The Seven-Year Itch

I pick bugs off people’s heads.

And I love what I do.  Really.  I think I would have made an awesome primate mother, especially when I consider the unlimited snacks.

Since nit picking comes naturally (just ask my husband), the more challenging the job, the more satisfaction I get when I’m done. So you can imagine my delight when I finished a recent job that involved clearing a high school senior from an infestation of lice that had tormented her since age 10.

Imagine it: a seven-year itch.

On days like this, I picture myself as a superhero—arriving at the scene in my black cape, magnifier in hand, wearing really cute leggings, capable of the impossible.

Faster than a competitor’s dispatcher! More powerful than a chemical product! Able to clear infestations in a single visit!

“Look, out on the doorstep! It’s a Nitpicker! It’s a Goddess! It’s Lice Happens!”

“Yes, it’s Lice Happens, mighty visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Lice Happens, who can change the course of mighty infestations, remove lice with her bare hands; and who, disguised as Marci Meadows, mild-mannered entrepreneur covering a great metropolitan area, fights a never ending battle for truth, justice, and the lice-free way.”

Oh, sorry.  I forgot you were there.

I stood at the front door, ready to summon my superhero mojo and unleash it on the most persistent case of the beasties I had ever encountered.

It took all of my powers over 3 ½ hours, but with the help of my trusty sidekick Jane, who kicks some serious lice a** on her own, we successfully rid our teenaged victim of the tiny villains that had a cruel grip on her tresses.

The experience wasn’t without its kryptonite moment, however.  I struggle not to feel powerless and angry when I hear stories about families getting bad advice or being turned away from a pediatrician’s office (in this case FOUR pediatrician’s offices) because of ignorance about lice.  Seriously.  Four. Doctors’. Offices.

Hippocrates would not be pleased.

This young woman had suffered for seven lousy years through multiple harsh chemical hair treatments, oral ivermectin (what we give our dogs for heartworm—I wish I were kidding) and every ‘home cure’ imaginable, including leaving mayonnaise on her hair to turn rancid overnight.  Why not put the entire chicken salad on her head and send her to school with two slices of bread?

Who dispenses this nonsense?

Adding insult to injury, the years of whispering classmates and omitted invitations left her with shame that will take time to recede.  I wish that my superpowers could have fixed that.  But the best I could do was to make it stop, and a month later, I hear she’s bug-free and happy.  The only one happier was her mom.

And a certain super-hero in a black cape.