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Weekly Link Rodeo, 10/19/10

Posted: October 19th, 2010 | Author: | | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

OK, so the rodeo is a little late this week. I normally like to cram it in over a hangover on the weekend. But I had obligations and shenanigans, see. Like a migrating loon, I was traveling to my ancestral home, a few hundred miles away. Of course I checked all the beds and the staff of JetBlue for bedbugs. They don’t like that, it turns out. They also don’t like that lady who clapped and said “YAY!” when informed the coffee was really Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.

Anyway, after my dad stopped laughing at my internet farming enterprises, he told me that he had bedbugs in the 1930s, as a tender child, in his apartment in Park Slope! So the song remains the same, Brooklynites. I offered him the chance to write up the tale of that experience in exchange for absolutely no money, but he didn’t jump on that one for some reason. If you want to hear the story, stomp and hold your breath in the comments, and maybe we’ll reach consensus.


NH School cancels field trip for bedbugs at camp [via NECN.com]

I think you get the gist here. Those poor bedbugs aren’t going to camp due to some harsh, pencil-necked paperpusher. Oh, you mean the children aren’t going to camp because there were bedbugs at the camp. Well, why didn’t you say so?  Nature’s Classroom at Camp Cody in Freedom turned out to have bedbugs. Discovered by dogs, being treated by some unnamed method.  Nature’s. Classroom. I can’t think of a more authentic way for children to learn, honestly. You’re just going to be dealing with this same problem when you find yourself at 18 and run off to NY, clutching your well-worn Rent DVD. You’re not gonna pay the rent! Except you are, and you’ll pay even if you have bedbugs! Insolent whelp.

Bedbugs found in Maine hospital surgical unit [via NECN.com again]

Just last week, bedbugs were discovered at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston….

It was a patient who first alerted staff to the presence of bedbugs in one of the medical surgical units. The floor remains closed as a precaution until officials are sure the bedbugs are gone.

Wow, New England is hopping, er, crawling these days! Aren’t you glad you live in NY, then, paying your rent? Oh, wait. I can’t imagine which would piss me off more after surgery: wake up with MRSA or frigging BEDBUGS. Can’t they just randomly aim a large laser around and kill them all?

Luca Brasi sleeps with the bedbugs

Posted: October 8th, 2010 | Author: | | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Hey, do you have about an hour to kill and a need to ruin what’s left of your already tenuous grasp of the ability to sleep?

day 108 - I have nightmares

by mivox on Flickr

This 2008 podcast from This American Life, entitled Fear of Sleep, discusses conditions like night terrors, sleepwalking, sleep paralysis, and sleep attempted murder. Yours truly has been known to suffer from sleep paralysis, which is damn creepy. Your eyes open, but you can’t move or even scream because the brain juice that keeps the body still during REM sleep hasn’t left your system yet. You have awareness of your surroundings, but it’s dim and possibly accompanied by hallucinations. Now what could be creepier than lying there, confused and paralyzed? Add bedbugs!

Skip to about 21:45 for the segment “Sleep’s Tiniest Enemies.” First up: roaches. Oh yeah. You’ll be twitching and slapping yourself and digging frantically with q-tips after this one. I won’t spoil it.

If you want to get right to the bedbuggery, hit 25:25. Anyone who has suffered through bedbugs will recognize the mental anguish. A woman using the name “Stephanie” repeated all-too-familiar tales of not having guests over to her family’s apartment for years. Her sleep is interrupted all the time by bedbugs, and she has upped her coffee intake to function during the day.  It’s “so hard to sleep in a bed where you feel like the sheets are crawling.”

“There’s a lot of adrenalin with these middle of the night bites…like I would wake up in full combat mode…rage, rage, rage!”

She describes a “feeling of being assaulted, and there’s nothing I can do.” She recounts basically living out of plastic bags, vacuuming books, and coating bed legs with vaseline in an attempt to keep bedbugs from climbing. Her husband even reupholstered a beloved piece of furniture to save it.

In a chilling experiment, Stephanie kept two baby bedbugs in a sealed plastic container on her window sill. Months passed, and instead of dying, they bred.  She eventually threw the whole container out. At the end of the piece, she has just discovered more bug signs in her favorite couch, and she announces it has finally won a trip to the curb. Yet another reason not to pick up furniture you find on the sidewalk! The more polite tend to label their cast-offs, at least. “Bedbugs: Do Not Use.”

There is a happier ending for Stephanie in an update at the end of the piece. Apparently the landlord stepped up extermination efforts, and Stephanie is finally bug free. Not everyone is so lucky. Do you have a story of difficulty getting a landlord to take your bedbug problem seriously? Leave us a comment or use our contact form.

**Hat tip on the podcast to alert reader Amanda, who does not have bedbugs. Just morbid curiosity.

Weekly Bedbug Link Rodeo

Posted: October 2nd, 2010 | Author: | | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Bookies Pick the Four Seasons as Next Bedbug Strike [via the Village Voice]

Someone had to do it. “Unfortunately, what they didn’t anticipate was how easily this bet could be fixed….” Yikes.

Barack says WHAT?Bedbugs Found in Federal Government Building in D.C.
[via Fox News]

Yup, bedbugs have infiltrated yet another workplace: the US Agency for International Development at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. Employees have been notified, skeeved out. Perplexingly, Fox News somehow managed to omit the fact that Barack Obama himself brought back the bedbugs from his Kenyan birthplace.

Woman Sleeps on Balcony to Escape Bedbugs [via Toronto Sun]

Now that sucks for Lori Howard. “Despite showering several times a night, changing clothes in her bathtub after neighbours warned they could see her disrobing outside, plus bug killer building staff applied, “they’re still there.””

It’s Not You, It’s Your Bedbugs [via WSJ.com]

Paranoia, the destroyer. It’s true, WebMD can get anyone feeling itchy. Though the article is satire, we at Nix Bedbugs still fear it’s only a matter of time before national news relays an unfortunate serious mental health incident, such as a bedbug-caused suicide or self injury.

9 Ways to Get Rid of Bed Bugs [via Cracked.com]

“…while waking up with tiny little bites is very trendy, it is also possibly the single most distressing non-Ke$ha-related-thing ever.” Hear, hear! Another funny. If we don’t laugh, we’d be crying.

Riled bedbugs hinder effort to fight house fire [via Denverpost.com]

File under: you know you have problems when… “The pesky bedbugs, animated by the fire, sought refuge on firefighters, latching onto equipment and gear. Firefighters had to guard against bringing the bugs back to their firehouse.”

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Bedbug Stowaway

Posted: September 27th, 2010 | Author: | | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Lower Manhattan, 2008.  It was the first day of spring truly warm enough to sit outside for lunch.  I left the office tower overlooking ground zero and headed over to Centre Street to get a cup of soup.  The weather was fair, so I ate seated on a park bench in City Hall Park.  At the end of the day, I passed through the park again, and boarded the M train back to Bushwick.  The train was not crowded at Chambers St., so sat down on the slick, cold, powder blue bench and began to rummage through my bag in search of my phone.  On the black surface of the bag’s exterior, something amber caught my eye.  I forgot about the phone, wondering about the tiny seedlike spot on my bag.  I looked more closely.  Some kind of insect, nestled in the velcro closure.  Gross.  I grabbed a pen from my bag and used the tip to prise it off and onto the empty seat beside me.  It was small, but much too large to be a bedbug, right?  I mean, aren’t they supposed to be the size of a pepper flake? (As it happens, bedbugs are about the size of an apple seed).  I had no problem making out its horrid little details as it sat there, inert and ugly.  A tick or some kind of beetle, I thought.  I took a photo that I might consult the internet.

The train filled up and everyone kept their distance from the unwanted passenger.  Not knowing what it was, I let the ugly little fellow be and promptly forgot all about it.  Two months later I was greeted by the A.M. paper at that station, its shrill cover announcing “Epidemic!” and covered with a dozen huge copies of my little stowaway.  The ICK traveled forward through time.  Bedbug!  My innocence was thus lost.  No mere accidental tourist, that was a villain, a saboteur cleaving to the fibers of my bag’s closure, hoping to smuggle itself into my bedroom to feast on me at night.  “I had a bedbug!  And I nearly brought it home!”, my mind shrieked and chattered.  But where had it come from?  Subway cars are likely culprits, due to the volume of human traffic.  But I had just boarded the train.  My recollection flew back to the park bench, also suspect.  City Hall Park is host to travellers, office workers, walkers of large breeds and crazypants vagrants alike.  It is definitely possible it came from the office , but it seemed unlikely to me in this case since the space was very new, I sat in an isolated area entirely by myself, and had never been bitten there.  The park bench was definitely a variable element in my day.  City Hall Park.  Where is America’s Mayor when you need him??  Probably off whispering “9-11” into the ear of a prostitute.  It is lucky I dispatched the loathsome fellow myself.  I never sit on park benches now without giving a good little once over.  These days, even my office chair gets a periodic check.  Shudder.

Is there a connection between Bedbugs and Hoarders?

Posted: September 24th, 2010 | Author: | | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Hoarders and bedbugs have something in common- they are all the rage!  Since we are no longer throwing Christians to the lions, generic we like to tune in and watch the mentally ill struggle with the consquences of their obsessions.  Often these are filthy dens of despair.  We hope for, we long to see vermin.  For we delight in a little gross-out,

and wish to assure ourselves that as long as we spring clean and do not let our Lionel Ritchie gatefold collection get out of hand, We Are Not These People.  Apartment dwellers who detect bedbugs are always looking for the ground zero of the scourge, a single unit in the building where they expect to find an elderly person cowering behind a wall of newspapers, or a family of illegal immigrants living in squalor.  Bedbugs do not have the same prejudices that we do.  Blood is blood.  Poverty, mental illness and crowded conditions do not attract bedbugs. 

That is not to say there is no connection between hoarding, extreme poverty and bedbug infestation.  Hoarders (and hipsters!)  have the unfortunate compulsion to trashpick, which is tantamount to a bedbug importation business.  Their deep sense of shame  at the way they live (the hoarders that is, hipsters are shameless) will characteristically prevent them from seeking outside help for an infestation.  Crowded living conditions can also aid in the spread of bedbugs and make them nearly impossible to treat.  And so, we sometimes have instances of extremely vile conditions.

Old box spring, underside of canvas strap 2

But more often this is not the case.  Most calls to the exterminator come from very ordinary homes.  There might be bedbugs on the bookshelf and the seams of the mattress.  Not enough to see, but enough to keep you awake at night watching “Hoarders” on demand. 

The moral of the story is NEVER dumpster dive, even if and especially if you are crazy.  And be sensitive to your neighbors, even if they are insane and unkempt.  They may not be the cause of your problems.

Bedbug Suicide?

Posted: September 21st, 2010 | Author: | | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Bedbugs are the new 21st century urban touchstone for anxiety: what could be scarier than The Thing Under the Bed That Actually Eats You?  Forget rats, forget roaches. They really prefer to keep to themselves. You only wish you had mice. Spiders? Haha! Amateur.

Bedbug infestation in a home, apartment, or even car is the fastest way to plummet to the ranks of the Unclean. Bedbug populations nationwide are on a rapid rise. They are seemingly indestructible, and one can pick them up in numerous innocent ways, from sitting in a movie theater to having dinner at a friend’s place.

Can a combination of maddening itching, unsightly welts, OCD-stoking cleaning protocols, social ostracism, often huge financial loss, and frustration at lack of concern from landlords and government officials and insurance companies actually lead someone to take her own life?

So far, there are no officially confirmed US reports of suicide due to bed bug infestation, but some believe it’s only a matter of time. Online forums for bed bug sufferers are full of proclamations of feeling “close to the edge” or “near suicide.” In August 2009, New York Magazine explored the perils of real estate in the age of bedbugs and made a “prediction for next August: the first bedbug-caused suicide.” Luckily August 2010 has come and gone, but the bedbug problem is still accelerating.

In this sad post on a popular forum, an apartment dweller wonders if a neighbor’s suicide was more than coincidental to the rampant bedbug problem in their building.

But worse, that they mentioned that Apt. 702 was “showing signs of activity again”. Apt 702??!! That apartment is currently vacant, as the tenant committed suicide on June 30th. One morning, at around 6:00 a.m., she threw herself off the balcony. It was horrible. I remember at the time thinking that it was strange that it occurred early in the morning, and that perhaps she just couldn’t face one more day. I felt so terrible for her.

So I asked the PCO “How long have you been treating the apartment?”

And they replied “Four months”.

Which means the woman battled bedbugs for 2 months and then killed herself.

The motive for the neighbor’s suicide is not directly known, but under few circumstances could one imagine that bedbugs are helpful to mental health. Was it the last straw or just an unrelated stress? Other commenters report feeling pushed to the edge and seeking therapy as a means to cope with the anxiety and depression cause by a seemingly unwinnable battle.

Typical suicide warning sign checklists include conditions such as loss of health or home and emotional changes like feelings of helplessness and powerlessness. Feelings of shame are often mentioned, as well as alteration of social habits and sleeping patterns. Victims of bedbugs will recognize all of these situations as direct or indirect results of their infestation. This is not to say that all victims will go as far as suicidal thinking, but anyone who is already prone to depression and anxiety may experience the negative results on a more severe and serious level.

One thing is certain: tiny bedbugs can be a real threat to psychological health, and they do not discriminate. In the coming weeks, we’ll keep on eye on bedbugs in the news and ways you can protect yourself or free yourself from the bedbug trap. Have you felt driven to thoughts of harming yourself (or others) due to your bedbug problem? Contact us to share your story.

ALERT: Please note we are unable to provide counseling. In the event of suicidal feelings in yourself or a friend, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline web site or contact your therapist or get to the nearest emergency room. Those are good things to do. Listening to Morrissey and drinking while obsessively Googling photos of bedbug bites: not so much.