Saturday, August 28, 2021

Today I caught a bed bug on my arm

I have spent quite a lot of time this week dealing with bed bugs in my suite where I live in an affordable housing apartment building.

I researched bed bug interceptors, purchased the materialand on DIY interceptors, and now have them installed under my sofa legs, and table legs.

This morning I checked for possible trapped bugs, but didn't see any.

Arthur woke me up at 6:30 as he was being extremely noisy. I couldn't find him, at first, but found him behind the bins by my front window, scratching at the heating vent, and floor board.

He stayed stationed there, even after being offered breakfast. I wondered if his tiny toy mouse was stuck, and couldn't see one. I offered Arthur another of his favourite cat nip filled mice, but he wouldn't leave his station.
So this is interesting. Is it a site of bed bug activity? In the past week I have noticed Arthur sitting and intently staring at certain areas of interest, under the bathroom sink, where there is a panel with a wide gap; and the heating vents in both the living room, and bedroom. There are dogs trained to detect these bugs, and show where they are. It's not unreasonable that Arthur may be able to smell, or see them. However as a feline, I think he would be disinterested in any attempt by humans to train him.

And yet, my Arthur provides me with company, and a fairly willing listener.
It's reassuring that  he seems to know about these terrible bugs. As usual Arthur keeps me company in his amiable manner.

 I move slowly in the morning, needing coffee, before up to doing anything.

But that will be the starting place for my inspection today. I purchased a good flashlight, this week and diatomaceous earth, so plan to look very carefully at potential hiding spots first, and then apply the powder carefully in all these areas.

I had a lovely video chat with Paul and my grandson, Jasper. Observing Jasper cheerfully climb the stairs; lead a tour of the kitchen, go back downstairs, and repeat this whole process and also talking with Paul -  while having morning coffee, gave me  a lift for the day.

A few moments after our visit, I looked at my arm, and in disbelief saw what looked like a bed bug. I say disbelief, because it's said that it's unlikely to actually find them eating, because they move extremely quickly if disturbed. 

It looked somewhat like a freckle, or mole, or age spot. I have all of those on my arms and legs. But it was darker, and more perfectly shaped than my freckles and moles.

I tried first to lift it off. Then just scraped it with my thumb nail. It resisted, but did come off in pieces, leaving fresh blood.
So another piece of evidence, I would rather not have. I would prefer to find my bed bug evidence in my new interceptors.

So this weekend, I'm continuing my eradication plan. Inspect. Vacuum. Dust with diatomaceous earth.

I return to work in 10 days. And I need to feel confident about this situation before that.

The pest control person provided me with a 6 week time-line. If I still have bugs then we need to have another treatment. But I believe 14 days is also considered the length  of time for the treatment to be effective.

I want to feel that I've done what I can to help get rid of this bed bug infestation.

Even though I do worry they will return if other adjacent areas are not inspected, or treated.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Bed Bugs Chronicle continues

Tuesday was time for the 2nd bed bug treatment.

I worked very hard, preparing. On  one hand I already had most of my belongings packed in bins, and on the other I spent more time vacuuming, etc.

I also had my bed removed. I know it is wasteful, but I found it worrisome that the wood frame had so many edges and crevices for bugs to hide.

I can become very focused on a task, whether it is a work task, doing creative programming for children; an art project; or in this case bed bug eradication. Being a bit obsessive can be a positive at times.

One thing, I came to understand in reading on this subject is that although bed bugs don't jump or fly, they can climb. Yikes!

So, I have decided to make my own DIY bed bug interceptors. I couldn't find this product at Home Depot, or Canadian Tire, or Walmart, and when I phoned a Rona store, they didn't keep them in stocks either. I could order them from the Pest Control company but they were costly, and would need to be shipped. There are some I was considering buying called Climb Up interceptors. They are the original ones, but still quite costly and would need to be shipped.

I found a few excellent how to articles on making your own. And found what I needed easily at Canadian Tire.
As well I purchased diatomaceous eart, to apply in cracks and along the wallboard.
I began working on my interceptors, and will finish them, and set them up tomorrow.
 I also enjoyed watching a few episodes of Golden Girls, on YouTube, because humour can help at times like this.
And at this time, I am very aware of my fortune to live in Canada with all the privileges of freedom. What  is presently happening in Afghanistan is  heart breaking.  

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Taking time for small painting project

  I bought my former landlady's wooden table and chairs, when I moved last November. 
So now, while I'm off work for August,  seems like a good time to do this little DIY job.

I started sanding two days ago. Arthur thought the turned over table made a nice bed.

I am not very skilled at projects like this. But I did sand quite thoroughly.
I only had coarse sandpaper. I would have liked to use finer paper to smooth the wood after the first sanding.

I bought a cabinet/furniture paint in the colour Lemon Spritz.

It has turned out more of a cream but maybe after more coats the lemon yellow will be more dominant.

I found starting at the bottom was a good idea. I gave the base 3 coats.
Then I spent several hours sanding the top of my table. I realized that the person who did the previous repaint had put on a varnish. So it took time to sand that away. 

I  used vinegar and  Dawn dish soap added to water to clean, after sanding.

So now, after the first coat on the table top, I'll let it dry 3 to 4 hours, and add next coat. I plan to add 4  coats. The small paint roller I purchased made painting the top so easy.

When this project is completed, I will have time to prepare for the bed bug treatment coming up Tuesday.

The table turned out well  I decided to stop after 4 coats.  
 I am beginning to see the end of the BED BUG episode. Tuesday is the 2nd treatment. 

I am beginning to think I will stay here. I am feeling more at home after all the cleaning. And it has become familiar. As Paul said,  if I continue working I can save and possibly could afford a down payment for a small condo in 1 or 2 years. My mortgage would likely be less than my rent here. 

It does seem like a good plan and something to work towards.
So, this chronicle should be complete soon, hopefully the bed bugs will be gone from my apartment soon. 

And I will write of  other things.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Took a break - back to Cleaning for Bed Bugs

I was feeling depressed yesterday, things seemed beyond me. I had been losing sleep the two nights before, managing to sleep just  3 hours each night.

So I really did nothing yesterday in the way of vacuuming, or cleaning. I went to sleep very early - 7 p.m. and slept through to 7 a.m. 

I read in one of the articles on bed bugs, that it's important to practice self care when trying to eradicate these bugs. And today I did have more energy to do what was needed.

Laundry. Vacuuming. Washing floors.

I wouldn't  recommend anyone to buy the bed I own. I purchased it at Ikea when I moved in to this apartment last November. I had very little money to spend and thought the unfinished wooden single bed was a bargain at 99.00. And I purchased the cheapest mattress.
The bed IS uncomfortably narrow. But what I don't like at present is all the small ledges along the frame. Perfect spots for bed bug eggs.
I think when I move the best thing I can do is have this disposed of.

I decided to spray Raid Bed Bug Spray over the  frame and slats of this bed out of over zealousness.

Then realized that Arthur and I should be out of the apartment for a few hours.

So we went outside to enjoy the beautiful day. This is the first time I have sat in the patio/garden in the backyard of this affordable building. It is wonderful. With squashes; tomatoes; flowers and a few other garden vegetables growing in planters it creates a homey and relaxing place to enjoy sitting in the fresh air.

So that was great. I read and Arthur rested in his cat carrier.

Came in and finished up my cleaning.
Made a delicious salad. Arthur had salmon for his dinner.

Ready to have another good sleep.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Bed Bug Claustrophobia

I named this post Bed Bug claustrophobia because it describes how I have begun to feel.

It's easy to start to feel cut off from people for a couple of reasons. For one, bed bugs are not a topic most people would like to hear about. And as well I feel that it's necessary to stay home, and not do things like take transit, or shop for groceries because I don't want to bring bed bug hitch hikers along to bother other humans.
I am choosing not to visit my son and his family, including my gorgeous 14 month grandson; I canceled my appointment with the optometrist.

I have sadness, because after being fully vaccinated for Covid19, and beginning to feel that life was opening up; I find myself still in a kind of lock down.

This month was going to be my vacation time.e. I was going to the zoo with my son and grandson, on the first day of my vacation, when I knew I wouldn't be able to. I needed to share about the bug bites and my concerns that they were either bed bug bites or flea bite.

I wasn't hiding it out of deceit. I hadn't wanted to worry my son and his wife about bed bugs in their home. I had visited 2 Saturdays in early July. I know it's easy to start to imagine things like bugs, from just hearing about them.

I have some anger at the management of this affordable housing because it's true that if they don't treat other units  that the bugs will come back.

I feel angry at the expense to me of buying materials such as bags and bins; and boarding Arthur. And the inconvenience and work, especially if it is futile.

I am having insomnia because I imagine the bugs waiting to come out of their hiding as soon as I lay down in bed. I imagine bites. And I do have new bites, even after the first treatment. I have bites on my face just under my eyes.

I have slept a bit, the past two days,but wake very early and get up to worry. 

Today I spoke to a nurse practioner in a medical office.

She said the bites should clear up within a week. But only if the bugs are gone.

The building needs to be treated, or the bugs will return.

That is true. That is my reality check for today.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Reality Check

I have been documenting my experience with BED BUGS and doing some complaining to go along with it.

I'm sure it's considered acceptable to complain about these terrible insects.

But I also have been implying that my building may have known about previous bed bugs, and withheld this from it's potential renters. I was developing a negative mind set or bias towards the building management.

Not unrealistic I know.

But I had a conversation with Edith this evening, and maybe I need to look at the bed bugs problem more objectively.

I went to Edith's apartment door to ask if I could give her  a small amount of cash and use her coin card for the laundry. I needed to dry my washed clothes, and our coin card reloading machine was not functioning. 

She kindly lent me her card. And as well showed me one way to fix the machine. 

Edith is a small woman, with a pure white pixie haircut, a gently smiling face, and glasses. She really has a gamine and sprightly look. She is sprightly in her personality too. She is a retired registered nurse, who only stopped working one or two years ago. Oh, by the way Edith is in her early 80's.

But she seems to be continuing her nursing in an informal way. When I visited her this evening one of our tenants, Robert was visiting her, watching t.v. He is one of the people here that seems to be mentally fragile.

She is aware of most of what goes on in the building. And she helps.

I told her about my bed bugs. She was surprised. I asked her if the building has had other incidents of bed bugs. She remembered a woman, named Maxine in a north part of our building. Maxine was covered in bed bug bites, but wouldn't tell the office.

Edith wondered if the bugs were coming in from the garbage. I live closest to the garbage chute. Because I'm on the ground floor, my unit is beside the garbage room, where all the buildings' refuse lands.

When I first moved in people said, "oh, beside the garbage?"

I actually told Edith I wondered if I was being punished or it was karma I have bed bugs. She said, it's maybe from the garbage room.

I said, I didn't want her to worry, I am sure I didn't bring bugs with me to her apartment. I was wearing clean clothes. She just shrugged it off with a smile and laugh, "I'm not worried."

I left feeling a little more in touch with reality. 

Questions from My Bed Bugs Experience

Since having it confirmed that my small studio apartment in the SE part of Calgary, has BED BUGS, I have been busy with the steps needed to eradicate them.

The steps are basically provided by the pest control company; and following the literature on bed bugs control, I am convinced the best way is to have a pest control company manage things.

The various DIY suggestions usually admit that although the home made solutions can be a stop gap; that the experts are the only ultimate way to handle things.

I think as a tenant; I could have been more assertive, back three weeks ago, when an inspector looked at the situation in my suite and said there was no need for treatment at the time because there was no visible sign of bed bugs. Because I had evidence of being bitten, in the common pattern of bites; ie three bites in a line. Here in Canada it is the law that landlords pay for bed bug control.

Getting the unit treated at that time may have stopped the growth of these bugs sooner and I would have possibly be less bitten.

The bugs have started biting other areas, than just my arms and ankles. Yesterday I woke up with two bites just under my eye.

The past three weeks I attempted some stop gaps, such as purchasing encaustic mattress and pillow covers.
I also tried sprinkling salt along the edges of my suite, and under my bed. 

I sprayed everything daily with bleach and water solution. This has always been my go to for getting rid of germs. However I know it isn't environmentally wise; and using too much can create resistance in some germs. And after reading the literature on bed bugs, bleach isn't recommended. Vinegar is more environmentally friendly but not very effective either. The bugs may just move to another part of your home after either bleach or vinegar is applied.

I was anxious before the pest control was scheduled to arrive. That was probably helpful as it motivated me to do all that I could to follow the instructions for preparation.
But I was worried too about side effects of the chemicals, on both me and Arthur my cat. He lives lower to the ground so I was more concerned about him. 
We stayed away from home for the six hours after treatment. I was actually pleasantly surprised to find that there was no odor from the chemical used. I opened the windows of course right away. As well the person working in my apartment seemed to be respectful for my things. Things weren't topsy turvy. 

I have had no breathing issues since the work was done, or other possible effects. And neither has Arthur.

Arthur, has extremely dense, thick and fluffy fur. He doesn't scratch as though he's itchy from bites, and when I look through his beautiful coat, there are no signs of bugs or eggs. Thankfully it seems he hasn't had bites. These bugs prefer humans, so I'm hoping he's been exempt.

Bed bugs are not caused by unclean environments. They can occur in any type of home. So there is nothing to be ashamed of. Possibly people don't report bed bugs to their apartment manager, because they feel it reflects badly on them.

However clutter is not helpful when trying to get rid of these pests. They can  hide in cardboard boxes for instance.

One of the first things I did was throw out any box I was using. I had a Christmas 🎄 stored in a box. It got thrown out.

I had two boxes with craft items, and personal mementos. I threw out the boxes and replaced them with plastic tub containers.

Luckily I like an uncluttered living space. But I still felt I needed to get rid of Arthur's cat trees; and one of my favourite pieces of furniture, an old wooden trunk/coffee table, painted in my favourite shade of turquoise, bought at a vintage store when I moved to Calgary.

I found a Junk Removal company that came to remove these items the same day I called. 

But throwing out these things, is obviously harmful to the environment. As well dealing with bed bug eradication requires a lot of plastic bags. You need to throw out each plastic bag after each use. For instance, when washing your laundry (at the hottest setting); you should carry it to the machines in  a tightly sealed bag. Then dispose of the bag in another bag. Then store your clean laundry in a new bag. This obviously too is bad for our world. Our oceans and ocean life are suffering and dying due in part to plastic bags.

I have most of my clothes and bed linen stored in tightly wrapped bags, packed in storage bins, that have been taped securely closed.

Plastic bins too are harmful due to the emissions created in their manufacture.

These are consequences of needing to eradicate certain household pests. I know there may be more environmentally friendly ways; but haven't read of any.

I do know from the literature that just accepting and living with bed bugs isn't an option. They need to be eradicated.

I work part time, and also receive government pension because I am 66. But if I didn't have the extra income I would not have been able to afford certain things such as, encaustic mattress cover: plastic bags and bins; boarding my cat the the day of treatment.

So another question I have; is how would some of the tenants in my affordable apartment even be able to do some of the steps required?

As well the preparation takes a certain obsessiveness that I actually possess. But some of the individuals in my building are either physically frail, or mentally frail. And if it was intimidating and bewildering for me; I know it would be difficult for some people here where I live.

The clean up following treatment is also time intensive. I vacuumed for 2 hours yesterday. It is recommended to wash your floors and then vacuum thoroughly, especially with the crevice tool, in corners where eggs may have been hatched.

I will repeat this daily until my 2nd treatment, in 2 weeks time. And I assume will follow this routine after the second treatment.
And I am not sure if the bed bugs will even  end up being eradicated. Because they move around in buildings. I suggested to the administrator who runs this seniors housing come, which includes a nursing home known for it's state of the art dementia care; and has an Accreditation rating of "exceeds standards"; that to actually get rid of the bugs the adjacent apartments would need to also be treated. He said, that the adjacent units would be inspected. He actually seemed unaware that I had reported bed bugs, and was having a treatment. I said, that likely the bugs came into my apartment from the building. He said that I could have brought them in from outside. I think the point is not to argue where the bugs came from but to do the right thing to get rid of them.
If I think too much about the situation I could be overwhelmed and defeated. But I'm using the Nike therapy described by a therapist I have read, "Just do it". (Tom Lavin). That is something I tend to have no trouble with. I can become very focused on a task and goal.

However I imagine some tenants in my building may easily just give up. It is easy to think "what's the use".
I planned to move from my building once my 1 year lease was up. Now I know I am more motivated to move. However how will I ensure I don't bring the bus with me?
These are questions I pursue....and will continue to ask myself.
And blog about....