and garbage bags to haul them away in...............$30
Cost of exterminating springtails................$100 (Lance we owe you BIG TIME)
FINALLY getting rid of those dang JUMPING harmless NON parasitic water loving NUISANCES that nearly destroyed my marriage, robbed me of my sanity- and my children of their gorgeous hair....