So, my last post was basically just an accounting of my time from the discovery of a bedbug infestation and when I decided that I still needed to act like I have a website, whether or not the bedbugs wanted me to have a life. The previous post was about 2 months ago. So, time for an update, I guess.
We have still not managed to wrest our household from the clutches of these ancient nocturnal vampires. Every time that we would get a spray done, we would make sure to emphasize to the exterminator where we think they are coming from and our willingness to do whatever we can to just kill the little fuckers. Torching the building is something I would love to do if they let us (they don’t).
And every time we got another spray done, it would be about 2 weeks before we found more ‘live activity.’ And we would get another spray done. And another. And another. We did this for MONTHS. The techs told us that we were likely looking at a nest that was either in the sub-floor under our master bedroom, or in the wall that we shared with our closest neighbor (and yes – they also found bedbugs, pretty much the first time that it occurred to them to look). This means that no amount of spraying is ever going to directly contact the ones that have recently fed. And just in case you didn’t know, if a recently-fed bedbug just decides not to move for a while, it can survive twelve months without feeding again. To be even more horrific, if there is a bedbug larva that hatches at the very end of that time period, it can feed on the almost-dead adult, and survive for another six months.
That’s eighteen months of bedbugs just chilling in the walls, refusing to come out, safe from the poison, and in a place that would be very hard to heat-treat properly.
The last time that we had the exterminator come out to spray, they coated our master bedroom in poison so thoroughly that we didn’t feel safe sleeping the room – just walking through the room kicked up enough poison powder that I could taste it. So Amanda and I slept on an air mattress. For a week.
After a week reality came and smacked me upside the head. I was sitting down and thinking that I didn’t want to inflate the bed again, and realized that we wouldn’t go in our master bedroom at all, except to grab clothes. And Lily’s room was basically just clothes storage and a sleeping bunk – we didn’t want her playing with any of the toys up there, because even a little bit of poison on something that she might decide to swallow is a bad thing.
So we decided that we needed to leave. The bedbugs had won. We would sound a full retreat and do whatever we could to simply get out of this stupid situation. Luckily, we had two huge things in our favor:
#1: A support network. I have 2 brothers, both married, that live in town. some 90% of Amanda’s extended family lives within 1 county of Columbus. We are in a church where people really care about one another and are willing to sacrifice. We also have other friends that either put up with us or that we’ve done big favors for in the past.
#2: Our landlord decided to raise rent. Normally that’s an illegal thing if we aren’t signing a new lease, BUT there’s a strange line in our lease that allows our rental company to raise rent in the middle, as long as they give us notice and give us the opportunity to leave before it takes effect. So basically we can break our lease with no real consequences or black mark on our rental history.
So now I am living with my wonderful in-laws. They are empty-nesters and have 2 rooms that they keep basically as guest bedrooms. Lily is now in one, and Amanda and I are in the other. They don’t have a lot of extra space beyond that, so a bunch of the stuff we know we can treat is in a storage unit near our apartment. Just yesterday we had a “moving” day where a few friends came over and we threw a bunch of shit on the curb.
The bedbugs won. We are left as not-quite-homeless, dependent upon the good will of our family and friends. We are left with quite a lot of possessions, even though we can’t reasonably access them in a timely manner. We are left with a very small amount of furniture – we only saved a baker’s rack, a weird half-shelf thing that fits our TV perfectly, one small shelf that was constructed by Amanda’s late grandfather, and a very nice coffee table, which was left to Amanda when her grandmother died. We are saving our entire book collection – we will be aggressively sterilizing it all with pesticides and maybe heat (again). We are saving a buttload of clothes – but probably donating a bunch of that, too.
What the bedbugs take from us? They got 6 months of our peace of mind. They managed to enforce a very strange social isolation upon us. They killed our mattress/box spring, Lily’s crib, and all 3 couches. They killed every dresser we own. They killed 5 full-size shelving units, ranging in quality from “wal-mart special” to “wait did someone hand-make this?” They have forced me to work at maintaining proper bedbug containment protocol more than I work at my job. They killed my nerd fort. They have almost 100% removed any activity that isn’t strictly survival for the last 6 months. They took my health: even if the poison was aimed at the bedbugs – I’ve still been sick more in the last 6 months than I had been in the 2 years previous to that.
Yesterday when I was looking at the pile of (now) trash in front of my house, I began mentally adding up what it would be like to re-purchase all that furniture. Just what I was looking at was easily $3,000. I began to add up the rest of the furniture and time spent and the heat treatment and poison and everything else that these horrid little beasties took. At around $10,000 I stopped counting because I was already despairing.