At the appointed time the next day there was a knock on my door. When I opened the door, I saw two people there: a man and a woman. The woman introduced herself as “Mary”, a manager from UBC Housing housekeeping services. I forget if she was the manager of all housekeeping or just one of the managers. The dude was “Mike” from the pest control company. I believe he was an Orkin guy. Mary wanted to meet me, get a bit of my info, and introduce me to Mike. After a brief conversation, Mary left to let Mike and I get down to the business of bed bug inspection.
It didn’t take long to tell Mike was an alright guy. He was patient, explained everything, and genuinely seemed to care about my well-being. He asked me when I noticed the marks on my body. How many marks, the shape, and the location. He then asked to go upstairs to the bedroom to start his inspection. Mike immediately went to the mattress on the floor and got out a flashlight. He examined the duvet cover and then the sheets. Then he removed the sheet from the mattress and looked at the mattress in great detail. He dug at the seams and even brought out a tiny magnifying glass to see the finer details. Mike explained he was looking for two things. The first was bits of dried blood that might have come from bite wounds. The second thing was bed bug poop. Bed bugs are nasty creatures. Not only do they prey upon you for your blood, they have the audacity to poop in your bed. Think about that for a second. On this planet, there exists a creature that consumes your blood for food. When it is done with its blood meal, it will defecate your blood. So Mike was looking for insect feces in my bed, feces that was made of my own blood. That part did not sit with me well.
He then fanned out from my bed. There was my night stand next to where I slept. Mike asked if he could turn the night stand over. I gave him the ok. Keeping the drawers shut, he went bottoms up with my night stand. There were four holes at the bottom where screws went. Mike immediately shined his flashlight into these holes and looked through his magnifying glass. He looked up and asked me if I had duct tape. I actually did have a roll lying around. I went and got it for him. He took the tape and taped shut all four holes. He then put the night stand back upright. Next he examined the carpet in the corner where my mattress was. Using a utility knife, he dug at the carpet corner and pulled it up a bit. Then using both hands he just yanked on the carpet, pulling it up away from the floor. There was more examining with the flashlight.
After that, Mike said he’d seen enough and asked me to come back downstairs. He was very matter-of-fact when he told me there were indeed bed bugs in my apartment and they were at the very least in my bedroom. The reason why he taped up the night stand screw holes was because he saw bed bugs nesting in them. The corner where he pulled up the carpet contained bed bugs. Surprisingly, he didn’t see any bed bugs evidence in my bedding nor my mattress. Mike told me that I’d have to be very vigilant from now on if I wanted to get rid of them as quickly as possible. There would be things I needed to do and I had to them without wavering and without delay.
Mike said he didn’t have time to do a full treatment on the same day and I also needed to do prep work anyways. What he would do was to go and get some of his chemicals and do an emergency spot treatment in the areas he did see bed bugs. I was also then told to do some important things. I had to assume that anything in the apartment might have bed bugs or their eggs in them. I had to isolate items that were known to be infested. I then had to decontaminate anything that might or definitely was infested. Anything that was guaranteed clean had to stay that way by isolating it from anything else.
Mike informed he was going to get his gear right away and that he’d treat my upstairs but it wouldn’t be a full-on roll in nerve gas nuke it from orbit just to be sure type of thing. I was to stay away from the upstairs for a few hours and leave the windows open. He also suggested I get back in touch with Mary. Since I had the time and the UBC Housing offices were a short walk away, I went to see Mary in person. She didn’t seem at all shocked when I told her about what Mike had found. She did seem very motivated to help me with my problem however. She told me that I could get free laundry cards from the life residence manager, we’ll call her Alexis. RLMs help a residence with more of the social and living aspects of housing as opposed to the business stuff like Mary did. I went downstairs and met Alexis for the first time. She also told me she would be there to help me with any aspect of getting rid of my bed bugs that she could assist with. The first order of business was nearly $20 dollars worth of free laundry. At UBC, there was no insuite laundry, so it was all coin operated laundry rooms.
Mike had explained to me that getting my clothes clean needed to be one of the first things I did. The heat of water and especially the heat of dryers would be able to kill beg bugs and their eggs. It was critical that I get a first batch of clothes in the guaranteed clean category because I was running the risk of contaminating other places just by going outside. To help with this, I was also handed a box of garbage bags. Keeping items stored in bags would help isolate clean from infested.
Thus began a series of protocols that I would follow for what turned out to be months. It was something out of the CDC in Atlanta. Now you might be asking why I just didn’t get the hell out of there at that point. It’s not practical to just leave when you first detect you have bed bugs. Unless you’re willing to basically leave everything you own in your infested home, you can’t just take off. Anything inside your home can’t be trusted until it’s decontaminated and deemed safe. Even taking a book away is dangerous because there could be eggs hiding in the pages, waiting to hatch into bed bugs. So until I had a handle on things, I had to keep myself isolated in my apartment. Considering I had blood-thirsty creatures in my bedroom, that was no small feat.
In the next post, I detail some of the changes I instituted in my every day life to keep things clean and safe.
You can find the other posts of this series here.