If acquiring bed bugs is some sort of rite of passage into an expert travelers club, then I am in. Initiation was a pain though.
I understand that bed bugs can strike anywhere, anytime, under any circumstance, but in Japan of all places, I wouldn’t have expected such a disruptive occurrence. I mean, I stayed in a guesthouse in Penang with mice running around, for crying out loud. At first glance, the hostels in Japan look spotless. More than that, Japan has a reputation for being clean, but I suppose that doesn’t exclude them from bed bug cases.
Even though I’m led to believe that I picked them up in Kyoto, I had the wonderfully helpful and lovely people of the Osaka hostel unnecessarily tear the room apart to clean it floor to ceiling. Given that I checked every inch of my bed for signs of the pesky critters and nobody else in the room ended up reporting bed bugs, I really had no clue what was going on. Having never acquired bed bugs before, I didn’t even know what signs to look for. Needless to say, it was a long week of feeling dizzy from worrying so much about being eaten alive at night.
After inspecting every inch of my bags, not letting anything touch the floor, doing laundry 3 times over the course of 4 days, and showering in scalding hot water every night since the bites were identified as bed bugs, nothing seemed to be working. As more red welts continued to show up on different parts of my body, I felt more and more defeated. God bless my mother for listening to me moan in surrender multiple nights over the phone, as if it were the end of the world.
The most frustrating part, despite all of my research, is that I don’t know for sure where I picked them out or whether I got rid of them all. All I know is that I cried myself to sleep every night since new bites showed up each morning for a week. What’s worse is that they say new bites can take up to 14 days to show up so to say that bed bugs are truly unpredictable creatures is an understatement. They can be disguised as mosquito bites, and even though some medical experts say bed bug bites usually show up in groups of 3, others say they can be randomly scattered. Both are correct. Everyone reacts differently to bed bugs which means there may be a delayed reaction on your part in getting rid of them thereby prolonging your sleepless nights.
Bed bugs? I’d rather they be DEAD bugs. Among many things, bed bugs ought to be something nobody should have to experience. Not that they are known to spread disease, but damn, they are a nuisance. It’s like having chicken pox or unwanted company following you everywhere you go. It took all of my will power not to scratch. I even spent $85 at a clinic in Osaka with a doctor who barely spoke English, and without much analysis, just handed over 2 prescriptions to help the itching stop. The anti-itch creams ceased to work, and I refuse to solve any minor medical flare with pills so I basically forked over the money for the experience of visiting a clinic in Japan.
Though it’s certainly not the worst thing that can happen to anyone, it sure was a nightmare. It was like the universe was playing a joke on me for having writer’s block. “Having difficulty figuring out what to write about next? Here are some bed bugs. You’re welcome.”