staying power…us vs. them

Despite the turmoil bedbugs have caused in my family’s life recently, I’ve an underlying admiration for their “sticktoittiveness.” I’m certain you’ve heard the word before, although it’s probably not in Webster’s Dictionary. After all, bedbugs are just trying to coexist, especially since they need our blood to survive. Don’t you think we can spare a little, now and then. If it weren’t for the itchiness and accompanying rash…???

During his initial visit to my daughter’s apartment, the rep from All America Pest Control, demonstrating his vast knowledge of bedbugs, explained that there’d been an infestation in the U.S. back in the 80s. However until recently, the problem had been on the wane. With the influx of people from Third World Countires, the rep indicated that bedbugs were again on the rise. Why so?

Image representing Bill Gates as depicted in C...

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According to the rep’s explanation, bedbugs are rampant in Third World Countries because the people have not the means to erradicate them. Since the pests aren’t a health threat, as yet, the people learn to live with bedbugs. In other words, they’re viewed as a nuisance, not a hazard. Makes total sense. Who has unlimited funds to drive the little buggers from existence? Maybe Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Queen Elizabeth. Not me and mine, that’s for sure. Therefore as a result of the inability to contain the bedbugs, they are being inadvertently transported by Third World Country travelers, via their belongings, as many seek to improve their lots elsewhere in the world.

My personal take on the rep’s stance is that we should learn to live with bedbugs to some degree. It’s a fact that world travel isn’t going to disappear, and neither are the nasty pests for that matter. So what other recourse have we? We’ve not the financial resources to exterminate their entire population, nor have we the stamina to Clorox-wipe them out of existence. Believe me, I tried. After cleaning too many articles to count, my daughter and I took to garbage bagging stuff and leaving them to bake in the heat of her locked car for a couple of days. Otherwise, we’d still be sanitizing every crevice of every single thing. That’s more my friend Sylvia’s “cup of tea.” She has staying power to match that of bedbugs, especially when it comes to cleaning.

Source: Jackie Gleason Columbus, OH Desc: Pict...

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Another bug with staying power is the termite. It’s a native of tropical climates, because of the warmth and moisture. I’d forgotten what nuisances termites can be until our family rented a spacious home atop Diamond Head one summer years ago. It was in the Black Point neighborhood where the view of nearby Waikiki Beach is stunning. Sipping coffee while watching early morning surfers ride the waves was luxury personified. While the house retained its charm, it was in need of updating. But with so many windows giving way to beautiful views of the flora and fauna, as well as the ocean, and allowing the tropical breezes to wend their way unobstructed throughout the many rooms, we felt we were in paradise, which we were. Having extended family over to enjoy our hospitality was the reason for our once-in-a-lifetime treat. The “fly in the ointment,” were the termites.

Mastotermes darwiniensis or Darwin Termite, is...

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Termites would settle on the window sills in never-ending numbers. I’d Windex them away, only to find more settling in as replacements later. The kitchen windows seemed to hold a particular attraction for them. Keeping termites from alighting on our food was a battle. Not a major one, but still a struggle nonetheless. It was not an appetizing sight to watch their little bodies writhing about as they attempted to take flight. There was no fear of them attacking us for they were so inconsequentially small. But they were as bothersome to us, as David and his slingshot were to Goliath.

Just as with bedbugs, and most definitely cockroaches, termites will probably outlast the human race on this planet we like to call ours. It’s my feeling we only rent, while the insects own. We’d better start being nice to our landlords.

Inspecting for Bedbugs

Image by bug_girl_mi via Flickr

…here bedbug…nice bedbug…hugmamma. 😉      

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no a/c, a stroke, and bedbugs…???

Red bedbug

So we finally come to the end of this tragi-comedy about bedbugs in my daughter’s apartment, the old one that is. Content with having secured a new place in the nick of time, my daughter felt extremely fortunate to have somewhere to go, leaving her unwelcome buddies behind. (Fingers xxxxx.) But just when things seemed to be going her way, the a/c in her new apartment went on the fritz…almost immediately.

Traveling west to be with my husband and me, my daughter missed the initial couple of weeks without a/c in her new digs. A couple of friends took turns trying to have repair people stop by to put more freeon in the old a/c unit. The excuse given by the company  who was referred by the apartment’s owner and landlord, was that the technician didn’t have a ladder long enough to get to the roof where the unit stood. When my daughter and I returned to her home, that was the same excuse given by a couple of other a/c servicers. In fact one technician who did come, left without even telling us he couldn’t do the job. Not until an hour-and-a-half slipped by without a knock at the front door, did my daughter learn after calling his company that he left because they don’t service that particular brand. Upon relaying this info to the landlord, he exclaimed that the company got the brand name wrong. He indicated he would try to track down another company through the insurance he had for repair services. My daughter also gave him the name of the company whose truck we had seen in the parking lot of the neighboring apartment house, the same day our disappearing a/c guy showed up. Those workers looked like they were diligently working to get some problem resolved, even in the sweltering 90+ temperatures. As it turned out, a couple of men from that company visited my daughter’s apartment later that afternoon.

Upon checking the interior part of the a/c unit in my daughter’s apartment, it was determined that there was a leak. After reporting this to the landlord, the company’s co-owner visited us the next day under orders to do whatever it took to fix the a/c. Because it was so old, the replacement part could only be gotten from a manufacturer in Texas. It wasn’t expected to arrive until the following Tuesday, so that the a/c couldn’t be fixed until Wednesday or Thursday. That meant several days of sweltering heat inside the apartment.

Happy that the a/c was going to be fixed, I didn’t calculate the hours we would have to suffer through the 90+ degrees even as we tried to sleep. I imagined with 5 fans blowing day and night we would manage. Was I ever wrong! One night is all it took to decide that my aging body was not up to the task. I awoke to find my hands and fingers, feet and toes swollen. The blood had rushed to the surface of my skin as if to escape the confinement. I’d never had to worry about high blood pressure before. But I was certain if I slept there another night, my pressure would be through the roof!

And that’s why we made the unlikely decision to bed down with the bedbugs, my daughter on the couch, me on the bed in the second bedroom. Because both had been treated, we hoped we wouldn’t make a hearty 9-course meal for any starving bedbugs. I think we willed ourselves not to scratch. 

My daughter’s new landlord must’ve “paid an arm and a leg” to repair the a/c. Besides it being an emergency repair with a new servicer, the necessary part had to be Fed Exed from out of state, and a crane was hired to haul the a/c from atop the apartment building so that it could be fixed on the ground and then put back in place. Added to that, the servicer had to repair the indoor unit which had been leaking the freeon. Why the a/c was installed atop the three-story building in the first place is unknown to us. I guess things were done differently in the 70s. But it was while my daughter and I were waiting for the a/c to be fixed that we got food poisoning. After that, everything else  became “background music.”

A Bed Bath and Beyond store in a shopping cent...

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How did we manage to contract salmonella, you ask? Well on one of our outings to Bed, Bath and Beyond to secure new pillows and their corresponding bedbug resistant covers, we stopped to buy a few groceries on the way home. Remember, the temperatures were in the mid-90s. Deciding to eat a light, healthy lunch, we opted for a veggie platter. Not realizing that the included dip was probably turning rancid as we drove another 20 minutes home, we proceeded to chow down once there. With floor fans set to their highest levels, we munched away feeling the cool blasts on our faces and bodies. Mind you, the indoor temperature over the next several hours was also in the mid-90s. It’s my belief that we were ignorant to the fact that salmonella was probably making its way into our digestive tracts. My daughter’s case may have been slightly more severe since she also feasted on a dessert of chocolate pudding pie. Something we’d picked up from a nearby restaurant the day before, which served up real southern cooking, a haven for high cholesterol foods.

As I mentioned before, my daughter’s recovery from food poisoning went relatively smoothely. There were no residual effects, unlike my bout. While my vomiting and diarrhea ended, the nausea, queasiness, and mild dizziness persisted. I just didn’t feel 100%. A couple of times I was overcome by tears, so frustrated that I couldn’t attack the chores with the same gusto I’d had prior to being ill. The second time was when I heard my husband’s voice on the phone asking how we were. Bawling, I told him how much I missed him and couldn’t wait for him to arrive to assume control. My brains were “fried,” I told him.

I’d wanted to accomplish so much before my husband joined us. Because of the extreme heat and humidity I feared his asthma would flare up if he tried to do too much. I didn’t want him landing in the ER during his short, four day visit. I even contracted a private mover to transport my daughter’s large pieces of furniture from one apartment to another. The price was fair for the heavy lifting involved, and the 2 flights of stairs the men had to climb at her new place. My husband was immensely grateful for my last minute decision to hire someonelse. He’d forgotten how weighty the huge, glass bookcase was. Not one to drink bottles and bottles of water, my husband felt moving such massive furniture in the heat would have been very difficult for him. I also took pity on any male dancer friend of my daughter’s who had offered their services. I didn’t want their aches and pains or worse, broken bones, on my conscience.

Grateful for my husband’s contribution to our ongoing efforts to move stuff from storage to the old apartment, and then to the new apartment, I continued to deal with the lingering effects of food poisoning. It was distressing to have to stop what I was doing and rest until I felt better. I attempted to ignore what I was feeling, but wasn’t able to in the end. I had to give in, and go with what was happening. Such an occasion occurred while we were shopping for hardware at a local Lowe’s Hardware.

 

A typical Lowe's storefront in Santa Clara, Ca...

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Walking up and down the aisles looking at storage paraphernalia, I felt lightheaded, as if I were about to faint. After a few more aisles, I nearly passed out. We decided to leave, my husband quickly making his purchases. He headed out to get the car so that he could pick me up at the exit. My family and I decided I should go to a nearby walk-in clinic.

Upon arrival at the clinic, I felt spacey. My husband and daughter each held an elbow as they escorted me inside where I immediately took a seat. My husband checked me in and filled out the necessary paperwork. When my name was called, my daughter accompanied me in to see the doctor. After waiting a short while, he appeared. After asking me questions, and listening to my replies, he asked me to follow his moving finger with my eyes. I did okay although I felt myself struggling a bit. The doctor then asked me to stand and walk towards him, which I did with some hesitation. After I sat down, he advised us that I might be having a stroke. I must admit, strokes never come to mind when I feel something might be awry. Heart attack, maybe. Stroke, never. And yet two of my brothers have had strokes, serious ones, from which they’ve thankfully recovered.

ER (TV series)

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At the doctor’s insistence I went to the nearest ER. I think my husband and daughter were somewhat alarmed as we drove to the hospital near my daughter’s new apartment. I was going to the same ER I’d taken my daughter to in February, when she suffered from an unremitting migraine headache. I think I felt relieved that I might finally discover why I wasn’t “up to snuff.” I was really sick of feeling sick!

Unlike the lengthy wait my daughter had during her prior visit, I bypassed much of the bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo because I was a possible stroke victim. It didn’t help when I burst into tears because I couldn’t remember what day it was when the receptionist asked me. I turned to my husband for help, crying as I asked him what day he’d arrived. Even as I lay on the hospital bed answering the doctor’s questions, I felt I had to will myself to relax, taking my time to mouthe the answers.

Treatment began with forcing fluids into me intravenously, along with a medicine for nausea. After that there was an EKG, cat scans of my brain, and abdomen (I’d felt a sharp pain when the doctor’s hand compressed my side), and a chest xray. I’d also given them a urine sample. Happily, all tests came back negative for a stroke, heart problem, appendicitis, or anythingelse. And by the time the fluids had made their way throughout my body, I was feeling much better. So in the end I was probably suffering extreme dehydration brought on by my bout of food poisoning, and possibly some heat exhaustion as well.

With my new lease on life, we finally settled our daughter into her new apartment, cleaned out the old one, assembled a treasure trove of stuff for her to cart off to Goodwill, and transported a nominal amount into her storage unit for safekeeping. The last 2 nights my husband and I were with her, my daughter and I were up Saturday until 4 a.m. putting things away. On Sunday my husband fell asleep on the air mattress (not the old one, but a new one) at 2 a.m. I remained up again with my daughter, laying down for just one hour before getting up to prepare myself for the trip home to Seattle. Grateful for all my husband and I had done, our daughter tumbled contentedly back into bed after our car drove away.  

I’m sure you’ll understand now why my daughter and I agree that “you should let the bedbugs bite.” It makes life a helluva lot easier that way…

 

Halloween Parade 2007: Bedbugs!

Image by LarimdaME via Flickr

 

you think?…hugmamma. 😉

tenant must pay for bed bug treatment…???

Adult bed bug, Cimex lectularius

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You read correctly. In the continuing struggle to rid her apartment of bed bugs my daughter was advised that of the $600 charged by All America Pest Control, she had to pay $400, the apartment management would pay $200. That was the proverbial “last straw” as far as we were concerned.

A cat at the Seattle Animal Shelter

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Trying to carry on with her life as best she could, my daughter attended the final performances of her ballet company, cheering on her fellow dancers from the wings. In addition to that she partook of their annual choreographic project, WIP (Works in Progress), in which she choreographed a solo upon one of the trainees. My daughter also helped with administrative details like marketing the show, coordinating photo sessions with the dancers involved, distributing advertising fliers, and making contact with the animal shelter for whom donations were being requested as entrance fee for the show. All this while battling bedbugs and sleeping with one eye open, or not going home to sleep at all. Oh yes, she still had use of only one hand. Luckily, she’s left-handed so she could still drive, and write, and eat, and bathe and dress herself, however awkwardly. Within days of honoring her final commitments, my daughter came home for some much needed R and R.

Having seen to it that All America Pest Control treated her furnishings first, albeit minimally, my daughter approved our emailing the apartment complex‘s assistant manager detailing our disdain for how the bedbug situation had been handled. To be told by her that there was no plan in place to combat the critters once discovered, that our daughter’s case was the first, was unbelievable. The problem with bedbugs had been covered by local and national broadcasts beginning a year ago. That management didn’t take preliminary steps to deal with them since infestations were being reported to occur weekly, if not daily, in hotels and other public places seemed irresponsible. A worst case, best case scenario should’ve been worked out with Orkin, rather than subjecting my daughter to being the test case, the guinea pig. But matters went from bad to worse when my daughter was told that bed bugs weren’t covered by Orkin’s treatment plan, that they were lumped in with “general insects” for which there was no coverage. And so my daughter was being charged for treatment decided upon by management, which was less than satisfactory when compared with what Orkin’s rep said her company would’ve done. And never mind that my daughtered’d already spent almost $300 in following Orkin’s instructions.

As fate would have it, our family had already decided to move my daughter into a smaller, one-bedroom apartment. Of course we were prepared to honor her lease at the old one which didn’t expire until the end of July. But with the bedbug incident occurring the beginning of May, and my daughter not occupying the premises because of the bugs, we requested the lease be terminated the end of June. We felt the situation had been mishandled from the start: no formal treatment plan in place, allowing the Orkin rep to speak for the apartment complex, and then not following through with what she’d outlined to my daughter as the course of action, effectively telling her she shouldn’t have spent the several hundred dollars she did in compliance. We also asked that management pay for treatment because of their failure to point out that erradicating bedbugs would be my daughter’s responsibility, at the time she signed the lease.

What recourse did we have if the apartment’s management didn’t honor our requests? Social media, of course. While I explained in our email that we were just seeking recompense for the wrong done my daughter and no more, I went on to say that if she was not recused from her lease a month early and if she had to pay for treatment, we would have no choice but to broadcast the injustice to the world via the internet, and consumer advocates on TV. Thankfully the outcome was predictable, but only because the regional manager realized their mistake in not having a management rep present when the Orkin woman met with my daughter. It became a case of “she said – she said.” As it turns out, Orkin’s rep denied her entire conversation with my daughter, giving a signed affidavit that she lied about everything. Can you imagine?!? Why she would put herself through hell moving everything into storage, first having to find and rent a unit at the last minute, buy and load up huge plastic bins into her car with a broken hand in a cast, and sleep on her couch, and then on an air mattress is beyond comprehension, except for the fact that she was obviously complying with the advice of an expert in erradicating bedbugs, the Orkin rep! Did I want to nail that woman’s hide to the wall? You betcha! It’s a good thing I live 3,000 miles away.

In her email response the regional manager of the apartment complex apologized profusely for the distress my daughter experienced, but faulted her with not speaking up about it earlier. My email reply explained that my daughter handled the situation in a very grown up, rational manner. It wasn’t until the treatment went from happening 3 days after her conversation with Orkin’s rep, to 2 weeks later, that my daughter became anxious. Who wouldn’t in an apartment completely torn apart, with furnishings in and out of storage, having to board her cat at the vet’s in anticipation of the bedbug treatment (costing another $200 because of the delay), sleeping on the couch and then an air mattress and on friends’ couches, all with a broken hand?!?

Having put all our family’s frustrations into writing was very therapeutic. And it got us what we asked for as a result. The regional manager bore the complete burden of fault since management didn’t accompany Orkin’s rep in her visit with my daughter. In compensation, she bore no responsibility for payment for the bedbug treatment; her account was credited with $750; and she was allowed to exit her lease whenever she chose. In response to the regional manager’s generosity, I refrained from publicly denigrating their facility and its management.

My daughter was able to secure her new apartment on May 3rd, a month earlier than originally intended. And she was allowed out of her lease on the old apartment, without penalty, and compensated for her out-of-pocket expenses incurred in the treatment of the bedbugs. Lessons learned? Before signing on the dotted line, ask if bedbug treatment is included in lease. Make sure someone from management is present when advised how to proceed by a pest control rep. Ask questions, register complaints, and seek retribution if warranted. But always remember…you get more with honey, than you do with vinegar. But if you don’t succeed, get out your cannons…and blast away!!!

One foot shown en pointe.

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the end? no way…the fun (ha!)only begins as the “saga of the bedbugs” continues…so stay tuned for the next episode…hugmamma.  😉 

a sabbatical of sorts…

Just wanted to let you know that I’ve not “fallen off the face of the earth.” Regular readers of my blog will know that I’ve been enjoying a grand few weeks with my greatest “BFF,” (best friends forever), my daughter. She visited with my husband and me for a couple of weeks, and now I’m with her helping to settle her into a new apartment. You can imagine her relief, and delight, to be moving on from the bedbug situation in her old digs. More about that in another post.

While my daughter has been taking care of other business, and sanitizing her furnishings prior to moving them into her new place (don’t want any of those nasty critters moving with her), I painted the walls a softer, lighter, more soothing gray. My guess is the previous beige-gold was probably the original color when the building was constructed in the 70s or 80s. Updating the unit with a more contemporary color took it from drab and depressing to fab and uplifting! Grandkitty Misha’s spirits even seem better. With all that’s gone on with the bedbug upheaval, he’s been pretty accommodating, having gone from his once-happy-home, to boarding at the vet’s for a week, to a new place devoid of all his familiar smells and sleeping places. The intense temperatures, high humidity, broken air-conditioning system, fans blowing night and day, and no furnishings to keep him company have not altered his fantastic disposition. Thank goodness!

Determined to finally bring their home “right-side up” again, my daughter and I are setting about to make it happen. Wish us luck, and I’ll be back posting more regularly again in the not too distant future. Thanks for hanging in there while I’ve been wearing “my mom’s hat” once again. I’m sure all mothers, and their children, have “been there, done that.”

hugs for a cool, and blissful, tropical summer…wherever you are…hugmamma. 🙂 

a tribute…to my mom’s legacy

Happy..Happy.. Mother's Day :-)..

In a couple of days we’ll be celebrating moms. What they mean to us; what they do for us. My mom has been gone a number of years now. But there’s never a day that passes, when I don’t remind myself that “because of my mom, I can endure this struggle.”

While she was alive it seemed my mom and I were always engaged in our own struggle. Up until Alzheimer’s completely overtook her mental capacities, she was forever willing me to do as she wished. Perhaps I was too much like her, for I had difficulty bending to her will, especially after becoming a wife and a mother. Although I was her youngest, I felt I deserved respect as an adult having to make my own way in life. I was footing my own bills now, and picking myself up after life smacked me a blow to the head. This became even more apparent when I moved away from family in the islands, to reside permanently on the mainland. I think I learned early in life that I needed to take care of myself…without whining.

So whether or not my mom intended to give me the strength to endure, I learned by osmosis. She did it, so I do it. And because I do it, my daughter does it. But I must admit she does it with a whole lot less…whining. I like to call it venting. I like to get things off my chest with good friends, including my daughter, and hubby, of course. Now that I’m blogging, you naturally hear some of it as well. But you’ve always the option of…tuning me out.

My daughter’s recent experiences have served as a reminder of the strength instilled in me by my mom, which I have obviously passed along. My daughter’s dance season began with a sabbatical during which she returned home here for medical treatment. After 2 months, she was able to rejoin her ballet company. Cast in a couple of wonderful roles, she was elated to be dancing again in February. As she geared up for the final performance of the season last weekend, my daughter broke her hand in a freakish accident during rehearsal. While stressful, physically and emotionally, she carried on as cheerfully as possible. The beginning of last week she learned her apartment was mildly infested with bed bugs.

Bedbug

Image via Wikipedia

Advised to strip the place of everything except the furniture in preparation for treatment she, with a broken hand, but with the help of a friend, did just that. Renting a storage unit in which she placed bins and trash bags full of her belongings, and boarding her cat at the vet, my daughter has now been waiting almost 2 weeks for her apartment to be treated.

Management is dickering with 2 pest control companies about the price. Meanwhile my daughter is boarding here and there with friends because she doesn’t like the thought of being live bait. The rep from the second company consulted, suggested my daughter sleep in the bed where a couple of bug larvae were found so that the infestation would not spread to other areas, since the bugs would go in search of her blood. You can imagine her reaction! He went on to say that she needn’t have emptied her apartment of its decor and her clothing. Caught in the middle of 2 supposed experts saying opposing things, who should she believe?

Unfortunately management of the apartment complex is in the same quandary, and my daughter is the guinea pig in its efforts to devise a game plan going forward. With bed bug infestations throughout the country being widely broadcast in the media, I wonder why there was no best case/worst case scenario in place with the apartment complex‘s regular vendor of pest control?

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY.....

Image by Daisy.Sue via Flickr

With a broken hand, and living like a nomad, my daughter maintains an upbeat attitude about her life. She’s rehearsing a piece she’s choreographed for this weekend’s show with trainees of the company; she’s been a model in a photo shoot for the company, albeit minus the hand splint which she’s now sporting; and she happily accepts invitations out with friends which often includes a place to bunk for the night. As a beacon of light on the horizon, my daughter will soon be reunited with my husband and me for some much-needed R and R. I promised that she and I would “tie one on” when she got home.

Mother & Child, Coc Ly Market

Image by Hanoi Mark via Flickr

Any mom who cherishes her child can appreciate that what my daughter has been through makes my spirit go limp. At my age, I don’t even have the fire to take on the adversaries anymore, at least not as I did in earlier decades. I have my husband to thank for that. In our household wiser heads now rule, for which I’m eternally grateful. For it has meant that, unlike my mom, these, my later years are free of the kind of stress she inflicted upon herself through negativity. And that I truly believe, is a key component of Alzheimer’s. I may still not escape its grasp, but I maintain control over the number of factors that might contribute to eventually being overcome by the disease. So while I still have my wits about me, I’ll continue to fight the good fight. That’s something else with which I can gift my daughter.

giving thanks…for what my mom has given me…and what i’ve been able to give my daughter…and for the legacy that will most certainly… live on…hugmamma.

Wild Roses Mother's Day Card

Image by Flora Powell via Flickr