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The Nightmare

So there I was, living my life as usual.  The kiddos were going to their dad’s every other weekend, and I was enjoying those weekends at my boyfriend’s place.  Everything was great!  And then I got bit by what I thought was a poisonous spider.  My whole forearm was swelled up, and I even ended up on antibiotics because there was an infection streak up my arm.  Once that started to go away I got another one on my upper arm.  And then on my side, and on my tummy.  During the week I kept ending up with bites I reported it to my landlord and I sprayed some insecticides around my bed and around all the windows and front door.  But that made no difference.  In fact, it seemed to make it worse.

Then one night, 9 days after the first bites, I was laying in bed trying to sleep.  I felt the little pokey feeling of something biting me, and in my sleep I brushed it away and rolled over.  Within a few minutes I felt it again…. and then again!  I got really mad and jumped out of bed, flipped on the light, and started throwing things around in my bed trying to figure out what the hell was attacking me.  And then I found it.  A bed bug sitting right there on my pillow.  My skin nearly crawled right off my body and my whole body was instantly repulsed.  I was so incredibly upset and disgusted that there was no way I was going back to sleep.  I got maybe 2 hours of sleep that night.

In the morning I got the kids out of bed, explained to them what was going on, and sent them off to school.  I notified the kids’ dad that there was an issue in our home, and sealed up the kids’ clothes to be dryer-heated so they wouldn’t be passed on.  However, while talking to the kids’ dad and his girlfriend, I discovered that they had bed bugs the summer prior, and they treated with chemicals assuming that would take care of the problem.  So right away I had possibility #1 on where they even came from in the first place.  I got to thinking about it and yes, the kids did often come home with several bug bites.  Yes, they were treated with insect repellent while they were there and it didn’t keep the bites away.  Hmmm… clues.

I ran some of my clothes through the dryer as well and left, and none of us went back into the apartment that weekend.  My landlord had pest control come out on Tuesday while the boys and I were still staying out of our apartment.  Pest control confirmed that yes, we did in fact have bed bugs, and by the looks of it, “a pretty decent-sized colony.”  Those words just made me sick to my stomach.  How long had these things been in our home?  Pest control explained how busy their bed bug team has been, working until midnight most nights.  They said it would be two weeks before they could treat our home.  And they use a combination of tactics, the main one being heat –  essentially making our home into an oven, since bed bugs in any stage of life cannot survive heat above 120° F.  They even have a 1-year guarantee, given we don’t bring any back in ourselves.

So right now, and for the last week and a half, my children and I have been staying in a vacant apartment that our landlord set us up with.  We have only some clothes that have been heated in a commercial dryer (laundromat), some easy food that can be microwaved or eaten cold, and brand new pillows and blankets.  My mom let me borrow her laptop so we can watch Netflix and get on Facebook, and we have our phones which I have been keeping in zip-lock most of the time.  Our home gets treated on Monday, October 14th.  We should be able to re-inhabit our home on October 15th.

Throughout this whole process, I have done a LOT of research on bed bugs.  And I must say, I see absolutely no point in them whatsoever.  They are little blood-sucking nuisances, and they are becoming a lot more widespread than I thought.  They are resilient and nearly undetectable until they become a real problem.  The younger ones are nearly invisible – tiny and clear.  And my greatest fear at this point is bringing them back home with me somehow.  They can be picked up in schools, doctor’s offices, at any friend’s house or gatherings.  Many people don’t even know they have them because not everyone reacts to getting bit.  Especially not as severely as I do.  And anyone that has been to my home in the last few months may possibly have taken them home with them.  So how am I to manage?

Well so far in this vacant place, I have let only 3 people come in.  The one person I am sure has carried them home one way or another had to shower and change clothes first, into clothes that had been freshly laundered and kept separate from anything known to be infested.  Shoes left outside.  Cell phone and wallet zip-locked.  Nothing else brought in at all.  The other 2 people I know to be clean I let into the living room area, but not the bedrooms.  The bedrooms have stayed closed off from everyone except me and my boys (and are on the 2nd floor).  And for the first few days, the boys and I even changed and showered immediately upon entering the vacant apartment.  No backpacks or purses have come in either.  Only new, clean things straight from the laundromat in sealed bags, or directly from the store.

I’d like to believe I could relax a little bit after getting our home treated and moving back in.  But I think the anxiety and fear of having a re-infestation is going to be a long-lingering issue for me.  I’m sure I will have lots of precautions for quite some time for people wanting to visit us in our home.  And I won’t be comfortable going in to other people’s homes to visit either.  I plan on getting bed frames and little coaster-type things to put under the corners.  And taking other precautions “just in case.”  And of course I will be re-inspected every couple of months, as long as my landlord allows it.  Which I’m sure she will be more than happy to accommodate to make sure there is no continuing or repeating problem.

Wrapping up here, all I can say is please keep my family in your good thoughts and prayers that we can beat this pest.  It has been a nightmare for us all.

Also, I strongly suggest that you educate yourself on bed bugs.  Find out what they look like, signs of them, and how to avoid bringing them home with you.  And I wish you luck in dodging them and not bringing them into your home.  It doesn’t matter if you live in a pig sty or a spotlessly cleaned home, they don’t discriminate.

2 thoughts on “The Nightmare

  1. I came across your post through tumblr and was intrigued because I had a family member who had a similar experience. She was an elderly aunt living in senior housing. She had moved there from another apartment where a neighbor had the 'creatures' and, I suspect, brought them with her because she didn't think she needed to be exterminated. They are hearty travelers. When she asked me to take a look at her mattress because she thought she had a problem, I knew immediately what was going on. Her apartment and all those surrounding her were exterminated. She went through hell and almost suffered a nervous breakdown. In fact, I often think the bedbug problem attributed to her heart attack. After she was able to move back in, she bought a new mattress, a Temperpedic. We were told bedbugs cannot live in these mattresses because they are made of foam. My aunt was extremely clean and neat but, as you said, bedbugs do not discriminate. I wish you well and sincerely hope you have returned to your apartment. Keep the faith!

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  2. Thanks for the well wishes. We are now back in our apartment, as of yesterday. I have found a couple of dead bed bugs, but the exterminator warned me that I might find a couple, dead and/or alive… but the chemicals they used in addition with the heat treatment will have a residual effect that will kill any that walk through it. I'm still very nervous about finding any more live bugs… in fact I'm honestly a nervous wreck. But I'm keeping the faith that the extermination process will work its magic and get rid of them 100%.

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