Thursday, March 5, 2009

School Nurse Fun

One of my colleagues was forced to treat, in the ER, a patient who was going to the OR for an appendectomy. The problem? Head lice. 3 days later, she was still scratching and obsessively asking us to check her head.

Having spent a number of years "moonlighting" as a school nurse, I know a thing or two about head lice. Nothing would strike fear into the hearts of parents and teachers like a rumor of head lice. Now, I refused to do scheduled head checks on a school of 500+ Kindergarteners and 3-5th graders. Some school nurses did, but WTF, I was the boss and my principal was fine with it; I had a "no nits" policy which worked well. In 9 years, I had no epidemics. A few cases of course, but my system of finding out who the friends were and targeting their classrooms for headchecks worked like a charm. Most of the teachers asked me to check them as well although I never, ever found so much as a spec of dust that LOOKED like a nit. I did have some fun with one or two of my teacher friends over the years by sharply and audibly drawing a breath and muttering "uh-oh". Psych!

My friend Rita the school secretary was a great one for practical jokes, as was I. We once took a picture of a popular grade 4 teacher and put in on a milk carton after he was late back to school with his class on a field trip. The kindergarteners did a fun little graduation program each year (it was always the same) that featured a song that goes "P-u-r-p-l-e, purple, purple" and sung to the tune "Camp Town Ladies". I had a giant blowup purple crayon that I marched back and forth so that only the teacher could see; cracked her up, especially the year I did it with a giant pair of sunglasses and a wizard hat. Being a school nurse would probably have been a better choice to finish up my nursing career, but I had to let it go; I loved the kids and teachers, but the parents were all nuts.

One year I decided to have some fun with the head lice letter I sent out:

Memo to: Parents

From: EDNurseasuaras, School Health Nurse

Subject: Critters

Prepare to be horrified.

OK, I won't beat around the bush: there are headlice in your child's class
Now that you've stopped screaming, you should know that there is no need to panic. Really.

Seriously. DON’T PANIC. It is a common occurrence. Head lice are very small critters that attach themselves to your child’s scalp. They bite the skin and suck blood. The bites are itchy; that is what tipped off your child’s teacher, the continuous scratching. By the way, Mrs. Jones won’t be in tomorrow; she will be taking a personal day.

Head lice lay eggs, which adhere to the hair shaft and are pearly gray in color; They may look like dandruff. If you can easily remove something that looks like dandruff, it is not head lice. If it has attached itself to the hairshaft and has no intention of moving on...yep, it's headlice.

Lice spread from person to person. Infestation may occur as a result shared hair brushes or hats; sometimes it's a love attraction. Also they jump really far.

Head lice will take over the next two days of your life if you are committed to eradicating them. Remember, cockroaches and head lice are all that will survive a nuclear holocaust, so unless you are prepared to use lethal force they will become a permanent fixture. Don't say I didn't warn you.

You will need to boil the brushes, put everything that won't melt into the dryer, vacuum anything too big to go into the dryer or put it in the garage with the stuffed animals for the next 30 days. I am not talking about your child. And we haven't even gotten to declaring chemical warfare on the critters. Hopefully yours won't have become immune to Rid yet. Be sure to spend about 4 hours combing your child's head with a fine tooth comb. I will be checkng your work, so be thorough. We want your child in school, but without his/her little friends.

If all of these methods fails there is always Raid... or shaving the head.
That’s all about headlice.

Mrs. EDN