I was halfway up the Mt Maunganui trail, when I felt the nascent* itch. The bird song distracted me for a short while, however, I soon felt it again. That scratchy, crawling feeling running up and down the back of my neck. I guided my fingers over the left hand side of my neck, feeling small bumps with my fingertips. Just mosquito bites, I chided myself.
But in my mind and my gut, there was no illusion. I knew what these were! I’d had them before in Tasmania, September 2008. Bed bugs.
By the time I had explored the summit and made my way back down the mountain, bites had flared up everywhere. Aside from the ones on my neck, there were now bites on my jawline, pinkie and ring fingers, wrists and forearms. This was the clincher. I had to take action. No more denial.
A quick visit to the pharmacy confirmed my self-diagnosis. The alarmed expression on the pharmacist’s face, warranted that I took her recommendations seriously. Armed with a cassette of antihistamines and a tube of hydrocortisone cream, it was time to deal with the hostel.
I returned to the accommodation, and approached the lovely Bohemian girl working reception. I discreetly explained the situation, revealed the evidence on my skin and we promptly marched up to my room to investigate and find the culprits.
The girl was extremely apologetic and I could see she felt terrible. And I understood it was not her fault. In fact, around 70% of people who have been bitten by bed bugs have no reaction – hence the reason they can spread so easily and remain undetected! It isn’t until a hyper-sensitive such as myself gets bitten, that staff become aware there is an issue and eradication measures can be taken. Bed bugs can also survive without feeding for 30 days. They really are wily little critters. For all my patience and understanding though, I wanted to topple these bastards and ensure they killed every last one of them!
After inspecting the bed sheets, valance, pillows, mattress etc, without success, I was beginning to doubt myself; concerned I was mistaken. However, as she pulled the bed away from the wall, the multitude of bugs that were present, made our skin crawl.
Feeling far from insouciant with the agreed upon room upgrade, we proceeded to check my new bed for the night as well. It was clean but I must confess I slept with the lights on anyway and woke every few hours to check over my skin.
Needless to say, I have been left feeling quite traumatised by the experience. Dealing with the aftermath of pustules, welts and ever present itching and pain, I will certainly be more careful where I lay my head in future!
P.S You can check out some gross photos of the bites here
By Sarah ©2017
*Nascence (adjective) – beginning to exist, developing
^Insouciant (noun) – free from worry, concern, anxiety
Prompt: Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie, Wordle #163
Words used: bird, cassette, trail, Bohemian, warrant, nascence, chide, illusory, everywhere, topple, clinch, insouciant