Reader, while you're all caught up with your brackets and your sweet sixteens, I'm dealing with some March Madness of my own: vermin. I have lived with dogs and cats my whole life so have weathered multiple flea infestations. Which is why I was so sure when I woke up a few weeks ago covered in welty, itchy red bites that they could not possibly be fleas. I had never seen a flea in my house or on my cats. No crazed itching, no hot spots. No sign of flea dirt, anywhere. My conclusion: BEDBUGS OMG.
Having worked in congregate living settings over the years I know how difficult and expensive it is to get rid of bed bugs and if I had them, I wanted to start treating immediately. I called the building super and asked, possibly demanded, that he come over to inspect right away.
Later that evening, I saw a note on my kitchen table that he had seen two fleas in the area between my kitchen floor and dining room rug. He said he killed both of them and left them on said note for my viewing pleasure, but there were no dead bugs in sight. The Walking Dead: Vermin Rises.
Immediately, I flea combed both cats and found not one flea, not one piece of flea dirt. Nothing that looked like an egg. I called the vet and asked if it was possible to have fleas without ever seeing a sign of said fleas? Reader, you know she laughed. Of course it is! But not to worry, we see this all the time. Come into our office right now and buy some incredibly expensive Advantage! Also, vacuum your house sixteen times a day until you die and wash everything in your house and then askdkasfkjagfljsDVBNS.jkfg.sdgf/sjDFH.SHdf
We are closing in on week 3 of Operation: Die, Vermin. I have vacuumed every day (if you know me, you know this is BANANAS), dutifully popping the vacuum bag in the freezer between vacuums. I have washed everything and those things I couldn't wash also went into the freezer. Hello, wool throw blanket that now smells of stale ice and frozen chicken! Still no sign of a flea. I think I can stop but then I see things like this that scare me into continued vacuuming: During the flea cycle only about 5% of fleas are
actually living on your dog or cat. The other 95% of fleas (in one stage
of the flea life cycle or another) are living in
Reader, you must be thinking, Professional Critic has gone around the bend. I would stop all this nonsense by now! And I would, except I have withheld some slightly disgusting information about the impact of these fleas bites. Here it is, since you asked: I had a patch of bites on my upper arm, maybe six or so, very close together. I must have scratched them in my sleep and didn't realize they had opened and were draining the whole next day. By that evening, my arm ached and I could feel how hot it was through my shirt, which didn't seem like a great sign. I was also feeling a touch queasy and shivery. I went into the bathroom and discovered my shirt was glued to my arm with pus from the elbow up, when I gingerly peeled the shirt off my skin, my entire upper arm from the elbow to the shoulder was hot, red, lumpy and hard. Since the shirt I was wearing was brand new, the whole area was also blue from the dye. If there weren't a hundred people sitting right outside the bathroom silently meditating, I'm sure I would have screamed in horror.
Long story short = I'm fine. But, twenty days later my upper arm is still lumpy and itchy. Yes! So that, dear Reader, is why I am still vacuuming, in hot pursuit of invisible fleas.