You aren’t off to a very good start.
My son came home from college for the holidays.
Apparently, he brought bedbugs home with him.
Like most American college campuses, his school has been fighting against them valiantly. As parents, we’ve gotten notifications of bedbug infestations in the dorms and steps the university has taken to eradicate them. (By the way, those steps include bedbug sniffing dogs, temporarily closing dorms while they chemically and heat treat them, etc., etc.)
Bedbugs are a major problem on most college campuses right now. They’ve made the cover of Time magazine and been on the national news too.
On Sunday night my son complained of a rash.
I took a look; I thought it looked like a rash too. He had small red bumps on his leg in no particular pattern. Because of the college warnings, I checked his sheets “just in case” and saw none of the telltale signs of bedbugs. (By the way, the sheets in our house are changed weekly and always washed in hot water and dried in a hot dryer.)
On Monday my son went to a local doctor and was given a prescription for a cortisone cream. The doctor did NOT think my son had been bitten by bedbugs; we asked. (Apparently bedbug bites are most often in a pattern, but my son’s were random. Maybe he got bit by a confused bedbug?)
On Monday night my OTHER, younger, son woke up itchy.
On Tuesday my college-aged son said, “I got bit on the ass last night!”
All of this led up to yesterday afternoon, when I pulled out a giant magnifying glass to examine a couple small spots I saw on his mattress pad, and found – oh shit! Bedbugs in my son’s bed!
Or as I now call them, The Little Fuckers.
(By the way, we found no evidence of bedbugs in my younger son’s bedroom. However, since he said he felt itchy we’re assuming at least one has found its way to his room. The babies are translucent and the size of a grain of salt – easy to miss!)
I’m horrified, of course.
I don’t have a single bite on me, but I can’t stop my imaginary itches.
I’m also overwhelmed at what needs to be done to get them out of my house. Don’t The Little Fuckers know I only have one working arm? Don’t they know my husband is out of town and why, oh why, is he always out of town for every home crisis? (Speaking of, I always figured if we got bedbugs we’d get them from one of Briefcase’s many business trips – isn’t life ironic?)
Let me tell you what I’ve done so far.
First, I freaked out. (!!!)
Next, I told my son (who feels TERRIBLE) he did nothing wrong and it isn’t his fault. He had no idea a bedbug or two sneaked home in his suitcase. It breaks my heart to see him feeling so badly about something he had no control over. I did tell him I would need his help though, because now we have a lot of work to do and I only have one arm to do it with.
I also told Twitter about my discovery, because my friends on Twitter are VERY helpful and have a wealth of knowledge. While Twitter advice was coming in, I called two pest control companies – both of which will be showing up today to do a home inspection and give me an estimate on their services. I’ve been warned it will cost thousands of dollars and possibly involve a total fumigation/tenting of our house.
From my phone conversations with the two pest companies, I’m already finding one of them more helpful than the other. Nonetheless, I’m going to get (at least) two opinions and two estimates on eradicating the The Little Fuckers from my house.
Next, I washed all of my son’s bedding in hot water and put it in our dryer, on the hottest setting, for an hour. While the laundry was going, I ran to Target and bought mattress covers specifically made for allergy protection. (These covers provide excellent protection against bedbugs.)
I vacuumed my son’s mattress and then pulled out my home steamer and steamed it. Yes, I do have a home steamer although I’ve rarely used it since my car accident. It takes arm power to operate it, but I have my son here to help.
High temperatures and steam are supposed to kill bedbugs. If any of them survived the steaming, they will be “trapped” in the mattress by the new mattress cover and eventually die.
Or so I’ve been told.
It was right about then, a Twitter friend informed me she had battled bedbugs in her home for one year before getting rid of them. She told me what she did right and what she did wrong in the process. She also informed me I needed to put the same type of mattress cover I had just bought on all the box springs in the house also. (What I learned most from her? Treat the entire house as if it has bedbugs even if they’re only in one room!)
Back to Target!
I spent over $1,000 yesterday and I’m just beginning this ordeal process. I will probably end up having to replace a lot more bedding. I’ve, so far, washed all the sheets and mattress pads in both of my boys’ rooms. I’ve also enclosed both of their mattresses and box springs with the protective covers. Today I’ll do the same in my daughter’s room, and then my room. (Neither of us have gotten any bites or seen any signs of bedbugs so I started with the boys first.)
I’m living in fear of the estimates from the pest control companies.
In the meantime, everyone should know the following:
• There’s a pandemic of bedbugs right now.
• Bedbugs have nothing to do with the cleanliness of your home or you personally.
• There’s no reason to feel “ashamed” of The Little Fuckers – they’re not caused by anything you did.
• Bedbugs don’t carry diseases.
• Bedbugs don’t live on people. You don’t need to avoid me, or my family members, because you won’t catch them from us. They aren’t cooties and they aren’t lice … they like to live in beds, thus BEDBUGS. I promise not to invite you for a sleepover until I’m 500% sure they’re no longer in my home. (As it appears right now, they’ve been contained to one or two rooms of my house.)
• Bedbugs like to travel from bed to bed in suitcases. You shouldn’t ever rest your suitcase on a hotel bed. Use the little luggage stand the hotel gives you.
• Bedbugs can live for a YEAR without feeding. That means if one sneaks into your luggage it may just stay there, quite content, for months until it decides to make its move.
• I wish someone had told me, and so I’m telling you …. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, should enclose their pillows, mattresses and box springs in allergy protective coverings. This is especially true if anyone in your family travels AND/OR if you ever have house guests. If you can’t afford to do every bed in your house at once, do it gradually – but do it!
I feel (very!!!) stressed out. I feel overwhelmed with the amount of work I need to do and the unexpected, astronomical, costs involved.
A part of me wants to say, “Universe, I give up. I’m waving a white flag – you win.”
A part of me also wants to run away from home forever, find a corner to hide in, and collapse into tears.
But I also feel angry.
I’ve been through way too much these past few years, and I’m pissed.
The Little Fuckers have shown up in the wrong house. I’m going after them with a vengeance and I will win this battle …
And quickly, too.
© Twenty Four At Heart