Rude Awakening

Last night my apartment stayed ungodly hot until about 5am, so I woke up a lot.  Around 2, my ankle itched, and I noticed a bite.

Some people take a few days (sometimes 1 or 2, sometimes up to a week) to react to a bite, so it’s possible it’s an old one that just bloomed.  I don’t know what my reaction time is, but given my skin’s responsiveness to everything else (I bruise like a peach, and scratches stay on me for a very long time), I doubt there’s much of a delay.  But I don’t know for sure, since I never know when I’m being bitten.  Because of delayed reactions, most of the forums out there say not to worry if you see new bites the first couple days after thermal treatment.  Hard not to, though…

So I’m feeling pretty low this morning.  I’m maintaining my “leaving the apartment” quarantine bags for now, but I’m unbagging all my other stuff, since they opened all the bags when they treated the place anyway.

I wish I could cry, but I can’t, for some reason.  I feel like it would clear out this demoralized heaviness, but it’s apparently not ready to move yet.  I hate that.  Now I’ll be on the verge of tears until it finally decides to shift …

The Floor Is Lava! (Literally.)

They didn’t fuck around, lol.  When I got to the 8th floor tonight, it was like a tropical heatwave coming off the elevator.  My door actually resisted being opened, and stepping inside was an instant sweatbox.  Everything is throwing off heat–the walls are super hot still.  My terrazza floor is like lava.  I burned my fingers on my laundry quarters.  I have my window fan in and going full blast… I’m not convinced my computer is cool enough to be on, but I missed the internet.

They left my apartment a wreck, because throughout the heating process they move furniture and rotate your clothes and stuff to be sure everything is exposed to the heat so there’s nowhere the bugs can hide from it.  Which is awesome, but Jesus–I look like I’ve been robbed, lol.  They bring the whole apartment up to 150 degrees and hold it there for about 4 hours, because 122 degrees is the kill point for the bugs–20 sustained minutes at 122 turns ’em into bug jerky.  So they aim higher to account for furniture and windows, etc.  And since they did all the affected apartments at once today, you can imagine what that has to feel like…

Me all night: “Ow, my sink is hot!”  “Ow, my dishes are hot!”  “Ow, my floor is hot!”  “Ow, my flip-flops are hot!”  “Ow, my toilet is hot!”

The instant I got home, I put everything I was wearing into the laundry, to be sure nothing in the world hasn’t been heat-treated today–and now I’m pouring a giant cocktail–three times my usual strength–because I’m nervous as all getout that somehow this won’t have worked.  I won’t know for a few weeks, which makes it harder to go to bed tonight than on any other night–this is the day they did The Thing That Works.  So if it didn’t work, I don’t know what my psyche will do.  But I also don’t want to draw that energy to myself, so I’m cranking up the tunes, drinking myself hopeful, and partying it up.

I don’t know how I’ll sleep tonight–I think the concrete walls and terrazza floors are holding this heat for ransom, so I’ll have to have a cold shower and sleep almost naked, which, when I’ve spent the past two months covering everything up because of bugs, feels like the end of times.  I am so psychologically fucked, lol.  I hope the booze helps.

Tonight I raise my glass to the marvelous people at the pest control company, to the heat they bombarded my entire floor with, to my long-suffering floormates, and most of all, to the death of every single bug, instar, nymph and egg in this entire fucking building, for fucking ever, amen.

Day of Reckoning

We had no hot water this morning, so my having to wake up an hour early was aided by a cold shower, lol.

From the looks of it, most of my floor has bedbugs … we were all waiting for the elevator at 7:20.  Pest control had 10 guys on our floor moving portable thermal units from the lobby into our hallway–the place looked like a sci-fi movie.  It was sort of funny–it felt like a wake service, as we all greeted each other with sympathetic, apologetic smiles and an, “Oh, you, too?”

A woman I often see in the mornings and I went to the lobby and talked–neither of us knew the other had it, so we griped together.  She had witnessed, back in January, what she’s sure is the reason so many of us have bugs: the woman who was kicked out of the building had been reported by someone else for a smell coming from her unit, so her place was being deep-cleaned (by whom, I don’t know) on a day when this other woman was home from work.  The cleaners wore paper hazmat suits, and this woman overheard them say “major infestation.”  She said that they took all the other woman’s possessions and put them in plastic bags and LINED THEM UP IN THE HALLWAY, from one end to the other (in front of all of our doors), and took her mattress to the first floor and put it AGAINST THE WALL BY THE MANAGERS’ APARTMENT on its way to the dumpster.  So no wonder we all ended up with this.  It just makes me so mad.  She also found out from the pest control guy this morning that it was he who pushed for the real estate company to get us thermal treatment–they wouldn’t have done it, otherwise.  So hooray for that guy!

Then the girl who moved in in January joined us for a bit.  She and I walked downtown together (we work near each other, it turns out) and vented our ire.  It was just so nice to be able to talk about it finally, freely, with people who were going through the same thing.  We lamented that we didn’t know the scope of the problem sooner, because we could have banded together and done some class-action protest stuff against the real estate company and tried to get this resolved sooner.  She said she’s withholding her rent until this is resolved, and I wish I’d thought to do that.

That girl went to her office, and I went for a coffee, took it to a bench outside one of the hotels, and sat and breathed.  The rush of solidarity from my floormates this morning, the sight of all that chrome and all those men in green hoodies, and the cold wind downtown made everything feel so clear and focused and hyper-real.  Eventually, my ears got cold, so I went in to work early.

Now I’m fully caffeinated and attempting to type with my fingers crossed  🙂

That’s the news from Lake Woebegone!

On the Eve of Destruction

Tomorrow I have to leave my house an hour before I usually do, so that pest control can turn my apartment into a 150-degree oven for 8 hours.

I’ve been anxious all day, reading prep lists from different pest companies, which seem so much more detailed than the one I was given.  Mine doesn’t list anything I can put in a box that’s labeled “DO NOT HEAT”–it just says that candles and oil paintings should go in the bathroom.  So I threw away my few aerosol cans and the toiletries that say they can’t be stored above 100 degrees, and will just replace them later.  Who knows what my granola bars will look like when I get home tomorrow…

I wasn’t sure about unbagging my clothes–most lists I read said to do that beforehand, but my list makes no mention of it–so I called the place, and the guy who’s treating me said to leave them bagged and keep them out of the bathroom, so I went through them and made sure they aren’t too tightly packed in there … they’re just on my coat rack and in my drawers, still.  That feels weird, but I guess the heat will still get in there, and they were all put through the dryer before being bagged, so it’s probably fine.  God knows I’ll probably run them all through the dryer again before I wear them anyway, such is my paranoia.

My furniture is out from the walls–enough that they can get behind it all with a vacuum, anyway.  With only 275 square feet to work with, there isn’t much room to move things around.  I hope it’s enough.  It’s still hard to get behind my desk, but I’ve done what I can, and will hope for the best.

The windows will all be closed tightly before I leave tomorrow, to keep air from leaking out–the wind is supposed to be out of the north, so that should help, since all my windows face south.  I couldn’t find any rope caulk with such short notice, so I’ll have to cross my fingers that it’s okay without it.

Now I just need to talk myself down from this worry that it won’t work.  They’re doing all of our apartments at the same time, which makes me feel better, because there’s nowhere for them to run or hide, and no delay between that could let them escape. Our walls will all be hot at the same time.  They’ve done this before.  All the forums say this is the only thing that got rid of people’s bugs for good.  I have to trust this.  I have to believe in the process.

I had thought about celebrating on Saturday, but I read somewhere that you can’t be sure you’re bug free until you’ve gone between 21 and 60 days without any sign of a bug, so I’m inclined to wait.  But I wonder whether putting that hesitant, frightened energy out there is counterproductive.  Dare I just take success for granted and live as though it’s fine again?  The idea of a relapse scares the fuck out of me.

Inhale.  Exhale.  Cocktail (or two).  Season 7 of Archer on Netflix.

And then we’ll just see.

I Think the Bugs Know Their Days Are Numbered …

… I woke up with two new bites this morning, and had three the night before.  I feel like the restaurant car on the Last Meal Party Train.

Last night, when our manager was handing out entry notices for Friday’s thermal treatment, a girl down the hall came out to talk to her.  Apparently she moved here in January and immediately had bugs.  It was only during their conversation last night that she found out that not only isn’t she the only person with this problem, but also that our building has been dealing with this for months.  She said she never would have moved in if she’d known, and was upset that no one had mentioned it during the whole prospecting/application/move-in process.

It makes me so mad that the real estate company was showing apartments and letting people move in when they knew that there were multiple infested units on our floor … it’s ethically reprehensible.  For as fucking concerned as they were when they forced that one lady to move out while she was infested, leading them to call the place she was moving to, warning them that they might want to spray when she got there because she had bugs, they sure didn’t care about letting paying tenants move in to an active infestation.

I know my 90-day lease form will be coming soon, asking me whether I’m renewing or not.  And I still don’t know.

THEY’RE FINALLY THERMAL-TREATING OUR APARTMENTS

After months of watching the problem spread from floor to floor and unit to unit, it seems the real estate office has decided to do what they should have done from the beginning.  My building manager called tonight to say that on Friday, all the affected apartments are getting thermal treated.  I COULD DIE OF HOPE, EVEN THOUGH I KNOW I SHOULDN’T LET MYSELF EVEN BEGIN TO FEEL THIS.

Remembering my Bedbugger reading about lists of items that need to be removed because they can’t withstand thermal treatment, and about protocols like unbagging all your bagged clothes so everything in the unit is fully exposed to heat, I asked my manager what instructions the pest control company had for us.  She said the real estate office only told that we needed to tightly shut our windows.

*headdesk*

So I asked her to please, tomorrow morning, call the pest control place and ask what to do about meltable items and what else we need to do to prep our apartments.  I hope to God whatever she learns is shared with the other units on my floor, so that we don’t leave any bugs alive on account of professional incompetence.  It would just fucking figure.

Meanwhile, I’m slightly manic with the thought that after Friday, my apartment will be bug-free and I can replace my bed without fear of re-contamination… I hesitate–once again–always–to get too hopeful, as the experts say you need to have had no evidence for 21-60 days before you can really feel certain that no bugs are left.  But this one thing that’s FINALLY GOING RIGHT makes it so tempting to take a deep breath in preparation for a giant sigh of relief!

Infestee’s Log, Spray Date 5 …

Last Thursday was my 5th Spray Day.  On Saturday I woke up with two bites on my face.  ON MY FACE.  Luckily, the splotches blend in with my PMS breakout, but getting bitten THERE, after all the night-time DE precautions I take and after 5 rounds of poison, really put a hole in my morale.  All I can hope is that on the way to my face, the bug walked through the DE on my pillowcase and/or neck, and the poison on my bare mattress, and is at this very moment in the process of drying out and dying from a combination of the two.  Little fucker.

I’m pretty sure this is Week 11.  And so it goes…

All Quiet on the Infested Front

Well, mostly.  Other than something on my cheek that could be either an atypical bite or a bad zit, there hasn’t been anything to report over the last 4 days.  Cue jinx.

Today marks two full months since this started, and I feel like I’ve moved into a sense of normalcy.  Well, a New Normal.  The routines of laundry, ziplocs, bite inspections and DE dusting now punctuate my days, but I’m no longer anxious, paranoid, furious, or overwhelmed.  Instead, I basically feel like I did before, but with these additional steps in my day and a bedbug-tinted view of other people and places.  Such a relief!

I know it’s not over yet–I’m still wary of believing it ever will be–so I look forward to the next Spray Day (the 23rd) and carry on.  It’s at least no longer in the WAY of everything, now, which is what I’ve been working toward.

New Sheet Strategy, Bite Diary Challenges

It occurred to me over the weekend that with the fitted sheet over my mattress pad, there wasn’t much chance of any bugs walking through the poison in the seams of the pad unless they happened to already be in the mattress, which I’m 99.99% sure they’re not.  If they started in the frame or in my walls, and went up the walls of my bed to get to me, they’d just be walking over my sheet on the way, not in the poison.

So I took the fitted sheet off and folded my flat sheet in half, placing it in the center of my bed (it’s an Ikea twin), which leaves about 2 inches of exposed mattress pad at my head and feet, and maybe 3 inches of it on both sides, not to mention the whole bottom of the mattress where it meets the frame.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of this earlier, as the whole part of the mattress that rests on the frame (except the very center) was covered with a sheet before.  This seems like it increases the odds of the bugs having to walk through poison by at least 50%, based on surface area.

I still have diatomaceous earth framing my pillow, and I still dust my neck and forearms with it before bed–I figure I win whether it’s a repellant or not, as I want to discourage them from biting the parts of me that are hard to cover with clothing, so if it keeps them away from those parts entirely, great… and if it’s not a repellant, then at least if they bite those parts, they’ll get the DE on them and it will dry them out/kill them in a few days.

As for the bite diary, I’ve reached a point at which I’m more paranoid than usual that my bites might not be acting like they have been.  My bites turn into blotchy red welts, like mosquito bites, that show up after a hot shower and stay out for about a week, sometimes itching on the 2nd or 3rd day.  Yesterday I had a bite on my chest that showed up after my shower, but disappeared about an hour later, except for two tiny pinprick holes, which look exactly like bite holes.  I counted it as a bite, but it’s abnormal.

Then there are the random weird red spots on my hands that show up in hot water but disappear entirely after just a few minutes… are those bites?  Unfinished bites?  Just reactions of my hypersensitive skin?  Do they count?  I don’t think so, given the behavior of 98% of my bites, but it’s unnerving as hell when I see them and wonder whether there are other things I miss because they disappear really fast, and if I wasn’t looking right at them, I’d miss them.

It’s also hard because every pimple, ingrown hair, paper cut, dry skin crack, etc. worries me, and I wonder whether I’m misdiagnosing some of them (not counting things that ought to be counted), thereby throwing off my data.

So it goes…

 

Hope, and a Hesitancy to Let Myself Feel It

Today is Spray Day, Round 4.  My time between bites is up–I now go 4-5 days between, and get between 1 and 3 bites when I have them, so things have improved significantly since the last round.

Last night as I was tidying up and moving my furniture so pest control can get at the walls, I felt hopeful and upbeat, which I can’t really explain… it’s like a little bit of hope snuck in while I was distracted by my Swiffering.  I keep telling myself not to dare get my hopes up, because any setback will be that much more devastating–if a fall’s going to come, I’d rather it be from the small hill I’m on than from a higher elevation.  Overall, I still feel a tangible dread of “what if this never ends?” or “what if it clears but then happens again?”, but last night that didn’t matter.  Maybe it’s a new level of acceptance, allowing me to just live in the moment and respond to the current better state of things instead of getting bogged down in the “what ifs” and despair.

Either way, today I feel really light, though I worry about letting myself prematurely feel the relief of an ending.  I know we attract what we turn our attention to, so I’d LIKE to be able to revel in hope and a positive interpretation of the improvements, but it’s going to take some work before I’m able to fully allow that.