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Fighting bedbugs in infested apartment complex - Help!

(7 posts)
  1. cupcakeworthy

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    Posted 3 weeks ago
    Sun Sep 30 2018 20:46:21
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    Hello fellow sufferers. I think it's time to share my story here.

    I'm living in Seattle, alone, in an old, 60-unit apartment building. It's three stories high and all of the units are connected. I am on the bottom floor.

    Timeline:

    Friday 9/14 - Noticed three bug bites on my upper thigh, itchy red welts. Bed bugs did cross my mind, but because I have yet to seen any, I naively assumed they were from mosquitoes and went about my life.

    Wednesday 9/26 - Spent the day home from work in bed, sick with a fever. Around 2pm As I was waking up from a nap, I noticed a bug crawling up my chest. Pinched it between my fingers to kill it, then looked at it closer. ID'd it as an adult male bed bug. Having read about bed bug horror stories, this was easily one of the worst moments of my life.

    I pulled the bed away from the wall, methodically checked my entire mattress, frame, and surrounding furniture. I have an entirely foam mattress, no box spring, and a simple metal frame. I forgot to check the headboard or remove it from the bed. (Big mistake, as you will see.) Found no signs of living or dead bugs. Found a few blood spots, but could also have been from old shaving cuts. I put all my clothes/bedding into plastic bins and did two loads of laundry that night. I also put smooth packing tape around the legs of my bed frame and headboard to prevent them from getting to me.

    Spent all night awake on the bedbug subreddits and these forums, and convinced myself it was most likely a lone hitchhiker. I take public transportation daily so I could have gotten one there. I hoped that would be the end of it. (Wrong.) But to be safe, I ordered Cimexa and a mattress encasement.

    Thursday 9/27 - Noticed several small, itchy bites on my wrist in the morning.
    My lone hitchhiker theory didn't seem so convincing anymore, and by the time I got home, I had worked myself into extreme paranoia. I searched the baseboards behind by bed and found an extremely suspicious area. I photographed it and sent it to the landlord, along with a picture of the bed bug I had found, asking him to send out a PCO to get this taken care of ASAP.

    My mattress encasement had arrived from Amazon so I encased the mattress, and also finally detached the headboard. Following the advice of someone on Reddit, I also placed plastic sheeting underneath the mattress as an extra barrier.

    Friday 9/28 - No new bites, no signs of any bug activity in my bed. The Cimexa had arrived by the time I got home, so I loaded up my duster and went to town. I tore apart my whole bedroom. The bare mattress, the frame, the drawers of the nightstand, windowsill, baseboard heater, closet, doorways, any outlets, electronics, all got coated in Cimexa. I went in with a fine-toothed comb and made sure to get the powder into every nook and cranny, screw head, and seam.

    As I was treating the headboard (upholstered) I found another adult bedbug, along with a molt, hiding in the seam of the backing. I photographed it, doused the area with rubbing alcohol, and emailed the picture to the landlord. Looks like a female this time.

    I was pissed off at this point, to find them actually living in my furniture, much of which is new. I've only lived here two months, and have already been dealing with a cockroach infestation. On a hunch, I went upstairs to the leasing office and snooped into the dropbox on the outside door where tenants drop off work orders for management. To my horror, two other tenants had dropped off forms complaining about bed bugs. Both of them live on other floors. I also now recall, shortly after I first moved in, seeing a mattress and upholstered furniture in the dumpster. Not good.

    Saturday 9/29 - I put tape around the perimeter of the ceiling in my bedroom, in case they resort to trying to climb walls and drop down on things. I have not yet heard back from my landlord.

    Sunday (today) - More laundry. More tape, on the legs of furniture in the living room. Exhaustion - unable to sleep very well. Still no word from the landlord.

    I find myself at a crossroads regarding how to proceed. I have furniture arriving from an out-of-state storage unit later this week. I do not want to move it in unless I am positive this can be taken care of before then. However, I don't have much hope. The landlord is cheap when it comes to pests, I've already gone through four treatments for the roaches with NO success. The only way I've found to control the roach population in my unit is with Advion gel, which I purchased myself. (However I still see them in the hallways of the building.)

    I'm also beginning to look into breaking my lease, though I don't have much money and I'm not sure I'd be allowed to do so legally. I'll have to work with the state tenant union and health inspectors if it comes to that. But if I can get rid of the bedbugs in my unit and stay here, it would save me a ton of hassle and money. It just feels so impossible if it is indeed effecting the whole building, and the pest company hired by the landlord is incompetent. My lease won't be up until April.

    Do I stay and hold the fort, at least in regards to my own belongings, or do I fight (and potentially lose a ton of money, which I don't have) to break the lease and move?

    Right now, I'm praying that the Cimexa, combined with isolating my furniture, will be enough to stop the infestation at least in my own unit. It seems that people online have found it to be extremely successful. I'm just not sure how successful it can be in an infested building with incompetent PCO's. I have also alerted one of my next door neighbors who shares a wall with my bedroom. He said he hasn't noticed anything, but admits he hasn't been looking either. (I am sure he is looking now!)

    I'm also praying that the bug I found in the headboard was the only one infesting my furniture, and all the others are in the baseboard, if there are indeed more. I'm far too squeamish to lift up the carpet myself. I'll just have to wait and see what the PCO discovers.

    I thought the roaches were bad, but this is a nightmare. I feel like I can't relax for even a second. I'm plagued with thoughts of these bugs, where they might be, and also worries of money issues if I have to end up moving. I already suffer from severe depression/anxiety so this is not helping at all. Plus I live alone, I just moved to this city by myself, and have no one to help me or even to talk to in person about it. It's been so hard. I just wish life would cut me a break for once. I've resorted to heavy drinking and daily anxiety pills to cope, and I just can't go on like this for much longer.

    If anyone can give me some encouragement or support, or advice, I would really appreciate it.

  2. Chronic

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    Posted 3 weeks ago
    Sun Sep 30 2018 21:55:49
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    I can't offer much advice, but encouragement I can do. Don't turn to drugs and alcohol to cope- those will drain your finances faster than the bugs. Take a moment and remember - these are just bugs. BigDummy was just reminding me the other day while I was failing to cope with my anxiety - they don't spread disease, and they won't kill you. They are very inconvenient and a nuisance, but very survivable. The itching will one day stop. You don't want to have your cause of death be related to an insect like this.

    There's a page that Nobugsonme supplied for people with depression and suicidal thoughts. Check it out if things are getting too hard. It sounds like this is a very difficult time in your life and that these bugs are just about the last straw. But as bad as things are now, you will survive it and things will get better.

  3. cupcakeworthy

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    Posted 3 weeks ago
    Mon Oct 1 2018 1:58:16
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    Thank you for your response. The bites I can handle, but you're right, this problem is just the last straw of non-stop stressors that have been happening this year. I've been doing the best I can to deal with it all, but I'm getting to the point where I'm exhausted and just want off the rollercoaster. I am not to the point of feeling suicidal over this, but I'm beginning to have emotional breakdowns. I've worked so hard to get where I am, I work two jobs at minimum wage. My only solace is feeling at peace in my own home, so that I can rest and recharge from all the chaos. These bugs have taken even that away from me.

  4. Chronic

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    Posted 3 weeks ago
    Mon Oct 1 2018 6:07:31
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    It is a difficult thing, not feeling safe or at peace in your own home. I found this thread comforting in many ways while struggling with my own paranoia. I also found mentally framing the problem like mosquitos helped to calm me down.

  5. BigDummy

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    Posted 2 weeks ago
    Mon Oct 1 2018 10:44:27
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    I would document everything and if the building manager is unable to eradicate the bed bug issue you might be able to come to a mutual agreement and terminate the lease without any penalty, and without any headache for the management.

    Killer of bed bugs for Homeless Empowerment Program
  6. cupcakeworthy

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    Posted 2 weeks ago
    Tue Oct 2 2018 19:32:36
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    Update: The landlord agreed to allow me to break my lease! Hooray! I have even applied for an apartment for November 1st, so a month from now. The new place has 6 units to a building, and buildings are isolated from each other, which will limit pests. The management there seems much better about upkeep in general.

    My current paranoia is that I am still getting bites even after isolating my bed. I have made my bed impenetrable - there's no way they are biting me while I'm in bed. I put my bedding through the dryer every night, for 60 mins on high heat. There's a plastic barrier as well as dusted packing tape preventing them from breaching the bed frame. The mattress itself is encased. I shower right before I get into bed. They aren't climbing the walls, I've dusted them and placed tape barriers.

    Where are the new bites coming from? The only other place I spend time is 1-2 hours a day at my desk, in the living room...quite far from my bedroom. I have not checked my desk thoroughly yet as I believed them contained to the bedroom. I will be checking it when I get home.

    The newest pair of bites, near my elbow, I noticed for the first time around 3:30pm today while I was sitting at work.

    Could this have been a delayed reaction to older bites? I do not believe they are getting to me at work. I also work in a different desk within the office almost every day so it's very unlikely. No one else at the office complains about bites, and I have asked everyone.

    Also, how do I protect my stuff from spreading the infestation when I move, if I can't afford exterminators?
    I am so paranoid I'll take them with me! I'm going to buy more plastic bins on my way home today and put EVERYTHING I own into plastic bins until I move, coated with Cimexa on all sides, top and bottom. Anything I wear or take outside with will go straight into the dryer, then into a clean plastic bin.

    Does anyone have any other advice for salvaging my stuff when I move? And can anyone explain why I'm still getting bites? Is it stress-related, delayed reaction, another kind of bug, or are they elsewhere?

    This is absolute hell.

  7. TerribleTiming

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    Posted 2 weeks ago
    Thu Oct 4 2018 23:38:07
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    I've been there. I promise, everything is gonna be okay. The stress is definitely only making it worse. Since I began dealing with bed bugs I've been put in so many ridiculous situations. At this point, I'm doing my best to laugh at it. I live in literally the only state that doesn't have habitability laws. Keep vigilant about your treatment, but fine time to enjoy yourself somehow. So many people have been through this and I wish more people talked about it. It would help lessen the shame and fear that surrounds it. I hope you're okay and there's a lot of very helpful people on here.


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