Yes, I will kill a blood-sucking bedbug and not bat an eye – if it enters my space for the purpose of disrupting my life and making me and my family suffer.
I was given bedbugs a few years ago. A new manager showed up – Ms. Z…and proceeded to instruct Orkin on the war plan against these parasitic blood-suckers. Most everybody had them and if they didn’t they got them.
I remember the Orkin guy telling me to expect them coming in from all directions. They funneled them into my apartment. That was the plan. It took me a month to complete all the instructions on the list given to all tenants, for the purpose of preparing the units for Orkin to come in and spray.
Many tenants didn’t prepare; they just let Orkin come in and spray around them, believing, without actually knowing, what Orkin and apartment management told them, that they used organic solutions harmless to humans and dogs.
Many others didn’t have the amount of furniture or office files that I did, so it didn’t take them as long and they certainly didn’t go to a motel the day they sprayed.
Any item which I thought could hide a bedbug or a cluster of bedbugs, rather than take any chances, went into the dumpster. I made many trips to that dumpster. Even the file cabinet went, the DVD/CD stereo went. No more music for us. Furniture went, blankets, clothes I had stored in closets.
I did copious shredding of private notes, that were nobody’s business and served as raw material from which I used to write my essays and commentary. If we’re gone overnight anybody had access. We didn’t have a security system back then. I could always tell when somebody had entered nosing around. I could smell their cologne or sweat.
I went through every nook and cranny of my living space.
And yes, it did disrupt my life, Steve’s and Rose’s.
The bites; yes there were many. The itching and scratching was torturous.
Each time they spayed, Steve and I with Rose went to a motel for the night.
I killed many bedbugs – on the ceiling, the upper walls, the doorways, the lower walls – leaving a smudge mark where they died, so the Orkin people could see their pattern of entry. They were even rising up from the carpet – in several locations – in every room that had carpet.
The manager, Ms. Z…, was brutal in her approach, even threatened me with eviction because in her words I wasn’t cooperating. “Those are your bedbugs”, she kept saying, “you’re hurting the rest of the tenants by not letting us in”.
To prepare? As the instructions told me to do? Is that how I wasn’t cooperating, Ms. Z…?
I don’t know how much more I could have cooperated. I wanted to know what they were spraying and they wouldn’t provide it. I have a neurological disorder and don’t want to be breathing in poisons. Finally, after much arguing on the phone to all parties, Orkin conceded and sent me print-outs of what was sprayed in the building, not in my apartment.
What was sprayed in my apartment was evidently secret and controlled by the defense department, since they use those sprays for biological warfare? And too much trouble for them to figure it out? To prevent lawsuits?
The ones doing the spraying simply picked up their canisters at Orkin not knowing what was in them and proceeded to spray? They kept giving me the same line about the solutions being harmless to humans and dogs.
The last time they sprayed, after they had sealed all the cracks where the ceilings meet the walls and drilled into door and baseboard mouldings depositing poisons, Steve and I with Rose left for the motel, once again.
Orkin went in and as the maintenance guy told me when I returned home the next day, “we sprayed and bombed the ‘shit’ out of your apartment. We coughed so hard we had to leave”.
As I sat on the couch I kept feeling the residue from the spray on my face and could even taste it. i started breathing only through my nose. The apartment had a light haze throughout. Every single item in my living space had been sprayed and bombed. Kitchen too, everything.
That was the end of that.
Not quite though.
In researching the compounds listed, I discovered that the spray and/or bombs they use cause dehydration in the bedbugs rendering them unable to procreate and to eventually die.
I was concerned with my thirst – so thirsty, unquenchable thirst. Nothing I could do about it but keep drinking, keep washing my skin. The membranes in my nose and throat were dry all the time. My lips were sticking together. I was coughing incessantly. My face always looked dehydrated, my arms looked the same.
The Orkin guy who previously worked in New York city told me he used compounds for the last spray not usually approved, but they funneled so many bedbugs into my apartment, that he decided to use it. “Don’t worry”, he said, “you’ll never have a bedbug problem again – maybe a few stragglers that should only require some baseboard spraying.
While in the elevator one day, I was talking to another tenant, and he said, “so you finally got them?”.
“Yeah, an army of them”, I replied.
That wasn’t the end of it. I noticed Rose drinking more water. Lots of it. She wasn’t as hungry as usual. This went on and on for months. She got weaker and weaker. Was always walking to the water bowl in search of water.
She started sleeping closer to me at night, letting me wrap my arms around her and cradle her body against mine as I slept on my side.
I’d hear her getting up several times to go for water. She started having problems walking. She could no longer simply go to the bowl and drink.
She had to turn around, and around slowly, till she was close enough to the bowl to sit where she could also reach the bowl to drink from it. It was like an engineering feat each time she did it, judging distance and how many turns she’d have to make.
For months she did that round-about to lower herself to the bowl so she could sit while drinking, instead of stand as she always previously did. I can still see her do that in my mind’s eye. She was losing strength rapidly.
Steve and I had the discussion, about euthanizing her. Maybe we waited too long. Steve was getting anxious about it and we quarreled often.
One day I decided to take the grocery cart from downstairs that was available for tenant use. I lined it with pillows and blankets, building it up high enough to elevate her, so Rose could see what was around her.
I put it aside, ready for when we’d have to take that final walk with her. Then waited longer – how long I don’t recall.
When I thought it was getting close to letting-go-time, Steve and I decided we should take Rose outside for a drive in the cart. Let her feel the fresh air and breeze on her fragile body, let her see all her surroundings that were familiar to her for so long one more time. We also used it as a dry run to the Vet’s office which wasn’t far away, so when we took her the final time, that trip would also be familiar to her.
On the way home, I had Steve take one last picture of Rose, our daughter with me, her adopted mother. Yes, Rose adopted us as much as we adopted her.
Still we waited, and we tried not to quarrel in front of Rose. I told Steve that when it was time, Rose would tell me. She hadn’t yet. Steve trusted that, knowing how close we were. Each night in bed I would talk to her telepathically, knowing she could hear my soothing thoughts while I held her body close to mine.
I didn’t sleep much back then.
One night Rose got up and tried to walk, sideways, as she had come to do. Half way to the drinking bowl she let out a blood-curdling scream in the dark that I will never forget and still hear in my mind’s ear. I knew then what we had to do.
The next morning we made haste. Wrapping her up and placing her in the grocery cart, we drove her to the Vet’s office, talking to her, soothing her all the way.
There were four of us in the room. Steve and I said our final goodbyes. Steve was too emotional to stay for the rest.
I stayed as the doctor took her head in her hands stroking her, then moved back out of view wanting Rose to only have eyes for her. Rose responded to the kindness.
The doctor left. I stayed until Rose wanted me to leave.
We left with an empty cart and two empty hearts.
Bedbug sprays meant to dehydrate the enemy dehydrated our daughter Rose resulting in a long slow painful death.
She set the terms however, right to the end, staying as long as she could before traveling to the great beyond. I am so proud of her fight, her stamina, her adaptation, her will to survive. The most gentle being – to all creatures – who often stood in crowds among strangers, never showing fear or trepidation.
Rose was a working dog.
In the end, Ms. Z…called, spoke to Steve and told him to apologize to me for her behavior. She said, “tell your wife, I know they weren’t her bedbugs”. She was sorry about it all.
It wasn’t long after that she was either fired or quit. Some tenants thought she had been brought in specifically to wage war against the terrorists of the insect world.
Recently when Orkin entered to do prophylactic spraying for cockroaches, the guy sprayed right into Lilly Belle’s water dish as he glided his wand over it – had I not been there, I never would have known. The management is always telling us we don’t have to be there when they enter. Oh yes we do.
Of course I should have removed it, but I forgot and frankly was appalled when he saw what he did, then just moved onto the bathroom as if it was okay; “it won’t kill your dog”.
Oh yes it will.