A Year Ago, I Was In Bed Bug Hell...(5 posts)
...and now we've been free for a year!
While I feel paranoid posting this (I feel like I might jinx it but I certainly hope not! *knock on wood*), I feel like I should post this because I remember thinking to myself when I used this site that there were hardly any success stories, which I found extremely disheartening at the time so I vowed to post mine if I ever got rid of the damn things!
So, we've been rid of them for a year now, as I said. Last summer, the dirty crackheads on the third floor of my old apartment building (a house converted into a triplex) brought bed bugs into our place as they moved out and dragged their dirty ass mattress down the stairs. I saw the bugs before we noticed bites and I actually remember thinking they were some kind of cute beetle or something and throwing them outside so I wouldn't kill them. Well, that was a mistake! Soon, my room mate and I were both noticing bites all over us but thought they might be spider bites. As they continued night after night, I looked up rashes on the Internet and found that bed bugs kept popping up. Thinking they were some cute, long-eradicated bug from that little rhyme about not letting the bed bugs bite, I thought it couldn't possibly be what was causing our bites. But then I saw a picture of them and noticed they had a striking similarity to the little "beetles" I had found.
My room mate was in serious denial at first so I went into my room at night and checked my bed and wooden bed frame with a flashlight. Sure enough, they were scurrying everywhere! We were so disgusted, we hauled part of my bed out to a Dumpster (looking back, I should have labelled it "BED BUGS!" but I didn't know anything about them at the time) and stayed up late freaking out and not wanting to go to bed.
We called the landlady the next day but she and her husband had just married and were off on their honeymoon and didn't want to deal with it. The husband even said it was our fault for leaving food out!! (These landlords sucked...the place was in awful shape and when the furnace broke down in the winter, they left us without heat for three days because they didn't believe that the furnace was condemned by a technician WE had to call in) So, my room mate and I went upstairs to ask the remaining tenants on the second floor if they had bites, which they did. We felt awful and dirty, wondering how we brought them in but the other tenants said it was probably the crackheads (which it was because they later returned for mail and I said they had to leave because the place was getting sprayed and they said, "Oh, the bed bugs?"...I could have KILLED them!)
Anyways, we were left to our own devices to call in a PCO. The landlords were away and could care less, the third floor apartment was locked so I almost had to get the locks changed til the landlords finally sent a friend to deal with it, the third floor apartment was rented out to some poor unsuspecting girl who bolted when she found out but not before getting infested, and my room mate and I were both juggling jobs to pay for tuition but had to be home when they sprayed so we could get our cats out of there. So we chose the cheapest PCO we could find so we could deduct it from rent if the landlords decided not to pay. Well, we picked the worst company possible. The PCO came to spray twice and we still had bugs. We called a third time and we were told that the guy was fired because he was incompetent and he quoted us way too low and that we'd need to pay more to get the place sprayed again. By this time, we had given our 60 days notice to the landlords and would be moving out at the end of our lease so they didn't care what happened to us and were waiting til we had our stuff out to spray.
The move meant we'd be free from our shithole apartment but added stress because we were so afraid of bringing them with us. I was really OCD about it and my room mate was less so but realized we had to be when we found a gross nest of them behind her bed. I was so paranoid and depressed! And when I am like that, I retreat to bed but couldn't even do that! I was also travelling within this time period and staying with my boyfriend sometimes so I was so worried about spreading this misery to others or bringing it with us and reliving it with our new innocent room mates and landlord. This was probably one of the worst experiences of my life, aside from family members dying. I was constantly vacuuming our beds, the futon, corners and baseboards with a little hand-held vacuum and immediately emptying the contents outside. I bought a mattress cover. I would inspect my bed daily. I was on this site constantly looking for reassurance but not really finding any because everyone was as paranoid as me (although, I realized that you have to be in order to be thorough!) We had everything we owned in garbage bags and we were so nervous to start packing in case we packed in the bugs. It was awful!
Moving time came and most of our belongings were in garbage bags. I was really afraid for our electronics and things like books. My plan was to douse my wooden bed frame in Raid and get a new mattress cover and bring it with me. However, on moving day, I realized I had brought the wrong kind of mattress cover and had to leave my mattress and bed frame behind, which was hard since they were given to me by family so I felt bad and because I am a student and couldn't afford new furniture. We left as much as we could, taking only my room mate's air mattress she slept on, our futon, our electronics, our laundry, an office chair, and the cats of course. I was even worried the cats would somehow bring them! Since I had no bed, I now sleep on the futon which was never infested because we caught the bugs early and they were only in our bedrooms luckily.
I visited my boyfriend often. I travelled home. I travelled to Nova Scotia with my family. We moved. And through all of it, I managed not to spread them. Here are the best tips I can remember for people:
1) Be paranoid! As much as it sucks, it is better to use caution and be thorough to be sure you are rid of bugs! Inspect everything thoroughly and be vigilant with cleaning every day, making sure laundry is bagged, etc.
2) Be careful not to spread them! This will mean spreading the misery and increasing chances for reinfestation. Bring as little as possible with you when travelling and make sure that all your clothes are clean, your bag has been treated (or bring it in garbage bags!), everything has been inspected, etc.
3) It is costly but make sure that you buy a lot of garbage bags and do a lot of laundry! Wash and dry on hot (I did it for at least an hour) and if things can't be washed (like stuffed animals, for example) then just put them in the dryer. Make sure not to re-use garbage bags. Use clean ones for clean laundry every time and don't wear things more than once without washing them.
4) Inspect everything (especially if you're moving)! Your mattress, your bed frame, your clothes, your couch, electronics, books, the corners, the baseboards, cracks...it makes you neurotic but it truly helps the problem because you can catch things before they get bigger.
5) Also costly, but if you're moving then it's probably best not to take your bed, just to be on the safe side. If you can't bear to part with it, talk to a qualified PCO about the best plan and make sure it is treated. Use a zippered mattress cover!
6) Vacuum your bed daily. I found this to be the most helpful.
7) I also found Raid to be helpful but make sure it is specifically for bed bugs because they are hardy little bastards.
Don't let people come over and avoid staying at other people's places. While you'll probably be freaked out, if you leave the problem quickly you are likely to bring the problem with out and make your host's life hell too. Also, don't move from the bedroom to the couch in case they follow you. Too easy to spread.
Try to relax sometimes! There is hope! Try to take time out to do things you enjoy so you don't totally lose it.
Well, that's my story. The place I am living at now is great and we have not had a problem with the bugs since, even though I was sick with worry for a few months afterward. I definitely learned that paying a little more in rent to not live in a slum is well worth it! I am now really paranoid and think pieces of fluff are bed bugs but I am doing everything I can to avoid reinfestation, such as checking the beds in hotels when I get there, not taking in secondhand things (and if someone I know does, checking them thoroughly!), surreptitiously checking the seats on the bus, and (I know this sounds mean)avoiding getting close with people I don't know, especially those who use shelters or hostels.
Good luck! Hope this helps.
Thank you so much Effinbugs,
My infestation is more insidious, because I have not really found anything (though have bug samples so it's definitely bb's) such as castings, eggs, blood trails or whatnot, so it's hard to know the extent of it. Nevertheless it has been kind of hellish, partly because I am still figuring out exactly what I am dealing with. I'm at the air mattress stage and am slowly coming to terms with the idea that I can't have company and should hesitate before being company as well, and that my summer is pretty much ruined.
Nice to know that a happy (such as it is) ending is possible! I too will post my tale once this is over.
It has been 1 1/2 years since I have been free from the bugs. I still sleep on the floor and still have no soft couch etc...but the stress is finally gone and I can finally relax. Since the last time I posted, I have since moved again. Still bug free. Remember to always know that the bugs will not win and when you feel at your worst, Smile and plan your revenge on the bugs!! That is what I did and it kept me sane. Love to all who are still fighting and those who have won their battles, Congrats!!
Thank you sooo much for this post effinbugs and others who replied. As I was reading this, I kept nodding my head ..Uh huh! yea...yep... and was actually able to sigh in relief and take a breath from hearing of your courageous victory.
I'm still not quite sure what to label the infestation I'm dealing with, but have finally found where they came from...my next door neighbor in an apt. building. My LL is not renewing my lease as he's blaming me for this problem, but I've finally been able to prove exactly where they started from so he's now treating both apts using his own toxic mix (I call him the 'landlord-on-crack'). Sometimes ANY form of humor helps. I'm moving by end of this month and tossing out almost everything, trying to use every piece of advice from this site in the process. I hope my story ends as successfully as yours.
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