Monday, June 1, 2009

No running for me today!


I've been at home with a sick kitty since Saturday night. Jack (pictured above) has been lethargic and not wanting to eat since I got home Saturday night. Since he's well over 12 years old the whole 'not hungry, wanna sleep' thing makes me very nervous. In fact, it terrifies me.

So, Jack has been getting hand fed salmon and has been napping all day with me since I got home from work Sunday afternoon.

Grumpy Jack

To my own credit, I've not been feeling so well either. I'm still recovering from all the bed bug bites that I acquired in this building's last infestation.


So, here's the bed bug story.

Bed bugs are making a come back. We had mostly killed them off in the US thanks to super duper toxic chemicals before we realized that super super toxic chemicals kill things other than bugs!

The bugs laid low for a while well we lived it up and said innocuous things like, "don't let the bed bugs bite!'.

And then, a few years ago, they started coming back.

My first brush with them was a few years ago. It was only three bites and then it stopped as soon as is had begun. Then again last Christmas, really bad.

(Just in case you missed it, that red line is a VERY bad thing.)

The bites made me so sick that I lost quite a bit of weight in only a week.

Now, losing that weight was actually pretty cool but the corresponding nausea and fatigue was terrible.

Once we figured out that it was bed bugs I went to town, ripped apart my place, deep cleaned like the OCD maniac I am, and soaked everything in Neem Oil and Diatomaceous Earth.

Then I went and told the Maintenance guys and they reimbursed me for the Diatomaceous Earth and treated all the other apartments.

Problem solved! Until a few months ago.

As I was walking up the stairs and halls to my apartment I started noticing all these Health Dept Notices on a bunch of doors warning of Severe Bed Bug Infestation.

I busted out what little Neem Oil I had left and retreated my apartment. I was HOPING to fend off the infestation.

Then a few weeks ago, after I'd let my guard down, they got me. Bad. I have bites on both of my shoulders, back back, my wrists, my legs, one on the top of my head, and a few on my right arm.

So I called the rental company to tell them I was getting bit, then I went to the book store to get a sick day book, and rode home.

In between the two hours it had taken me to wander around Sugar House, then ride home, the exterminators were here! And OH BOY did they mean business. They were here to treat ALL the apartments, and then they'd be back two weeks later to re-treat all the apartments.

They promised me that what they were using wouldn't harm my cats. It is some kind of pyrethrin based dust. Well, we made it through the first treatment and I was still being bitten but the cats seemed okay so no harm, no foul.

The exterminators said that it would be a few more weeks for all of the little bastards to die so I'd still get some bites.

Then they came back for the second treatment on Friday. And not only did I get bit on Friday night but Jack started to act a little lethargic.

Saturday night, he looked terrible and I felt terrible. So I got off work on Sunday a little early and went to town again like the good old days. I pulled the place apart, deep cleaned the carpets, pulled apart the mattress, deep cleaned the sheets, and hosed everything down with Neem Oil.

I also spent time feeding Jack by hand. Nothing but salmon. This morning was the first time since Friday that I've seen him eat on his own from the bowl with the other kitties. That made me happy. :)

Last night was also the first night I didn't get bit.

So here's the verdict. I doubt the bed bug treatments used by the exterminator actually worked. I think they slowed them down, for sure, but only for a while.

Here's what I recommend if you have Bed Bugs. First! Neem Oil and Rubbing Alcohol.

It doesn't kill the bed bugs, but they can't stand it. I have been mixing a half bottle of Neem Oil with a half bottle of Rubbing Alcohol into a spray bottle and treating EVERYTHING I possibly can. I also treated me and the cats. I was really happy with how this worked last time and I'm hoping for the same luck this time.

I also have some Diatomaceous Earth in the mail that I will sprinkle on the mattress, in all the cracks and crevices, pictures frames, and everywhere else I can get it to fit.

The theory behind the D Earth is that it's an abrasive that will wear the waxy coating off the bugs and make them dehydrate.

I have no idea of it works or if it's just the Neem Oil keeping them away but it worked last time so hopefully it'll work again.

I DID learn something new about the Neem Oil this time around. You have to re-treat with the Neem Oil at least every two weeks for it to remain effective against the bugs. Since it doesn't kill them they will come back as soon as they feel welcome. (shudder)

So there you go. Regular bed bug treatments aren't so hot and they might make your kitty sick. Neem Oil won't kill them but will keep them away, and the Diatomaceous Earth might be killing them and it's super cheap and totally harmless to all of us.

So that's what I recommend.

Oh, and for those bites? Nothing really works very well of you're super allergic like me. But here are some things that help.

First: DON'T SCRATCH THEM!! It will make them swell up and itch even worse then before! If you don't scratch them they eventually turn a light brownish purple with a little white spot in the center AND they'll go away faster.

If you scratch them they will double or triple in size, swell up and puff out, and last so much longer. It's awful. Plus they will itch even worse than before.

Try taking Zyrtec 24 hour in order to stay alert and not drowsy. Benadryl is nice but dries out my sinus cavities and makes me sleepy. :( These only work 'a little bit'. Nothing works like the self control of NOT SCRATCHING!!

Benadryl creme, hydrocortisone creme, bug bite creme, anti itch creme, and the like, don't work. At all. Trust me, I've tried them all.

Icing the bites seems to work for a bit in a numbing, I can't feel my flesh, sort of way. Plus the ice makes the swelling go down, which is nice.

I also read somewhere that hot water at about 110 degrees F can be soothing but I've found hot water (showers, hand washing) to be torture. It makes the swelling go through the roof and all I want to do is itch. UCK! It's awful. I've been doing colder showers instead and though they're not fun, they don't make the bites go through the roof.

So there you go.

Jack is feeling better, I'm starting to feel a little better now that I'm armed with Neem Oil.

I'm also prepping my first two recipes from Brendan Brazier's book and I'll let you know how it all works out.

Next post will hopefully have pics of Energy Bars and Sesame Crackers.

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