Nicholas Brown’s Bedbug Chronicles, Part 7

by nobugsonme on November 28, 2007 · 6 comments

in bed bug treatment, how to get rid of bed bugs, journalists with bed bugs, new york, new york city, pest control

Nicholas Brown: The Bedbug Chronicles: Part 7 – Living on The Huffington Post

The same day that we ask, with Rene Laraine, what might be causing his bed bugs to persist despite nine bed bug treatments by licensed PCOs, Nicholas Brown brings to mind similar concerns.

Brown, chronicling his bed bug experience on the Huffington Post, is now well past his seventh week. He has had five treatments (so treatment intervals are not the problem in this case). He is planning treatment six, the last one before he moves.

Again, I would bet money on the neighbors as source.

Like many of us, on this blog that was originally dubbed “Your foxhole, in the war against bed bugs” by its avowedly pacifist creator (yes, people, that’s how much I hate bed bugs), Brown mobilizes the war metaphors for his final assault:

Day 52

There comes a time in most insurgencies when you should cut your losses and leave. Maybe the enemy was more persistent than you imagined; maybe he was better at hiding; or maybe the weapons you used against him were inadequate. In any case, no one has ever accused the United States of pulling out of a conflict too early. And while I am all for America, I dont wish to repeat her mistakes.

I have returned from the farm and the squalor that confronts me confirms that the bedbugs are winning in our apartment. Yes, we have inflicted casualties. Yes, we have damaged their infrastructure. But at the end of the day, there are more of them than there are of us and we cannot win their hearts and minds. Moreover, there is great suspicion within the building that our downstairs neighbors are harboring bedbugs. Despite several requests, they have refused sprayings in their apartment. The bugs, we suspect, hide downstairs until the toxins in our place wear off and then return in greater strength. We can only assume they have training camps. We are keeping diplomatic channels open, but are not optimistic about pacifying either our apartment or the one below us.

We are calling in one more spraying, but the backbone has fallen out of our effort and we do not expect success. Our departure wont involve an embassy swamped with desperate refugees, but it will involve the horrid logistics of moving, made all the more awful by the necessity of inspecting and poisoning or freezing every item before it is packed away. Its a depressing thought, but honestly not all that much more work than washing, drying and sealing away all your clothing and papers and other possessions. Now come the slow logistics of apartment hunting, brokers fees, and long Saturdays devoted to subway rides and open houses. We are optimistic though. In the neon-lit consumerism of the new American Christmas, minor commercial miracles happen all the time. Uncle Bob might get some nose trimmers from the Airmall catalog; Delores might tip a busboy; and cousin Herbie may finally give in to those Debeers commercials and propose to that on-again off-again cocktail waitress he has been seeing for years. And maybe, just maybe, we will find our own minor Christmas miracle: a small apartment thats reasonably priced, relatively clean, and blessedly uninfested.

Unfortunately, we’ve heard from readers who moved almost nothing, took extreme precautions, and nevertheless brought bed bugs with them. In some cases, they chose new, equally infested quarters. Maybe they even rented a truck with bed bugs. But in most cases, they probably simply managed to move their bed bug despite precautions.

It’s worth moving during treatment, and treating at the other end. Yes, anonymous poster who raves when we mention pre-emptive treatment, we know “preventive” treatment isn’t supposed to work. But we know too many nice people who felt they had to pay for treatment in their new digs. This isn’t preventive, it’s reactive.

Good luck to Nicholas Brown. Unlike Amanda’s saga on Apartmenttherapy, I do hope we get to hear the end of the story.

1 hopelessnomo November 29, 2007 at 11:30 pm

I’m hopelessly biased but I’m convinced that treating in the new apartment is the way to do it.

We are often told, and we tell others, although I think I’m going to stop doing that, that one can opt for commodity fumigation (Vikane) but even that is in no way foolproof.

I hope he makes it! He’s done an incredibly service to all of us by writing about his bedbug troubles.

2 parakeets December 2, 2007 at 3:15 pm

It was only “Day 52” and he decides to leave? Luckily he has the money, time and other resources to move, and also doesn’t seem too concerned about moving while he still has an active bedbug infestation. But somehow I wish solving the bedbug problem (in his case–did he really solve it?) wouldn’t be dependent on factors such as his wallet and wealth of other resources. He was a spokesman. How are the poor in public housing and such going to solve it when they face the same problem? What about people who can’t afford to move? What about people who hardly have the time to bag and bag and bag, let alone wash and wash and wash, and replace items that have to be tossed? Who speaks for those burdened with bedbugs? This guy has opted out.

3 hopelessnomo December 2, 2007 at 4:34 pm

Hi Parakeets,

I think you and I can’t be objective on this subject.

Yes, Nicholas Brown may move bedbugs with him when/if he moves. And new tenants will rent his apartment and get bedbugs themselves. Perhaps they too will move. And thus the epidemic.

I think most people react with horror and disbelief the moment they get bites after a PCO treatment. When that happens over and over again, can you blame them for wanting out? And deciding how many treatments constitute failure before giving up examining the remaining options must be a very personal process.

I understand your concern for the people who cannot move and for the people who don’t have the resources to fight, but you are making unwarranted assumptions about the people who do opt out, as you put it. I can assure you that wealth and resources and ‘lack of concern’ are all things that you are imputing to him and perhaps to others. Is that the case? If you personally knew him or me, then you might be able to say.

Not everyone is willing to sacrifice their own health and happiness in an interminable fight against bedbugs. Some situations and some buildings are lost causes. The people who can leave, will. When they leave, their apartments will be rented in a cycle until there are tenants who don’t care or don’t have the resources to move out. Unfair? You bet.

But I propose that in a truly intractable situation, there is no honor in staying. There is only misery. To pretend otherwise is to be willfully blind to your own rights to safety and happiness. It’s meaningless self-sacrifice.

And who speaks for those burdened with bedbugs? Don’t we all, here, every day?

4 nobugsonme December 3, 2007 at 12:55 am

While I think people do need to put in a good fight, Nicholas Brown has had seven treatments in those 52 days. That’s almost an unheard-of one treatment per week. And he has reason to think neighbors are infested and refusing treatment. Under those conditions, if the landlord is not going to force the neighbor to be treated, then he just has to cut his losses and get out.

Earlier installments gave me the sense Brown was not particularly well-to-do (he had two roommates until the bed bugs cleared the place out). I don’t think moving is easy in this case.

I do think it also speaks well for the cause of those with bed bugs, that people realize treatment can be really difficult. I am glad Brown’s readers have a new appreciation for the horror of bed bugs: he did the laundry, he had seven treatments, his roommate was driven away, and now he has to move. What better testament to the nightmare of bed bugs in multi-unit housing? It does not take much imagination for the reader to consider the fate of those who can’t move.

(Luckily, though, Joe Fiorito of The Star in Toronto is covering that angle… you can see some of his articles linked in articles here.)

5 parakeets December 3, 2007 at 1:05 pm

Hopelessnomo and nobugs–I realize I did color this person’s decision to move based on my own experiences. I don’t know this guy so I should not have judged his situation. However, I personally think it might not be all that unusual for a multi-unit building to be treated multiple times over 52 days (less than 2 months) and still have bedbugs. I think other people besides this Huffington poster are giving it two months and then dealing with the problem by moving out–while they still have bedbugs. Bedbugs are spreading in NYC, as nobugs said, “like wildfire.”

6 nobugsonme February 27, 2008 at 1:49 pm

3 months later, no word on whether treatment #6 did it for Brown–a fire in the interim no doubt took precedence in his mind and writing. But now he and roommate Jihad are moving to a co-op Brown purchased.

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