Sunday, April 27, 2008

Is It Worth It?

If you're like me, you've either spent a significant amount of time, money and effort to rid your home of bed bugs. Time from time, you've probably asked yourself, "Is it worth it?" Is it worth all the time, effort and money to rid your home of bed bugs? It seems like a losing battle at times, with only brief, sporadic victories, and just when it seems like you've won, you find you have to fight some more.

I can imagine some people contemplating surrender to their bed bug infestation, wondering just how bad it would really be to stop vigorously cleaning their home, keep their infested furniture, literally swim in bed bugs, endure the constant biting and simply adapt to life plus bed bugs.

How can I imagine this? Because I'm diabetic.

With diabetes, every morning I have to check my blood glucose (sugar in my blood) level by pricking one of my fingers with a stainless steel lancet and literally bleeding onto an electronic glucose meter. Depending how high or low my blood sugar level is that morning from a normally healthy blood sugar level, I inject myself with anywhere from 25 to 45 units of insulin and swallow three pills. I have to watch what I eat, or eat less of it, and in the evening I take one more pill. I work out three or four times a week, and I'm supposed to go to my physician for diabetes management once a month, although I don't always do that.

In addition, because diabetes symptoms always show first in the feet, I'm supposed to visit a podiatrist monthly. One of those symptoms is that the skin on the soles of my feet have died, and I have calluses on top of calluses, and I must spread moisturizer on the soles of my feet to keep the skin from cracking, which could lead to a small open wound and infections, which for diabetics are big trouble.

It's a big hassle to do all this on a daily basis, and despite all these measures, a diabetic can still suffer any acute symptom of diabetes, which while are not as life threatening as severe symptoms, can still make life harder. Severe symptoms? The nerves in your foot can die, which means that unless you carefully inspect your feet everyday for things like infections, sores or ulcers, you'll never know about it until it's too late.

Like diabetes, fighting a bed bug infestation also consists of a constant routine. You will find yourself cleaning every day and deep cleaning at least once a week, or if you have the money, routinely hiring an exterminator to apply industrial-strength insecticide at the tune of $300 a room. Fighting bed bugs is a big hassle, too.

Because of diabetes, I've had to severely alter my diet and make a lot of other lifestyle changes (the moisturizer, the pills, the blood monitoring, the working out, etc.) and I still have diabetes complications.

I'll be the first to admit, in terms of combating diabetes and bed bugs, that I don't always take every precautionary measure every day. Seriously, who the hell has the time? People have to go to work, to school, run errands and have some semblance of a social life. Add the fact that I have two blogs, and yeah, sometimes a day will go by without doing a regular cleaning, or a week will go by that I don't do deep cleaning. Sometimes I won't check my blood in the morning (especially if I'm running late) and I just take my meds and hope I don't get sick.

Fighting diabetes is like having a part-time job, as is fighting bed bugs. And when you factor in the job you have that actually pays money and all the other shit you have to do during the day, you barely have a life to live.

So in the back of your mind, giving up actually sounds like a good idea.

One thing I've learned (the hard way) from both diabetes and bed bugs is that if you don't address a problem early, it will only get worse. And the longer you take to address the problem, the worse it will get. I was kind of in denial when I first saw a bed bug in my bedroom. I killed it and thought nothing more of it. By the time I finally convinced myself I had an infestation, I no longer felt safe sleeping with the lights off. Check out some of my earliest posts from 2006, when I had just awaken and smelled the proverbial coffee and began to tell my own tale of bed buggery. As a result of my inaction and denial, I ended having to throw out almost all of my furniture because numerous bed bug colonies had materialized within my bed, headboard and of course mattress.

I also had to learn the hard way about diabetes in 2005 on a trip to Florida. I was going through a stage where I felt if I didn't eat a whole lot, I wouldn't have to bother taking medication. FYI, the normal blood sugar level is anywhere from 100 to 150, depending on who you ask. While in Florida, I suddenly became very, very cold, shivering uncontrollably while sweating profusely. Anything I ate came right back up, and I was sleeping about 20 hours a day, too weak to even walk for more than a few minutes. My family drove me to the emergency room at a hospital in Daytona. My blood sugar was about 500, and the doctors said they were shocked I didn't slip into a coma.

The whole time I was freaking out because I had no insurance and was horrified that I'd have to pay $2,000 or $3,000 for the hospital stay. Three days and two nights later I was released only because I swore to the doctors that I'd visit my own physician upon my return to New York. Florida state health insurance refused to pay my hospital bill because I was not a resident of Florida, and New York state health insurance refused to pay because I was not enrolled in the New York state health insurance plan at the time I became ill.

Six months later I received a bill from the Florida hospital for $12,000. I have yet to pay it since I was a college student up until last December, steady employment was hard to find, and the jobs I did find did not pay enough for survival and debt repayment. Needless to say, my credit rating is fucked.

As hard as it may be to believe, I still didn't learn my lesson about diabetes. In 2007, I was working, not watching what I ate, not moisturizing my feet and racking up sugar levels of about 300 or so. Twice at work (I was working as a cashier) I threw up at the register and was asked to go home. M took me to the emergency room at New York Hospital Queens to find out what was wrong with me. I changed into the hospital gown and the nurse noticed a reddish-purple blister on my right foot near my little toe about the size of my fist. A podiatrist cut the blister open to find my foot had become infected. Long story short, x-rays determined that the infection has indeed reached the bone of my little toe and the only way to keep the infection from spreading to the rest of my foot was to amputate my toe.

I've learned my lessons, and am serious about taking all preventative measures (as numerous as they are) with regards to my diabetes as well as fighting a bed bug infestation. What troubles me, however, is the knowledge that I will always have problems with diabetes despite my greatest preventative efforts and that, unless I die an unnatural death, diabetes will most likely kill me. It also troubles me to know that despite my greatest preventative efforts, I can never really be sure my home is 100 percent bed bug-free and that my home will never suffer a re-infestation. But what keeps me going is knowing that the alternative, giving up, is far worse than doing what I routinely do to maintain a normal blood sugar level and suppress if not eradicate the bed bug population in my home.

Obviously, suicide is the most extreme and truest form of giving up. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Protection, 32,439 Americans committed suicide in 2005. These are people who saw the predicament they were in and felt so overwhelmed, out of control and defeated that suicide appeared, at least to them, to be the only way out of it and the only thing in their life they truly had control over. I've met a few people who had diseases like HIV. cancer and MS, who had either seriously contemplated suicide or had attempted it. I even interviewed one young female basketball player for a high school sports article, who a week later, wrote a note stating she could no longer live as a Muslim and a closet lesbian before inserting her father's gun into her mouth and blowing her brains out.

I'm not sure how to end this post, except to tell all of you, no matter how hopeless, out of control or overwhelming your bed bug problems may seem, no matter how unsympathetic the rest of the world may seem to your plight, don't procrastinate in resolving your infestation, and for God's sake, never give up!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Working With Bedbugs

Sorry I haven't blogged in a while...

I've been dedicating most of my time to job hunting, a daunting task given the current state of the U.S. economy. The bulk of my work experience has been journalism, clerical work and retail, in order of years of experience. I've been out of work since January, with little to no help from the help wanted ads in the newspaper or the New York State Department of Labor, who told me to try Craigslist,, Yahoo! Hotjobs, and a slew of other employment-related web sites of whose existence I was already aware.

Why do I pay taxes? Oh yeah, because the government forces me to.

Lately, I've been perusing ads on, a classified ads website dedicated to media-related jobs. I found an awesome ad for a reporter/blogger for the online version of a major New York newspaper. I basically met all the qualifications, but I did have one problem.

I have two blogs, Bugged Out and I'm Not The Only One, which focuses more on politics and social commentary. That blog is a year and four months old, and Bugged Out is 2 years and four months long.

When I wrote about my blogging experience in my cover letter and resume, I only wrote that I'd been blogging for a little over a year. I was afraid that if my prospective employer knew that I was the blogger of a bed bug blog, they'd know I have, or have had a bed bug infestation and may be likely to not hire me. Workplaces can become infested just as easily as homes. As a matter of fact, I believe the Fox newsroom in New York City had become infested a while back. But having more blogging experience makes more qualified for the gig, so only claiming to have 1 year of experience instead of two put me at a disadvantage as well.

People talk about the stigma that comes with bed bugs, but no one ever talks about how it can affect someone's career. Would you tell your boss or co-workers that you have a bed bug problem at home? Would you even tell them you've had one in the past? I'd be afraid my supervisors would try to get rid of me.

If you've ever had colleagues find out about your bed bug problems, I'd love to hear your stories, and especially know what happened as a result of their discovery. I have had like four jobs in the last two years, and no one at work has ever found out my dirty little secret. I honestly don't know what I'd do if anyone found out. If anyone can offer some friendly advice on what to do in such a situation, I'd appreciate it.

Luckily, I have a job interview tomorrow at a music store in the Bronx, in M's mother's neighborhood. Keep me in your prayers, ok?


Thursday, April 03, 2008

How Do I Do It?

In my most recent post, an anonymous commenter said the following:

Wow! You do not own a vacuum? I've read that 2 of the most important things to do to rid one's home of an infestation is to vacuum, vacuum, vacuum and hire a pco to put down chemicals. Those 2 you are not doing. So how is it that your bb population is going down? Are you spraying chemicals yourself? Maybe you can let us know what you do so as to help others who are also poor and who cannot afford pcos.

This problem is getting worse, not better. You can get rid of everything you own to get rid of bbs and then go to a movie, ride a subway or sit on a subway bench, etc. and get reinfested all over again. But, we must live our lives, as you said. Heck, you can even get them from your job. FoxNews has them and so does lawfirm Cravath on 2 floors.

I hope you keep this blog going for bb sufferers. I know that the other anonymous poster sounded ignorant, but do not let that stop you from keeping this blog going. Yes, this blog has been around for awhile and yes, you still have bbs. That doesn't mean that you are not helping out people who are suffering w/bbs. You are being honest with your situation. There are a lotta people out there who hire pco's and go through the bagging and purging and other stuff and get rid of their bbs in a few months. Well, I feel that there should be no "time limit" on how long a person should have bbs or try to get rid of them. You and everyone else is trying their best and that's all anyone can do in this situation.
How am I getting rid of bed bugs?

Since I do not own a vacuum cleaner, M and I do a lot of sweeping and mopping. We have bare linoleum floors and we do not own have carpets or rugs. I would have to imagine that carpets and/or rugs would have to be great hiding places for bed bugs. We mop about twice a month. The experts who say you have to vacuum rigorously and religiously say so because they can't imagine an American who doesn't own a vacuum cleaner.

I also purchased Suspend AC, a pesticide specifically made to kill bed bugs that I bought from and it does seem to work; it claims to be a residual pesticide, which kills bed bugs long after the solution dries. The label does claim that even inhaling fumes from the concentrated pesticide may be fatal, so I have to dilute it with water before applying it as directed. I also have a gallon hand-operated pressure pump which I also bought from the abovementioned website. It kind of works like a Super Soaker, where you have to manually pump pressure into the jug so its hose attachment can spray the watered-down pesticide. I'm not too comfortable spraying chemicals in my home whose fumes alone can be fatal to humans, so I spray every other month or so.

I also got rid of a lot of wooden furniture (which were doubling as bed bug colonies), often using crates to hold up my TV, stereo, DVD player and other items. I bought plastic dressers from and plastic laundry hampers from a 99 cent store (I have two, one for colored clothes and one for white clothes). I've become increasingly concerned about my heavy window curtains becoming ground zero for the next great bed bug population explosion. I was actually considering trashing the cloth curtains and replacing them with shower curtains, but that's way too tacky, don't you think? Plus it probably wouldn't keep light out that well.

Eradicating bed bugs when your funds are limited is like any other aspect of life; you have to get creative and find alternatives for the things you can't afford. To me, if an expensive exterminator who charges $300+ per room can't even guarantee 100 percent bed bug eradication, you might as well do your own deep cleaning, furniture replacement and overall lifestyle changes and save a few hundred bucks, considering you even have a few hundred bucks to save!

Killing bed bugs directly can be quite enjoyable if you're down for playing Bed Bug Barbecue (hint: it requires a barbecue lighter!) and you have a linoleum floor. Each charred bed bug equals one point, and the game ends either when you've scored one million points or have not seen a bed bug in two months.

The whole lifestyle change and deep cleaning routine helps in case your home becomes re-infested. You'll be ready, your home will be ready and the bugs won't be alive in your home for very long.

Yeah, that anonymous commenter was kind of a douche, suggesting among other things that I advocate just settling for getting bit less and not working towards the lofty goal of total bed bug eradication. For the record, eradication is possible and it should definitely be attempted over and over again. I agree with you that there should be no time limit on how long it should take a person to rid their home of bed bugs. It's a long and arduous goal, but it's one that a person should strive for no matter how long it takes. I mean, if you don't get rid of your bed bug infestation in say, six months, should you just give up and let the bed bugs take over? Just spend the rest of your life with hundreds of little red bites on your body and just have bed bugs everywhere? Would that whacky Aussie commenter say that bullshit to a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy? "Dude, if the cancer doesn't go into remission by November, you should, uh, just give up."

And yes, I'd gladly have cancer if I knew I'd never have to see another bed bug again! I'll move to Canada, do the chemo, puke my brains out and smoke all the medical marijuana I want. At least cancer sufferers don't have to be afraid their friends, family and co-workers will find out they have cancer, or worse, that they'll spread cancer by going to someone else's house or other people coming over to theirs.

If you read enough of this blog, you'll see there have been sporadic surges of bed bug sightings after weeks of seeing very few. I often wonder if I've unknowingly re-introduced bed bugs into my home.

This post has become waaayyyyy longer than I initially expected it to be, so I'll wrap up now!

Thanks for all the kind words, and I'm glad to know that Bugged Out is still helping people cope a but easier with their bed bug problems, even though one commenter apparently feels my time is up! I appreciate all the feedback you guys send me, and I'm sure a lot of other people feel the same way. Your comments really compliment Bugged Out and are just as full of insight, news, tips, stories and information as this blog.