I was doing some bed bug musing on the train on my way home from work tonight, and it occured to me that it might be good if we had some information and advice for people in our lives who care about us and want to help. I thought back to the early stages of my infestation (or, rather, the early stages of my knowledge of my infestation), and I realized that was a very dark time for me. I remember my family members listening to my tales of horrific bites and subsequent allergic reactions, I remember friends listening to me talk about the thousands of dollars I was spending on extermination, I remember everyone I chose to tell and I remember their reactions. Some were disgusted. Some attempted to be sympathetic. Others offered well-intended but ill-suited advice. And a few deemed me crazy and have not spoken to me for quite some time.
On the train tonight, I thought about my own response to the many people in my life who did try to help me. My response was, without fail, “I know you want to help, but there is nothing you can say or do to make this better.” Now, as time has passed and I have regained some control over my infestation and my life, I wonder if that was entirely accurate. I think there are things our loved ones can do to help us.
The first of these is research. If I could go back in time, I would tell my loved ones to get on their computers that very second and research bedbugs. If they did so, they would have a much better understanding of the scale of what I was dealing with. And for people with infestations occuring now, the timing for internet research couldn’t be better. I believe that if my nearest and dearest had a single clue of the magnitude of my situation, they would have been much better prepared for my reactions.
Second, I would ask my friends and family who had done their homework to put me on their priority list of people to call on a daily basis. Those of us with bed bug infestations do become, as nobugsonme has said many times, social paraiahs. We can’t really visit the homes of our friends, for fear of infesting them. We are somewhat fearful of close quarters, we don’t like to carry purses or bags, we wonder constantly if we washed our clothes on hot for long enough to kill anything inside. So, we stay at home. A lot. We need phone calls, and lots of them. And no, we are not the friendliest of people, because we don’t sleep much and have many worries, but we still need human contact.
Finally, loved ones can become involved in activism, maybe more than we can. After all, we’re dealing with our infestations and trying to maintain our lives at the same time. Maybe those people who care about us can write letters to politicians, health departments, lobbyists, ANYONE who might be able to help. Our friends and famly members would probably be much more coherent than we would, anyway.
These are just the musings of a bedbugger. I hope you all add and comment as you see fit.