Saturday, March 28, 2009

Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite

Bed bugs. Sounds like a dirty word doesn't it?

I've only heard of bed bugs and stories about people who've been bitten by bed bugs in "dirty" hotels or filthy apartments but have not met a person who had been a victim...nor have I experienced it first hand.

Amazingly, these sneaky little bloodsuckers dine on you without waking you. You don't feel their stealthy bite because they inject a numbing agent (anesthetics) into your body, along with an anticoagulant to keep your blood flowing as they suck. In fact, most people will never know if they've been bitten because they show no visible signs of bites or an allergic reaction to its saliva.

Symptoms are usually linear bites that do not have a puncture in the center (as with mosquito or flea bites), followed by intense itching at the site, and possibly welts and hives. Again, individual responses to bites very differently between people.

How do I know? I've been bitten. Surprisingly, it happened in an international chain hotel considered to be "high end". In fact, the hotel was rated in the top five of upper upscale chains in the 2009 Business Hotel Survey conducted by Business Travel News scoring more than 4 out 5 points.

Prior to this stay, I've slept in other hotel beds during trips to Oahu, Cabo, Naples, Lake Havasu, and even local resorts right here in Vegas and have NEVER been bitten. So I felt pretty safe in a "higher end" hotel, especially since I've stayed in a couple that had me a little skeptical. I had nothing to worry about this time, right? Oh but I was wrong when I woke up Wednesday morning, stepped out of the shower and saw myself in the mirror. Then I couldn't stop scratching these welts on the side of my knee and the sensation barely lessened after applying anti-itch cream.

Luckily this was the last day of my stay; I was on my way home. That night I observed neat little rows of bites like these on my arms and welts on the side of my legs. When the symptoms got worse the next morning after hives appeared all over my body like these on my calves and thighs, I had to seek medical attention. Mainly for the uncomfortable itching that made me want to scratch my skin off all despite anti-itch creams and Benadryl. I also wanted to know what the heck I got bitten by.

Let me tell you, it's not fun to be on drugs and creams. The only thing that worked for the severity of my reaction was some pills to decrease my immune system's response to allergens, thereby reducing the symptoms such as itching and hives. Then I spent the next day rubbing cream on my body, from head to toes and in every crevice. It was an insecticide.

Not to mention the personal things I had to throw away because I didn't feel comfortable having them in our home. A totally inconvenient event, I tell you -- but I came out fine ... and a little paranoid. The heeby jeebies take a while to go away and I won't be reading Confessions of a Hotel Maid or anything like that (I witnessed some shortcuts with my very own eyes and that was enough for me). Really, I'd rather not know because staying in hotels in the future is almost unavoidable.

To make light of things, my husband and I wish each other "a good night ... and don't let the bed bugs bite!"

(Since the Bed Bug Hotel I've stayed overnight at the Mirage and Crowne Plaza in Ventura ... and soon the Marriott in Bakersfield but I've not had another run in with bed bugs--and I hope things stay that way, LOL!!)

No comments: