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!


Anonymous said...

Ok. I totally understand where you are coming from. Really I do. The "Don't give up" speech. I would trade bbs for a disease anyday. Yes I would. Why. 'Cause then my kids can have their character decorative pillows that they want. So my kids do not hafta live outta fu.kin' plastic bags and ugly, stupid platic bins. So my kids can have their toys and go to school normally. Disease affects that one person only. Sure, family members get sad about the disease, but family members do not hafta be quarantined like some freak or deadly virus. You can have a beautiful home with a disease. I have, really have thought about suicide from this bb bullshit. I even wrote 2 suicide notes. I feel like an unfit parent for doing too little about the bbs in my home. I'm doing the best I can and yet I feel I cannot protect my kids and I feel overwhelmed and outta control. If it was just me living by myself, I really wouldn't give a crap. Really. I would have no furniture except the basics like bed, tv, chair, that's it. But, when you hafta raise kids and seeing what they hafta go through just breaks my heart. I want my kids to have a nice plushy couch to sit on and watch tv and beds, etc. I don't even have their beautiful school pictures on the walls. This sucks!! How do families in other countries do this? I didn't end it because when I wrote goodbye to my kids in my note I just cry and cry. I LOVE my kids. But the pressure from this bb bullshit has pushed me over the edge. I live in NY. Yes, I know NY is infested. But, I feel so alone.

Don't tell me to see a therapist because I am.

Oh yeah, I don't wanna read any comments from people saying that they've been there and that this can't go on forever, etc. and that they understand. If you have bbs no more, then you do NOT know what I'm going through. Your ordeal is over, mine is not. You can move on, I cannot.

Common Black Man said...

thank you so much for this post. I recently found that I have bed bugs. After telling my roommate about it and him telling me that he has a friend that mentioned that he had bed bugs, but thought nothing of it because he was ignorant to what exactly bed bugs were, how they operate, and how hard it is to get rid of them, when I express that we need to work TOGETHER to get rid of the problem he seem as though he is interested but not concerned to the extent that I am. I think this is due him not a skin reaction to the bites. he's had about two occasions where he has suspected being bitten. opposed to my about 5/day. random itchy pimples. in groups or by them selves. I can tell the difference between a regular itch and an infection-feeling itch.

Thank you for this post because it gives me the inspiration to deal with the issue on my own, if needed, instead of waiting for him to get serious about what I KNOW to be serious issue. I've been awake for about a week, with me dozing off at the computer desk here and there. afraid to touch the floor for fear of one getting on me. I'm too embarrassed and afraid one will get on a friend or overnight guest to even invite anyone over to visit. I feel as though im in a prison, my home is no longer mine. No longer my home as a place to relax and be at peace. It has a constant effect on my production through out my days work due to the sleep deprivation.

So again thank you for giving me the strength to feel as though I can have a say in how this bed bug problem effects me and my supposed-to-be home.

quick question: do bed bugs move fast or slow. i've seen posts and articles online that say they can move as fast as ants, which is quite fast if you're trying to brush off what you suspect to be a bug crawling on your skin then trying to find it. I've always seen articles that say they move slow. personally when i seen them on my matress, which i threw out, i noticed them moving slowly, but they could have just been engorged and sluggish. so which is it?