20 February 2008

Good night, sleep tight, and call the pest control guy in the morning

I have been scratching for four months. Convinced I've had hives, I've wondered if my diet could be to blame (highly unlikely) or if there's something in my environment like grass seeds that is itching me (really quite impossible) or if I've come in contact with chemicals (I certainly haven't) or if it could be caused by a medication (but I'm not on any).

I read a completely disturbing description of a condition involving chronic unexplained hives which are not treatable because there is no cause, and which sometimes persist beyond 20 years. I think I would go mad if I continued tearing away at my skin with my nails for that long. Four months has been quite long enough.

And today I found them. Horrible things. Nesting in a corner of my brand new bedsheet, abdomens swollen fat, full of blood - MY BLOOD. Revolting parasites.

Apparently bed bugs are difficult to get rid of. They're also very easy to GET. And we've got them.

I am simultaneously relieved to find the cause of my itching and devastated to learn I am infested with bed bugs. Should I worry about my housekeeping? Well to be honest, I rarely do that. Sure, the place is not a display home, but with little kids, it would be ABNORMAL to have a tidy home. Totally freakish.

I have come to a position where I can be satisfied with the work I complete each day. I do a lot of "investing" - that just means spending time enjoying my kids, but also I do a lot of food preparation, clothes washing, house cleaning and general tidying up. I work part-time and do various other things.

And I am also completely satisfied with what I LEAVE. The sink, for example, gets into a clean state twice or three times a day, but in between those times, it's dirty. And I feel no guilt.

I tidy up the children's toys, and the toys are all over the floor again in record time. No guilt.

I spend a large amount of time washing clothes, drying clothes and folding clothes, but sometimes the folded piles stay in baskets. Guilt? No way. I feel I am doing quite well, given my hectic life with Sonny Ma-Jiminy and Chubbity Bubbity.

And then I read this completely demoralising statement relating to the acquisition of bed bugs:

"... severe infestations are often associated with poor housekeeping and clutter ..."

Seriously, I'm not that bad! What a blow to any homemaker's self-esteem.

*Sigh* Scratch, scratch.

Addendum: Since this post, there have been a few developments:
(1) I have heard and read that even if you are very clean, you can still get bed bugs! They live wherever people live. I can remove the phrase "poor housekeeping" from the back of my mind.
(2) I have still been scratching.
(3) I spent an hour on Chubbity Bubbity's floor one night to see if her room was too hot in this weather (it was fine, and she slept well.) I took my pillow with me, and kept on scratching. I thought I felt things crawling on my skin, and assumed they were psychological bed bugs only!
(4) I have had an itchy scalp (how much more disgusting will this saga get?!?)
(5) Today I soaked my pillows in boiling water, and like rats from the proverbial burning ship, bed bugs came crawling out! I disembowelled my pillows and although I didn't find any large nests, I found enough evidence and boiled bugs to know that the pillows had to go! They are in the garbage as I write, and I will be pillowless for a week or so until I am sure that my NEW pillows won't come into a bedbugging environment. Like I can do with less/poorer sleep!