Sunday, November 30, 2008

I let the bed bugs bite.


Oh the experiences I have when I travel! Some good. Some bad. This definitely falls into the latter category.
I woke up this morning with scratchy and itchy forearms - and yes, that is my right forearm in the photo. To my distress, both my arms were covered with red welts. By mid morning, welts started to show all around my neck, chest, back, legs and face. Oh, horror of horrors!! What could it be? My initial reaction was fleas but from where? I had petted Catchup but I was certain it was not enough of a prolonged contact to result in this bad an outbreak.

Then, I thought about bed bugs. I Googled and found a slew of articles on the nasty little creatures. According to a few that I read, flea bites have little red dots in the center of the welt, bed bug bites don't and my welts are dot free. I have bed bug bites. EWWW!!

Apparently, bed bugs are common. Who knew? They basically "hunt" at night - search out warm blooded victims (like me) to suck on. Like fleas, they bite and inject an anti-coagulant to suck up the blood. They move on from one feeding site to another. What the leave behind is a red and VERY itchy welt. The welts can show up several minutes, several hours or even several days after the bed bug bites - reaction time varies from one host to another. In my case, I think it took a few days before I saw the signs.

In addition to the physical signs of the bites, victims (like me) can also exhibit signs of stress, anxiety and insomnia. Looking back, I thought I had had bad jet lag because I wasn't sleeping well. Now, I think a couple of the sleepless nights was reaction to the bites.

Oh, I look absolutely ghastly - red marks all over my body and I itch all over. I'm even starting to itch where there are no bites. Somewhere I read that this sort of psychosomatic reaction is "normal". This all sucks....no pun intended.

Unfortunately, all the methods for exterminating bed bugs involve chemicals which I am in no position to do today. I will at least see what I can do about laundering my clothes which may help reduce whatever population of bugs is currently calling my suitcase home. As for alleviating the itching, unfortunately, today is Sunday and all the pharmacies in Ürgüp are closed (as far as I can tell) so I will do the best I can to ignore the urges to scratch.

Lastly, I will need to tell Zeki about all this - I can already see him shaking his head :-(

Update - Monday, December 1st.
I'm now in Istanbul, staying at a small hotel in Sultanahmet. As I registered for my room, I explained my dilemma to the owner. He kindly tried to arrange for me to see a doctor at the nearby hospital but it was not possible to a get an appointment with no advance notice. So off I went to the pharmacy. I now have some anti something or other gel that the pharmacist said would relieve the itching and so far, it has. Hopefully, all the red swellings will go down as well.

....and thank God, they have laundry service at the hotel so everything I suspect that could be bug ridden was sent out.

What an ordeal!