Newly diagnosed, worried about hitchhiking bugs, etc.(5 posts)
Hello, fellow sufferers.
A sadly common story, here. I picked up a bad case of bedbugs in February at a hotel in sioux city iowa or possibly lincoln nebraska. It was misdiagnosed as scabies twice, and then the doctors told me it was all my imagination. After seeing an expert dermatologist for a head-to-toe examination, she assured me it wasn't scabies or lice or any normal parasite, but she did recognize bites and encourage me to look near my windows for birds' nests, rat evidence, etc.
Well, once I knew what it *couldn't* be, my eyes opened to what it really is-- after over 6 weeks! A horrendous infestation. I've found at least a dozen bedbugs in my kitchen (several live), several in my bathroom, and lots of evidence in my bedroom.
The PCO came in last week and sprayed everywhere, and told me that they were inside the mattress and I should throw it away. I did, and also my leather sofa. Even after heavy spraying, I was bit to hell after one night sleeping on it.
I moved into a fancy hotel in beverly hills for one night, and- can you believe it?- my first room had bedbugs! They switched me to what seemed to be a clean room, and this brings me to my big worry.
After a night at that hotel, two nights at a friend's condo, and another night in a different (clean) hotel, I am terrified they're somehow living on me. I've taken to storing my life in ziploc bags with totally heat-sterilized clothes, and immediately bathing and washing upon entering a new place. Even so, I wake up each day on what were clean sheets with what seems to be a sheet littered with black fecal specks, at least half a dozen- last night, even a bite on my leg. This scares me witless.
Also, advice for sterilizing shoes? This one has me totally stumped. How do you know if you have to sterilize your car? I've found no evidence there, but am fearful nonetheless.
I have to move back into my post-treatment apartment tomorrow night, and I'm terrified. Going to buy a bedframe and aero-bed today to begin to cope with this problem.
Also, do I have to seal and further heat-sterilize or dry clean every item of clothing, even those previously washed and hanged or dry-cleaned and hanged? I also have several thousands of books and records, and the thought of living without them or having to send them away for 18 months makes me nearly suicidal, not to mention the financial impossibility. I'm a musician and am just scraping by to begin with.
I've spent hours on this terrific site- thank God for this resource- but I'm still full of questions and worries and fears. What I find hardest to cope with is feeling unable to visualize a future where this grotesque problem is GONE and FULLY CONQUERED. The sense of defeat and hopelessness is tangible and oppressive.
Thanks to all fellow sufferers in advance. Stay strong.
so sorry to hear that you are dealing with this, i remember exactly what you are feeling right now. i promise you that it willllll go away. there are days that it will feel like you will be dealing with this forever, but you won't. i felt that way too, and i'm currently two and a half months bedbug free.
clothing: anything clothing that is not sealed in plastic in your apartment right now will probably need to be re-sanitized and sealed. dry cleaning is expensive and probably unecessary. most items you can sanitize by just placing in the dryer! read the FAQs (orange button below) for advice on this.
books: when i had to sanitize my books, i treated them in the oven. bake in oven at 120 degrees F for three hours (no more or book bindings may melt). watch carefully in case of fire, and make sure there is a small pan of water in the oven as well for humidity. then when they are baked, you can seal them up in plastic and only remove them from plastic when you need them.
i'm sorry i have no advice for immediate treatment of your records, other than perhaps visual inspection and vacuuming??? the good news is that if you are having PCO treatments, eventually any bugs that might be in those records will have to leave them in order to eat (you), and thus they will cross the residual poison and die. staying in the apartment and acting as bait is key for this strategy to work.
as for shoes, depending on the kind, you might be able to treat them in the oven similar to the books. then keep sealed in plastic when in your apartment, and only remove them from the plastic when wearing them outdoors. immediately re-seal upon re-entry to your home.
also never underestimate the wonders of rubbing alcohol. it's a contact kill for bedbugs. i keep a spray bottle of it (still, months later) and spritz it around every once in awhile when i get the heebie-jeebies. i generally clean my air-mattress with it weekly, when i do my weekly inspection.
hope all of this helps... i've been where you're at and i know how hard it is, but it does get better i promise.
Thanks for the words of strength. I appreciate it.
Any comment or idea about my strange situation? Seriously, on 3 separate occasions now I've entered a new, clean place (2 hotels & 1 condo), isolated all my clothes, went straight to a hot bath and shower, and still somehow found fecal specks in my sheets the following morning. This is enough to drive me batty!
It is making me seriously paranoid that the little bastards are actually living on *me*, and not just my clothes. Has anyone else experienced this, or is this a documented possibility?
Thanks again, comrades-in-misfortunate. It's so great to hear others have conquered this.
Do you use an air mattress/bedframe combination? I'm trying to figure out the best solution, now that I have no 'real' matterss.
Given the precautions that you are employing, I think you can rule out bed bugs living on your person.
How do you know that the black specks you found in bed are fecal material?
It is not uncommon for people to become hypervigilant about marks on our skin & spots on our bedding after experiencing bed bug bites. Have you found any other evidence that bed bugs have hitchhiked with you to the clean locations like dead bugs, eggs or cast skins?
You might want to look into gas fumigation for your records & books. Some PCO's will fumigate a rental truck or a shipping container loaded with your hard to clean items.
Lil Bit Obsessed made some good suggestions, but I would be hesitant to bake the books in the oven. You would need to uniformly heat the books up to 130 degrees all the way through to the center to be effective with heat. Paper is a good insulator. You may find that it is difficult to heat the books all the way through without any damage.
Remember your PCO has to treat the entire home. Bed bugs are usually not just in a mattress or in a sofa. Most homes require 3 or more treatments spaced two weeks apart (in many cases even 4, 5 or more). Did you get that kind of follow-up and extensive treatment? If not, see the FAQ on choosing a PCO. (FAQ button below).
If you are in a multi-unit bldg, were all neighbors (above, below, all sides) inspected by a professional and treated if need be? If not, your infestation will be hard to treat.
If your car were infested, a PCO could probably inspect it and tell you (even though they might not treat it, a good PCO will probably know someone who does this kind of work). If the car were infested, it's possible you could be carrying bed bugs around. This does not seem to happen with many folks, but it is worth considering.
I would agree with Doug that it's quite possible you are mistaking other dirt or lint for fecal specks. They do not live on people, unless someone is not washing all over and changing their clothing regularly.
Bites can appear after a delay, so seeing a "new bite" the morning after arriving somewhere does not mean it happened that night.
It's possible you are carrying some in a bag, coat, or shoe, but remember, they only feed about once a week.
Until this is over, I would not leave unbagged clothing (including shoes and coats) in the home. If you are worried about shoes, buy a new pair. This goes for other items like luggage, briefcases, and so on: if there is any chance they are infested, if there is no way to thoroughly visually search them (ie they have hidden areas or crevices), then it is true, they may harbor bed bugs. Inspect carefully.
Bag the item (shoes, bag, etc.) at the door (with shoes, include a nice lavender sachet, paper bag of dr. scholl's powder, or something inside to pick up some of the scent which will accummulate otherwise!) Keep coats in a bag. Bag only items you are sure start out bed bug free (hence the new shoes). Pop clean clothes from a bag and those bagged shoes or coats on straight out of the bag right when you are going to leave home. Hang out at home in clothing you reserve for that purpose. Sitting around at home, then running out the door is a bad idea.
If money permits, as Doug mentions, container fumigation of items like books as well as shoes may be a possiblity. However, if you do this now, and your home is still infested, your money will be wasted. Call a pro to discuss that option.
Professional fumigation with vikane of the entire home is also an even better option if money permits and it is legal in your area. It is expensive but is supposed to kill all bed bugs and eggs in one shot. This is not an option for apartments, though. And you'd need to ensure car, workplace, etc. are all bed bug free, or you could reinfest yourself.
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