I have lice. I’m sharing this with you partly because I regard my faithful readers as also being among my closest, most supportive friends. And lice are indeed a headache.
If you’ll pardon the pun. (Sort of.)
Sympathy is in order here.
There is also something of a point to my sharing this really rather unnecessary detail. Not too long go, I had what I regarded as a paranoid fear about this. As it turns out, I wasn’t mistaken. I wasn’t over-reacting. I wasn’t being paranoid. I indeed had lice.
I hate when I’m right and think I’m wrong. It reeks of missed opportunities and might-have-beens. It’s worse than when I think I’m right and turn out to be wrong. I expect that. Being wrong is inevitable.
My failure to realize I was right had something to do with conflicting bodies of evidence in my own mind.
On the one hand, I knew the extremely low probability of my coming into contact with lice, given that I don’t have small children or even any contact with small children and I don’t spend time rubbing my head indiscriminately against other people just to see what will happen. And it’s difficult to get lice from inanimate objects.
On the other hand, there was my suspiciously itchy head and a vague visual flash of a lice shampoo seen most recently in the drug store where I had waited a long time in an upholstered chair for a prescription, my head tilted back with fatigue. That image, coupled with the thought, “This is where people come to buy lice treatment.”
Did I see someone holding lice shampoo in their hand at the checkout line ahead of me? Is that why the image flashed into my mind? Hard to know where these small details come from, or what they mean sometimes.
I erred on the side of probability. Fair enough. Except that the consequences for not paying attention to that little inner nudge that maybe I had beaten the odds were unpleasantly high. My head has been itching for two months now. I am now in a place with fewer effective treatments for it, and getting rid of them once and for all will take effort and a great deal of patience.
Also, it’s damn cold. Combing out lice is a lot easier with wet hair, which tends to make things seem colder. Especially when you’re sitting wet in the “shower” lathering up your hair in between pours of hot water over your body from a bucket. (Yes, there is an actual shower head. No, I don’t use it.)
My life now revolves around combing lice out of my hair before they can breed and multiply. This, I see as a state well worth having avoided.
On the other hand, what would the consequences have been of taking my paranoia more seriously if I hadn’t had lice? An unnecessary trip back to the drug store and a comb through the hair with a lice comb. Yes, I was really busy and didn’t have time for another drug store trip. Yes, I still could have done it. I wish I had.
But what if I had taken this approach? When in doubt, gather more information. (Get the lice comb. See if you actually have lice. Then proceed.)
I have another thought about this, as well. My mistakes have not, so far, been very life-threatening. I have had some near-misses, but to a one, they have not resulted in death. This may be obvious, but given how many times I might have died and didn’t, I think I’m doing pretty well for myself.
And that’s really what counts. I am not always right. In fact, I’m wrong a good lot of the time. But when it comes to life-and-death decisions, I’ve come out on top of things. More than once. So maybe it’s okay to be wrong sometimes.
There’s always something more to learn, isn’t there?