Don’t Light Any Matches

This morning I had a little pink spot on my stomach, but I remembered that it was where I picked a tiny zit last night, so I’m about half convinced it’s really just that.  Then a couple hours after my shower, I panicked when I saw a thin red splotch on my ankle, but when I sprayed it with alcohol it burned, so it’s probably a razor cut–it’s high enough up that that’s plausible, and my bites don’t burn when they’re sprayed, so I’m half convinced of that explanation, too.  Christ, this is nerve-wracking.

I’m still hosing down my bed with rubbing alcohol twice a day (the fumes from which are probably what’s messing with my stomach), making sure to spray hard into all the cracks.  This afternoon when I did it, I decided to take the top rail off my bed to get the underside indentation and all the screw holes, and I found a dead bug dried up in there–those fuckers really get into the smallest cracks… It was encouraging to see it dead and  to know that the heat treatment had done it.  So I’m feeling like I can maybe calm down a little more now.  Especially since I had so few bugs to begin with–one dead one feels like a third of the population.

Last night I slept pretty well, overall, though I did try to stay awake as long as possible, in case I could see a bug.  That’s not good.  I continue to talk myself down when I start to feel crazy, and to try and remember that even if this didn’t work 100%, it did a lot more than spraying ever did–and I even have one dead bug as proof.  I need to ask whether they’ll do followup spraying–someone in the hall mentioned that they heard they would, but I want to be sure.  That would make me feel better, too.

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Meltdown

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.

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.