An American with Bedbugs
As a young woman in Texas, I had never confronted the bedbug problem. My friends were clean, didn’t travel that much and I lived in a small college town. I had never even heard any of my townspeople mention bedbugs.
But my struggle was one of multiple months to come.
One night, after having cleaned my sheets quite late, my boyfriend and I went to make the bed. But low and behold, while we were readying the mattress sheet, I saw a small reddish bug scuttling on the edge of the mattress! A hot sweat overtook my body when I saw it… BEDBUG. I knew it strait away. I had seen pictures and had heard a relative talk about them. I immediately took a phone picture and emailed it to my relative in France. It was late here and a little less late over there so I got a quick response.
She is the founder and owner of Dogscan, and with just that one simple picture she confirmed my horrible doubts. It was the cursed bug that I had found; blood sucking, mattress living, emotionally wrecking, tiny bug. Here started my fight to get rid of them.
Julie from Dogscan immediately sent me a protocol on how to manage the problem and talked me through the steps I would have to take during the next couple of months.
Here are the hardest things she told me:
- Stay in your apartment, sleep in your bed, use your couches
- Do not try to let this affect your daily life
- CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN
These three particular ideas were difficult to manage emotionally and physically.
Knowing I needed to continue sleeping in an infected mattress was emotionally taxing. I wore long pants, overlapping socks, long sleeve shirts and a beany to bed. It is difficult to describe the feeling a person gets when they know it is necessary to sleep in a bed with vermin. To know that if you do not continue your routine, the bugs will follow you around and infect other parts of your home, or worst go see next door and infect your neighbors apartment. You feel dirty and contaminated, and every night before going to bed, you dread sleep, knowing you are food for invisible insects. One of the proactive measures we took before going to bed, was to plug in the iron and use it and it’s steam to heat up our bed and hopefully fry the bugs before going to sleep. Steam is a great way to exterminate the creepy crawlers since it kills them on contact. It also kills their eggs.
The second point was also very difficult; to not let this affect my daily life. Not sleeping affects everyone’s daily life. I worked over 40 hours a week, my boyfriend was in school and we both had problems staying chipper. We were open about our problem and some of our friends refused to come and visit, which we naturally completely understood. We were very careful with the clothes we wore, and how we interacted with others. As a waitress, I was also very conscious about my work clothes since I talked and was in presence of others all day. When I would get back from work I would put my clothes in a trash bag or wash them directly in order to prevent any potential bugs getting into them. This took a toll on our quality of life.
The cleaning was definitively the easiest part but as an artist I had accumulated a lot of things in our little apartment. Staying on top of all the laundry and making sure all of our belongings were separated and cleaned individually was difficult. We took all of our books out of the bookshelves and put them in boxes, anything that could not be washed we steamed, dried, or even froze (such as silks). We lived for a couple of months out of boxes and trash bags, being careful of what we did and where we went. On the long run it was exhausting and very stressful.
I am so grateful she gave me her protocol. If I hadn’t gotten her instructions, we probably wouldn’t have been able to get rid of the problem. We organized a treatment with the apartment complex. The only procedure the pest control company gave us, was to put all our furniture and belongings in the middle of the room. But to prepare we actually washed all of our linens and laundry, dried everything, put them in trash bags and sealed them shut. We also put all of our books and electronics in our cars (Texas in summer) to make sure we cooked the bloodsuckers.
One of the big issues we had was the fact we were moving. Our move date was right between the two treatments. That caused a problem for us because we knew our belongings weren’t going to be treated a second time. To counter act this, we threw out our old bed and couch, which had the worst of the infestation and put everything else in our cars for several days, almost a week, in order to do a heat treatment.