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Leaving this nightmare behind

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  1. buggedoutinAB

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Wed Aug 5 2015 16:44:19
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    Hey all,
    I'm brand new to this site and just need some help from some of you people who have lived through this before.

    I just (2 weeks ago) moved into an apartment in Calgary. The second day I had been in my apartment I saw a bug crawling across one of my boxes that had yet to be unpacked. I squished it with a tissue and looked at it and thought "oh no". I should mention that prior to moving into this building I was going to rent a unit in another building only to be told on the day I was waiting for approval of my application, that a tenant in that building had bed bugs. Because of that, I thought I was just being crazy assuming that the bug I had discovered was a bb. I was super paranoid when going to bed at night, so was always checking my sheets/mattress/box spring for signs of bbs.
    On Thursday of last week, I discovered three red, itchy welts on my arm in the tell-tale line characteristic of bb bites and again thought "oh no", but figured maybe it was a mosquito bite or something else and tried to quiet my paranoia. Then, that evening as I was trying to fall asleep (insomnia had definitely taken over at this point due to my extreme anxiety) and for some reason I sat up in bed and caught one of the little bastards crawling away from me (I discovered approximately 5-8 bites on my abdomen the following day). I quickly squished it with a tissue and blood came out of it. I was so freaked out. I immediately ripped off my clothing and jumped in a hot shower and scrubbed myself and then put on new clothing (after thorough inspection) and left my apartment.
    I was living with my parents prior to this and my furniture has never been anywhere else, no recent travel etc. so I can only assume that the issue did not originate with me. I have been in touch with the rental company (who is notorious for bbs btw [I wish I would have known]) and they went in and did "an emergency spray" on Friday (they are not trained PCOs) and have a professional coming in on Monday August 10th to do an inspection of the building (my unit in particular) and plan treatments.
    I have notified them that I absolutely will not be continuing to live in this building as I don't trust that they will be able to eradicate the issue in the whole building and that I won't end up with bbs again in a few months (although I do know that this could happen anywhere, the fact that it has already happened here is too much for me). I know that no matter what I would be riddled with anxiety and paranoia all the time, and would never feel comfortable in my own home.
    Needless to say, I need some help from some of you in terms of how to move on from this nightmare. I'd like to know what you did if you moved away from the situation. What steps are necessary to leave bbs behind and to be certain that you are not going to bring them with you and infest your next home? I have read many FAQs and will also be asking the PCO for advice as well. I understand that clothing should all be laundered in hot water/dried on hot for 1 hour and bagged and removed. What about my furniture? What about shoes? Does everything in my apartment need to be treated (wiped, steamed, sprayed, heated) in some way prior to moving it?
    I've never experienced anything like this before and am feeling very overwhelmed by everything. I should mention I do not have a whole lot of disposable income to purchase equipment like a PackTite or anything.

    I need some kind words, words of encouragement and some help to move passed this. All of your help and advice is appreciated.

  2. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Wed Aug 5 2015 18:49:18
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    I wouldn't make any major decisions until you have the PCO come in. You need some sense from them as to how big of a problem it is, and you also need to know if they are going to inspect all attached neighbors.

    To be 100% sure you don't move any bed bugs, you do need to treat everything. We don't have a specific FAQ on moving but we do have a FAQ on getting bed bugs out of your belongings.

    Spraying things isn't very reliable in terms of treating everything you have.

    Heat is the most reliable method to kill bed bugs in stuff, and Vikane (where available) or heat can be used to treat a pod or truck containing furniture. If you can't afford a Packtite, though, this will surely be out of reach. DDVP (eg Nuvan Prostrips) may be an option for items which can be sealed in a closet or inside plastic bags, if available there.

    I think things may not be as bad as you think and it may be quite treatable. Being bit the first night doesn't necessarily mean it's a big bed bug infestation-- it could be very small.

    Also, the PCO/Management may deal with a lot of bed bugs but they may not be doing a bad job of it-- why not give them a chance.

    In some cases, if the situation is being properly managed (all attached units inspected, treatment done where necessary), it may be better to try and solve the problem there.

    Finally, if you see another bed bug, I would post a photo (or scan) if you can, just to get an expert to confirm.

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  3. buggedoutinAB

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Thu Aug 13 2015 11:24:41
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    The PCOs came in and did a treatment, but didn't address any of my questions and just gave me a sheet with instructions on how to prepare for treatment, but said that all clothing that is in closets and drawers is fine... can this really be true? They did figure out that the bugs were coming from another unit on my floor who apparently had them so bad, but just never reported them (HOW do you live like that?!). I haven't returned to the apartment except to launder a few items of clothing that are needed for work. I can't imagine staying in that apartment.
    I'm still feeling totally lost, and really have no idea what to do from here. I'm still left questioning what items of mine need to be treated and HOW they should be treated (items that can't be laundered/dried). The PCOs didn't tell me what areas of my apartment were affected; if the issue was only isolated to my bedroom or if there were other areas involved.
    I have a bunch of shoes at the bottom of my closet and I don't know if I'm supposed to treat them or not, and if I am, how am I supposed to treat them?
    The PCOs are coming back in two weeks to do another treatment, so I'm pleased that the issue was addressed quickly. I don't understand how people move forward from an event like this and stay in the same building. Does anyone have any experience with something like this? Has anyone ever had bbs treated in an apartment building and never seen them return? I'm just so skeptical that two treatments on my floor (possibly others) is really going to be enough to eradicate them once and for all (I've read so many horror stories on this forum and I just don't trust the treatments).
    Does anyone have any words of advice for me?

  4. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Thu Aug 13 2015 17:04:35
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    buggedoutinAB - 5 hours ago  » 

    I'm still feeling totally lost, and really have no idea what to do from here. I'm still left questioning what items of mine need to be treated and HOW they should be treated (items that can't be laundered/dried). The PCOs didn't tell me what areas of my apartment were affected; if the issue was only isolated to my bedroom or if there were other areas involved.
    I have a bunch of shoes at the bottom of my closet and I don't know if I'm supposed to treat them or not, and if I am, how am I supposed to treat them?

    I am sorry they did not give you more information. Perhaps you could call or if the landlord/management paid for treatment, perhaps ask them to call.

    I assume they inspected before treating?

    Some PCOs don't require treating clothing in minor cases. If that bothers you, you can dry clean clothing on hot for 1/2 hour. Clean clothing need not be rewashed. I stress that this is not a requirement, but if you're concerned, it may make you feel better. Laundry treated this way should be sealed in bags or airtight plastic containers until use.

    We have heard PCOs express concern about shoes stored under beds (like, just placed there). Shoes stored in the closet may be okay and it sounds like your PCO thinks so.

    Unless you are moving right now, I would not worry about treating all your stuff. If you do want to move, I'd wait and see how the treatment goes if possible as it can save you money. If you must move, there are ways to treat things we can suggest.

    The PCOs are coming back in two weeks to do another treatment, so I'm pleased that the issue was addressed quickly. I don't understand how people move forward from an event like this and stay in the same building. Does anyone have any experience with something like this? Has anyone ever had bbs treated in an apartment building and never seen them return?

    Yes-- in fact, I would venture that MOST people who live in a multi-unit building get rid of bed bugs for good. Sometimes we hear of a repeat case, but it's often years later (new introduction). A small minority of people seem to have a protracted situation, but it's often a neighbor who doesn't know they have bed bugs or isn't getting help, or some other local source.

    That said, there's no magical number of treatments. Some get rid of bed bugs in the first treatment, but 2-3 treatments is probably much more common and 4-5 is not unusual. Remember a lot depends on how many bed bugs you have, where they are, and what's been done already.

    I'm just so skeptical that two treatments on my floor (possibly others) is really going to be enough to eradicate them once and for all (I've read so many horror stories on this forum and I just don't trust the treatments).
    Does anyone have any words of advice for me?

    You're seeing a lot of "horror stories" but keep in mind most people here post a few times, their problem is solved and they never come back. Most people don't have a horror story. Believe me, I have talked to a lot of people I know in person as well as behind the scenes here.

    I wish everyone would come back and write a success story post, but many are having such a normal, busy life that they completely forget bed bugs before they do. (That's success too!) I hope you will come back and write your success story soon.

    Also, read horror stories critically-- in some of them, the person reports there is no visual evidence, or no new visual evidence that the problem is actually bed bugs. Bed bugs leave prominent visual evidence (fecal stains) so in cases where this isn't so, the problem is usually something else.

    In other cases, people have a building that is non-responsive (unlike yours), or live somewhere where tenants have to pay for treatment and can't afford it. This leads to disastrous consequences as you can imagine.

    Your building management seems to have responded quickly and I am assuming they are addressing the neighbor's issue.

    Did your PCO place any passive harborage or interceptor style bed bug monitors? If not, you may want to. Even if you were staying in the home, it may be hard to tell if they're still present. If you're not staying there, it seems more important.

    Most people stay in their homes during treatment and notice improvement after each treatment. Some PCOs claim their methods require someone to be living in the home to "draw bed bugs out" whereas others don't. You might ask about this also.

    Some PCOs have recommended using an active bed bug monitor in unoccupied bedrooms and other infested areas, so they may be drawn out without a person present.

  5. buggedoutinAB

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Wed Sep 2 2015 11:23:30
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    So I've come to the end of my nightmare (maybe... I wish someone would tell my anxiety that...). There had been two treatments done in my apartment and I was finally able to talk to the PCO that did the treatment in my apartment and he informed me that he actually only saw two BBs on my bed, and told me that the only reason I had a problem at all is because they had migrated into my apartment due to being crowded out of their original spot (ugh. oh my god.). He also answered a lot of other questions I had. I decided I couldn't stay in the building because of my anxiety, and know I wouldn't have been able to feel at home there and would have always been looking over my shoulder for monsters (yes, I'm referring to BBs... they've really made a huge impact despite their minute stature). Even being in there to pack things away (after steaming them and burning myself repeatedly in the process) I was losing my mind and felt like jumping out of my skin, so I broke the lease and moved my things out of the apartment and into a co-worker's garage.
    I've now found a new place and will be living with a roommate in a brand new townhome, but a part of me is terrified to bring anything that was in that apartment into my new place. All the furniture was treated with a "light spray" of the pesticide for both treatments, and I vacuumed out the crevices of all my furniture as well as steamed all of it.
    I guess I'm just having a really hard time believing that it's all over and that I'll be able to live a BB free life.
    I spoke to the manager of the pest control company to ask if there was anything else that needed to be done and she said that the PCO who worked on my building was "the best they had" and that he "doesn't leave anything to chance" and is "pretty thorough". She said not to worry so much about where I'm coming from, but where I'm going.

    The point of this post (other than looking for some words of wisdom and encouragement) is to ask are there any preventative measures I should be taking prior to moving into a new place? My boxspring and mattress have been encased, I threw out all my old bedding aside from my duvet and one pillow which have been through the dryer, every single piece of clothing I own has been put through the dryer bone-dry for 1 hour, I have steamed all my shoes and furniture (even the wooden pieces) and purses/bags/luggage, I wiped all feet of furniture with Clorox wipes and bought all new boxes to pack items away. I also threw away the vacuum I used during my stay in the apartment.
    Should I continue to steam furniture? Should I have the townhome pre-treated by PCOs prior to moving in? Have I lost my mind entirely?!
    Does anyone have any personal stories about when this hypervigilant-type behaviour started to subside?

    Thank you all in advance. This forum has been a wonderful platform for me during this ordeal.

  6. Montrealer2

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Wed Sep 2 2015 12:22:24
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    Oy - I feel for you. I am in the midst of my own DDVP'ing attempt after the PCO co. my bldg. hired did two treatments and one 10-minute "inspection" post-treatments. I can't be sure if I am still being bitten (latent response, etc.), and since this was the only thing the PCOs said would indicate more bugs, I have gone the DDVP route.
    I can only add that I hope this will be enough for me. And, though I am not an expert, so this is just my opinion, the precautions you have taken in moving out/moving in seem to point to a pretty good chance for success in your own battle.
    If I had a steamer, btw, I'd do preventive sweeps of all baseboards and furniture/upholstery every few months.
    As for preventive PCO treatments, I am pretty sure they don't do that (or they shouldn't, if they're qualified pros). Unless we're talking about the less lethal leave-behinds (DE, etc.), PCOs won't go full Rambo with contact killers unless there is something to, well, kill on contact.
    As for anxiety and hypervigilance: As Nobugs noted, those who have moved on from their fights might move on from this site, which I imagine would not be the case if they continued to seek/need support and help.
    So, for you and for me (and for all, let's hope), there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

  7. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Thu Sep 3 2015 0:37:45
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    It's possible to get a moving truck or pod treated with Vikane gas (depending where you are) or to get items treated in a heated trailer. These methods aren't cheap.

    DDVP with items in bags sealed in an airtight manner is a more low-cost option.

    Here's another idea: if you can find a reputable bed bug dog team in your area where the handler always attempts to visually verify dog alerts by searching for the visual evidence (the only kind of k9 handler forum experts have recommended, per our FAQ on bed bug dogs), you could theoretically have them onsite when you're about to move in to first verify the new home is bed bug free, and then check the items in the truck (or as they come out).

    You'd have to give some thought to and ask the handler about logistics-- items should not be sealed in plastic, for example, but this might help allay your concerns.

    Are any of these necessary? They might not be. Monitoring in the new place is a good idea, regardless. If you ever do find them and the problem is detected early as in this case, it usually is not hard to get rid of.

    That said, if this is causing a lot of stress and your budget/time allow for any of those options, maybe it will help you relax.


    "Does anyone have any personal stories about when this hypervigilant-type behaviour started to subside? "

    In my experience, it helps to accept your anxiety, try and make a plan for how to address any legitimate causes for concern (eg like moving) and then do it. As you experience your plan working, the anxiety should lesson.

    In my own case, as an example, it was very stressful to stay in hotels, post-bed bugs. Learning to search a room helped. And knowing that if I did this, there could be a small problem I couldn't detect, but it would be small, and not some horror show. Moreover, I knew the steps I'd take at home (Packtite on luggage, dryer on clothes, etc.) would cover the slight possibility of exposure.

    As I did this, each time, it got better. Step by step.

    That said, many here have sought help from a counselor or other mental health professional and this may help you move along from the hypervigilance also.

  8. buggedoutinAB

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Thu Sep 3 2015 12:50:33
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    I live in Calgary, AB and I haven't found any companies that do the truck treatments like you suggested, and this whole ordeal has been very costly already. The few that I have contacted have said that it's likely not necessary as they say that my problem was not that bad once I explain everything to them.
    It seems to me like my problem was VERY light at most. I saw 4 dead BBs when I was packing up to leave and no other signs of them anywhere. But I'm scared I missed some eggs or something or didn't vacuum or steam something well enough. I would just DIE if anything followed me into my new home, especially since I'll now be living with someone else.
    I am having such a hard time believing that this is all over even though I have taken tons of extra precautions that likely weren't necessary (which is what the owner of the pest control company told me) and I just feel like I should be doing more! I have that awful feeling like they're crawling all over me all the time even though I'm out of the apartment and have been for over a month now and have had no bites or seen any signs of them since leaving-- but I'm still constantly itching and every time I feel a hair brush up against me I freak out.


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