I had a brunch date this morning, and I fought back tears the whole walk to the restaurant–much as I was relieved that I was finally starting to cry, that wasn’t the time–I needed to be energetic and upbeat.
On the walk home afterward, I felt a creeping sense of dread. I stopped at the store to buy groceries and picked up four little bottles of rubbing alcohol, and when I got home, I hosed down every inch of my bed with it–I used them all. The fumes were overpowering, and I probably killed half my brain cells, but I was deranged with worry after discovering that bite last night, so I didn’t care. It felt proactive to do that, and I needed to feel proactive.
All afternoon I felt sick to my stomach and on edge–I couldn’t focus on anything I started watching, couldn’t listen to anything on Spotify–everything felt jarring and made me feel jumpy. Eventually, I decided that I needed to put a soothing, peaceful Adele song on repeat and just sit. And then I started crying.
I cried so much that I thought I would throw up. But I didn’t. I just knelt there, sobbing on the rim of the toilet bowl, feeling entirely alone and terrified and hopeless.
I’ve calmed down a little, and feel wrung out. I couldn’t figure out why I was so upset. If the heat treatment didn’t work, nothing has changed. I’ll just keep on living as I have for these last two and a half months, and pest control will keep trying stuff. I’d reached a resigned peace in those circumstances, and was feeling okay. But I think that, because I’d put so much stock in thermal treatment being The Thing That Works, and had lobbied so long for it to be done, its failure makes this seem impossible to eradicate, even though some people have said it sometimes takes more than one thermal treatment to get everything, and that spraying in conjunction with it is normal and better than relying solely on one or the other.
Part of what makes this so hard is knowing that my bug problem is SO SMALL. And yet, killing this handful of bugs has proven impossible, and has caused so much emotional, psychological, and physical upheaval. Knowing that this place was hotter than the kill point for hours on end, and that these guys went through my stuff to be sure everything was heated evenly was such a comfort. Despite all my efforts to stifle them, my hopes made their own way up. Somewhere inside me, the end seemed in sight.
But living in an apartment building, I guess there might be other places the bugs could have scooted to while this environment was made lethal. Upstairs or downstairs, since the units around me were all being treated at the same time. Maybe deeper into the walls, or in the pipes–who knows how these buildings are constructed? And then afterward, they could have come back. Any number of things could have happened.
So tonight I’m trying to come to terms with this non-change. It’s still possible that last night’s bite was a delayed reaction to an older bite, but I can’t put much faith in that, in case it turns out not to be so. I need to brace myself for the real possibility that The Thing That Works didn’t work, and that I have more of this to go through before it’s over.