About Me

My photo
Concord, California, United States
I am a sometimes-writer, everyday mama, creative failure and experimental cook. I am interested in living a beautiful life, spending time with my family and making things that I can feel proud of. When I'm by myself I'm usually outside. Don't bother calling because chances are that I didn't bring my cell phone because I couldn't find it. If you see me walking, it's because I lost my keys and if you see me with only one child... I'm probably in big trouble.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Saturday- My Life In Hell

Outside of the death of one of my children (and maybe even my husband) we have had the worst thing in the world happen to us. We, with the company of a shocking number of our Philadelphia neighbors, have been infested by bedbugs.

According to all of the six exterminators who I have spoken with in the past 48 hours, bed bugs in Philadelphia are an epidemic. They are in five star hotels. They are in apartment buildings. They are in clothing stores. They are in people's homes. They travel through the electrical wires and can survive for months and sometimes up to two years without feeding.

Two mornings ago Bunny and Lila woke up with welts. Because I've heard so much about bed bugs in the media lately, I immediately stripped their beds. I didn't find any evidence of bedbugs. Like, I didn't find any bugs. I didn't find any of the little black dots of stains that they leave behind. I felt pretty confident that we probably didn't have the bugs. Then, after a bit of research and a close inspection of the sheets, I found the small blood spots that bed bugs are notorious for leaving.

I called the pediatrician and she said that she didn't think that the bites sound like bed bug bites. She said that they sound like flea bites. I actually felt relieved to think that we might not have bedbugs. Jay: I never thought I'd see the day when having fleas would be a good thing. After careful examination of our pets I determined that we probably don't have fleas. I found no evidence of fleas, no fleas and don't see much scratching going on.

That night I slept in with the girls. I went from bed to bed thinking that if anyone was going to get eaten that it would be me because I'm bigger and easier to get. I was right. I woke up in the morning with my shoulders and back and even my ears bitten. I doubt that I would have even been able to fall asleep, but I was so exhausted from crying and feeling hopeless and had used to much strength trying not to panic...trying not to run away... and trying to hold it together a little bit for the girls.

Jay has been working 12+ hour days. Even today he's at work. And his work is hard these days. So, he comes home and deals with Hell and goes to work and is stressed out beyond stressed out. It's terrible timing because I am absolutely, without a doubt, not strong enough to deal with this on my own.

For anyone who knows me... parasites are one of my worst fears. Bed bugs, lice, fleas... they make me feel so overwhelmed that I'm going to pass out. I can't deal with, accept, live with, understand, grasp or handle that there are INSECTS FEEDING ON US in the night.

When the exterminator came I didn't have a lot of faith in him. 1.) he left when he couldn't find a parking space and then he returned only when I found him one that was free and stood in it until he got here. 2.) He was 2 hours late. 3.) He didn't take the sheets off of our beds or look for any evidence of bedbugs before charging me $810. He was like, "yeh. you've got them. But it doesn't look bad. Don't worry about it. We'll just take care of it." And then he told me not to worry about keeping my mattresses... that I should keep them. And when I told him that I wasn't going to keep them because I read that sometimes the bugs live inside the mattresses, he told me not to drag it through the building. I had no faith in this man.

I found another exterminator in South Philly. I'm going to call back at 9. Over the phone one of the guys told me that it's $600 per room to exterminate. We'll do our new house... and treat our old apartment ourselves. Then, we're just going to IKEA and buying new mattresses and box springs, pillows and so on. I'm going to salvage most of our clothing... but we're throwing most other things out. I think that our dining room table and hutch are both okay. We'll exterminate the bed frames. We're going to save our kitchen things, like plates and pots and pans. We're saving the girls armoirs and night stands, but exterminating them. We're getting rid of our couch (just in case) and the dresser/desk in our bedroom. We're getting rid of all our toys, books, bookshelves, toy boxes, suitcases... and any place that bed bugs could be sleeping/breeding during the day.

I believe that this infestation is small here. An apartment above ours was exterminated last week. They say that it wasn't for bedbugs, but they also haven't said what it was for. They don't have a pet and we don't have mice here. I'll bet that it was bedbugs and they don't want to say so.

Did you know that many people don't even know that they're being bitten. You have to be allergic to the bites to really know. The girls both swelled up. Bunny has welts on her legs that are the size in circumference of golf balls. Jay hasn't felt anything, which means that they haven't made it to our bed or that he isn't feeling it happen.

Just so you know, I don't know how I'm going to get through this. Our condo association designates days when we can and can't move. So, we can't move until next Saturday. That said, we've already got the keys for our new place and we're going to take new mattresses there today with a few things and sleep there, on the floor, with no other furniture for a week. I can't put my children to bed for another night not knowing what's going to happen... and using myself as bait is so emotionally and physically terrible that I don't think I can do it for another night. Also, they'll eventually stop feeding on me and move onto the girls again. Just because it wasn't last night or the night before doesn't mean that it won't be tonight. I. Just. Can't.

Also, we don't even have the money to pay for the extermination and replacement of all of our possessions.

I just want to run away. It all feels totally overwhelming.


  1. i don't even know what to say about this except i'm SO sorry...and...


  2. hubs is in pest industry, if you have them, chances are they are all over the building. You need to speak with the landlord. The best way to get rid of them involves raising the temperature of your home over 120 and maintaining that for 2 hours. It's a process and there can be no cool spots. THIS is what eventually will kill the bedbugs. It's not something you can do on your own as you need heat guns to monitor the heat. Replacing the beds is not really the answer as you could easily bring in a new infestation even in a brand new couch or mattress :(

    Im so sorry you are dealing with this. It's one of my worst fears.

  3. We are moving. Leaving tonight.

    The landlord knows.

    They can deal with it.

    We'll have our new house exterminated.

  4. if you buy new mattresses, hubs suggests trying to keep the plastic on them. Any clothes you are bringing should be tied up in trash bags and left (if possible) in a car in direct sunlight (that will heat them up, hopefully enough to fry the bugs). I'm so sorry you have to deal with all of this upheaval

  5. Thanks! We bought plastic bed bug mattress bags for our new mattresses. We took them out of that plastic and into new! Our clothing has all been double dried to fry the bastards and is all sitting in tied up bags.

  6. i was going to say...that whole thing about moving on certain days is BS. what are they going to do? glad you guys moved! big love, anna!

  7. It's more about moving our things. They will fine us $500 if we don't move on the day they tell us to.

    But, I'll feel better about it, actually. Our family and all of our pets are out of the house and it's getting sprayed tomorrow. Then, I'm taking preventative measures at our new place tomorrow afternoon while the girls are in school (ie spraying the f out of this place with dangerous chemicals taht might kill us... and will definitely kill bed bugs).

    These things will not beat me.

    This will never happen to me again.

    I just want to live in the country.

    country mouse is me.

  8. ps.

    Laura, I got your messages and I love you very much. I just haven't been able to pull it together enough to write back to anyone.

    Actually, I've gotten a lot of really supportive messages from people who fear this or have gone through this.

    THANK YOU!!!!!!

  9. Um...they will fine YOU for moving out on the day not specified by them? Get your fellow tenants together and threaten a lawsuit STAT.

    Shit like this makes me SO angry! Devote your energy to getting everything out first, keep receipts, and bill THEM for your losses. Especially the exterminator costs. That is THEIR responsibility.


  10. That's what my mom says, Kim. She told me to take a picture of everything as we throw it out.

    I haven't been doing that. I probably should. When I'm in the throes of what feels like an emotional crisis... it's hard for me to think about things like money. I just want out.

  11. This is totally a crisis, but I would want nothing more than sweet revenge. I would want to make their lives a living hell like yours has been made.

    I would make them "get theirs."

    And it would be that delightful thought that would get we through. :)