A couple of Sunday’s ago at church I received a few, “I’m sorry you guys had the flu this week,” from friends and family.
I replied with a smile on my face saying, “Thank you, but I’m really not complaining. I felt bad that my kids were sick, and I felt awful myself, but after the last few winters we’ve had I can handle a single flu bug.”
Fast forward 3 days, to Wednesday, December 5th…
Tears streaming down my face and clenched fists at my side as I yelled out, “Okay God, now I’m complaining! Did you hear me? NOW I”M COMPLAINING!” There may have been a foot stomped down with my fit throwing also.
My husband, I and our four kids were now living a 1950′s horror film. You know the kind where there’s a giant bug stomping through town attacking and feeding on all the unsuspecting people who clasp hands to their mouths as they scream, wide-eyed, in terror.
Okay so it wasn’t a giant bug we were dealing with…it was an infestation of many bugs. Many, many…bed bugs!!! Okay, to be honest it was only 3 that were seen, 1 living and 2 dead, but we were told that where there’s one there are plenty more. Plenty more is the nice way of saying many more, thank you Mr. Bug Man for trying to spare my feelings.
The first man to come to our house looked at the ziplock bag and confirmed my fear with six horrifying words, “Yep, those are definitely bed bugs.” I wanted to cry, I’m pretty sure I moaned. BED BUGS!?!
You hear stories of bed bugs. Scary stories, of people who have been infested and fed on by these parasites for years. You hear how they’ve tried everything under the sun and still can’t get rid of these tiny fiends. They are an embarrassing plague, like head lice, that you pray you’ll never have to deal with.
In fact, with an upcoming trip to Mexico, I’ve been looking online at how to avoid bringing these nasty creatures back with us. I’ve heard so many stories of people coming home from Mexican vacations with these guys stowing away in luggage and wanted to be sure we wouldn’t have that issue. Lo and behold…we already had the issue!
The Orkin man made his way through our bedrooms looking for these evasive creatures finding no signs anywhere. He puzzled and “hmm’d” over the fact that there were absolutely no signs of bed bugs anywhere in our home but said that since I had put some in a bag we obviously had a problem. He left with the bag of intruders in hand and gave me long list of things for us to do to prepare for fumigation and what to do to avoid spreading them.
The list was extensive and I spent the rest of the week bagging up my home, and what felt like my life. We were to purchase encasements for our mattresses and keep them on for at least 18 months, because that’s how long these disgusting bugs can live without a feeding. We were to launder all clothing and cloth items in our home on the highest settings for at least an hour and then bag them in industrial garbage bags. And because they couldn’t be put back in rooms to get more bugs on them, they were set outside. Any hard items, that could stand it were soaked in a bleach bath and, you guessed it bagged up and set outside. Anything that couldn’t be laundered or bathed in bleach would be bagged for 18 months and set outside. This meant some of my kids toys, my daughters art supplies, bagged and gone from our life for 18 months. A part of who we are gone for at least 18 months! My lawn and porch are littered with literally dozens of bags. I’m sure everyone driving by thinks we look like rednecks.
We had to seal all outlets, just incase some superfluous creatures were hiding out in them. We had to wash all our walls, night stands, dressers, basically any furniture that was wooden/plastic/medal with rubbing alcohol. Move furniture around and steam carpets.
I’m pretty sure this was one of the most stressful weeks of my life. And, yes, I realize that things could be far worse than bed bugs. A woman I am very close to is fighting for her life against cancer right now, and thoughts of her during this week are the only things that helped me keep in mind that this isn’t as big of an issue as my fears say it is. So, yes, things could be worse. But, I couldn’t keep myself from thinking that things could be better too.
Since having school aged children I have feared them coming home with lice and having to deal with those nasty bugs. And since bed bugs started making their come back a few years ago I have feared these things would somehow make it into my home (Hence preparing for the Mexico trip by looking up how to avoid bed bugs. Most people look up what to do for a good time in Mexico…I look up how to avoid getting bed bugs.) I can’t tell you how many times when I hear of these bugs and lice I pray that I will never have to deal with them.
It seems that my prayers would go unanswered. And I was angry with God for not keeping these evil creatures away. We have some catastrophe every winter and I thought that just maybe we were going to make it through this one without one, but I guess not. This thought left me crying and yelling out “WHY!?!” again and again.
From everything I’ve heard and read about bed bugs during my life my understanding is that these are an aggressive enemy you never want to do battle with. If there’s a bug you don’t want in your home its these guys. Every time I looked up what to do if you have a bed bug infestation I would read story after story of people who were covered in bugs and have been trying to get rid of these villainous creatures for 2 or more years. I was already stressing out and exhausted from all of the work we’d been doing to prepare for treating our home. The lack of sleep I was getting due to nightmare, upon nightmare of bed bugs crawling all over me and my family didn’t help my exhaustion. They woke me up all night long. That was after it took me hours to fall asleep in the first place because I swore I felt bugs crawling on me. I itched all day long and swore there were bugs watching me just waiting to pounce on me and suck my blood as soon as I lay in my bed! I was finding that people deal with these for years! No wonder why they say the psychological issues are worse than the actual bugs themselves!
Nobody wants you at their home or to go to yours if you have bed bugs. (Though we did have some wonderful friends who gave our kids a break from the stress. You know who you are and thank you so much for being so supportive!) Most people who we had to warn that we had bed bugs were very nice. Others meant well, I think, but their lectures on how we don’t want to be responsible for spreading bed bugs around was very hurtful. We know this, that’s why we’re calling you.
My daughter’s birthday is just around the corner and we had to warn her that there would probably be no birthday party, with promises that as soon as we knew we were bug free we’d then celebrate. She just cried, and then I hugged her…and cried some more myself.
My emotional state was so bad that when my four-year-old asked to watch A Bugs Life I broke down in tears! Yes, I was going a bit insane but I kept telling myself and my husband, who thinks I may have been certifiable, that I’m not as bad as other people. Some people literally took all their furniture outside and lit a match. So, you see, I was sane enough not to do that. Though lighting a match may have been a lot less work.
Luckily we decided that we needed a second opinion due to that we had no signs, zero, at all and that we were told it was going to cost us at least $3800 to rid our homes of these vampires. $3800! And that was if it actually worked the first time, which we saw many stories that it didn’t. The services were only guaranteed for 30 days, yet online we were reading that the bugs will remain dormant for up to 55 days after a home is treated because they’re a bit too stunned to come out but still alive and ready to get back at you as soon as they have the energy to. Yes, another reason to stress…a lot of money for a problem that would quite possibly resurface soon after the guarantee expired.
Enter second opinion…The second man told us that since we have no signs of bed bugs anywhere in our home and that two of them were dead was very strange to him. Supposedly people don’t find dead bed bugs unless their home has been treated for them. Ours had not. Luckily we had found another one (That’s four intruders scurrying around my home now, 2 living and 2 dead.). Though I didn’t feel very lucky at the time we found it. In fact I cried. The more we found meant the bigger the issue was in my mind.
“So if it isn’t a bed bug, Sir, what is it?” is the question my husband and I asked. His reply. “Well, the only way to tell for certain is microscopic examination, but I’m thinking you have bat bugs, not bed bugs.”
You see, supposedly a bat bug has hairs that are longer than it’s relative the bed bug. A bed bugs are short while a bat bugs hairs are long and will extend past the eyes. (Photo of differences between a bed bug and a bat bug are here http://blog.bedbugsupply.com/faq/bat-bugs-vs-bed-bugs-what-are-you-dealing-with/) The hairs on either are impossible to see with the naked eye so if you think you have a bed bug problem always have them examined under a microscope before you stress too much. I wish I would have known this.
Well guess what? All of our cleaning and stressing out and wondering if we would be able to have lives ever again were for naught. We have bat bugs…not bed bugs!
While saying the words, “Praise God!” to any bugs in my house seems extremely odd for a girly girl like me who despises all bugs seems weird, they’ve been said MANY times over the last few days.
We got the other bugs back from the first man who came and they were confirmed to be bat bugs by two different sources. So while we still have a bug problem it’s nowhere near the issue that bed bugs are. All the cleaning and work we did was, yes, a huge waste of time and, we were told by two other pest control people, completely unnecessary but I now have a super clean house. It’s probably the most sanitary house in the world right now. Our work isn’t done because we now have dozens of bags to bring back into our home and need to put everything back where it belongs. I’m still feeling stressed and still have nightmares of bed bugs crawling all over me and nightmares of waking up with huge bites all over my body. But the stress level is lowering and slowly my home is coming back together. Best of all…no bed bugs!
So what did I learn from all of this? Well…
- I learned that if you think you’ve found a bed bug have it examined under a microscope to make sure that you are actually dealing with bed bugs.
- If you were told you don’t have bed bugs but still fear you may, because I had that fear also, pay to have a bed bug sniffing dog come to your home. Most likely he will smell nothing and you’ll feel much better. I said much better, not completely better. It takes a while to get over the fear that they are lurking somewhere in your home. I’m still working on that myself, but in my defense it’s only been 3 days since finding out we don’t have bed bugs.
- If it’s confirmed that you have bed bugs don’t bag up your life. No matter what someone tells you or what you read online. Leave everything as is and pay to have your home heat treated by someone who has a 60 day guarantee. The heat will get through everything and kill all bugs and you will save yourself A LOT of work.
After this, I don’t know what to say. My heart truly hurts for the people who have been fighting with these darn bugs for months or years. My one week experience showed me that they are worse than I actually thought. The horror stories of bed bugs I read online gave me nightmares (That’s another piece of advice…avoid going online and reading stories! They are awful!). The psychological issues people were dealing with. Kids losing friends because they couldn’t go to their homes or friends couldn’t come spend the night. Stories of people whose families didn’t want them around at Christmas for fear they would spread the bugs.
That story impacted me the most. When I read that I just pictured hugging my crying children as we snuggled on our bug infested furniture gazing at the spot that should showcase our Christmas tree, but wouldn’t because we couldn’t take it out of its storage bag for fear it would become bug infested. No presents because we couldn’t go shopping or because we felt no need to get more things that would just get bugs on them. Yes, these are things real people are actually dealing with because of these darned bugs! And I feared it would be us.
All last week I kept crying out to God, in pain, admittedly in anger, and just plain exhaustion and frustration. The question that springs up every time I’m faced with a catastrophe resurfaced with this one…
If God is supposed to be such a loving, caring father why would he let this happen? Yes, I know some of you are thinking this is a bit dramatic over bed bugs…but if you haven’t been there, please don’t judge. They are traumatizing.
New International Version (NIV)
9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
When ever I am faced with a difficult situation I look on this verse and wonder about it. As two of my kids have been rushed to emergency rooms for dog attacks, as an aunt dies of cancer and another woman, who is like a second mother to me, battles cancer for her life, I wonder “Why, God? Why if you are a God who cares for us even more than an earthly parent does, why do you allow these things to happen?”
As a mother I would do anything in my power to make sure my kids never have to be sick or face difficult situations. God has all the power in all the world, he could stop a dog from attacking my kids, he could have made it so cancer didn’t attack my loved ones? He could have stopped these bugs from coming into my house and wasting my time? I wouldn’t have to be suffering from a new anxiety and nightmares. My back wouldn’t be on the verge of going out on me because of all the work I’ve done the past week and all I have yet to do. He could have stopped my sisters two miscarriages and helped her to have two more beautiful children happily laughing in her home. So if he can…why doesn’t he? If I could stop these things I would. Why doesn’t God?
I don’t know. I wont know the answer to this until I reach heaven. And, yes, this is very frustrating to me.
Around Christmas time I was laying in bed one night thinking and talking to God and asking him what I could do differently to help my relationship with him grow. His answer was a very difficult one, yet I knew it was the answer I would get…let go.
Letting go and trusting in anyone, even a sovereign God is not easy for me. I am a typical type A, need to have a plan and need to know everything type of gal. Trusting anyone isn’t easy for me. It’s much easier to trust myself and do what I know because then I know it will work. And if it doesn’t work then I have nobody to blame but myself.
Letting go and letting God is a near impossibility for me. In fact I truly look on it as an impossibility. It just isn’t me. I’ve tried and yes, it works out sometimes but other times it doesn’t and then I withdraw a bit and keep God at a comfortable distance where I can talk to him and vent to him, share my dreams and my fears, but not have to rely on him for more than my basic needs. Trusting in more than that and relinquishing control is just to scary.
So what do I do? Not sure yet…but I’m working on letting go and letting God. Even though I feel like His parenting style is lacking at times, I know that I don’t see the big picture. I don’t see the accident that may have occurred if I had been on time for an appointment. I don’t see all the sicknesses that he has helped my family avoid. I don’t see all the major injuries and hurts that may have occurred if minor catastrophes hadn’t stopped me from going somewhere or doing something.
There is so much that is unseen that I’m learning to be grateful for and hopefully they’ll help me let go and let God. Baby steps will get me there eventually and until then I’m going to thank him for the most recent victory in my life…
We’re a bed bug free home! PRAISE GOD!