don’t let the bed bugs bite

i suspect most people pick up bed bugs in hotels, on airplanes, and in movie theaters.  such was not the case for me this summer.  i began staying in a friend’s apartment after the end of a nearly 4-year relationship. about a week and a half into my stay, the morning after my friend’s boyfriend installed an a/c unit that wasn’t flush with the window frame, i woke up with bites.  i thought for sure they were mosquito bites because of the 2-inch gap in the window.

as it turns out, a 21-year old girl from florida brought them in.  how can i be sure?  she took a sublet in harlem for the month of june, while subletting her room in my friend’s apartment to her 20-year old friend from florida.  two weeks into her stay in harlem, she realized the room had a bed bug infestation.  she called her friend to tell her she was uncomfortable from bites and asked if she could spend the night. clearly neither of them bothered to do a bed bug google search.   while it’s true bed bugs are all over new york (400,000 people were affected last year), they don’t appear from nowhere. they hitchhike.  so while you may think that by sleeping somewhere else you are getting away from the problem, you are just bringing the problem with you.  you have to stay in your bed and call an exterminator to eradicate the problem.  it’s a pain.  it turned all of our lives upside down and rocked them around like a weeble wobble.  you have to bag up all your clothes, linens, curtains, anything washable and wash them in hot water, then dry them on high heat.  it’s recommended you throw out your bed.  i threw out my bed, my pillows, and my down comforter.  we’ve been living out of plastic bags for several weeks now.

bed bugs are insidious.  they get into cracks, they hitchhike on clothing, bags, and pets.  they are difficult to destroy….the longer you wait, the bigger the problem.  it’s intense, something i wouldn’t wish upon anyone.   after finding a dead bed bug in my bed along with fecal matter, i couldn’t sleep.  i became paranoid and felt disgusting and disgusted.  it’s easy to understand that psychologists’ practices have experienced a burst.

some people don’t have reactions to the bites, i certainly did.  once i counted the bites on my left foot up to my ankle:  20 bites over a period of weeks.  with mosquitoes, after you get a bite you can apply juice from a lemon.  instantly, it’s like it never happened.  with bed bug bites, they take a long time to heal and there is little relief.

this is the dead one i found in my bed on top of my sheet.  each square is 1/8″

this is a live one i caught in my bed at 2 a.m. even though it looks dead, it’s not.  it lived in the closed jar for several days until the exterminator came.  he sprayed the cedar oil-wintermint oil solution into the jar so we could watch it die.

one of the many ironies in the situation is that this mindless 21-year old from florida claimed to be a tree-hugging environmentalist.  laughable really, when you consider the contribution made to the landfill from our apartment this summer as a direct result of her carelessness. (she was also a person who used several pots and pans to cook pasta on a wednesday, left the mess then left town for the weekend and didn’t clean up the mess until the following tuesday.) being an environmentalist includes being conscious of human well being in the environment, both indoors and outdoors.

at one point i was trying to come up with an image of my soul.  the image that popped into my mind was black and white of an emaciated man’s torso at auschwitz struggling to survive.  sounds dramatic, but that’s how i felt.  while it broke me mentally, emotionally, physically, and financially, it gave me tremendous strength.   the experience itself made my studies with william over the past year come full circle.  i became best friends with the i ching.  it gave me time to practice meditation and presented an opportunity to recognize and appreciate  the people in my life who love me.  people who could do little but offer compassion.  to give and receive compassion and kindness when healing is integral to the process.

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