The one with all the bedbug bites
If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you may have recently been inundated with complaints about my bedbug-infested life. I apologize. I am an only child, and thus need someone to validate my discomfort. Don’t worry, I waited until 6:01 a.m. California time before calling my mom in tears.
If you weren’t subject to my endless whining, let’s take a look at this whole bedbug saga. I offer absolutely no help on getting rid of bedbugs, as you shall see by the end of this.
Sunday, 3:02 a.m.: The first night in my homestay in Ubud after a week in place on Gili Trawangan with dusty shelves that I am now judging, I woke up with bug bites all over my right arm. I was scratching like crazy, so I crawled out of bed, popped two ibprofen and smeared on some hydrocortisone cream and then snuggled back into sleep. Had been sleeping with a full mosquito net around my bed–it was the tropical canopy bed of my childhood dreams!–so a bit confused as to how this happened. Blamed myself for not covering myself in mosquito repellent before bed, as per usual. I was distracted by the canopy.
Sunday, 11 a.m.: Skype with my parentals. I’m irritable because of the 23 “mosquito bites” on my right arm, and I’m homesick. Sulk on the walk home, pop more ibprofen, smear more hydrocortisone.
Sunday, 9 p.m.: Remember the bedbug epidemic that broke out in NYC last summer. Frantically Google search images of bedbug bites and a slew of bedbug-related search terms. Proceed to freak out.
Monday, 8 a.m.: Show my arm to my extremely kind homestay hosts. They ask if I ate Balinese food, if it’s a reaction to the heat, if I spent a lot of time outside. No, friends, I get both prickly heat and allergic reactions. Thanks for the extremely sensitive skin, Mom. This is neither. I try to explain what bedbugs are. Apparently, they don’t bother Balinese people in their contented sleep. Either way, I convince them to change my sheets and I take everything I own to the laundry (convenient, as I just did 3/4 of my laundry the week before and thought I was sorted for a bit). Wash out my pack and packing cubes with very hot water. Spend the day watching cheap DVDs in my newly-sheeted bed and trying not to itch. I’m actually quite proud of myself at the itching I manage to avoid! This deserves dinner out!
Monday, 6:30 p.m.: Go out to dinner. Waitress stares unkindly at my blotchy arms. I’m sure she thinks I’m a leper.
Tuesday, 7 a.m.: No new bites! Winner!
Wednesday, 8 a.m.: 13 new bites on one arm. Right. Time to move. Try to explain to my adorable homestay hosts that while this is surely not their fault, I cannot sleep in that bed one more night without freaking out and taking obscene amount of pain-relieving sleep aids. Move to a new homestay.
Wednesday, 10 p.m.: Call my parents in tears because I am covered in approximately 76 extremely itchy bug bites all over my arms, hands, legs, back AND THE BOTTOM OF MY FEET. What I hear from my dad: “Find something with pyrethroid.” Right. (To his credit, he sends me a very informative and helpful email later in the day.) What I hear from my mom: “How much hydrocortisone cream are you using? Don’t you remember that girl on your soccer team who used too much Neosporin and got a reaction to it? Bedbugs are an EPIDEMIC. What if you bring them home in April? You are not infecting your grandma’s house. Leave behind your pack and everything you own, and start anew. And go to a doctor, for goodness’ sake.” Start bawling because despite not having many of them, I really LIKE all my clothes and they all fit so nicely in my pretty practically-new pack. Does that mean I have to get rid of my lovely Kindle case? And my Cath Kitson laptop case? Where does the madness end? And I don’t like going to the doctor’s (side effect of not having health insurance in America and always being irrationally worried about how much it will cost). And I look like a leper, and how am I supposed to party in Thailand when I am covered in hideous red marks? I am now still bawling by myself in my room, and I look like a strangled raccoon. I go to wash my face and calm myself down. There are no towels in this room. THERE IS NO TOILET PAPER IN THIS ROOM. Do the bedbug gods have NO mercy? Stop crying, pop more ibprofen pm, and go to sleep content in my new bed.
Thursday, 8 a.m.: Read a very helpful email from my dad that references the bedbugger blog. Talk to my mom, and she says she talked to my travel-savvy aunt and they might be scabies. Right. Something new to Google. Laugh on the way out the door, because, seriously, this is getting so bad it’s almost funny. Shouldn’t I be lying on the beach right now?
Thursday, 9 a.m.: Ditch yoga and go to the Ubud Medical Clinic. Nice lady doctor looks at my arms, gives a sympathetic tut, and promptly puts an injection in my bum. My first-ever shot in the bum! Lovely memories, Indonesia. Prescribes an antihistamine to take once every 24 hours, anti-inflammatories to take twice two times a day and a topical cream. All for the bargain price of $65. You can bet travel insurance will be getting THOSE receipts. (Did I mention I also called my travel insurance last night? And cried to the too-sympathetic lady on the phone? She said I could fly home fo’ free! Let’s be serious, it’s not that drastic. I’ve got two months of buckets and beaches coming up.) Anyway, home free! I’m cured!
Thursday, 11:55 p.m.: Can’t fall asleep without ibprofen pm, but am worried about getting addicted to pain-relieving sleep-aids. Finally do some yoga breathing after two hours of tossing around and cursing having Wifi where I stay and the madness that is an iPhone because I always end up thinking of things to Google. Then, I’m right on the brink of sleep. I feel something crawl on my arm. I reach for my iPhone and light up the FIRST BEDBUG I’VE EVER SEEN. Right. No sleep tonight. Stay up until my shuttle to the airport leaves at 7 a.m., writing and listening to music and eating a chocolate bar with a light on and ponder how this is my first non-partying-related all-nighter.
Friday, 5:31 a.m.: A GIANT COCKROACH JUST CRAWLED ACROSS MY BED. I am going to cry and then die of a bloody exhaustion-induced panic attack in this bug-infested room.
Friday, 11 a.m.: Fly to Thailand. Airplane pressurization will kill all bedbugs in my pack…right? right?
If not…guess who is buying ALL NEW CLOTHES IN THAILAND?
Note: I’m honestly not sure where I first got infected. For the sake of other travelers everywhere: I stayed at Pondok Lita in Gili Trawangan, and I’m seriously suspicious.
Another note: I would like to thank my parents for being absolute STARS in dealing with their prone-to-tears daughter in Asia who called at all sorts of inopportune times this week and ignored their advice while simultaneously whining. Even with 23 years to get used to my hypochondriac-yet-anti-medicine ways, it’s still not easy. Merci beaucoup!