Monday, April 10, 2017

Twenty-One Days

is what it takes to break a habit, "they" say. It's how long it takes to MAKE a new habit, too, curiously enough. I think it's a nice memory device, that 21 days. It's less than a month, so it doesn't feel daunting. It's more than a fortnight, so you know you will face a challenge or two. But, "they" say, if you can make it 21 days, then you can succeed in whatever that lifestyle change you're attempting.

Unfortunately for US, this post is going to go "live" at the end of the next (for me, it's the next) 21 days, as I need the next (for me, not for you) 21 days to document the progress. Because of what it's about, it does not behoove me to blog it as I go. You'll understand in just a sec.

"Yesterday" was Day Zero. I had needed to update/upgrade my wardrobe for background work, and I know that Stephanie is both highly fashion-conscious as well as being incredibly deal-spotty. I hate clothing shopping for myself (or probably for others, too), because I am not a finder of deals, I just refuse to spend too much. Also, I don't feel like I have any real fashion sense. Lately, Stephen and I have been binge-watching Arrow, and I wanted to emulate Moira Queen's style. I wanted some basic suit and dress pieces that would be timeless and would only need accessories (another thing I have no skills in, but let's get the big pieces outta the way first).

So Stephanie came over, and we went shopping. Whilst trying stuff on, I noticed what looked like bites or bacne near where my bikini top sits. It doesn't itch or hurt or anything, but having just noticed it, I had Stephanie take a look. She immediately pulled a Stephen (or even Daddy) and tried to diagnose me. Since Stephen's been dealing with a lot of itchy bites lately, Stephanie kept coming back to bedbugs. I was sure we don't have bedbugs; Stephen was sure we don't have bedbugs; Stephanie kept pressing the issue, and guess what the two of them found? Bedbugs. So this 21-day countdown (up?) is going to be about getting rid of the damn things. #KillItWithFire

Day Zero (Wednesday, summer): find and kill 3 bedbugs from the bedskirt. Pull all of the linens off the bed and wash them in hot water and dry them twice per Stephanie's urging. Discover dead bedbugs after laundering the linens. Dunno if it was the hot water or the twice-dry that killed 'em; don't care. Tweet "thanks for the nightmares, Stephanie! ;)" and she makes me take it down. Fine. I took it down. Just as we were ready to go to bed, Stephen killed another one because it had just bitten him. Dammit. We put a bunch of lavender oil in the corners of the bedding, and I went to bed while Stephen kept puttering.

Day One: no evidence of bedbugs anywhere, I go ahead and do a bunch of my own laundry. I also pick up a couple of sprayer bottles and those cheap ketchup/mustard squirt bottles. Whilst laundering my clothing, I spray the baseboards throughout the apartment with undiluted lavender oil. Smells so good! I also Take. Apart. My Bed. so I can spray every surface of it with diluted tea tree oil as I rebuild it. I also vacuum and mop the bedroom again. Then I shower and drive to a fitting, because I booked a day of background work next week! Woo Hoo! Masters of Sex, I'm comin' back! When Stephen gets home, he fills the ketchup squirter bottle with Diatemaceous Earth, which is a pet-friendly way to kill fleas, but also works on bedbugs. He then proceeds to open all the electrical outlets he can get to to lace them with D.E. He's also inspecting the media shelves and will treat them with diluted tea tree oil just as a precaution. We're not fuckin' around!
I can't tell you how many times I filled this bottle, to spray all the bedding parts... I sprayed Every Single Bedding part before putting the bed back together! There was not a single square inch that did not get sprayed. Srsly.
Day Two: no evidence anywhere of any issue, and Stephen slept well last night, once he turned on the A/C (we're in another heat wave, which doesn't help us discover living bedbugs, because they don't care for heat, which is why they don't actually crawl on you, they just bite you where they can reach ya). Neither of us has gotten a new bite since Night Zero. The apartment stills smells very lavendery, and we both slept through the night, as did the cats. We had discussed setting a dry ice "trap" for any living adult bugs (they're attracted to CO2, which is why they feed off the blood of humans... they know where you are because you're exhaling in your sleep!), but frankly, we're unable to purchase less than ten pounds at a time here, and we really only need about a pound or less, and the trap does involve a little bit of setup, and what a waste of nine or more pounds of dry ice! And we're not seeing evidence. So we'll keep spraying lavender and tea tree oils around the place, and if we don't dilute it, those oils will absolutely kill any adult bugs we find, plus we could also draw little lines of D.E. around the walls, to see if the oils need any help... KILLING the BUGS!

Day Three: I'm on set as a Scripty all day in Riverside, which is about sixty miles away. Call time is 3:00 p.m., so by the time I get/got back in to go to bed, I just fell asleep immediately. Awoke early on Sunday for my NOON call time, and had a chance to discover that we're still seeing no evidence, and the bites we have are definitely fading. As we near the end of this particular 21 day cycle, any eggs will/should have hatched, and we'll probably have to step up our game a bit. I'm happy that at this point, we've got a decent handle on the "problem". We managed to get diagnosed in time (Thank You, Stephanie) to reduce the infestation. I'll probably be able to come back to this post by Day Five. Right now, (Day Four), I've gotta pack up my shit so I'm ready to head out when my carpoolees arrive!

Day Five: Nothing to report ... until Stephen was up in the darkness in the wee hours of morning, searching for the little bastard that bit him. It was a teeny bite, so he's assuming an egg we'd not found had hatched. So,

Day Six: He spends his day off spraying diluted tea tree oil everywhere, vacuuming and mopping, and spreading D.E. into the baseboards of the bedroom and then masking-taping all of those little cracks and crevices. Late into the day, we purchase more lavender and tea tree oils at GNC (because they honestly had the best local prices; we found cheaper online, but aren't ready to deal with shipping just yet), and then I sprayed the undiluted lavender oil on all of the baseboards in the bedroom and closet (the only room I'd "missed" the first time, because I ran out). We went to bed that night in lavender heaven.

Day Seven (Wednesday): I'm on set again today, but this time for the 1960's show that I'd had a fitting for last week. Have worked a little, but mostly I'm sitting in holding with the other background actors, waiting to work. This is my "second look":
no, those are my real glasses!
the other "profile", to include my Hunger Games pin (?)
I'll let you know (here, probably much later than from set) whether we have any bedbug evidence today... um, I have no idea; I forgot to tell you. #SorryNotSorry

Day Eight: Stephen's place of business receives stock on Thursdays that includes pet foods packed in dry ice. So today, I raced over there to pick up a little so we could set our "trap"!
tape a t-shirt to an inverted dog bowl; dust insides w/D.E.,
 put dry ice in the cup, and seal the room for an hour
Just a little white powder everywhere either means we have NO MORE BEDBUGS, or (more likely), we may have some eggs still waiting to hatch. Good news is, we can set this trap EVERY Thursday until we're free of bites/evidence! W00t!

Days Ten and Eleven: I'm on set as Scripty again. This time, we're in a soundstage. It's for a YouTube (or other) web series, and it's crazy fast-moving (unlike the student film last weekend that took for-freakin'-ever because there didn't seem to be anyone actually in charge), and again, not a lot of time at home other than sleeping, so I dunno what the hell the bedbug sitch is this weekend.

Day Fourteen: I picked up a rush call for a SCRIPTY gig! Day Playing, officially! It's for a feature (I think), and they're almost done with their shoot, and we're filming in the middle of nowhere, and I may have gotten a bug bite or two near my ankle on one of these set days, but I don't think I've been bitten in bed. Honestly, I don't really know, because my earlier bites never itched, which I think is supposed to mean I'm immune or something.

Day Fifteen (Thursday): We're diluting the essential oils less and less, but this means we'll run out again soon. No dry ice in any shipments from Stephen's work, so no new traps. At some point in here (I'm back-blogging this week, because I just haven't been keeping up), Stephen gets bit again, So I re-wash the bed linens and apply DE and tea tree oil (both) to all of the edges where the suckers might climb up. Still don't see any evidence of 'em.

Day TWENTY-ONE (Wednesday): I'm on set, in the background, of a popular television show, out in the middle of nowhere. I'm wearing jeans, so I can't see if I'm bug-bitten, but there's a good chance. Also, on Monday, Stephen and I were out in the world, and I stepped into what felt like a bottomless hole (as I was stepping). It was one of those holes in the sidewalk where there should have been a tree. Had there been a tree there, I'd have missed the hole. But no tree means I wasn't looking, and didn't see that the concrete had ended. RUNNING on set for the television show may have exacerbated things; my knee is now jacked up (but I don't know it yet).

Day Twenty-Two (yeah, that's right, kids, this saga's gonna take a few more weeks, probably): I had put myself on the overnight availability list, and got rush called for some BG work on a new show, with my car. Great day; highly productive and lucrative. I'm really hoping they'll have me back. Fingers crossed! Nothing new to report on the bedbug front, but when I changed into the new suit-dress that Stephanie helped me purchase, I discovered my knee was beginning to swell. Argh. Also, no dry ice again, so we can't set the trap even if we wanted to. ArghArgh.

Day Twenty-Eight (Wednesday, still summer): I'd gone to Kaiser on Monday to catch up on my Depo schedule (I'm behind, primarily because I Just Friggin' Forgot, All Right? Quit yelling at me), and while I was there, a nurse checked out my knee and made a phone appt for fifteen minutes from then with a doc, who ordered x-rays and a follow-up in-person visit (for today, Day 28). Over the phone, she'd Rx'd rest, elevation, ice, and ibuprofen or naproxen sodium as needed. By the follow-up, the swelling had abated quite a bit, so she told me to continue what I'd been doing, as well as some stretching. I'm really bad about "forgetting" to stretch.

Day Twenty-Nine: I get Stephen on a plane very early so that he can visit his mom for what could be the last time she remembers him. Or not. She's no Spring Chicken, and her issues with memory loss could easily be just ... NORMAL ... for someone her age. But she lives in a facility near her younger son, who happens to be the worrier in the family (he takes after his mom), so Stephen scheduled a visit. After I dropped him off, I headed downtown to attend the Production Meeting for my Next Scripty gig, an 18-day shoot for another YouTube series, this time for a dude who already has a real YouTube presence and following. It's gonna be crazy. I'm looking forward to it, and I'm probably also looking forward to a mid-winter night's dream (my next expected good sleep).

Day Thirty: I have no idea how I'll even know if we still have a bedbug problem while Stephen's out of town, but I went ahead and ordered vast quantities of the essential oils again, since we were out of everything. My package arrived today! 16 fluid oz. of each should last to the end of this trauma, even if we don't bother to dilute Any More. Out of sheer joy, I sprayed the edges of the bedding (mattress, foundation, and every pillow) with undiluted lavender oil. Heaven.

Day Thirty-One (Saturday): I've completed most of my prep work for the shoot that starts Monday. I still need to print out script pages, but I've had two cups of French-Press Chocolate Milk-based Vanilla-Nut coffee, and I've vacuumed the bedroom, and cleaned/WD-40'd the air ionizer, and spent the morning on Twitter. I wonder when, in the future, I'll be able to hit "publish" on this post? I wonder when, in the future, I'll have time to sit back down here and catch you up on anything? My life's about to get crazy-busy, and even if it's an amazing ride, I won't have time to keep you up to speed. I now haz a little sad. Lemme drink some yummy coffee.

Day Thirty-Nine (Sunday): Stephen got in on Monday, back from his trip. I went to five consecutive 12-hour workdays, and he stayed home, using PTO to "recover" from the emotional draining he'd just endured. He came back either to or with bites, all clumped together on his back. We have no idea if they're from the futon or from travelling, but we've measured the futon and will invest in a bedbug-resistance mattress pad to put under the duvet, once we've washed and double-dried it again. We just keep treating any "problem" areas with essential oils, and maybe this week, there'll be a shipment with dry ice at his job again.

Day Who-The-Hell-Knows?: I had let this post sit as a draft for a very long time, because when your "current" housing is the root of a problem like bedbugs, you cannot publish that. We resolved the issue long before we moved outta that place, but there's always a lingering anxiety, before and during a move, that we might be bringin' the little bastards with us. If you've been following this blog with any regularity, you already know that the new place is kinda sorta divine, or at least has washer and dryer in the unit, good airflow throughout so we open the windows as we like when the weather allows, and all the mammals that are living here are pretty damn comfortable. Before we moved the first piece of furniture in, I spread DE and sprayed essential oils in all the baseboards. We haven't had to reapply anything, other than using essential oils to make the place smell good, or for soaking in a hot bath. I'm out of lavender oil, and I may re-order 16oz online, which should last me another very long time, considering what I use it for!

Have you ever had to deal with bedbugs? How long did it take to get rid of them? How long did your anxiety last, after they were gone?


  1. Wow, quite the saga there. I've never had to deal with bed bugs so I can't even imagine. I did have to deal with my daughter getting lice from a daycare that required a whole sterilization of the house. That was no fun.

    When I first started reading I thought that you were talking about the new place and I felt so bad that you were having problem after such a promising move. Then I was relieved to see you were talking about the old place.

    1. Yeah, I started this post oh... so long ago! You just CAN'T post something like this - a bug that TRAVELS in your clothing to wherever - in the period of time that you're actually dealing with it. We never did find the source, but right around the time we discovered them, NUMEROUS apartments were being vacated in that old place, so I'm betting the infestation happened in a neighboring apartment, and rather than dealing with it themselves, the tenants just ran away! ... and took a few eggs with them into their NEW place, never to escape!

      I'm sure lice is as significant a problem. Luckily for you, it didn't last a month or more!


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