Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pink Slip from School

Yesterday while picking up M at school, I was handed a pink slip of paper that told me Pinworms have hit her classroom.
I have curbed my desire to blog about this for risk that I might loose some readers. No one wants to know about worms that come out of your butt. So, now is your opportunity to go no further and be spared some grossness.
Turns out pinworms (a human roundworm) are a very common "childhood illness". In fact there are over 40 million cases of pinworm infestations a year mostly in the 5-10 year old age group. It is as common as lice! They are spread the oral-fecal route. You ingest the worm eggs and in 2 to 3 weeks, you have the little buggars coming out of your anus at night to lay eggs. When this happens, it can be very itchy, so children typically scratch their butt and get eggs under their fingernails. It becomes a vicious cycle. There is a simple and 98% effective prescription treatment called Vermox. You take one pill and it kills the worms by interrupting their life-cycle. It inhibits their ability to ingest sugar so they starve to death. Within 3 days they have died and are pooped out. The eggs however are not killed by this medicine, so another dose of this medicine is required 2 weeks after the first. Cleaning due to pinworms is much like the house cleaning with lice. If you don't get rid of all the lurking eggs in bedding, toys and surfaces, you will reinfect your self and have worms again in 2 to 3 weeks.
Most books and literature say a child with pinworms has an intensely itchy butt and may have nightmares. My child had no symptoms. In fact, I was permanently traumatized to find a live worm crawling out of my butt, which enlightened me to the situation, and figured I got them from my daughter (I did). How can you tell if your child has pinworms? Well, take a flashlight into your child's dark room about 2 hours after they have fallen asleep at night. Then check their butt. If you see moving white pieces of something that looks like a thread in their anus, you know for sure. The female worms wait until nighttime to crawl to the anus and lay eggs.
Discovering your own infection of pinworms is an instant creepy crawly feeling all over your body and for someone like me, this was an awful experience. The feeling never goes away. Luckily though, I check M about every week so I can stay on top of this ever happening again. And, because I am 45 minutes from the nearest pharmacy and the last time this happened the pediatrician on-call decided not to return my phone call until the next day (on a Sunday) I now have two extra doses at home. If you have worms crawling out of you butt, it becomes an emergency situation in my book. Kids don't seems to care so much. For me, it is just out of the realm of what is acceptable on a physical level.
I basically harassed M's doctor until she refilled the prescription so I could have some on hand in case we deal with this again.
I am lucky that some of my girlfriends have deep sympathy for this situation and have too experienced this awful parasite. Once the seal has been broken and you have dealt personally with pinworms, I believe life changes. Ask my sister and husband. I almost crumbled from disgust of the whole experience and they bore witness. My girlfriend and I were able to just dish out the complaining with sympathetic ears, knowing full well that adults are just not supposed to have to suffer the traumas of childhood afflictions. Didn't we already do our time? Wasn't that what childhood was all about? Getting these disgusting things like lice and scabies out of the way?
Well, just thought I would share the latest. So far, we are in the clear. But I have powerful worm medicine on hand just in case. And I busted out the nail brush last night. My daughter knows the drill. She wonders what the bfd is all about, but lets me just be the somewhat freaky mom I am. Bless her for that!


Sam's Mom said...

WOW. I cannot imagine...but am sure I will someday.
Way to go brave you! I fear I would end in a mental ward ala Greg House.

Becky said...


This had me laughing so hard that I now have guilt! I am so sorry you had to go through that, I can only imagine. I have never had to deal with them, but I know someone who has, and it sounds like a nightmare! Your emergency meds don't have an expiration date, do they?

Anonymous said...

not that you need to worry about an expiration date. you WILL use them before that happens. don't you feel somehow heroic for surviving pinworms? one of those "now i can handle anything" initiation rites. check those sleeping bums, is all i can say to those of you not yet initiated.


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