Monday, May 21, 2012

Worst Mother's Day ever

Guess what my kids gave me for Mother's Day?


That's right.  In what was, I hope, the worst Mother's Day weekend of my life, we discovered that yes, we had five cases of lice in the house.  I'm sure your skin is crawling just reading that, so if you must you can stop here.

Let me back up a few months. One weekend we went out of town and came home to an ant infestation in the house.  Like thousands of them. I was so grossed out. Having been through this before years ago, I immediately called pest control because I wasn't going to live my life like that again. I hate having all that pest control junk in my house though - it made my mom sick from the smell and makes me so paranoid that my kids are crawling around on these floors that have pesticides all over them. Hate it, hate it and live in fear that I've now poisoned my whole family.

Not even a couple of weeks later, we found weevils in our cupboard.  That was infuriating. The ants were annoying and creeped me out, but they weren't in my food.  I had to go through everything in my entire house piece by piece and threw out a TON of food.  That was where being a food hoarder in the name of food storage came back to bite me.  It was painful throwing so much food away.  The rest of my food was left all over my counters and scattered throughout my bedroom because I was not putting food back in until those things were gone. But even with all the food out of my cupboards those dang weevils still kept coming out of the cracks in the cupboards for over a month. Maybe they were coming from another apartment? Who knows, but that's a long time to live with no counter space and especially for someone who goes crazy in a messy house. I literally had a constant stress level for a month just seeing all that stuff not in a proper place. Not to mention the nightmares. For weeks.  If I know you, you were probably in my dream at some point finding weevils in my house, pointing out all the places all over my house they were starting to come out of.  Oh, it was an awful month of sleep. Those things are creepy. I even got the pest control guy back and he sprayed all over the cupboards.  I spent hours later washing all that stuff off every surface of my cupboards so I could feel safe having our food in there again. Such a pain.

Finally, finally, finally, they went away.  I went to Home Depot and told the guy that I wanted something to seal off the cracks in my cupboards so nothing came through the cracks and into my cupboards anymore. He gave me something and I went home and spent a tedious evening filling all the cracks with it. Then read the back of the label and saw that it had a huge warning label that stuff in it was known to cause cancer and reproductive harm.  Are you kidding me???  And I just slathered that all over the cupboards that are housing all the stuff that's going to go into my babies mouths?  And then it said you needed some something-approved mask to sand it down so you didn't inhale it. Well, I didn't have that kind of mask, I still sanded it, and that stuff was all over my cupboards. Here I go poisoning my whole family again.  I finally decided to go through and put something else over it to seal it off so at least it wasn't exposed. Oh the hours of my life I'd spent combating bugs.

At last I could get my food off the counters and back in the cupboards and thought my months of tedious, time-consuming bug ridding strategies were over.

And then the roaches came.

I have never in 4 years seen cockroaches in our apartment, but they came.  And they came, and they kept coming.  They would creep you out when you got up in the dark in the middle of the night. They would crawl all over the toilet making you live in fear of ever going to the bathroom again, let alone in the dark.  It seemed to coincide with some work they were doing on our building, so maybe they were displaced, but oh my.  I finally got pest control again.  I couldn't live like that. Between the ants, weevils and roaches, I had pest control here 4 times in 2 months.  Oh the pesticides.  At least I insisted on no more sprays.

SO. I finally had gone THREE days without the roach problem!  The Friday night before Mother's Day I had the young women from our ward sleep over.  I have never done that. I've never even had them to my house before, let alone have a sleepover, nor have I probably had a sleepover in my adult life.  But this happened to be the night I did it.  Ryan took the boys camping.  And then called me in the morning:  "Cash has lice."  Oh no!!  And I have all these girls sleeping all over my house?  On the boys beds?  Heads on the couches??  And my kid has lice??!  Ryan said he was coming home right then, but I tell him I want to get all these girls out before he comes home so we're not exposing them all to it any more than they already have been.

As soon as he gets home I take Cash straight out to the balcony for as short of a haircut as I can stand. I asked Ryan if he had checked the twins and he hadn't. But as I'm out there cutting hair he looks at me and nods.  Oh goodness. As soon as we can all the boys, including poor little lice baby, have a lice treatment on them.  Later that night we tried another one. Ryan and I even did one for good measure. The next day we got a prescription one for all the boys - according to the CDC the only one that actually kills the eggs too, not just the bugs.  But of course now I'm freaked out again - more pesticides. This time on everyone's heads?  We are all surely going to die of something someday from all this.  But trying to get this out of four kids I wasn't messing around. At least three treatments later I was feeling pretty good about them.  Although I'd spent all Mother's Day combing and picking through hair, washing, cleaning....we were exhausted.  As soon as we had finally gotten everything taken care of and the boys in bed I finally had time to stop and think.  And realize...I'm itchy.

Sure enough, Ryan checked and I was positive.


Seriously?? My one good feature?  And now it was going to probably get thrashed dumping all these pesticides on it?  So out I was at Walgreen's at 1am getting the prescription stuff for my hair.  Which took 3 bottles. And we later realized was draining $200 a bottle out of our FSA and we'd now used five bottles of it.  The next night Ryan stayed up until 4am picking junk out of my hair after I'd had time to do that treatment.

We often get complimented on having a family with great hair. Until you have lice. Then it comes back to bite you  with a vengance being a family with so much hair!  I had contemplated buzzing Cash's hair and just getting it over with, but when the twins had it, I said there was no way I was cutting their hair. Then the baby, then me.  Nope, buzzing was not going to happen. I wasn't going to let those dang bugs make me mad for the next 6 months having to look at bad hair to top it all off.

I can honestly say we're not sure we've ever been so miserable. Between the washing, and the boiling and the vacuuming, the hair treatments, taking out and cleaning all the car seats, and the couches, and washing every item of clothing in their drawers, bleaching down the house, washing everything anyone came in contact with, hour after hour picking through 5 heads of hair to make sure not one egg was left, combing and combing through with the nit comb...I thought we were going to die. We were seriously up until 2am, 4am, 1am every night.  I'm sure we were super overly cautious, but I was pretty impressed with how fast we got rid of five cases of lice. That stuff can linger for a long time.

Now the twins on the other hand - I don't think they had a clue anything was wrong. Not even one complaint of itching, not a word as we yanked through their hair with a comb - all they knew was they got to play an awful lot of video games for a week so they would sit still while we picked through their hair! And so they wouldn't leave their designated square of hardwood floor so they would stay out of the bedrooms and off the couches.  :)

I have to give it to Ryan though - he was vigilant. He's the kind of guy that is happy to leave the dishes until tomorrow, not one given to thorough cleaning, one that won't miss sleep for anything - he just kept going and going. I'm sure it was all in the name of self-defense and self-preservation, but seriously, the guy picked through my mounds and mounds of hair night after night after night.  Granted, I lost about a quarter of my hair in the process and I'm going to have a lovely halo of broken hair all over my head, but he did get it out.

Seriously though, I am so dying. Every time I am so grossed out, skin crawling, hair standing on end, weeks of nightmares - I think it can't get any worse, any more skeevy, and then it does. Ants, weevils, roaches, and then lice.  I really think someone knows my weakness and is throwing this at me deliberately!  And I swear we are like the worst parents ever! Cash had been telling us his head was itchy and I'd looked through his hair multiple times - I think I really just had no idea what I was looking for. How would I know??! I've never seen this stuff before!

And I love that they send home a lice notice when someone in the class has it.  Cash is absent for two days and then shows back up like this:

Subtle. Real subtle.

Oh Miami, just another strike against you.  What pest doesn't thrive here?

Ok, ok. Maybe I am supposed to find the good out of all of this. Well, like I always say: the family that picks together sticks together.

And hey, at least I made you all glad you're not me.  :)


SuburbiaMom said...

AARGHH! Those pesky pests! I feel you--living in warm climates definitely comes with it's share of bugs (I had nightmares when we lived in Hawaii). You are such a trooper.

P.S. Your hair is not your only good feature!!! You are beautiful all over!

Angie said...

I love Cash's new haircut though :) Bugs in warm climates can drive you nuts. We have suffered through ants that never seemed to leave and annual scorpion problems (though thankfully never more than one or two baby ones at a time, since they can kill). My inlaws seem to always have weevil, no matter where they live. The way they combat it is keep all grains (flour, cornmeal, etc) in the freezer. We've been lucky that way.

Our worst infestation though was when Chad's brother told us after we slept at his house that he had 'scored' the mattress at a garage sale. We ended up with scabies as a result of his frugality. We couldn't figure it out for months (dermatologist thought I had stress induced hives, prescribed strong antihistamines which dried up my milk for baby #3 & put my oldest daughter on layers of crazy steroid creams for her "eczema", including Elidel which they later found causes neurological damage or cancer or something like that). When the doc finally figured out what was causing our itching and horrible hives, we all--even the ones without hives, and including my six month old baby whose milk supply had just dried up and my cousin who was staying with us for an internship--had to be slathered with this cream, head to toe and then sleep in it and then we had to clean the house head to toe--much as you described, including baking all pillows and stuffed animals and car seat covers in the dryer, putting everything that couldn't be washed and baked in sealed in garbage bags for 2 weeks (to suffocate the beasts)--all on my birthday. What a birthday!

So, I can empathize, I truly truly can. Hopefully the summer brings nothing crawly your way!

Megan said...

My jaw is just hanging open! What a terrible stretch. It makes me think of Moses and the Egyptians. Hopefully, it's all behind you know.

Melissa said...

I so feel your pain!!!! Katie got lice while we were in New Zealand..IT WAS A NIGHTMARE!! They don't even have the prescription stuff to kill the eggs. It's so common there that when I went to the pharmacy they said I could call the mobile lice service to come clean my house and my child's hair. Then they said to expect it 2-3 more times during the year. WHAT?! I washed her hair once a week after that, braided it almost everyday and did a comb check every 2 days. Yuck. My skin still crawls when I think about it. Oh and she had been telling me her head itched for days too and I checked nothing. I even gave her benadryl because I thought it was an allergy. It wasn't until I was drying her hair on morning and thought she had a scab on her head and when I touched it it moved. OH my heart attack! Worst day ever. I'm so so so sorry it was on mother's day too. Hopefully, you stay lice free from now on!

AnnaMarie said...

How I've missed your blog, Jen. You always make me feel pretty blessed. I never want to visit, much less live in Florida. I freak out about the occasional centipede in the basement and am glad for winter to come, when all the bugs die. :)

Now I'm itchy, sitting here reading this!

Whoa, Angie's story is pretty bad, too!

Anonymous said...

I thought it was quite awhile between posts, and now I know why! So glad I was not there. So proud of you and Ryan for handling it so well. Hope the quilts washed well and without colors running, etc. They had all been color-fasted as best I could before making them. And so glad you "journaled" the experience through the blog! (I shouldn't act as though I hadn't heard about it at all. I do keep in touch.) Remember: "This too shall pass." and "This is Livin'!"


Corinne said...

Oh friend. Of ALL the LAMENESS. I am so sorry. We found lice on nieces and nephews the day after Christmas (all staying at my in-laws) so we spent every evening of the entire Christmas break going through EIGHT heads of hair. And yes, we buzzed my son just to make it easier.

I hope that was the last time you have to deal with anything nasty for a long long time!

Laura B. said...

This is the worst thing EVER!!! I'm so so so sorry! It will just make you even more happy to leave Miami! :)
Cash's hair looks AWESOME! I love it short!

Lindsey Johnson said...

That is horrible, Jen. I cannot even imagine...

p.s. Your hair is not your *only* good feature. You're a freaking super model, my friend.

Our family said...

I just checked with Moses, he said you still have frogs and snakes to look forward to. Go ahead and mark your door with blood now, just in case. Seriously though, bleh! This might be your most memorable blog post ever, and that's saying a lot because I still laugh when I remember your yoga one! For the record, I love the new haircut.

Rochelle said...

Oh my word. This almost had me in tears reading this! I can't even imagine. That is just awful! A true testament of survival right there. Talk about 'enduring to the end'. I think you have guaranteed your spot in heaven for not being hospitalized for a mental breakdown. So glad you are through that. And Cash's hair looks great. He looks so much older!

Anonymous said...

It seems like every post you ever write, my knee-jerk comment starts with "WOW." Seriously??? Maybe you ought to take a summer vacation to Hell to get away from Miami.

Cash's hair is cute though.

Gavin and Shawna said...

Man...that makes me want to FL so badly....ugggg!!!Sorry're an awesome mom!!

Melanie said...

Yes, Jen I am sooo glad Im not you! How awful! But how wonderful that when the going got tough your man got going. You have survived another crisis and someday this knowledge will come in handy. I know someday your daughter-in-law will call you freaking out that her kids have lice and you can just walk her through it. And chuckle...maybe.

todd & nicole said...

Ugh! Sounds awful. I had one incident of lice growing up and it was awful. It banned sleepovers for the rest of my life. Hailee's school has had two outbreaks of lice and thankfully she hasn't brought it home yet. I'm dreading that day with her long hair. For now I just make her wear a braid most days. I hope all your pest days are over.

Jenny said...

We had it last year in Miami amidst a newborn baby, the flu, and then lice. Thought I was going to have breakdown. Called mama in for back up. Glad you survived.

Lindsey said...

Not to minimize the infestations and the lice... Ryan took all the boys camping? Even the baby? How is that possible?

Richins Family said...

Oh. My. Goodness. You are a saint for having survived all of that. I'm so sorry!!

Cash's hair does look cute though. He looks completely different!

Jess said...

Oh Jen. My girls and I had lice(hubby shaves his head bald)and I was so very, very close to shaving my girls' heads. AND we only had to do the one treatment and then the 10 days later treatment.
But, like you, we did over 31 loads of laundry. We got an extra storage unit to store all the plush toys and anything else I was worried about.
I was having panic attacks.
My whole body itched for months.
But no one else in my daughter's class caught it...we have no idea where they even caught it.
It was a horrible couple of days that we can laugh at now a year and a half later!

Rachel said...

THAT IS HORRIBLE!!!! So sorry,Jen!

Tania said...

That is a terrible story (and slightly hilarious because it wasn't me.) Can you believe that in 19 years of parenting (a combined 22 years in school not counting pre-school so far) we have NEVER had lice. Anytime anyone even says the word my head starts to itch. I think we are a ticking time bomb and are bound to get it .... I just hope it's not anytime soon.

Karen said...

oh, gross--i am seriously itchy now. what an awful stretch!!! hopefully you've met your quota now... totally unrelated question: do you know where you guys are going or what you're doing? just thought about that the other day.

LuAnn said...

Jen I don't have time to read this whole post, but it didn't take much skimming to know it was really bad. I'm so sorry. With regard to ants...there is this stuff that works miracles called Dupont or Advion. Seach either on amazon and you'll find some ant killer. Ours weren't too bad, but my friends were and it worked within days and she hasn't seen any since. Again, I'm so sorry. I know about pests, but not quite like you do. Humidity sucks! Love you and can't wait to see you this summer!