For friends and family of bedbuggers

by jessinchicago on December 7, 2006 · 8 comments

in bed bugs, information and help

by Jessinchicago

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.

Jess

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1 hopeless December 7, 2006 at 1:55 am

The worst thing somebody told me was “if you need a loan to go to a hotel….”

The next worst thing was “you should call the news, Channel X….”

2 nobugsonme December 7, 2006 at 2:32 am

The worst thing someone close to me said when I told them my symptoms and the lack of bed bug evidence (which nevertheless was what I believed I had) was that my itchy rash was probably caused by stress.

The second worst was someone else (also someone close) was to ask whether I might be becoming slightly obsessed. Well, yeah, okay, I have a blog. But if something you cannot see, or catch, or find evidence of, is nonetheless making you miserable and robbing you of sleep and money, well, wouldn’t you do everything you could to stop it, and stop it not just from messing up your life, but from spreading much more widely?

The best thing someone could have done would be to do the research as Jess mentions (which would obliviate these kinds of responses, assuming they read enough), and then to offer to physically help.

What a difference to have a second person bagging clothes, doing laundry, just being there. With a change of clothes in a ziploc, a shower and bagged shoes on arrival, they would not have to worry about carting them home. And they could help you stay sane.

3 deb December 7, 2006 at 6:50 am

The worst thing people said to me was “talk to a therapist” !!! What bad advice that was !!! There are some things people just cannot grasp..and one of these “things” is the true understanding of what it is like to live with bedbugs…what it is like to lose the sanctity of your home…what it is like to come to grips with the reality that a bug has infested your home, your life and your mind ! And then the realization that this bug is communicable , thus turning you into a social pariah….no one can grasp this unless they live it…that’s why I have a new community of friends…like you Jess…and Nobugs..and Bugzinthehood….Thank God for all of you ! Love Deb

4 jessinchicago December 7, 2006 at 9:27 pm

Deb, I think I might have keeled over and died a couple times if it weren’t for you (particularly when I was finding live bedbugs in my silverware drawer– remember that?).

Much love back at ya.

Jess

5 deb December 8, 2006 at 11:38 pm

I remember. Someday when this nitemare is over we will hold a “bed bug reunion. “Let us pray that this day will come!!! I want so much to invite you all to my house, but I can’t because, well, I have turned into a Howard Hughes clone!!! I would have to strip search everyone!!! Someday we will be able to look back upon this as a very bad memory. Until then, let’s continue to support and help each other, my bedbug sisters and brother !!! xo Deb

6 Selma B January 30, 2007 at 2:03 pm

I currently live in Cincinnati and my last apartment had a bedbug infestation. I am still freaked about this. I am convinced my new apartment will get infested. To my friends, I compared this to having a fire destroy all of your possessions. What little things you might get to keep, you have to clean it like a crazy person. It’s just as devasting as a fire, but a fire doesn’t usually come back. This has been a nightmare. Any suggestions on what preventative measures I can take with this new place would be great.

7 Bugalina January 30, 2007 at 3:00 pm

Selma B….Very well said…Here are some of the preventative things I am doing. I am sleeping on inexpensive metal bed frames with AeroBed blow up mattresses.. to make them more comfortable I have put foam toppers on them and then encased the entire air bed and topper into a zippered bed bug mattress cover from Nat’l Allergy Catalog..I have purchased wire stands from Target, they are for the kitchen but I use them as nitestands , they are a perfect height next to the bed. I have purchased wire shelving on metal legs with no casters – I no longer use dressers for our clothes…I have put clear plasic bins ontop of the wire shelving and keep our stuff folded in them…I really have replaced very little of my furniture…I want to live as sparsely as possible because I never want to go through that kind of loss again. I carry a spray bottle of Bed Bug Terminator and a can Of BedLam with me in my car. After leaving a nursing home or other questionable environment I spray my lower pants legs and shoes.. I never sit in booths in restaurants…only tables…I never hang my coat in communal hanging places..I never place my pocketbook on the floor of a restaurant..only on my lap…I keep DE in my home…I am in a new home..I also clean now, everything, floors etc. with Kleen Free….We only use white sheets…I have no carpets…I am lucky to have a tiled home..I don’t go into movie theatres because I heard that at the Purdue seminar they said bed bugs have been found in movie theatres ( dark with upholstered seats) I am using an inexpensive plastic folding table from HomeDepot…for our dining table….I had a beautiful made in France wooden table and chairs that are in storage which must remain there for a long time…I have painted all the walls an off white…this may sound nuts to some…but I cannot afford another extermination bill of 6000 dollars…and throwing away mattresses that cost thousands..I have gone around my entire home and caulked every crack and crevice that I have found…..so Selma….I understand you completely….You are right, the odds of losing everything to another fire are low, but given the continuous spread of bed bugs, coupled with the lack of education from our Health Depts, the odds of reinfestation are there.If you live n in an apt. I would suggest that you remove all of your electrical covers and spray inside of them with Drion or DE…and I would also keep spraying something like Bedlam around your pipe chases..like those underneath your bathroom and kitchen sinks…let everyone know what you are doing…all suggestions are so very helpful…Bugalina

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