No bugs, no bites, but anxiety can't sleep(4 posts)
This is my first post and it's 3:30 AM, so forgive me if I'm not well-written. I slept little the past two nights and this evening I'm not sleeping at all. Before I even tell my story, I'll list my questions.
1. Can I visit my boyfriend over Easter weekend or are visitations out to prevent infecting him?
2. Can I take my cat in her carrier along with me, if I do visit my boyfriend or will bugs travel on my cat and on/in her carrier which has been sitting in the living room on the floor for the past 4 weeks?
3. Suggestions on how to handle looming deadlines for graduate school work?
4. Suggestions on how to handle attending my internship?
About a week ago I began to feel itchy; however, no evident bites on my skin. It has continued, though I still cannot say for sure whether any of the itching looks like bites. I don't itch at a few spots; I itch all over, from my head to my feet. I am living in an apartment in a university town as I finish my grad degree (should graduate in 2 weeks) and planned to return to live in my boyfriend's house in 2 weeks. He lives an hour away. To move on to the present, I awoke so itchy yesterday that I felt certain I must have some kind of bugs. I'm finishing an intership at a preschool and asked the health manager to check me for lice. I do not have lice. I spoke to her about bedbugs, but of course she really wasn't able to tell me anything for sure. I know I don't have fleas in the apt. because the cat doesn't scratch at all and my itching isn't limited to my lower extremities, but ranges all over.
I phoned my apt. manager today. She told me there have been no other complaints of infestation in the apt. complex. She called a Pest Control place and they are coming Monday to inspect for bugs. I'm relieved someone will be checking, but considering this is Wed night/Thurs. AM, I do not know what to do until Monday. I am prone to anxiety, have a mood disorder, and am under a lot of stress as I finish end of the semester papers and projects for my degree. So, there is the chance the itching is something else, but I think it much more likely I have some kind of bugs...probably bed bugs. I am beyond sleep now. This could lead to problems for me mood-wise, though for today it's mainly led to bouts of crying and anxiety.
My boyfriend came tonight for a little while to help me look for bugs, but we found none, at least nothing that we were sure about. Mainly what appears to be lint and dirt. He also checked my body for bites, but wasn't sure if I have bites or if the red streaks are simply my long scratches from itching. I have very sensitive skin, so I assume I may be getting bitten and not have raised marks, just itching.
I am in an internship at a preschool, though my position is not to interact with kids and I have few hours to attend as I am near the end. I mainly interact with staff and, occasionally, parents. Tomorrow morning I am due to be there for 4 hours out of which I will attend a 2 hour meeting with mainly parents. I am terrified of taking bugs in with me. I do not have a dryer in my apt., so don't have the opportunity to dry things before attending in the morning as I see recommended here.
I lost a day of school work today as I researched bedbugs online, dealt with the mood/anxiety, then searched the apt. for bugs. One lost day at this point is a problem as I won't be able to complete all of my assignments if this happens again tomorrow. I don't know how to handle this. I'm afraid to visit a prof's office tomorrow to discuss it as I'm afraid I'll take bugs in with me. Help!
Can I visit my boyfriend's with my cat? I had planned to go Fri.-Sun. I have clothes and shoes there that have been at his house for a while, so they would not be infested. I can drive into the garage, close the door, completely strip including shoes, leave the shoes in my car, go in the house and throw those clothes I stripped off immediately into the wash, take a shower, then put on clothes that have been stored at his house. I won't take anything else except my cosmetics in plastic bag. Thing is, I'd have to take my laptop to do school work as well as books and articles. Am I screwed because of my laptop and books, or can I visit for the weekend?
There is a possibility that your skin is flaring up from all of the stress you are under with school and everything. Stress can do a number on your body in many ways. Not to say you shouldn't keep looking for signs of bed bugs, but it may not be insect bites causing you to be so itchy.
It's good that you'll be getting a professional inspection early in the week.
These are my non-expert suggestions:
Try not to stress. Keep in mind that while bed bugs are good "hitchhikers," if you have bed bugs, the likelihood that they hitchhike would seem to increase as the population did.
You have been itchy for a week. You have seen no bed bugs or signs, despite looking, so there's a good chance that if you have them (which is a BIG "if"), they would probably be at an early stage.
The Travel FAQs suggest ways of visiting someone without spreading bed bugs if you have them. This may give you peace of mind.
In addition, you can visually inspect the books and articles and laptop carefully.
I can think of at least one person with bed bugs who had itchy skin without anything that "looked" like bites. On the other hand, most people with suddenly itchy skin do not have bed bugs.
Dry skin can cause itching (use a hypo-allergenic moisturizer, Cetaphil is good, to make sure this is not the problem).
Noruega is right that stress can cause itchy skin issues and school can be stressful. Lots of other possibilities too.
Beyond keeping the inspection appointment, I would just try to take care of yourself, try to do things which relieve your anxiety. If you see a therapist or doctor for anxiety, you might mention that you're under stress and itchy.
Can't thank you both enough for your responses. I really felt like I was going over the edge Wed. night. Just so you know, I' m doing much better now. I read the FAQ on traveling and followed your suggestions. I am now safely ensconsed with my boyfriend where I got 13 hours of sleep last night...yea!. I can't say his shoes and socks fit me well, but I don't want to risk bringing mine in. LOL! Actually, I've got my sneakers in his dryer right now. That's a step in the right direction.
One more question: I'm supposed to move in 4 weeks. Will I be able to take my wood furniture, like my tall bookshelves, my entertainment center, etc? wihout worrying that bugs are hiding on them?
Spoke to the pest control person and maybe the advise I was given will help others. She said that as long as I vacuumed and cleaned the pet carrier that it should be fine to bring my cat on my trip. Additionally, she said that as long as a human (ME!) is around, the bugs won't bother with my cat. My cat is groundbeef whereas I'm filet mignon. She also said that it sounds like if I have bugs it's early days, so vacuuming my laptop should be fine as well.
I'm worried about my books and papers, but I guess I'll sit in my car to use them while I'm here.
I spoke to my internship supervisor and she was more than supportive and helpful.
Spoke to two profs who were also very supportive and who have given me extensions as needed to complete my work, should I need to engage in labor-intensive clean-up and laundry starting Monday.
Went to the uni health center to be examined. I do have bites, though she couldn't determine the type. Sent me home with hydrocortisone and another steroid cream. They've been immensely helpful against that pinprick-followed-by-crazy-itching feeling.
Bought several boxes of xl ziplocs so I'm ready to do some laundry and packing when I get back .
At this point, I mainly have two worries:
1. I'm just hopeful I didn't bring any bugs to my boyfriend's when I visited last week and slept over one night. I had just the start of a little itching then. sigh.
2. I'm supposed to move out of that apt. within 4 weeks. I had just given notice a couple weeks prior to this problem. Now I'm not sure how I'll move while ensuring my furniture and possessions aren't polluted with bugs/eggs. I'm afraid I'll have to toss some things which will be hard for me since I'm a grad student on low-income disability. My car broke down and I can't afford to fix it. The laundromat costs alone will eat up all of my month's spending money. Granted, hopefully I'll soon be able to get a job, but in the meantime, I'm in a bit of a fix. Somehow I'll figure it out.
I've been reading lots on this forum that has been helpful. Thank you all so very much! It so helops to know I'm not alone, though of course I don't wish to see anyone else endure this.
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