Yet another journalist gets bed bugs.
When I spoke to Meredith May of the San Francisco Chronicle, I told her I knew of one journalist who’d gotten bed bugs (months after a story s/he wrote, and with no suspected connection between doing the research on them and catching them, in case you’re wondering, as I was). Last Tuesday, we read of the plight of Jennifer Holland, an AP journalist who also had bed bugs, and wrote about it. Only a day later, another such case comes to light: Barry Link writing in last Wednesday’s Vancouver Courier [note: link updated to archives version, 6/2009]. In this Op Ed, Link describes the unpleasantness of bed bugs, the paranoia of going to bed knowing you’ll be bitten, the stigma, the unpleasant reactions from others, and the range of bites he’s gotten.
But I’m not sure if all or any of the itching is related to a real bite. The paranoia is what gets you. It’s no fun when your bed is a buffet table and you’re the buffet, and it’s distinctly creepy to wake up in the morning and find little brown spots on the sheets where they’ve fed and-this is gross-excreted. And having bedbugs is like having leprosy. Friends and colleagues have been overwhelmingly sympathetic. They also take a slight step back from you with a look of thank God it’s not me. My boss says, jokingly, that with an apartment that’s a hot zone, I can say goodbye to dating for the next while. He’s not far off. Soon after I discovered the bugs, I was gently de-invited from a party. I understood.
I’m fighting back. This past weekend I called in an exterminator, whose obvious sympathy for my plight was disturbing. Five years ago, he said, bedbug calls were rare in Vancouver. Now they’re a major part of his job and in every kind of neighbourhood. He also noted they’re hard to get rid of, which is why he’ll return in two weeks for a second spray. It won’t be soon enough.
That I hired someone to douse my home with chemicals to kill God’s creatures on Earth Day was not lost on me. If I could convince the bedbugs to go away by holding a benefit concert for endangered rainforests, I would. But I suspect these nasty, little bits of nature would find a reason to stay. They’re freeloading off my circulatory system. Life is good. And also, I hope, very, very short.
Me too, Barry Link, me too.
And I still want to know why the AP story was only apparently carried in the CentreDaily (PA), The Seattle Times, and spokane7.com. When the country’s newspapers had access to this AP story, why didn’t more of them publish it?