I Had Bedbugs
About Caryn
How to Kill Bedbugs
Bed Bug Diary: Part VI 
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August 11
The second leg of my flight home from vacation is cancelled, a 3:15pm flight from Charlotte to La Guardia. I finish a book, wander around the terminal, and make small talk with various colorful characters at the airport bars, the only place I could smoke cigarettes. I get on the next open flight at 9:55pm. I finally make it home around 1am, totally beat. It’s been a week since I’ve slept in my own bed. I crawl into it and soon feel a familiar itching. I toss off the sheet—I’m sleeping on a bare bed with a single sheet around me, since all of my other bedding is quarantined. I find five bedbugs and kill them. I don’t fall asleep until after 6am. I get an hour and a half of rest.

August 12
I call the exterminator. “Hang on,” the receptionist tells me. “My boss wants to speak with you.” What’s this about? “Are there any bugs on the monitors?” the boss asks me. Since the first extermination, I’ve had little white roach traps strewn about my apartment. They’re used to monitor where bed bugs are in the room, to help them find the source of the infestation. “No, they aren’t any in the monitors,” I tell him. I think the bed bugs are too smart to crawl in them. “Hmmmm” the boss says. “Do you have any of the bugs you killed?” You think I’m making this up?! I’m not doing this to annoy you! “I can probably pull them out of the trash, yeah.” “OK,” he says, “Do that. You’re going to hate me, but you’re going to have to wash everything again.” “You know, at first, that was really bad, but now I don’t care. I’ll do it. I just want the bugs gone.” “Sam will be by tomorrow between 10am and 1pm.” “Great, thanks.”

August 13
Sam, the same extremely nice exterminator who came for treatment #2, is here. I had flipped the bed up against the wall, as always, and when I did, I saw traces of bed bugs on the boxspring, which I’d never noticed before. Sam douses the boxspring with chemicals until it is soaking wet. I ask him if I have to throw it away; I show him the vinyl covers I bought to put over it (on the advice of Joey, a recovering bed bug victim). Sam says the cover should do the trick. When he leaves, he says, “Nothing personal, but I hope I never see you again.” Ditto, my friend.

Later that night, I wrangle the vinyl covers onto the boxspring and mattress. At bedtime, I realize I have nothing left to sleep on. All that’s left in the linen closet are fitted sheets. I open the sealed plastic bag that has my comforter inside. A bed bug sits right on top. I freak and shove it back into the bag. I scurry around my room, digging for quarters in change jars and purses. I lay the down comforter on the cement floor of the basement laundry room. I go over every inch, killing about five bed bugs I find crawling on it. I wash it twice in hot water.

I’m itchy. So itchy. It’s freaking me out. In the elevator, on my way to move the laundry from the washer to dryer, I pull up my shirt and look at my tummy, a particularly itchy spot. Oh! I’m itching in all the places I got a little bit of sunburn! Hooray! As Emma put it, never did sunburn feel so good.

Back in my room, I decide the chair has to go. I have been bitten on the thighs and triceps while sitting in it. There are too many places within the seat that bed bugs could be. With surprisingly little emotion, I slide it down the hall, squeeze it into the elevator and take it down to the basement where large trash is to be left. I’m so numb. I don’t know what to feel about this anymore.

I go to bed, with very fresh sheets and blankets. And a teeny tiny bit of hope.

August 14
I wake up without any bites. No bed bug sightings.

August 15
I wake up without any bites. No bed bug sightings.

August 16
I wake up without any bites. No bed bug sightings.

August 17
I wake up without any bites. No bed bug sightings.
I celebrate 50 days of sobriety.

As promising as this sounds, I’m not ready to declare total victory just yet. As I’ve told a few people in the last few days, I think this whole experience is going to scar me for a really long time. Everywhere I go, my eyes focus on dark spots on walls, wondering if it’s a bed bug. Every itch I get makes me panic. My hair is falling out. My bed isn’t the safe haven it should be, and I prolong bedtime for as long as possible. I've been bitten by these vampire insects since May. This anxiety will last for a long time.

However, I do want to shout out to my best supporters through this whole ordeal. Most notably, Emma. Girl, you have been there for me every single night through that worst time of day, bedtime. Your support, encouragement, and sympathy have meant so much to me. This has been a lonely ordeal, and you have kept me company. I don’t know how to thank you. I also want to thank Will and Chelonia for going above and beyond the call of duty. Thank you so much. And to all my friends and people who have left comments—you!—thanks. I know this is all I can talk about lately, but it’s incredibly consuming—emotionally and physically—, and I appreciate all your love and patience. You’re the best.

*Pictures of some of my bed bug bites
*Google: Bed bugs
*Epilogue: I Said “Fuck” 7 Times in The New Yorker
How to Kill Bedbugs