Well, I'm still alive. I have good news and bad news, interfriends. Turns out my mysterious, terrifying bug bites were indeed caused by bed bugs, aka my worst nightmare. The Monday after we came home from Vermont, I lifted my bed skirt (dirty) to check the tape around the mattress-cover zipper, and I saw some tiny dead baby bugs stuck to it...as if they were trying to escape from the zipper. And I recognized the body shape from my internet research. I promptly called my landlord, who helped me drag the mattress and box spring outside, and began bagging up my possessions. The landlord had called his exterminator friend, who came on Tuesday morning for my first treatment, and then I began washing everything I own in hottt water and drying it on high heat. (I ruined fewer things than I thought I would!)
I did find one live bug under the bed on a canvas bag, and then after the exterminator's second visit, I found one dead bug on the floor and one in an empty dresser drawer, which scares me, since I didn't throw out the furniture, he just sprayed it. This morning was my third (and what should be final) visit from the exterminator, and since the second visit I've been unpacking all of my possessions again (per his instruction), and I haven't found any more evidence. I'm feeling more encouraged now that I sort of have a bedroom again, but you can imagine why I couldn't talk about it for awhile.
So for the first week, after one exterminator visit, I slept on my couch, swaddled like a Muslim. (I didn't know how far they'd spread.) My roommate was away on vacation, so I had to call her with the news on Wednesday, but thankfully she was calm and helpful and even offered to let me sleep in her bed while she was gone. I stayed on the couch, though, just in case. I never was bit, and never saw anything there or in my roommate's bed upon inspection, so I think they were just in my box spring and surrounding area. (The mattress cover didn't have dead babies under the tape, even.) There were some tears in the vinyl box spring cover, probably caused by my underbed storage bins, so that would explain their access. Our whole apartment was treated twice (my room thrice), so now everything should be dead or scared away. The dresser does worry me, like I said, but he sprayed it and I only found one dead one, and I'll be careful with clothes, plus the bed will be well-guarded, so hopefully that doesn't lead to a re-infestation... more hopefully, it was just that one, trying to run for his life.
After my second visit, the exterminator came to inspect and spray at Hike's apartment. He hadn't had any problems and we didn't find anything in my paranoid inspections, but we wanted to be sure. After that clearance, I started sleeping over there so I could stay in a real bed and not get woken up by my roommate's odd hours.
So now, after today's third visit, I need to buy a new bed. And protectors, of course, and I won't use any comforter or bedskirt for awhile -- just a mattress pad over the expensive mattress/box spring protectors, light-colored sheets (to easily spot blood smears) and a fleece blanket (easily washable.) Tonight we're going to check out Macy's, since they have a great sale on, and they seem to offer good financing and delivery options. I just have to make sure that the new mattress will be protected from the old mattresses they pick up in that same truck. Ugh, so many details. It's been very overwhelming. And so frustrating because my bites didn't really match the descriptions/photos online. I'm taking comfort in some facts, though -- bed bugs feed once every 7-10 days, which was about the frequency of my bites, so I can't have had too many feasting on me or it would've happened more often. I also don't think they could get through my foam mattress topper, so my theory is that they were living in the box spring and just walking up to my exposed arms at night, since they didn't bite me anywhere that was under covers. In short, it seems/I hope it wasn't too many bugs and that we got it early enough to wipe it out totally.
So yeah, I'm very grateful for Hike, who helped me finish washing everything I own on that Tuesday, and who has been really kind and supportive and generous by sharing his tiny room with me. He also bought me a recent Groupon for a facial and massage at my favorite Astoria spa as a "reward" for surviving this. So nice! (I'm saving it until I feel like the crisis has passed a bit.) We're looking at beds together, and I think we're going to get a queen, so that it's big enough and adult enough and we can use it for many years, since we'd like to be getting engaged/living together within a year. So on that front, I was ready for an upgrade anyway, and the sale is really great so I don't feel too terrible about spending the money. It ended up that getting infested was cheaper than I thought, though fully exhausting and stressful, with the living out of plastic bags and moving clothes from a clean bag to me to a dirty bag (all sealed) after wearing. Then washing. I didn't even use a bath towel for a week, since I'd put them away and didn't know where they were. I had a hand-towel and then mostly air dried...while cooking. It was slightly dangerous.
But now I am a mostly normally functioning person again...just very cautious, and will be for awhile. Please don't be afraid of me or my apartment, as I promise, I'm policing everything very carefully. At least I reacted so strongly to the bites that (unless my body suddenly adjusts to it) I will know if I get another one, BUT I HOPE TO GOD I DO NOT. I've had two mosquito bites over these few weeks that freaked the hell out of me, but they behaved totally like mosquito bites and weren't so itchy, so they can't have been the BBs. (Riiiight?) I bet there will shortly be a specialty for therapists that's something like "post-infestation fallout management," as this experience is still fucking with my head. Anyway, that's why I've been so quiet. I will hope to entertain you more in short order, but I wanted to explain (and vent) first. Thanks for your kind words as I was dealing with this, and hey, I survived my worst nightmare (that didn't involve a death!)