Burn, Baby, Burn

Ultimately, we had no other choice.

There are some things you don’t want to deal with as an adult. I’m not referring to the really big life-changes such as losing jobs or family issues; this is just “okay, why do I have to put up with this?” level irritation.

Background: Laureen and I are suckers. Complete and utter suckers. We want to believe the best in people, and this has led to some questionable decisions on our part. We’ve had the luxury of helping people out by giving them a place to stay in time of need. Some of them have worked out.

Notice the “some” there. In an ideal world, that’d be “all” or “everything”, but just as I have my own faults and issues, the people we’ve brought into our house, for whatever reason, have had issues. Laureen’s rather interesting way of stating it was “why do we attract the crazy?”

There was Arleen; by the end of her time here, she believed Laureen was poisoning her milk.

There was another lady who didn’t last one night. She later committed suicide.

Then there was/is the current family: a mom with two daughters aged 13 and 6. They had a swim through our place once, and during that time, we also hosted her brother. I don’t know how other people feel about people “in recovery”, but there’s still an addict mentality, even if they are attending NA meetings. The brother spent one night in a shelter that was infested with bedbugs. The bedbugs came to our house with him. So did his drug habits, psychopathic nature, and ability to convincingly lie. Needless to say, he was removed from the house after several issues arose, most notably his attempting to choke his sister. That plus their habit of going to NA meetings and then going out to smoke weed afterwards made it an irrevocable decision.

There are many, many people who point to marijuana and hemp as being useful parts of (a) American History, (b) Medical Necessity, and (c) Enjoyment of Life. I’ve never tried it, nor do I ever plan to. I believe that it’s still something that can mess you up and put you in a position to harm others, whether short-term or long-term. And I seriously question the wisdom of someone in NA still believing that smoking pot is okay. That’s just a reason to justify their decisions more than anything. Is it a gateway drug? I don’t know, nor do I care. Should the U.S. spend millions of dollars prosecuting marijuana offenses? Again, I don’t know, nor do I care. What I DO care about is what comes into my house; there’s a firm line that, when crossed, will turn me into an angry, protective papa bear.

For reasons best left unexplained, the woman and her kids had to leave the house around Thanksgiving of last year. Of course, our daughter started getting these bite marks on her legs that we thought were just mosquitos. No, it was the bedbugs.

After some extensive cursing out of earshot of the children, we tried to figure out what to do. There were two routes: treat them with chemicals or treat them with heat. Seeing as how the heat option cost $1500-$2000, we decided to try the chemical option with a two week followup to kill remaining eggs that might have hatched.

$500 dollars and a week or two later, the bedbugs came back, but not in our daughter’s bedroom. This time they were in OUR bedroom.

Again, for reasons best left unexplained except for Laureen and I being suckers, the woman and her two kids came back to stay with us. Might as well have the original crew for a party, huh.

After the discovery of the second round of bedbugs, there was much, much cursing, depression, anger, and other bad karmic emotions that essentially threw us all for a loop. Of course, now there was only one choice: burn ’em out.

While napalm might have been interesting, I doubt our homeowner’s insurance would have been happy with it. Instead, we chose a company who would set up propane heaters, blow hot air into the house, and heat it to 150 degrees for 6 hours. This would kill the bedbugs.

The amount of preparation you must do to attempt this sort of thing is gargantuan in and of itself, even if you aren’t a packrat. We were unfortunate enough to have our master bedroom closet FULL of clothes that should have gone to other homes or to Goodwill. When we pulled them out and put them on a table (actually 2 3×10 tables) as recommended, the pile was 2 feet high.

And that was one closet. There was also moving all of the furniture away from the walls, going through the house and removing anything that might melt like crayons, candles, fruit, plants, the dog–you get the drift. And with kids 6 and 8 (plus another 6 year old), there were crayon surprises all around. Hey! Underneath the washing machine! Oh, gotta take all of the medicines out as well. And the paintings and pictures, too. Gotta get them all.

Operation Burn, Baby, Burn commenced at 9:45 yesterday morning. Laureen had spent the entire night finishing getting things where they needed to be. The heaters came; we left.

The job was finished at 6:00 p.m. The guys doing the work said that they would normally be done sooner, but… I hate that “but”. It implies that we were Not Prepared. And, as it turns out, we weren’t.

I got to the house at 6:15 p.m. and went in to open windows. The temperature at the thermostat read 99 degrees. The clothes piled on the table were spread everywhere–the floors of the living room, kitchen, dining room… everywhere. We hadn’t taken the blinds down, so that was done for us. Admittedly, that wasn’t mentioned in the pre-treatment brochure, but geez, it would have been nice to know.

By 8:15, it was 85 degrees downstairs. The mom and her boyfriend did amazing work in cleaning stuff up. For whatever bad things I may think (and then feel ashamed for thinking them because who am I to judge others), I have nothing but thanks for her in what they did last night. They turned parts of the house livable.

Laureen and the kids accepted the kindness of a neighbor to go sleep somewhere else. I stayed put, mostly out of a sense of duty to my house and dog, but also because I really didn’t want to repack my CPAP machine.

From going to extremely hot walls back to normal was a long process, but we were helped by the chilly air last night. And the bugs are dead. They can’t survive more than two hours in that temperature, so they. Are. Gone.

Takeaway: bedbugs must be destroyed. With heat. Do not trust chemicals.

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