July 30, 2012 by rebelwithalabelmaker
We have gotten into a flea treating groove over here. Every morning we wake up very early before the heat of the day, and we wash all the bedding and dust and vacuum all floors and soft furniture. You need to understand that between the mass of insects and the part where I keep a spotless house, we are now only two horses short of an apocalypse. And that's not counting all the tornadoes.
After the cleaning, we spray with chemicals. Don't worry, they are very safe chemicals. Safe enough to eat, unless you are a cat, which none of us are. Apparently safe if you are a bug, too–because by midmorning we have bites all over.
Also, when they say "safe" they only mean safe to eat, inhale, or get on your skin. They do not mean safe to walk on. Slippery. Cancer from insecticide: zero. Bruises on butt from insecticide: many.
That part of the routine was about a two hour event, each day (and another hour at night). But we kept our spirits up by singing motivating songs, mostly composed by Eric, such as:
Good bye fleas,
It's time for you to leave
Away you all must fly
Learn the meaning of good bye
Eric helps tidy. Anthony runs around the room swinging his sword and yelling "Fleas! You must pay the ultimate price!"
Really, the only thing missing from this great ritual was a decrease in the rate of being bitten. After a couple of weeks of this not working, I was getting very nervous. With no pets and no carpet, a regimen such as this should have worked. Especially with all the sword waving. We had ruled out scabies–the bites were not in the right places, and the bugs were clearly coming out of the carpet. It wasn't bed bugs, either. Gary (who saw tons of bedbugs working in Africa) had done a full inspection. Also, the bite pattern of being bitten mostly during the day–often lying in the middle of a room not near any bedding–ruled out bedbugs.
And then yesterday morning, I saw a beetle on my pillow and crushed it and a bunch of blood came out of it. And I thought "that's a lot of blood for a beetle" and wondered if it came by that blood honestly, and I looked on the box spring and found two more beetles which I put in a tic tac container and the internet says that Gary is very much mistaken. Bed bugs.
So I called my son David and told him that the good news is that when I officiate his wedding in three weeks I will not be carrying fleas.
I am hard to please. When I had mice at the old house (THREE TIMES), I whined. When the mice of the old house became fleas of the new house, I whined and was nostalgic for the mice. Now that the fleas have become bed bugs, I am determined not to whine or succumb to flea nostalgia. Having looked at the pattern I am pretty sure that the universe is attempting to teach me not to complain about my lot in life. And, extrapolating from the pattern, the next lesson would have to be velociraptors.
And nothing rhymes with velociraptors. How would we make fun exterminating songs?
So, here are my notes on positive thinking during bed bug infestations, which I share in the hopes that others may be encouraged and inspired if they are dealing with bugs of their own. Also, since a significant portion of the readers of this blog know me in person, if you are dealing with bed bugs of your own I'm really sorry and I will understand if you stop inviting me to parties. Also, now you can stop complaining about having to get vaccinated for hep A last fall after coming over to our house for parties. Free hep A shots from public health–you don't find that on the "take home party favours" section of the Martha Stewart website, but I think it is a practical and unique gift. Way better than bed bugs. Or velociraptor eggs.
Back to the keeping your spirits up:
Spirit maintaining technique #1: If you have to do it, do it well. See my beautiful baskets of laundry all lined up for the washer? Martha Stewart Magazine will want to feature this, I'm sure. Because I checked their website and they are very sparse on articles about treating bed bug infestation, which is odd because they have articles on stenciling designs on your toilet paper. Somebody in the prioritization department is not doing a very good job.
Spirit maintaining technique #2: Listen to CBC. I was a Unitarian who didn't listen to CBC until very recently. I decided to start during the moving and the flea renovations and have continued through the bedbugs because:
a) I am an extrovert and I need the company and everyone seems to be not coming over so much lately, and
b) there is an off chance that these many plagues are a message from a Unitarian deity who is punishing me for the blasphemy of not listening to CBC. In any case, I have been listening to it non-stop, which means that I am finally keeping up with the news. And I have to tell you, the news is highly over rated. It is mostly about people being shot in Colorado or people being shot in Toronto or the anniversary of people being shot in Norway. Interspersed with occasional clips of politicians talking about gun control, and the updates on Syria. Pretty much the only thing I can say that I like about being so informed about what is going on in the world (which is code for "knowing in great detail about who all is getting shot") is that it makes me feel better about having bed bugs, by comparison. Which leads to…
Spirit maintaining technique #3: Gratitude. Things I am grateful for:
a) Bed bugs do not carry disease. Fleas do. My psychosomatic bubonic plague symptoms have all abated, which is good because let me tell you that psychosomatic bubonic plague is no picnic. It's even worse that psychosomatic typhoid fever.
b) Beautiful new floor! Courtesy of bed bugs masquerading as fleas. They didn't exactly do the work per se, but they did do the motivating…
c) I have finally gained back all of the fitness I lost with the hep A. You see, when you have hepatitis A, all the sitting very still and not wanting to eat causes you to lose tons of fat and muscle. I have never been unfit in my whole life, so that was very weird. And I waited and waited for the fitness to come back, until it was gently pointed out to me that fitness doesn't come back from waiting and waiting. Which isn't really true for our family, who have these strange muscle building genetics where if we so much as glance as a set of weights our biceps grow. Also, if we so much glance at cheesecake, our butts grow. I think. I don't know, I have never actually only glanced at cheesecake.
Anyway, apparently you have less testosterone after liver problems (well, occasionally that happens), so I was having trouble rebuilding my fitness, no matter how long I waited. Because of that testosterone thing. Which totally must have happened to me.
And then when the bed bugs arrived, and it turns out they are excellent little personal trainers. If you sit down, they bite you. If you look at my arms and legs, you will see that I did a fair bit of sitting before figuring this out, which necessitated applying steroid cream in amounts large enough that I would squelch when I moved. Which was now every second of every day.
Me: Look at my biceps! Those steroid creams sure work.
Gary: Those creams are external, and an extremely low concentration of…
Me: THERE IS AN UPSIDE TO THIS BED BUG INFESTATION AND IT IS THAT I AM BETTER FROM THE HEP A AND DON'T CROSS ME BECAUSE ALL THE STEROIDS ARE MAKING ME JUMPY!!!!
Gary: Okay, fine. The steroids are clearly awesome. Did you know that never sitting down enhances the effect of steroids? As does moving an entire house in one weekend by yourself because you "can't wait for the movers because they can't come for two days and that is too long". But remember you can overexer–
Me: Do you think I can learn to pee without sitting down?
Gary: By the way, did you tell people that you moved our whole house by yourself? Because I distinctly remember saying I thought we should hire movers, and people seem to think I made you–
Me: I didn't tell anyone anything like that.
Me: I may have posted something like that on the internet.
Me: I don't know why you read the Globe and Mail and not my blog. My blog is way more pertinent. And there are no guns. Which, come to think of it, might be a problem when the velociraptors arrive.
Gary: When was the last time you slept?