Tuesday, January 21, 2014

10 true stories: The Emotional Impact of Bed Bugs

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I work in the pest control industry, and I specialize in bed bugs. I see all kinds of different situations everyday, and all of them are very unique. Why are they unique? Because these situations, ok let me call them infestations, affect real people. These are moms and dads, children, new born babies, elderly folks, disabled, the list goes on. 

When I first entered the Bed Bug business, I had no idea what I was in for. I started receiving phone calls at 3am (yes, I try to answer every phone call), from men and women who are beside themselves, hysterically crying. It's because they've just awaken to the realization that their lives and their beds, have been invaded. 

These stories are real, but identities will not be revealed. 



1. No Sleep For Months

She was a mother of 4, in her mid 30's, and quite successful. She was physically fit, with a strong mind and a great will to live. But, she found a bed bug in her bed. It was one lonely bed bug. She lost sleep for 3 months. The ordeal she went through to treat her house is a completely different story. But, even after chemical treatments and a heat treatment, her sleepless nights continued for months. 

In her mind, everything was infested with bed bugs. Her children's friends couldn't sleep over any more. Her kids couldn't visit their dad without strict procedures to follow. The rule was, they had to strip naked at the front door upon return from their father's, so they could put their clothes in a plastic bag. Then, they had to walk naked through the house and put their clothes in the dryer.

The real kicker is, she never found out where the bed bugs came from. I wonder how she sleeps today. I still think about her.




2. Is there a Doctor in the house

It was 1 am in the morning, and I received a semi-panicked call from a Doctor. He said he was reading a book in his bed, and watched a bed bug crawl across his book, right before his very eyes. His wife, lying right beside him, insisted he call a pest control company. He had no idea what to do. Think about that, a Doctor, who saves the lives of so many, was helpless. He told me he felt helpless. 

As much as this story doesn't have a breakdown of emotions attached to it. This doctor felt the need to call someone at 1am in order to help bring a little sanity to the situation they were facing. We heat treated their huge, multi-million dollar home. Bed bugs don't just live in the ghetto. They like the good life too!



3. Sunday afternoon

This was one of our very first jobs. I'll never forget this client. She woke up on this particular Sunday morning, like any regular Sunday. For some reason, she changed her sheets, but this time lifted up the bed. There were over 50 live bed bugs crawling around. She immediately started crying, and was in shock.

We answered the phone on that particular Sunday. We inspected her house that day, and booked a heat treatment for her right away. When we were done, she sat with us in the living room, and broke into deep sobbing. She had no idea this could happen, and especially to her. She told me she felt so violated, and blamed herself for not finding this problem well before it became a full blown infestation.

Her house was littered with bed bugs. But the heat treatment fixed her problem, in one shot. 




4. I rented my room to a student

She was a well accomplished woman, in her mid-50s. She was successful in all stages of her life, but just recently, a car accident caused her a lot of physical pain. She wasn't able to work, so she rented out a room in her house so she could make up for some of her lost income. 

Well, the student that rented her house brought in an infestation of bed bugs. In the magnitude of 100s of  full grown bugs. If that's not enough to make your stomach turn. 

The solution was to heat treat her house. She had huge plants all throughout her house, weighing over 100lbs each. And to make matters worse, she had candle and chocolate hobby. She had hundreds of candles and chocolates all through her house. Since the heat would melt these things, she had to remove them from her house..

Her preparation was extremely unique, to say the least. This poor woman, as if her life wasn't already difficult enough as it was. 

Her life was upside-down. She was emotionally broken. I felt such a deep need to connect with her, and let her know it was going to be okay. After our heat treatment, I never heard from her again. But that's good news. As much as we were very important to her life at the time, I am sure she never wants to see us again!



5. 1000s of bed bugs

This house was a four-plex, with an attic, an upper unit, a main floor unit and the basement unit. All were separate rentals with separate tenants. A young couple, with two young children just moved into the main floor. Within days, the woman found multiple live seemingly strong adult bed bugs on her bed. Her nightmare started.

I received a call from the owner of the property, and of course he was stressed to say the least. He knew this job was going to be costly, and he could potentially have months of lost
rental income. But, he had no clue what he was about to discover. During our initial inspection, we made our way up to the attic. The attic had already been abandoned, but the bed and all of the renter's belongings were still there. To the owner's horror, there were 1000s of live bed bugs crawling around. The floor was covered in moulting. And the bed, the once white bed, was completely black with bed bug poop.

This was an infestation, factor 10! 

So now, you have a completely hysterical woman, with two young kids,  and an owner that can't see a light at the end of the tunnel. We heat treated this entire four-plex. It took us 16 hours of straight heat to complete this job. But we knew we needed to solve their problem the first time. Otherwise, these people would be in a very stressful and emotionally vexing situation. The problem was solved. I wonder how the woman is doing?




6. An owner's nightmare

If you're an owner of a property, and you've had to deal with bed bugs, you've lost your own share of sleep. However, for this one owner, he had the tenant from hell. The female tenant wasn't a dirty person, she didn't even bring in the bed bugs. But she was legally knowledgable, and knew how to make the owner's life a nightmare. She hadn't paid rent for 6 months, and was threatening to move and make the landlord pay for that too.


The owner had already had 4 treatments from another company. So, it's not like he wasn't trying to address the problem. In fact, this particular owner was very diligent and really wanted to get rid of the bed bugs. However, the 3 story unit was a century building, with 12 foot ceilings, and treating the unit was extremely challenging.

We treated that unit for over 12 hours. We gave it everything we had, and won the battle. The landlord went through 6 months of dealing with a boat load of stress, and helplessness. He told me he thought he had to just give up. But now, the tenant is happy, and still living there. Problem solved!



7. My 4 day old newborn

This is such a sad case of a young couple, with a brand new baby. They just moving into their new rental apartment. They were so excited, and they were very young. They were both 20, and this was their first apartment. They timed the move perfectly, as they moved in just days before the baby was born.

This young family was at home, feeding their baby, and placing her in bed. They were tired from a long day, and went to bed. Their little baby girl woke up in the middle of the night, crying (probably feeding time), and so her mom naturally picked her up. What she discovered could have been from a horror movie. 

As she unwrapped the blanket that was comforting her little baby girl she saw 4 large adult bed bugs attached to her body. Oh, that gives me shivers up my spine. I actually cried a little (yah I'm a man, I can cry too), and felt such deep sympathy for them. We heat treated her apartment, and their lives continued on. But I am sure she always expected to find bed bugs on her baby after that.

Oh, BTW. They figured out where they got the bed bugs from. As they moved into their new home, they had a love seat given to them. The love seat was infested with bed bugs. 



8. The blame game

This woman lives in an upscale downtown neighbourhood. She discovered bed bugs in her apartment, and the nightmare began. She was beside herself trying to figure out where these came from. She didn't regularly invite guests to her Toronto home. She did go to her cottage quite often. Her brothers and sisters would often be at the cottage when she was there. 

She found herself caught in a blame game. She didn't want to let her family know what she was thinking, but she secretly believed her family was bringing bed bugs to the cottage. In her mind she was convinced, and this tormented her for months. She wanted to continue to go to the cottage, but was suspicious of every move her other family members made.

You might find yourself in the same situation. It is extremely important to educate yourself. Know what to look for, and how to spot the signs. Because, really, this woman could have brought the bed bug home from anywhere. She did travel often, usually to 5 star hotels. I tried to help her see all possibilities. She had a hard time believing they would come from a 5 star hotel. In the end we treated her apartment, and spent days on the phone with her afterwards, comforting her, and helping her through the process of recovery.



9. I've moved 4 times

And sadly, she still had them after the third move. Or, so she thought. It is really quite possible that she still had them. This is one of those stories that I did not deal with first hand. In fact, she didn't use Green Heat Bed Bugs Exterminators to solve her problem. 

It started in her first apartment, where she found a few live bed bugs. She had a heat treatment from another company, and then had a dog detection team come in afterwards. The dog alerted, and so according to the dog she still had bed bugs. She chose to move.

Her second apartment still had bed bugs. She found them herself. She had her apartment chemically treated. She had a dog come in after the chemical spray, and the dog alerted yet again. She moved yet again.

Her third apartment, and many hours and days of stress later, she thought she was free and clear. However, she couldn't sleep at night. She found herself losing sleep constantly. She didn't see bed bugs at this point, but she thought she would get the dog in to check, just for her peace of mind. And sure enough, the dog alerted. Beside herself, she moved yet again.

I have lost touch with the story at this point. However, I know she moved 3 times to try to get rid of her problem. Moving will not help. Only a proper education on bed bugs, and an excellent heat treatment exterminator will help. 



10. Bat bugs

The last story is that of an incorrect understanding of what a bed bug looks like. This family went on for months trying to get rid of their bed bug infestation. They were using another pest control company, and had many unsuccessful treatments. They even had a heat treatment from another company.

To their amazement, these little creatures kept on coming back. They finally called us, and told us that these bugs would be in their kitchen, in the middle of the day, while they were painting. They saw them continuously all over their house, during the day. 

Bed bugs do not like the light. They typically come out at night, and sleep during the day. The first thing I though was, these are not bed bugs. So, we wen't to their house and discovered they were bat bugs, not bed bugs. It actually took some scientific explanation to help her believe she didn't have bed bugs. This is because of the misinformation she received previously.

She spent $5000 on eliminating her bed bug problem. She didn't even have bed bugs. That poor family. So devastating!




If you live in the Toronto area you can go to Green Heat Bed Bugs Exterminators to solve your bed bug problem.

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Green Heat Toronto Exterminators Bed Bug Blogs are written from a non-biased perspective, and are intended to give you accurate, current and relevant information helping raise bed bug awareness.

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