Pariah

I’m 68 years old and I’ve lived in some places that would curl a bald man’s hair. I’ve lived with and through cockroaches, ants, waterbugs, and everything but bedbugs.

And now I have bedbugs. At long last. It was so not worth waiting for.

My skin looks and feels like elephant hide. My feet have swollen a full shoe size. I have welts all over me. The welts burn, itch, and create scabs. They bleed. Except for about an hour after a shower, I feel filthy.

I’ve had the exterminators in three times, including yesterday. Every trip is the same. The guy shows up with his tank of chemicals. He pumps the poison into the mattress and box spring. And I keep on doing laundry, over and over again. Now that my bank account is totally overdrawn, I don’t even have the change to feed the washing machines.

Nothing helps. I expect to get into bed with more bedbugs tonight. My flesh is crawling. And I’ll wind up sleeping in a chair again tonight as I have for over two weeks. I’ll try to read and wind up watching old movies until I doze off.

(Addendum: I went to bed, slept until 1:15 AM, sat up for a few hours, went back to bed, and slept until almost 9 AM)

And then there’s the grand finale: first, being fired by my doctor, and later being asked to leave an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. I’m contagious. The doctor can’t treat me if there’s a danger that the insects will propagate in her office. I can understand and even forgive that. And being ejected from an AA meeting?–even worse. At a time when I really need the meetings I’m told I’m too contagious to be accepted. There’s too much risk for others to assume. One guy came in, saw me, and left.

So then I left. I never bothered to sit down.

People are worried. So am I. I just ordered an air mattress from Bed, Bath, and Beyond because I can’t sleep in my own bed and an air mattress might help. Starting with a clean slate, etc., etc.

When I went to the Emergency Room last Saturday, it was because I have a kidney stone. But the nursing staff would not touch me without sterile full-body protective clothing. I will have to go back there tomorrow to see what if anything I can do to speed up the healing process and prevent this monstrosity from coming back. I will need to ask about available social services.

I feel like I’ve been sent into exile, dragged away from everything I care about. I’m lonely and afraid. I can’t afford to get a “new” bed so I’ve applied for Medicaid to get furniture assistance, above and beyond the temporary fix of an air mattress.

When they don’t want you at an AA meeting, you’ve achieved the status of a social and medical pariah. It doesn’t feel good at all.

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