The Red Menace

Unless you’ve experienced the psychological, time consuming, savings draining horror that is Bed Bugs, you will not understand the shear terror and dread that runs through ones mind upon finding that first elusive, blood stuffed bug.

I found the first one on our couch. OUR COUCH!

I had been getting bites for about 5 days. Just one or two on my feet and lower legs every morning. It took me about the same amount of days to realise that these weren’t mosquito bites as I originally thought. London was experiencing a heat wave in late September/early October and Martin and I had been sleeping with the bedroom window open. The window doesn’t have a screen, so I just assumed that I was getting bitten by mosquitos in the night. That was until the bites continued even after we started sleeping with the window closed.

We had been exposed to bedbugs by a house guest (unnamed for own protection) whose apartment had experienced a pretty severe infestation over the summer.

So I went on the hunt.

I started in the guest room. Nothing. I then did a quick check in our room. Again, I didn’t see anything suspicious.

Then, I went downstairs and started flipping cushions on the couch and there it was…

Image

(Apologies for the itch inducing properties of this photo and this story)

I caught it in a cup and then yelled at Martin to get off the phone. I needed to make a call. I phoned two pest control companies, and decided to go with the second company. They seemed to really know what they were talking about and really calmed me down.

The first thing you need to know about bed bugs is that every instinct you have after you realise you have an infestation is wrong. Just plain WRONG! Let me explain…

1. Holy crap! We need to throw out the mattress and bed and every other piece of furniture in our house. WRONG! The bugs do not “burrow”. In most cases, and if dealt with quickly and properly, you do not need to throw ANYTHING away. Moving your mattress and furniture around just spreads the infestation.

2. I need to wash all of my clothes in boiling water. WRONG! You really don’t. Just the clothes you wear during treatment. Unless the infestation in severe, they won’t be hanging out in your closet or drawers.

3. I’m going to spray these suckers with some bug spray! WRONG! That just causes them to go into hibernation and they can live without feeding for a ridiculously long time. So you’ll get your house treated and then they’ll wake up and BAM! Infestation round TWO!

4. I’m going to sleep in a different room so they don’t bite me. WRONG! They will FIND you and infest your couch or any other room you try to hide in. They are smarter than you. Don’t ever forget that.

5. I’m going to cover up my entire body when I sleep. WRONG! Unless you cover your face as well (and do this without suffocating yourself in your sleep), they will bite your face. Best thing to do (which is what I did), is expose parts of your body that are generally covered by clothing. I slept with my stomach and lower back exposed and they generally feasted there. I did get some bites on my face and fingers though.

6. I’m going to go stay with a friend after they spray my house. WRONG! You could spread the infestation to your friend and once a room is sprayed by a professional, you MUST sleep in your bed to bait the bugs out of hiding so they make contact with the poison.

7. I’m dirty. WRONG! Well actually, I can’t say for sure this is wrong in all cases, but most of the time you’re NOT dirty. Bed bugs don’t care what your home is like, they just want a warm host and a quiet place to breed.

8. I am a social pariah! WRONG! Bed bugs are more common than you think, like 1 in 19 people in Manhattan alone have been affected, and people need to educate themselves on prevention and the REAL facts.

9. I don’t want to spend lots of money dealing with this, I’ll take care of it myself. WRONG! Get professional help quickly and you should be able to get it sorted out before it becomes a major problem. Yes, it’s expensive, but bed bugs are not to be trifled with so do it properly the first time. Also, make sure you do your homework before deciding on a pest control company. The cheapest are usually not the best and, trust me, you want the best when you’re dealing with bed bugs.

10.  BED BUGS ARE THE DEVIL! WRONG! They are just doing what they are designed to do by nature. Unfortunately, the worst part of a bed bug infestation is the psychological effects.

I found 6 bugs in varying life stages throughout the entire infestation period. Luckily, because I react to the bites (FUN FACT: Not all people react to bed bug bites…Martin does not, lucky git!) we were able to identify and treat the infestation while it was still in the very early stage.

It’s been two months since I’ve had a confirmed bite. Every itch I get, sends waves of dread throughout my entire body, but so far, the one treatment has worked for us.

So, remember, bed bugs are smarter than you. Get educated because apparently the 2012 Olympics is going to spark a massive explosion of bed bug infestations in London.

Oh, in case you were wondering, we went with this company: Bed Bugs Limited

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It’s official. I’m a wife!


 

I love this photo.

You would never know by looking at it that my £5 lace shrug was covering bed bug bite scars inflicted on me from an infestation that struck our home one month before our wedding, or that I had only slept three hours the night before in the worst hotel ever (I’m not even exaggerating), or that I had a nasty case of dry, cotton ball mouth. No, I’m pretty sure by looking at this photo that you wouldn’t see that.

Just a few minutes before this photo was taken, we had said our vows. We had promised to love, honour, and cherish each other for the rest of our lives. And in that moment, I couldn’t have been happier.

So, no, I’m not going to regale you with tales of how perfect and magical this day was because even though it was the happiest day of my life so far, it most definitely wasn’t perfect. And that’s exactly the way we wanted it to be. Besides, our pest control specialist told us that bed bugs have been known to cause divorce. I figure if we could get through a horrible month battling the “Red Menace” we could make it through anything…

And, just in case you were wondering, we’ve been bed bug free for 2 months and most of my 28 bite scars have faded away…*loud knocking on wood*

Also, I only threatened to call off the wedding once due to the bed bugs, but that was after waking up with 3 bites on my face.

ON. MY. FACE!

No bride-to-be should ever have to deal with that bullshiz!

 

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December 9, 2011 · 10:35 am

The man I’m going to marry has deep blue eyes, broad shoulders, and dimples when he smiles. His hands are strong. His demeanor kind.  

The man I’m going to marry rescues me from spiders. Gently cupping them in a tissue, careful not hurt them as he ushers them outside.

The man I’m going to marry makes me feel like the most desirable woman in the world. Every. Single. Day. And this makes him proud, not insecure.

The man I’m going to marry holds me in his arms any chance he gets. He scratches my face with his ever present stubble. But I don’t mind.

The man I’m going to marry has a warm heart, an easy laugh, and an effortless ability to make me smile.

 The man I’m going to marry surprises me every day. With the love he so readily gives and the love he inspires inside of me.

The man I’m going to marry is my best friend. The one I choose to share my life with and all that comes with it.

The man I’m going to  marry is Martin. And I can’t wait to start this journey together.

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Yes!

On the 18th of May, while sitting on our new couch, Martin proposed.

And I, without hesitation, said, “Yes!”

I am so happy and proud to call Martin my fiance. The ring is amazing. More details to follow, but I just thought I’d share the happy news. xx

 

 


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Twenty Minutes

I moved my things over to Martin’s house a little at a time. First, a box of books and some family photos. Then, some of my shoes (my summer flip-flops, wellies, strappy heels, all the ones I don’t regularly wear). A few weeks later, my thick winter coats made the move from West London to the South East. The final move was all of my clothes. One large suitcase and one massive canvas bag, both stuffed full.

The gradual move was nice, both mentally for me and in practical terms as well. I had become so fiercely independent in the past couple of years; living in my own bachelor apartment for a year in Vancouver and then living in a very non-social share house for over a year and a half. I liked my space and wasn’t sure how I’d feel when it was gone.

It’s been almost two months of cohabitation and I think Martin and I both agree that it’s been going very well. Better, in fact, than I ever imagined. Along with a hot cup of coffee, Martin makes me laugh and smile every morning. This, in itself, is amazing; I’m not, shall we say, usually a ‘morning person’. We watch the news together for about twenty minutes before I have to run off to catch the 7:34 train to London Bridge. This is my favourite time. Before I join the manic buzz of commuters, before my day is filled with teas and coffees and stationery and business cards and couriers and dealing with meetings that have not been booked. I snuggle against him. Sipping my coffee. The coffee he made for me. Those twenty minutes of calm, shared space, I wouldn’t give up for anything. It’s during those twenty minutes that I know we’ve made the right decision.

Officially, I have 47 days left before my visa expires. It cannot be extended. I cannot transfer it. I must legally leave the country by June 13th. I plan on taking advantage of every moment.

 But… I will be coming back. I think I would miss those twenty minutes far too much.

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Happy V-Day!

As a single person 2 years ago, I thought Valentine’s Day was complete rubbish.

However…

This year, the 14th of February involved receiving some things that arrived in these bags, and the whole V-Day thing didn’t seem so rubbish anymore.

Not that he needs to give me these things to show me he loves me…but I’m not giving them back.

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Holiday…Celebrate!

One thing that’s pretty awesome about the UK is the fact that they really like their holiday time*.  Included in my 12 month contract are 29 days of paid holiday. I’ve used 17 so far (2 weeks back home, a long weekend in Paris, and 1 week in Morocco). I’ve had my 12 remaining days approved and I cannot wait for the holidays to begin. The first five are being used for a trip to Italy with my parents, where we will be flying into here:

Pisa

and then heading here for a couple days:

Florence

And ending the holiday at this beautiful spot:

Cinque Terre

In May I’ll be comparing the Turkish Bath with my experience in a Moroccan Hammam with my sister, Nicole:

Istanbul

And a couple weeks before that, Martin and I will be taking a mini break to either here:

Barcelona

or here:

Venice

I’m feeling a little partial to Venice, but it’s probably because I’ve chosen a more romantic photo.

I’m trying to focus on these holidays instead of the 13th of June when my 2 year visa expires. Everything after that point seems super scary and I’m trying to avoid the stressful reality of the many questions that will need to be anwered when I am forced to return to Canada. I don’t have the answers yet. I’m hoping that they will reveal themselves to me at some point in the next few months, but what I do know is that no matter what happens, the choices I make will be very hard. So for now, I have Italy, Turkey and possibly Spain to look forward to.

*perhaps not so much as certain other countries in the EU, like, ahem, Italy, or France

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