When I wrote the post “The truth about American Samoa” it was the truth according to what my Mum had discovered when she was staying here with us. Up until that point, I had been trying to keep things positive, and only focus on the fun things that we had been doing and the beautiful things that we had found. It was very refreshing to be able to release the truth to everyone out there, based on what my Mum had observed. It is still very important to us to look on the bright side of things, this was the most important piece of counsel that we received from Elder Groberg before we came…our experience here will depend on how we look at things, and whether we can stay positive.
Having said all of that, we did not have the best week last week, and I ended up feeling a little bit sorry for myself. Now that I’m not living in the moment, I can look back and laugh a little, but maybe it will help you to understand if I explain a few of the things that happened to us last week, so that you know I’m not so pathetic. I wouldn’t say we were naive or unprepared when we came here, but we didn’t know some of things that are very common here which we were bound to experience.
Experience number 1: Head lice. No stigma about it here at all, such a common thing, many families can’t afford the medication to treat it, others just can’t be bothered because it will reoccur soon again anyway. A couple of weeks ago I had been having an itchy head for a few days and just thought maybe I had got a sunburn on the beach or something. Wrong. Looking in the mirror one day, I actually saw a louse in my hair! I managed to catch it and put it on the sink a take a photo.
Hello new friend. A new pet for the Monson family? We were able to locate lice medication (miracle) and Michael helped me out with the treatment. We got to use the lovely lice comb…
…and Michael pulled out 12 more live ones before we gave up counting. Medication worked wonders, no more lice. Biggest miracle of all is that no-one else in the family got them. Now that’s rare.
Are you grossed out yet? There’s more. I made a facebook post about this when it happened, but for those of you who don’t use facebook, let me tell you about an experience I had the day after the head lice treatment.
Experience number 2. Lying in bed fast asleep, minding my own business (as you do). At 4am, I was woken up by a 4 inch cockroach running up my body. Now it’s so hot here that we sleep on top of the sheets, and we sleep in our underwear, so it really was running up my body. I screamed my face off, threw it onto the floor, and kicked Michael out of bed to get it. Michael couldn’t see without his glasses and the cockroach hid behind the desk. I didn’t care…Michael wasn’t allowed back in bed until the enemy was gone. He put on his glasses, waited patiently for about 5 minutes, and then we got the blighter. Smash, crunch, flush. Goodbye. I couldn’t go back to sleep for ages, kept imaging there were things crawling on my body. Was able to joke about it later that the poor cockroach was probably just hungry and was running up my body to feed on the head lice!
Experience number 3: Benjamin came home from school one day last week and we discovered some weird blister things on his arm. I took off his shirt and found 10 more. Doctors diagnosis = molluscum warts. They come from a viral infection, highly contagious, spread through direct contact or sharing items such as towels. Oh great. Benjamin shares a bed and clothes with Matthew and all the kids share towels.
These things are contagious for the 6-9 months that the warts stay on the body. 6 months????? They are not painful although they are itchy, so it’s mostly just a vanity thing, but I did not want all of my other kids and us getting these warts for 6 months!!!! There are tons of locals here who have these warts, and the truth is, some of them are severely disfigured. There is a lady who lives down our lane whose faces is completely swollen and covered with them, it is so sad. Look at this poor boy…
So no treatment for these, you normally just wait for them to go away, BUT the doctor said if you want to, you can get rid of them yourself (didn’t advise this, but said that’s what she does when her kids get them). So…yesterday we laid our kids (4 at this point) down and one by one we squeezed those blister warts hard until the umbilicus came out and they bled. We put alcohol on to dry it out. You should have heard our kids scream. Poor things, but getting rid of a few on their arms and body is better than having them accumulate tons on their face and neck over the next 6 months. Would you have done the same?
Did you think I was done? I wasn’t. I still have to tell you about experience number 4: Believe it or not, while all of this was going on, my two little girls caught scabies. No lie. They had really itchy spots and rash on the back of their head and neck mostly, but it itched so badly that it made them cry and they were scratching themselves crazy. I wasn’t familiar with scabies before but I am now!
Scabies is an easily spread skin disease caused by a very small species of mite. It is spread by direct contact, and affects the whole family. The mites burrow into the skin and lay their eggs, the itchy rash is an allergic response to the mite. Here is one of the little devils…
Good news is that scabies has a quick and easy treatment. All you have to do is take your whole family to the hospital and wait over an hour for three tubes of medication. Then you come home, strip everyone completely naked, and apply the cream to your whole body, even the soles of your feet. Then you keep it on for 10 hours, after which the mites will be dead, and you can wash the cream off and feel normal again. Oh, and then you have to take all your clothes, bedding, towels etc and put them in a hot wash and a hot dryer cycle to kill any remaining mites. See…easy. When we came here, our washing machine was only hooked up to the cold water, and we begrudgingly spent $120 to get it hooked up to our hot water tank as well. So glad we did that now.
So now do you understand why I was a little down last week and needed some encouraging words from loved ones!!!! We’re all good now, only a few more hot loads of laundry and our house will be good as new. That is, until the next set of critters arrive…bring it on American Samoa, we’re ready for you!!!!