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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A bedbug horror story

Posted By on 01.31.12 at 08:00 AM

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Back in 2005, I was living in an awesome two-level apartment in Roscoe Village—the setup was pretty luxurious for a 20-year-old college student. Back then, Roscoe Village was still a little grimy (and a lot more affordable)—a far cry from the puppy and stroller haven it is today. The apartment I lived in is no longer there, having been demolished several years ago to make way for a million-dollar condo.

Three of us lived on the top floor throughout the lease. I remember being told that the girl who had just moved into the first-floor bedroom discovered she might have bedbugs. I didn't even know bedbugs were real—I thought "sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite" was a cute nursery rhyme. And I ignorantly believed that, being on the top floor, I was immune to bedbug bites. I was wrong.

A few days later, I woke up and my right hand was covered in red bedbug bites. I went downtown for my classes, and, as time passed, noticed my hand swelling and turning red. By noon, my hand was ballooning and a red trail was working its way down my arm. I went to the infirmary and the nurse on duty told me to get my ass to an emergency room, ASAP.

I waited for hours to see a doctor, who finally explained to me that, somehow, my bedbug bites had become infected, possibly by scratching them in my sleep. I was hooked up to an IV and prescribed a round of antibiotics so powerful that I was told not to lay down after ingesting them; otherwise, it would increase the nausea they caused.

Our uncharacteristically responsible landlord had exterminators spray the building, and I washed all of my bedding and clothing in hot water to kill anything that might have slipped through the cracks. A week of painful medication later, I was (somewhat) back to normal.

Then we all started getting the bites again—somehow, the little fuckers survived—and I got more bites on my other hand. They got infected and my hand swelled up. I had to go back to the ER. Another IV. More medication. The doctor told me that the original prescription simply wasn't strong enough to completely kill off the infection.

Our landlord had the exterminator come back a second time but my faith in him was gone. I was ready to move the hell out. I dragged my mattress and box spring out to the alley and threw them in the trash.

Later that day, I noticed that someone took my bed from the trash. (The trash hadn't been taken away, meaning some unlucky sap—not a sanitation crew—had taken it.) I wonder where it wound up. Perhaps the end of my horror story was the beginning of someone else's.

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