The Tale of How Bed Bugs Saved My Marriage(16 posts)
Last November I experienced what I call a mid life crisis (even though I am only 39). I felt trapped inside my marriage and asked my wonderful husband of four years for a temporary separation. I had never lived independently, I went from my parents, to boyfriends or roommates, and finally to my husband. He was very kind and understanding. I asked him to stay at the house while I moved to an apartment.
I moved into the top floor apartment of a two family house. It’s three small rooms, a bedroom, living room, kitchen and bathroom, but it was all mine. I moved minimal furniture from the house, just a few basics like the spare bedroom bed, dressers, and a few small end tables. My mother gave me her futon and coffee table.
I settled in and enjoyed my independence and learning more about myself. I spent time with family and friends. I would see my husband at least once a week. He travels a lot, so when he was gone I would go to the house to feed our cat. In the past few months I’ve been spending more time with my husband, and finally felt as if this stage of my life is finally over and I would be moving home within the next few months. Life was good.
Until about a week ago. A few months ago I noticed a rash, mostly on my back, but sometimes on my arms, hands, and legs. It didn’t itch or hurt so I didn’t think much of it. I thought maybe I had an allergy to my detergent or something of that sort. The thought of BBs never crossed my mind.
About two weeks ago I spotted what looked like a beetle on my bed. Once again, didn’t think anything of it and just picked it up with a napkin and flushed it down the toilet. Then last week, another beetle. Here is where I started getting suspicious. I decided to lift up my mattress to have a peek and OH THE HORROR. There were TONS of them. My heart sank. I knew immediately that I was infested with BBs.
One of my first thoughts was “where in the world did I get them!?” A very clean, middle class girl. Ah, you are saying to yourself, she mentioned that her husband travels a lot. That was my first thought as well and I hurried over to the house. My husband was the first person I told, he was so understanding and kind. We immediately searched the house. By this point I had already found this forum and knew all of the telltale signs (which in retrospect, I can’t believe I didn’t spot at my apartment earlier). We scoured the bedroom. Nothing. He sleeps on white or cream colored sheets. Not a spec, other than the hair from his back. Picked up the mattress, nothing. If my infestation was as huge as it was, and I caught it from the house, there would surely be signs there as well.
After thinking of every possible scenario I finally realized that it didn’t matter where I got them, I needed to act on getting rid of them. I immediately called my landlords (husband and wife). They were extremely concerned, understanding & kind. I called them on a Sunday and they had a PCO there on Monday afternoon. I also let my neighbor know as after reading this forum I knew that there was a possibility that he had them as well. Although he did not have any bites and had not seen anything, the PCO confirmed that he had them as well, but not as badly as I did.
The PCO seemed very knowledgeable, so much so that he does presentations on the topic. He told us that just the previous week he was doing a presentation to businesses at an apartment building, and the owners of the building asked him if by chance he would check a random room of theirs. Lo and behold, BBs. He said he got two additional positive cases from people who called him after the presentation. He recommended that we spray my bedroom and living room as well as my neighbor’s. He did mention heat treatment, but it was almost four times as much as the chemical spraying. My landlord didn’t flinch at the $1,400 cost for the chemical treatment and said he would do whatever he needed to do to take care of the problem.
So here I am today. Starting to take on the daunting task of the prep work. I am by no means a pack rat, but something like this makes you realize how much “stuff” you really have. I’ve been sleeping at my house with my husband all week (bringing nothing other than the clean clothes on my back, my cell phone and my wallet) as I just can’t bring myself to sleep in my infested apartment bed. I know that once they start the treatment I will have to go back to the apartment to be bug bait, and those suckers are going to be hungry! Not only do I dread being eaten alive, I’ve gotten reattached to my husband and I will miss spending the nights at home.
I plan on moving home when my lease is up in November. Regardless of whether or not I get rid of the BB problem, I will bring nothing more with me than clean, tightly sealed clothes and a few personal items. A few other items will go in isolation in our shed for at least 18 months. The rest will be going to the dump. I can’t wait to be rid of this problem, to be back in my home, and most importantly, to be back with the man that I love with all of my heart.
If anyone has taken the time to read this lengthy post, I truly appreciate it.
Thanks for sharing your story.
Isolating things for 18 months is kind of an old idea. There are more options available to you now, and even if you did want to bag them up for a time, we're told current strains of bed bugs can't live that long.
Nobugs, could I please ask you to elaborate on the additional methods. The few items I'm thinking of offhand are a flat screen tv, an antique tea cart, and an antique chest. I don't believe that those can fit in a packtite, nor do I know if I can actually afford one. Any assistance is much appreciated.
The furniture could likely fit in a Packtite Closet but the cost may be prohibitive. The same is true of Vikane gas fumigation-- too expensive for a few items though they'd work for someone with a bit more stuff, and though the cost can be quite reasonable for treating a pod, is probably too high in this case.
If you really only need to treat those three items, it may be possible to seal them in a large contractors bag in an airtight fashion, with DDVP strips inside. This could possibly be done in the shed or a secure location indoors. It's possible to get larger bags and there may be a secure airtight spot where you can do this without wrapping the items, in a place which can be locked up and won't be disturbed.
This method is controversial among PMPs here mainly because it must be done safely and there are dangers involved. I can't personally advise on it since I'm not a pro. I recommend you private message user Paul Bello (pbello) as he is a Pest Management Professional and does seem to be willing to advise people on using such products. You'll see a link to "PM this user" on the left of any of his posts.
Thank you so much. Yes, the packtite closes is definitely cost prohibitive, although I may invest in the standard sized one. I'll also look into your other suggestions. I really appreciate it.
Good luck and let us know how it goes.
Sometimes used Packtites can be had on eBay-- there was someone in Brooklyn advertising one last week. The original may not fit your furniture however.
As you have a shed outside, you are a good candidate for DDVP strips. If you are placing items in a shed, with or without DDVP, be sure to wrap your items securely (such as in giant "banana" bags), to prevent cross-contaminating other items in the shed.
Thank you Nobugs and Cilecto. I'll look into used Packtites and the DDVP strips. I was planning on wrapping the few pieces I do move in large plastic contractor bags, and sealing them tightly. Come to think of it, considering the bags would be waterproof I could leave them outside in my backyard if need be. That way they can experience a true central New York winter, which I hope will be not like last year's!
I've been meaning to read this what a great story. I hope it gets better and you will move with out them.
Thanks, Angie. I just found out on another thread that you are 38 years old. I'm 39! I also never in my 39 years of life thought I'd have to go through something like this.
Hey Buggy, the title of your post shows you are trying to look on the bright side. I really wanted to read how bed bugs saved a marriage, instead of wreaking destruction! Ha. Great read, thanks for sharing. Oh the horror! indeed. I had that moment.
If there's one common theme I've read from folks having gone through this, it's "Stuff is just stuff," and it sounds like you have a supportive family which is great.
Thanks, Philadybug! Yes, it really has brought us closer. My biggest paranoia is that I may have infested my house, but so far, no signs. I just purchased passive alerts just for piece of mind.
Yup, the purging of the "stuff" was very cathartic.
I love your story!! Some how these little beasts brought a happy ending (saving your marriage, not their presence, haha) yay! Your husband definitely sounds like a keeper. Besides prayer, my husband is my light of shining hope that we shall get thru this experience together. We have been through deployments to war zones, but this is probably by far the most devastating experience we have had to go thru in our marriage. The military was a choice, this is sooooo not, lol Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story.
Hi bug_hater. Thank you for your kind words. I can completely relate to how difficult this is. You will get through this, and I am glad to hear that your husband is your light of shining hope. I've read way too many posts of unsupportive spouses, so please count your blessings.
Just wanted to comment on your story which was very upbeat considering the situation! Since you say your husband travels a lot, you may want to also read the FAQ's on how to come home from a trip and safeguard your house from any bed bugs that hitch a ride home. That's where the Packtite comes in so handy and worth its weight in gold. The Packtite is a permanent fixture now in the house...so much so that I totally forgot about it being in my dining room until one of my dinner guests said "What's that big thing?" and pointed to the Packtite closet! Luckily, it was a very good friend who was one of the few I ever told about our bout with bed bugs many years ago.
Thanks MyWorstFear. Yes, I'm working on educating my husband, but sadly, he doesn't take it quite as seriously as I think he should. But I'll keep at him.
I actually did purchase a Packtite for preparing for my move back to the house. I love it, but the hitch is that it's too small for a large suitcase to fit into it. I wish it was just a little bit bigger, and sadly, I really can't afford the closet size, and I'm not sure where I'd put it even if I could. I'm considering saving up for it once I move back to the house, so that we can use it for our suitcases when we travel.
So nice to read that your bout was "many years ago." Give the rest of us hope.
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