Life Lessons from Lice

Over the summer, one of the more unpleasant experiences that our family dealt with was that of having several family members with head lice. The experience came at a most inconvenient time, as we were traveling to visit family and developed strep throat along the way. However, we dealt with the lice, and within a little over a week we were lice-free. Here are some unexpected lessons that I learned from our experience:

1) Keep calm and carry on: Try hard not to let something like lice make you and your family unhappy. Having lice is inconvenient, yucky, and takes persistence to get rid of. There is nothing terribly pleasant about the experience, and for a few weeks you will probably be paranoid about a reinfestation. However, none of these are reasons for you to be unhappy, or to make your family unhappy because of your paranoia. Take a deep breath, remind yourself that you’re doing the best that you can to keep things under control, and carry on with life. Tell yourself that something good will come of this experience, like being able to help others when they go through a similar trial in the future.

2) Swallowing your pride is hard to do: I had the undesirable task of calling everyone that we had been in contact with while having head lice, and I felt terribly guilty thinking that we might have unknowingly spread lice to our friends. Thankfully, it seems that we didn’t, and everyone that we called was extremely gracious.

3) Sometimes, it’s a good idea to seek outside help: I learned that there are “lice salons” in many cities that will do a “head check” for about $12 – money well spent in my opinion! If it turns out that you do have lice, you can also ask them to treat you, which is more expensive but is a great option if you are unsure of your ability to rid your family of them yourself. They will also set you up with a great metal comb, which is your best tool in getting rid of lice once and for all. Either way, skip the chemical treatments – they’re not always effective, and can be harmful to both children and adults.

4) Some things really are psychological: Every time I talk about our experience with lice, my head starts to feel itchy. I’ve even gone to be checked a couple of times since we were lice-free because I’m convinced that I have lice, only to find out that I don’t. It seems that I’ve been a bit traumatised by the whole experience, but I have learned that there truly is a mind-body connection!

So, nothing terribly deep from me on this Monday morning, but that’s where I am right now 🙂 I hop ethat you and your family have a great week!

Mary, Mother of peace, pray for us!

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  • Kathy

    Oh Katrina! When I read the title of the post it was post traumatic stress for me (no pun intended but it does work here). Although our family did not have the challenges you had this summer with Annie’s birth and death, we have had the lice problem – twice. The first time was about a month after the birth of our third child 5 1/2 yrs ago. Our older daughter contracted them – it was a difficult experience to say the least – particularly challenging as I suffered post partum depression. Working as a team, and with help from my dad and my mom (a school nurse who once had to have the school in which she worked closed because of lice infestations) were a source of support. Like you we got through it, but I can relate to the itchy head and constantly having to be rechecked to find nothing. Then, 2 yrs ago my middle daughter contracted lice – and though we felt okay to handle it – this time it was harder to beat. She relapsed 2 additional times and my older daughter contracted lice as well as our 3 yr. It was the only time I wished I had boys – just buzz cut their hair! The day of the third relapse, my husband called to let me know what had happened. I sat in my office at school and cried. To challenge matters more, my husband and I were scheduled to give the Family life talk at our parish’s pre-cana that evening. After talking with my husband, I called the priest who was our Pre-Cana advisor (now the chaplain at Princeton) crying hysterically and telling him that if I gave the speech that night, no one would get married and certainly not have kids. After talking me off “the cliff”, he said they would understand if we/I could not speak that night. We decided to fulfill out commitment and only my husband would give the speech. When I saw a colleague in the conference, I decided I could give the speech. You know, the speech wrote itself. I talked about what events had led up to our presence their that night and said that although no one wants this, I learned that with lots of support, we can muddle through anything. I learned that you need to ask for help and people will help – and you are not weak to seek outside help.

    I will pray for you because it can be so hard with lice and the additional challenges your family has faced this summer. But as your post states – you learned a lot of positive things from a negative situation.

    Sorry for the long comment. On a side note – our family met Fr. (now Monsignor) Tom Mulelly last night while at Aquinas House at Princeton. Lovely man, very personable. I was impressed at how fast he remembered our daughters’ names. I mentioned that we had first learned of him through this blog. He remembered you all fondly and said what fine people you all are. He sends his regards.

    Have a great day.

  • Mama Turtle

    Lice is ridiculous. My head itches just thinking about our experience last year. Our oldest brought it home from preschool, and she gave it to our (at the time) 11 month old – it really was ridiculous. I can laugh about it now though, I wore a plastic shower cap and gloves the whole time I was combing her hair! I spent a solid month washing everything in hot water (sheets, car seat covers, etc) and putting everything else in the freezer. Lots of movies while we combed hair!

    Since then, we’ve started using “Fairy Tales” shampoo, conditioner, and gel in everyone’s hair. It’s organic and contains rosemary and tea tree oils that are supposed to repel lice. We’ve been lice-free since.

  • I had no idea there are lice salons. That’s one to file away in case of emergency. I love your positive attitude about not letting the lice get you guys down. This weekend it rained inside my van through a rust spot that I wasn’t aware of, the oven door fell off (I may have laughed really hard before checking to see if my husband got burned from it falling off in his hands), then I got stung 3 times by a swarm of wasps that the kids had angered while running over a rickety bridge. But it was seriously an awesome weekend just because we got to spend so much family time together and are so blessed to have each other to laugh with when things go wrong. I also discovered that when you tell kids to run, they instinctively run towards their mother regardless of where she is pointing. They do this even if it means running back through a swarm of attacking wasps. So here’s to bugs bringing families together! haha