PTBBD: Post Traumatic Bed Bug Disorder

We have all heard of PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  In past years it’s been called Shell Shock, Combat Stress Reaction or even battle fatigue.  PTSD is a broad term that can be applied to applied to pretty much everything ranging from combat to car accidents.  I’ve never heard of it applied to insects though, so I hereby introduce: Post Traumatic Bed Bug Disorder.

It means exactly what you think it means.  It’s what happens to you when you find out you have bed bugs.  I’ll explain in detail but I warn you, things are going to get gross.  In fact, after I finishing explaining it you are going to make a very specific face.  It’s a face I see a lot. You are going to make The Face.

At first there is ignorance.  Most people haven’t seen bed bugs for 40 years, but they are back and they are here to stay this time.  People start getting strange bites, these bites are often dismissed as an outside source, but they don’t go away.  Maybe they are an allergic reaction? No, sorry, they are not.  Then you see one of these terrible little devil bugs.  Maybe it tickles your arm or runs across your visual field while you read a book.  Perhaps, you see a series of black spotting on your bed, the infamous fecal material made solely from your digested blood.  Whatever tips you off, your brain will spark, your face will contort and your life will have been forever altered by the hostile theft of your childlike nativity that you do, in fact, have little fucking bed bugs.  It’s a violent realization.

First this...

First this…

Then it turns to this (as you can see I'm into continuity)

Then it turns to this (as you can see I’m into continuity)

To further add to the paranoia, you will have gone on the internet and learned all sorts of things no human should ever know about each other, let alone another species.  You may have even read about how bed bugs mate.  You see, they don’t make love.  They don’t even have violent, primal sex sessions.  Even howling cats gang raping each other outside your window sounds more pleasant than these things.  You see, bed bugs do something called Traumatic Insemination.  What a lovely technical and watered down description.  Essentially the male bed bug walks up to his counterpart, stabs her in the side with his penis, creating an open wound.  From there he injects his seed and leaves her to writhe around in pain, now pregnant.  The only way she can survive is her uncanny ability to produce antibodies to stave off infection, an ability that also makes them resistant to most chemicals.  Imagine going to the store to milk,  getting stabbed by a hooligan (yup, a hooligan) and stumbling your bleeding ass into the hospital only to have the doctor tell you are now pregnant.

Bed bug penis.  You're welcome.

Bed bug penis. You’re welcome.

So the question remains however, why are bed bugs so much more stressful than other pesky blood suckers like, ticks or mosquitoes? The mosquito and tick can transmit a plethora of diseases from West Nile to Lyme disease.  The bed bug is a non zoonotic species, which means it does not transmit pathogens from host to human while biting.  For the most part mosquitoes are inescapable too, in fact, we often incur more bites in less time by them.  The simple answer to this query is sleep.

Our beds are our refuge.  No matter how many times your boss slaps your ass, or how terribly awful your last haircut was (it was pretty bad, I’m sorry I am the one to tell you) or how stupid you looked asking that girl out while you had that massive booger hanging out of your nose (happened to me in grade 9, still haunts me today) you can always retreat to the one place that is your own personal fortress of solitude, your bed.  Take that away and you are a refugee in your own life.  You won’t sleep, which only adds to the paranoia and stress.  There is little you will think else of during the day.  There is a stigma attached to bed bugs too.  You will feel like a leper and people may treat you as one (if you are a leper then obviously you deserve it).  Financially it is one of the most expensive pest issues around too and the urgency it requires can put people in a financial tailspin.

A financial talespin

A financial talespin

So, you have blood take like a vampire while you sleep.  There are blood marks on your bed, you have become a social pariah and you are broke to boot.  Your house is then invaded by a guy like me (that means handsome) and you don’t even care anymore, because after you learned that bed bugs feed on you for around 13 minutes at a time every 3-5 days, your soul simply left the building.  In fact you probably won’t recover for months to come.  You end up having nightmares and perhaps you may not even believe they are gone for weeks after treatment.  You feel phantom bites and see things out of the corner of your eye and even your friends/family will never fully trust you don’t have a problem anymore.  This is Post Traumatic Bed Bug Disorder.  It reduces people to tears, disgust, rage and poverty.

Lastly, I am going to show you this picture:

insert vomit sound here

insert vomit sound here

And now you are making this face:

"The Face"

“The Face”


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