My son was in a biking accident a few years ago, and he developed a pseudotumor. They’re incredibly rare, especially in an active 9-year-old boy. He had been wearing a helmet, but developed a concussion anyway. He also developed the pseudotumor, but because they are so rare, because it was so unexpected, it went undiagnosed for weeks while the pain got worse and worse.
Once it was diagnosed, he had a terrible reaction to the medication that was supposed to treat it, and his appetite dwindled down slowly to the point where he went 11 days without any food at all. It was worst-case scenarios, all around. Finally, the doctors concluded that the only way to save his vision (because a pseudotumor won’t kill you, but it will damage your optical nerves to the point where you go blind) was emergency brain surgery.
I’m telling you this not because I want sympathy (my son is doing much better now) but because, somewhere in the middle of this, my youngest came home from school with head lice.
Nobody likes head lice, and I hate bugs — perhaps more than most. I panic when I see a centipede, lose my mind when a hornet or bee bumbles into the house, and I’ll be honest, my head itches any time I think about head lice. But it’s not brain surgery. It’s not painful, it’s not going to make you sick, and there are no lasting and permanent consequences to having it. It’s not even a sign that you aren’t clean (lice find their ways to scalps, clean and dirty).
When my older daughter first got lice, 10 years ago, I panicked — just like every mom does the first time this happens. I did everything — medicated shampoo, super cheap conditioner for hours. I vacuumed and washed clothes, more clothes and even more clothes. I took away stuffed animals and pillows, dried what she loved most in a super-hot dryer. I cried and worried and stressed out like crazy.
This time? I took a deep breath, put a hat on my daughter, and had my mother take her to the hospital with me to wait while Sam was in surgery. Once we got home, I did the medicated shampoo, combed for days, and washed her bedding. When the over-the-counter meds didn’t get rid of the lice, I did my research, talked to the pediatrician, and on her advice, we did the Nuvo method treatment. (I recommend this blog about lice, how it’s spread and treated.)
But this time, I didn’t panic. I didn’t worry. Maybe it’s because there just wasn’t enough space for worry about lice. I was more worried about anesthesia and medication and whether or not my son would be able to someday drive a car or read a book.
I know that problems can expand to fill whatever space is available in your life, but I also think I learned the hard way that head lice just isn’t that big of a deal. It’s a lot (I mean — a LOT) of combing and a little extra laundry. To this day, I’m constantly on the lookout for those little nits while I comb her hair. I dilute tea tree oil (a lice repellent) in water and use that as a detangler. (My daughter’s hair is down to her waist, and we have her wear it in braids mostly, or ponytails, just to make sure she doesn’t catch it again.
Annoying? Yes. Worth losing my mind over? Not anymore.