Nicholas Brown’s “The Bedbug Chronicles: Part 6” sounds pretty familiar

by nobugsonme on November 14, 2007 · 6 comments

in bed bug epidemic, bed bug lawsuits, bed bug treatment, bed bugs, bed bugs in apartments, housing laws, how to get rid of bed bugs, legal aspects of bed bugs, new york, new york city, pest control, pest control services, usa

There’s a new update to Nicholas Brown’s bed bug journal on the Huffington Post today, and it takes us through the 39th day of living with bed bugs during treatment.

In this installment, we learn that bed bugs are taking a significant toll on Brown’s self-identity and social life:

Despite my anger, even our bug-laden living situation is finally normalizing. This process started first as a change in identity: I now think of myself as ‘the guy with bedbugs.’ It’s how I introduce myself. Maybe it’s not the first thing I say, but it will come up in the first five minutes of a conversation. I am taking an acting class and in the first session I said “hey, I am Nick and I have bedbugs,” as if I was in some particularly gross AA session. When I hear someone mention bedbugs in a conversation at a table next to me, I feel obliged to chime in.

They’re also making home very disorganized and uncomfortable, no small problem for someone whose office is at home. Things are not where they used to be; instead, they’re in bags all over the place:

While I am tempted to reassemble my room and my office (which are the same place), I realize there is every chance that the bugs will be back again so I have stopped trying to create a livable space and now just settle for someplace with interior heating.

We also learn that Brown still has bed bugs, well past the 30-day window landlords are given to eliminate bed bugs, under local housing laws. It is not unusual for landlords to need more time, though. Turns out, there are other reasons to be angry at the landlord:

Day 39

Our landlord, we discovered today, knew this apartment had bugs. The previous tenants moved out because of the bedbugs. The whole building – minus our apartment – was sprayed for bedbugs in the months after we moved in. No one mentioned this to us.

Isn’t this illegal? As I commented on the paragraph above, on Nicholas Brown’s blog, this should be illegal. Landlords should not be able to rent out an apartment that is known to be infested with bed bugs, to an unsuspecting tenant. I have a suspicion, however, that it already violates the housing laws. If any NYC rental housing experts are reading this, perhaps they could clarify.

Moreover, if the entire building except one apartment was being treated, any experienced PCO and even the landlord should realize that this might drive even more bed bugs into this unit.

What strikes me most about Brown’s saga, through these six installments, is how very typical it is. We at have heard it all many times. While I am horrified to hear Brown’s tale, I thank him for sharing it in such a public medium.

By doing so, he may just convey the mess that bed bugs create in one’s life, as well as how easy it is to get them, and how very difficult it is to get rid of them, to those not yet in the know. And that recognition, my friends, is the first step in getting everyone else to help us fight the problem.

1 hopelessnomo November 15, 2007 at 11:06 am

We know exactly how he feels, don’t we? The first two weeks of living with bedbugs are harrowing enough, and those days and nights are long and surreal, but when nearing the two-month mark, you really feel like you are unrecognizable to yourself. All you think about is that it will never end.

And, do people understand that in this sad state of affairs one typically has to live with bedbugs for two months? And that, heaping injury where no more can be borne, two months is actually not bad relative to so many other experiences? Let’s not even go into the period, for so many, beyond the first two months.

I’m so sorry for Nicholas. I reread his first post and there was Isabella (remember the dreadful Isabella? A character that is indelible in my mind, so I hope she’s not just a composite) telling his roommate that their apartment should have been sprayed before they moved in. We completely missed that.

I think that is a good question, whether it was illegal. I suspect not, simply in the sense that these things have not yet been encoded, and someone would have to sue I suppose. Maybe people in the know can clue us in. I have no doubt that this is happening all over the city, however.

I really hope his PCO is a good one. It all comes down to the technicians. If they phone it in, it’s all kind of hopeless, no matter how many visits they make, although making those follow-ups every two weeks is really crucial.

Finally, there seems to be two broad categories of experiencing the end of an infestation: those who see progressive improvement, starting with significant improvement after the first treatment, and those who just get hammered up until the end and then, as suddenly as the bites started, they stop.

2 nobugsonme November 16, 2007 at 2:14 am


Wonderful assessment. I agree with you on everything–and I suspect you are right about the legality.

I am skeptical about lawsuits in general, as you know. But I would not blame anyone for taking a landlord to court for knowingly subjecting tenants to this, if indeed that is the story.

3 angie November 16, 2007 at 1:57 pm

I can totally relate to Brown. We have been dealing with this for 5 months. Three sprays has made the problem less but not gone. We still see them on the walls, ceiling, floor, and even in the kitchen. And I believe that the landlord knew about ours also. There were 13 people living in our 3-bed before us with 11 beds that were trashed. Normally the landlord keeps all articles left behind and tries to sell them. The apartment was also infested with cockroaches. It is totally gross. My kids have no beds and most of our stuff is in the garage for fear it will become infested. I have even had to get a bed bug out of my sisters ear one night. Thats how bad these bugs are! What these bugs have cost us is our dignity and our pride.

4 hopelessnomo November 16, 2007 at 5:41 pm

Anonymous, “three sprays” in 5 months are not likely to do anything but annoy your bugs!

That’s terrible. You need to lobby for better treatment.

5 A L P January 5, 2009 at 2:30 am

i wouldn normally post things on websites but i am so angry that i have to tell someone else that dosnt no my situation
it is 6am here in the UK, and i am up as im itching, (i am a student and i have been home for 3 weeks for Xmas, and i have just come to my student flat tonight) only to turn the light on and find yet more bugs crawling on my walls, we have been in our flat since September living with them!!! and there not showing any signs of disappearing.

we went mad when we first discoverd we had them and the estate agnts were helpful, they claimed not to no anhthing but we have our doubts, so as 3 months has passed it has become increasingly difficult to get the agents to get our exterminator back, for the……i actually cant remember what visit this is, and when the exterminator does come he may as well not have bothered,

its ruined my first living out experiernce,
and although may sound a little pathetic to those who havnt experienced it, bt so emotional, weve had tears, anger and more tears

not to mention for the first month i had arms so bitten that it looked like scratched chicken pox, i had to cover my arms constantly (being a sport student its not easy) who knows what people thought it was it was very embarrassing, there was not one inch of my arms that hadnt been bitten and i found myself not living in my flat but staying with my boyfriend it gt so bad, but at the same time worrying id transfer them to his flat. they are UNBEARABLE,

i cant seem to find anything on tenants rights in the UK, if anyone knows of anything id appreciate it very much if you could post a link

again it is 6am in the UK and i am posting about bedbugs, thats how bad and unlivable it has gotten

6 A L P January 5, 2009 at 2:39 am

sorry just to add to anonymeses point, i totally sympathise with you, as i said i went back to my parents house over the xmas period, u can imagine the fiasco of checking for anything s that i didnt get transfered. as weve founf them in our matresses, ceiling, walls, folders—-yes our university work folders in the paper, drawrs, mirrors, on us! as for checking yo sisters ear, that has just confirmed something we were paranoid about, my flat mate even checks her underwear every day!!

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