Terror in the Night

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I don’t like to whine about how bad life is.  Whining about the injustices in life, real or imagined, is a waste of energies that could be put to much better use.  Focusing on these negatives is also self-reinforcing.  By paying close attention to all the negativity, you invite more of it to the party.

I’d rather focus on the positives, and have them invite all their friends to join in.

There is also something to be said, however, about sharing those negative experiences.  By exposing internal fears to the world, they lose some of their power over the individual.

Pain shared is halved.  Love shared is doubled.  It’s an interesting and quixotic quirk we humans have developed.

Now, with all that shared out  –  I’ve just survived one of the worst panic attacks in my own personal history.

The kids and I have been fighting fleas pretty much all summer.  That much, we’ve decided, was something we can depend on as a true thing.

But – every time I think we’ve eliminated the little blood-sucking demons – I get new welts, which look like insect bites. **sigh** Time to re-salt the carpets and go for round…damn…I’ve lost count.

Lucky for me, S has very delicate skin.  So much so, that she’s a font of knowledge on how to handle contact dermatitis.  She switched me to a very soothing goat-milk, honey and oatmeal soap (from these guys at Swiss Frau Farm Products – this stuff is beautiful!), forced me on a daily dose of an antihistamine, and insisted on smearing my itchy zones with Eucerin lotion to keep me from scratching myself into a bloody mess.

But I still see the occasional new welt pop up.  I tried going off the pills the other day, and everything got real red & itchy again.  Wish I could figure out what I’m throwing reactions to – I’d remove it, and kill it with fire if necessary.

Potential future purchase?  Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm…

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That sets a portion of the tone of this tale of terror…am I reacting to something in my apartment with hives that resemble insect bites, are the fleas again emerging to piss me off, or am I imprinting from all the stuff I see on the web?

Mental note:

STOP BROWSING THE NET –  

I see … things … that … scare … me … silly.

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I have a few memories from childhood that feature ticks. As the results of this (giving that the mind, especially the childhood mind, imprints VERY deeply on the body) I have an unnatural fear of blood-sucking bugs. The only insect which doesn’t inspire terror is the common mosquito.

Although – them suckers are disease vectors all wrapped up in an annoying high-pitched whine with sucky mouth-parts.

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I remember everyone else in the family going for a hike in the woods surrounding Babe & Mic’s place (not sure of the familial bond, here..they were always just Babe & Mic) when I was a kid.  At the time, they lived way out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded on all sides by extremely thick green – fur trees, oaks, grasses, etc.  You had to look UP to see the sky.  I know there was discussion in front of my little 5 or 6 year old ears about ticks, poison ivy, and all things hazardous in the woods.  I was so terrified by the thought of multi-legged, blood-sucking demons that I was actually afraid of trees.  The family had a difficult time getting me to emerge from the safety of the house.

I steadfastly refused any deep-woods hiking from that moment onward.  I even remember hiding in the car while everyone else sat on a picnic table in a copse of trees.

I was sent to a weekend camp when I was 12.  We had some sort of scavenger hunt in the woods.  While I was still freaked out about bugs, I let peer-pressure (and the teachers, who wouldn’t let anyone ‘not’ participate) shove me in the woods with a group.  After all, I had successfully (to this point) avoided any tick-based encounters.

I could do this!

In the common shower room that night, there was a tick found on me – rather high up on the right buttock.  I couldn’t see it, I couldn’t reach it, nobody else would dislodge it…and all the peers took great pleasure in wringing every last bit of terror out of me.

You never forget your first panic attack.

The teachers and camp staff were ill-equipped to deal with a headstrong preteen experiencing their first full blown panic attack, and more than slightly annoyed at being thrust into this situation. They did finally manage to get me slightly settled down, but nothing – not even breakfast – was going to dislodge me from my bunk until it was time to get back on the bus and head home.

Is it any wonder that when the kids want to drag me to go camping with them, I politely decline?

Now – I can go to a park.  I can go to a lake.  I can go to places where the landscape has trees, as long as its somewhat manicured.  I can be by trees – take pictures of them – and if they’re urban trees, lean up against them.  I will never climb a tree, though.  And I will never go deep-woods camping or hiking, no matter HOW delicious the scenery is portrayed to be…because I remain deeply terrified of ticks.

I’m not too fond of communal showers, either…but that’s a different story.
So where does the panic attack this week come in?

A few weeks ago, we noticed that up and down the street was a plethora of furniture being tossed to the curb.  A lot of couches, chairs, and an insane amount of mattresses/box-springs.  One of these sets showed up, right outside OUR building – with two words spray-painted on it’s plasticked covering:

Mattress with Bedbugs Art, on corner of St. Marks Place and 2nd. Ave.

BED BUGS.

The itchies came back with a vengeance…browsing the ‘net increased the anxiety.  And the icing on this multi-legged cake – we found a small, flat, black bug on my bed.

Enter:  The Panic Attack.

To find what I assumed was a bed bug IN MY ROOM, given the recent resurgence of the little horrors in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago – the confirmation that the vampiric denizens of hell were IN my building, my itching skin, and too much ‘net-based information?

Yea – it was a bad one.

I barely slept that night, convinced with every movement that I was being consumed by night-time, childhood terrors.  Terrors made real by my drained bank account telling me I have no money to move.  The realization that, even if I DID move, I’d probably bring the little horrors along for the ride, and the knowledge that the only way I could flee from these demons encased in a chitinous shell was to abandon every object I owned.

By morning, lack of sleep combined with a whirlwind of chaotic thoughts found me an absolute wreck.  I’m still not sure how I managed to make it through work.

The lady in the cubicle in front of me asked me if I was coming down with a cold – because I was blowing my nose a LOT.

The landlady had a bug-sniffing dog through the building a day later – our apartment (according to the little beagle) is clean.  No creepy horrors in my living space.  Unfortunately, the rest of the building is not so clean – there are 2 apartments infested.

They are bringing in professional Pest Control Services to clear the infestation – but with everything I’ve read – they’re notoriously difficult to eliminate and spread through walls.

I’ve instituted a few strategies to keep them OUT of my space.  Essential oils across my door, diatomaceous earth around the threshold, on the door mat, along the baseboards and common walls – and under my bed.  All the former clutter in my bedroom has been carefully sealed in big, plastic totes.  I will leave no place for the little hellions to hide.

And somehow – by taking charge of the situation and laying down barriers the entire panic has lessened.

Pain shared is pain halved.

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