The Blog

Bedbugs: Worse than Blood Diseases and BMTs?

I must be doing really well, right? It’s Day +153, post-bone marrow transplant. I’m now 91% transplanted (!), and if you’ve seen my recent photos, I’m newly mask-less, able to play in the water, and cultivating my newfound energy to train for the Be The Match 5k in NYC (NYC-area folks–please, join my walk/run team now!).

In spite of all that excitement, would you believe that something so ridiculously frustrating has come into my life, that I’ve lost all the satisfaction of nearly eradicating Aplastic Anemia and PNH?

 BEDBUGS: A TRAGEDY IN FIVE ACTS

I) “Things are actually getting better!” I thought.

One week.

Exactly one week of normalcy was all I got, with that magical combination of energy, the time to do something with it, and the profound inspiration of making it through a life-changing event.

And then we got BEDBUGS.

I know, you think I’m making this up. That I orchestrated this story to further my career as a “How to Deal with the Worst Bullshit Imaginable”  blogger.

No, it’s really happening and it’s turned our lives upside-down in a whole new way and I’m sorry to make you read about it. BUT, I’m having fun with our struggle1–so don’t be afraid to laugh with me as we claw our way back from the brink of madness.

II) Trauma Queens

It started after Memorial Day, around Transplant Day +60. Stephanie started noticing bug bites. The bites, usually on her arms or shoulders, would swell up like Macauley Culkin at the end of My Girl.

My Wife Steph's arm and bedbug bites

We brought her to three different doctors. No one had an answer for what was causing the swelling, but a steroid cream made the bites more tolerable.

Six weeks passed, and we grew extremely anxious, not knowing where the bites were coming from…

Until Stephanie came face to face with pure evil.

My wife screams when confronted by bedbugs.

With no choice but to kill or be killed, she apprehended the bedbug.

A dead bedbug in a jar.

We confirmed the bugs were in our couch. Yup, our brand-spanking-new, wedding-gift-to-ourselves, central-to-my-recovery couch. Fortunately, the bedbugs had not yet reached the bedroom.

I’d heard bedbugs are really tough to get rid of, but I had no idea how gross they were until I heard from my old college roommate Cote.2

Cote weighed in via email:

“Bedbugs? Yikes.

I took an Insect Ecology class last spring and learned bedbugs reproduce through what’s called ”traumatic insemination.’ It’s pretty much what it sounds like. They’ll put that thing in anywhere, but usually through the blood engorged abdomen.

Very traumatic for all involved.

– Cote, Trained Scientist

“Dude…traumatic insemination? I’m supposed to be recovering from a bone marrow transplant,” I told Cote. “The last thing I need is these little rapists having their way with me and my couch!” That’s right, Mr. Bedbug. I’m calling you what you are.

This bedbug is a rapist, as are all traumatically inseminating monsters.

So, kill these sexual maniac bugs and be done with it, right? My friends assured me it wasn’t so simple. Several people said the exact words: “Bedbugs?! I’ve had them, they’re the worst!

“It’s okay, honey,” I comforted my wife. “We’ve already been through ‘The Worst,’ this is nothing compared to that, right?”

“Right,” she mocked, “Did you look at all the shit the exterminators expect us to do?” Reluctantly, I opened the instructions from the exterminator (click for PDF).

Oh Lord, I thought…

Clean every wall and baseboard, and remove all outlet covers?
Empty our closets, wash all clothes and linens in hot water…twice??
Don’t wear shoes for two months??? How do you even do that?

We were instructed to leave all of our possessions in plastic garbage bags, to be sprayed along with the couch.

Given that I actually have a mini-meltdown when I find shoes on the floor, filling 100% of our apartment’s floor space with garbage bags containing our every last possession…I wasn’t quite sure how that was going to work for me.

III) Drudgery Loves Company

All my laundry at once, including my Roseland b-ball jersey.

Washed EVERY article of clothing in hot water, before/after spraying. (whattup Roseland, NJ?)

image10

Try getting to the bathroom at night, when your bedroom floor is literally garbage bags.

Huge pile of equipment to get rid of

Emptying closets meant throwing away useful stuff. Xmas tree stand, we hardly knew ye.

 

All of my books in a bin: Chabon, Klosterman, Bloom County, et al

Inspected books before storing for two months–time to get a Kindle?

We packed and prepared for six solid days and nights. Of course we didn’t rest–we had nowhere to sit down!

My home office was too traumatic to even photograph. I just shoved the notes from all seven of my current projects into one of the dozen garbage bags on my office floor, and ran away filled with terror.

If your emotional state is said to reflect the state of your living space, my mind was certainly a bedbug-bombed bullshit cave.

A LONG list of things to do before bedbug extermination, including "JUMP OFF A FUCKING BRIDGE!"

I found myself looking forward to the final item on my To-Do list.

I even had to get rid of my favorite t-shirt of all time:

image18

R.I.P. Ol’ Dirty Bastard.

The vibe around here was not great.

The bummed faces of our heroes.

But, Saturday night, we dragged ourselves to the bar, where I seem to have forgotten all about the monsters in my couch.

Kevin assed out on couch

Eventually, we packed up our place so completely that we could’ve called movers and fled Los Angeles within the hour. Instead, we kept the apartment and escaped to my in-laws’ house.

IV) Picking Up the Pieces

A couple Fridays ago, after the exterminators had sprayed everything twice and given our apartment time to air out, we were finally able to come home.

To an apartment that looked like this:

My apartment in a completely abominable state after bedbug spraying, but with handy labels for where the exterminators left everything

I felt like I’d been traumatically inseminated.

I found writing impossible, so I washed and folded 25 more loads of laundry and racked up a $300 dry cleaning bill, over five more days of nonstop manual labor.

“This really is worse than my transplant, isn’t it?” I thought. At first, I found the very thought laughable.

But then I looked at how stressed, angry, and physically exhausted I was, and how at our lowest moments Stephanie and I were hardly able to be in the same room without driving each other crazy, which never happened during my transplant.

Maybe the BB’s could actually give my BMT a run for its money, I thought.

For some reason, I needed a definitive answer.

I decided to do a boxing-style “tale of the tape” and break down every bullshit attribute, to find out which fiasco really has been “The Worst.”

“The Worst”: Bedbugs vs Bone Marrow Transplant

 Bone Marrow Bullshit
     Bedbug Bullshit
Abbreviation?  BMT. Sounds like an issue with my bowels. The BBs. Sounds like an alt-country band (female).
 Advantage:
 √ WAY more bullshit.
Required Physical Activity:
Lay back and kick it, take occasional walks.  60+ HOURS of unexpected manual labor, while I should be recovering and training for my 5k.
 Advantage:
 √ MUCH more bullshit.
Could have killed me?  Any # of ways. Infection, GVHD, et al.  Only if I jumped off that fucking bridge. I came close but I was too tired to get off my floor.
 Advantage:  √ A LOT more bullshit.
 ‘Best’ part of moving out of our apartment?  31 days of not having to think about meals. At the hospital.
 2 weeks of not having to think about meals. And they have a jacuzzi. Fuck yeah, in-laws!
 Advantage:  √ Uh, yeah. More bullshit.
 Finish the phrase: Traumatic ______.  Stress. PTSD is no joke, man.
 Insemination.  They’re just makin’ babies, the way God intended! The little rapists…
 Advantage:  √ Bullshittier.
Lesson Learned:  Shit can happen to anybody.  Shit can happen to me *repeatedly*.
 Advantage:  √ Bullshit. It’s like “come on,  I get it” at this point.
Outlook/End in sight?
 If chimerism reaches 99%/100%, I could go into remission forever. For now, I wait.
 Will never again feel itchy, without freaking out/moving/throwing out my couch.
 Advantage: Those bullshit bugs will haunt my dreams for a long time.
 FINAL VERDICT:  √ Winner, 4-3, and STILL Heavyweight Bullshit Champion of the World…the Bone Marrow Transplant!

It was closer than it had any right to be, but it turns out bedbugs are not the ‘The Worst.’ However, having these exact two problems, in that order, is definitely ‘The Worst’ scenario.

Also: Fuck it. Fuck it all.

V) Closure?

This morning, Stephanie found some more bites. After all of that work, we may not have even gotten rid of the bedbugs. We may have to get rid of our couch.

Or, we may just fire all our belongings into outer space and move to The Integratron.

But don’t worry about us, we’ll be fine. The truth is, after what we went through earlier this year, we ain’t worried bout nothin. Sure, our first year of marriage has featured illness and monstrous microscopic rapists, and we’ve spent 60 days exiled from our apartment, but we’ve got each other and we are beasts.

And I get to channel all of my bullshit into this blog. After all, “Laughter is the best medicine,” said someone who was definitely not a doctor. And I’ve got a new post coming next week, with some new exciting details and original artwork for the Run/Walk team I’m building for Be The Match.

Remember, you can be part of the cure for blood cancers:

September 19th! New York City! CLICK HERE to sign up to Run OR Walk today!!!

For now, though, I must retreat to my happy place and leave you with three Haikus. The first is by the beautiful Stephanie McDevitt…

O, vile bedbugs–
My arms, they swell enormous!
Die. Die. Die. Die. Die.


In-Law Interlude;

Their respect for me dwindles
Clogged upstairs toilet


“Gotta keep livin’,”
Spoke Prophet McConaughey.
“L-I-V-I-N”

 

Kevin McDevitt is a Kevin McDevitt blogger at kevmcdev.com–join Kevin McDevitt’s email list to stay on top of all Kevin McDevitt news!

 

  1. I’m an Irish boy from New Jersey, all we do is make fun of stuff that pisses us off
  2. It’s a French-Canadian last name. Pronounced “Co-Tay” in Canada, but everyone here says “Cody” or “Cotey” for some strange reason.

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  1. Terry Ford says:

    Kevin, I am sooo creeped out from reading about the bed bugs, I have such a fear of all bugs, hopefully they will be gone soon. You can move here to NJ, my house, until they are gone. So happy that you are doing so well Kevin, give my love to Stephanie

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