Teetering on the edge of insanity - friend may have given me BBs(6 posts)
Hi, I'm El - please forgive me for this being so long, but I think I’m going quite insane. I really need to get this out of me and I need some advice/thoughts/support.
My friend got BBs from her work, which is very infested. Me not knowing she had brought them home, I went to her house two weeks ago, was sitting on the couch, got up after2 hours, and saw a reddish bug under where I’d been sitting. I asked her for a baggie and we bagged it up to have a look. Since I'm quite familiar with this forum (I used to work at a camp and had to be educated about BBs) I was pretty sure what it was. We got online and I identified it as a BB, but my friend was in denial because she and her husband "weren't getting bitten".
Anyhow, once I discovered this bug at her house, knowing darn good and well what it was, I had a COMPLETE and total meltdown and panic attack the minute I got in the car and drove away. In under two minutes, I pulled over, took off my shirt and threw it into a plastic trash bag along with everything that had been in her house. I stepped into a second trash bag (go ahead and laugh, this will be funny to me too as soon as I am sure I don't have BBs) and it came all the way up under my ribs. I tied it off and yes, that meant I drove my car home with both feet and my entire mid section in a trash bag. I got home, stripped naked in the garage, threw everything in another trash bag, and went in and scrubbed my body and hair down (yes, I know the scrubbing was unneeded – I was losing it. I'm absolutely terrified of getting these things.) I went back out into the garage and threw all my possessions from the car into trash bags to deal with later. I didn't sleep that night.
The next day, I steamed the entire car interior (everything – not just carpet), emptied a can of bb insecticide into it, and parked it in the sun. It got about 115 in the car. Over the next week, I set the car in the sun a lot - one day it read 110 for at least 2 hours on the floorboards, out of direct sun. Some of my stuff from the car has been put in the dryer or steamed. Some has been cooked inside black trash bags for over 4 hours of direct sun at 150 degrees. The rest is still in sealed trash bags, awaiting me to clean it up.
By the way, I took the suspected BB in the baggie to a PCO, and sure enough, it was a BB. I told the whole story to the PCO and he looked at me like I had two heads. He said he’d worked there for 10 years and always got BBs on him. All he did once he got home was take his clothes off in the garage, dry them for 30 minutes on high, and sprayed his shoes with rubbing alcohol. He said he has never brought them in the house. He did NOT say he did anything to decontaminate his car or that he only used the car for work. He didn’t say he showered, either. He said he thought it HIGHLY unlikely I brought them home. I agree.
So why am I nuts? Because I suddenly remembered my friend had been in my house on August 9, sitting on my chair with her purse on the floor (the same purse that she takes to work where BBs are crawling on the desks… no joke). Even though she was only there for a few hours, she could have brought them into my house.
I have torn apart my bed, a couch where I love to sleep, most of my bedroom, tore the bottom cover off my box springs, disassembled picture frames, and have looked everywhere…. Thank god, no bugs and no bites… yet.
By the way, I did get bitten at her house and it took 8 days to show up. I’m sure they are BB bites because the couch was infested and the bites happen to be on the back of my leg below where my shorts stopped. They have since scarred, hopefully not permanently. Also, I called to tell my friend that the PCO said she had BBs and she went further into denial, telling me the PCO and I were wrong. Sigh.
It’s been almost a month since she’s been in my house and 2 weeks since I was in hers. I can’t find BB’s or BB traces (no blood on sheets, no fecal stains), but I can’t sleep. I can’t relax. I’m crying all of the time, probably because I’m so darn tired. I do NOT have the money to fix a BB infestation. If they are in my house, I won’t even know I was bitten for 8 days.
But, how long before I can relax? I’ve read and read, but I’m just trying to figure out when I can definitively say they are not in my house. Any ideas? I'm obviously teetering on the edge of insanity.
Thank you for listening.
I understand your anxiety about the situation. BB or even the idea of bedbugs can make even the most even-keeled person feel crazy!
I am no expert, but if it were me, I'd invest in some passive monitors. You can find info about them on this site. Hopefully the monitors will be clear, but in the event something turns up, you will be able to catch the problem early.
I am curious, what kind of place does your friend work that there are obvious signs of BB ? And the fact that it is not being addressed by the employer? Your friend has her head in the sand if there is a known infestation she is exposed to daily with no precautions taken, and she doesn't think she can have bed bugs at home.
1) Start dealing with your anxiety now. BB anxiety is not a special case, it's anxiety like any other & responds to the same treatment. Like any anxiety, if you don't deal with it early it has the potential to make your life entirely miserable whether you have BBs or not.
Incidentally, anxiety disorders really militate against people doing the right things if they ever do get BBs; all the more reason to nip this anxiety in the bud.
2) Buy a passive monitor for each bed in your house (available through the Useful Stuff section of this website), install them strictly according to the instructions & then inspect the monitor according to manufacturer's protocols. No extra peeking, no panicking.
If, I stress; if, there's any BB activity in your home the passive monitor can give you a very early indication. The earlier a BB problem is identified, the easier it is to shift.
Do read the Bed bugs 101 section of this site's FAQs because you've still got a few misconceptions about BBs. One of the biggest misconceptions you're dealing with is the idea that they're some kind of superbug. They're not. The vast majority of people who get bed bugs get rid of them quickly. Those people though, don't spend much time on the internet talking about how easy it was. Google is not always your friend; it will throw scare stories & bug myths at you.
On myths; the trash-bags-in-the-sun stuff is one such; this FAQs; http://bedbugger.com/2007/05/18/dryer/ will probably help you take a calmer approach, but I suggest it not because I think you've brought bugs home, but because I think you're freaking out & need some fact.
Other than those, leave the bed bug reading alone for a while. Do something nice for yourself, have a treat. Get out of the house, go to the park, to the beach, the mountains - go where you usually go to find beauty; walk, enjoy the view, notice the flowers. Breath.
I say again - deal with the anxiety. It is quite possible to wind up suffering severe bed bug-related anxiety without ever having had BBs at all. Anxiety will hitch a ride on anything - it's a far more effective hitchiker than bed bugs.
Thanks to you both - I am so tired that I will read your replies again in the morning and hopefully digest more of it. I really appreciate your time.
I'm not sure I can say the name of the place my friend works, but I can say it's a call center for a satellite TV provider. Apparently someone there discovered bed bugs a few months ago and confronted management, who denied it. Employees took photos of the bugs and called OSHA, who said they could not do anything because the company was "doing something". Their version of "doing something" was spraying the chairs with some Raid and putting trash bags (unsealed) over them for a few hours.
I begged my friend to take precautions, to read this site, etc., but she did not, and now she has them for sure. I begged her to contact our local department of health and report it because OSHA wasn't doing anything. She won't, because an employee other than my friend confronted the company after she got an infestation from them. They fired her, stating that she had brought them the infestation. Her company declared earlier this week that they were bug free (they never use the words bed bug) but they had to move my friend's team twice because of bugs (naturally, they are just moving the bugs around). I believe my friend who tells me this - she is not a liar or exaggerator.
So, she will not confront management because she doesn't want to get fired. She is in denial because she said she can't upset her husband, who has a VERY, VERY serious anxiety disorder. I told her the longer she waits, the more bugs she gets, and the more in anxiety he will be. I'm serious - her husband makes me look calmer than a Zen monk, and I am in no way, shape, or form calm. This guy is a mess.
The sad thing is that not only won't she treat them, but she is helpless to stop bringing them hone. She is the only person working in the family and with this economy, she can't loose the money she is making. She's been there going on 5 years and makes about $17 an hour. I still think she should get the hell out of there.
When I asked her tonight how long she knew she had them, she told me 2 months, and now I'm kind of mad. She knew darn good and well when I went over that they were there, and did not warn me. Thank god I saw the live one.
Sorry, I am so exhausted. I will read your posts and digest more when I wake up. Thanks much.
Well, look at the bright side, it could have been worse; it could have been crabs instead !
There's no need to panic, there is a need to be vigilant. However, depsite what it may have looked like, your prevention efforts with the plastic bag deal were not as crazy as you think. Note that when leaving bed bug locations I strip down completely and change clothes in the parking lot behind my truck every time. I'm not taking any chances with bed bugs.
Based upon the info you posted it seems that you'll probably be OK but you have two things to do:
1) Remain vigilant to protect your place from bed bugs.
2) Speak to your friend and provide her good information to get her out of denial !
Hope this helps, good luck ! paul b.
Koebner: Thanks - I am trying so hard to calm down. I came into this with a very serious anxiety problem to begin with, so this does not help. I am going to buy passive monitors and will pay very close directions to the instructions, then I will wait and pray.
I did discover in my bb searches that I have carpet beetles... yes, I'm sure, but I can deal with those. I bought a jeweler's loupe today so I can look at anything I find up close. Considering I have carpet beetles, that's important, because they're hard to identify when very young as bb's can be, especially when you have bad up-close vision like mine.
P Bello: crabs I could handle at this point. I am trying to educate my friend... trying to convince her that she can take them to her family's houses, the beauty shop, the theater, a restaurant, or anywhere else she sits with contaminated clothing. She isn't hearing me yet, and I wish she would because this is one way they spread.
Thanks and you all keep your fingers crossed please.
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