"By the pricking of my
Something wicked this
way comes." ----Shakespear (Macbeth)
As I sit down to write this morning, I am not sure I am far enough from the awefulness of the story to put it down in words, but the telling of it might be a help to me or someone. Just a few nights ago I lay my head to sleep and woke a few hours later to a nightmare that would last for days, at least, and may continue who knows how long. . .
My husband uncharacteristically threw up the sash to bring in the dry cool air that swept in earlier that evening, and unbeknown to him, something else crept in as I slept and he tossed. I wonder what would have happened, or not, if that night had been like many other? What if my husband had come in and shut the windows tight, would events have unfolded as they did? But "what if's" are seldom useful and that is the case here and now.
"How can you sleep?" my husband grumbled in a strained voice. "There is something in here, I thought I was crazy, but there is something. . .can you see it?"
I think I must have groaned trying to drag my conciousness out of slumber and blinking my eyes clear till I could see. He was prone and propped on his elbows staring down. . .at his pillow. "Can you see them?" he strained again. I stared down too, and I did see, or did I? They were tiny like flecks of pepper, but they were moving, quickly. "Fleas?!! Where did we get fleas?!! We don't even have pets??" Then, I began to feel them as well as see them or was it my imagination? The sensation of something creeping on my skin was too much, we both jumped out of bed and began ripping off the sheets. I ran them straight to the laundry and put what didn't fit in a large plastic bag, tied it off, and then showered.
My night eyes hurt trying to focus on the screen of my phone as I googled how to get rid of fleas, while waiting for my turn in the shower. I got a few ideas for home remedies, applied them and showered myself. We remade the bed and settled in once again, but not for long. Our visitors, whoever they were, were not to be expelled so easily. When I glanced at the clock it said in red, 2:00 AM.
The next day I continued the laundering of sheets, bedding, pillows, clothing, little did I know the washing machine would be running for the next 36 hours non stop. I texted my husband, "This is bad. The clothesline is loaded with fleas. I haven't been using it, but went to hand an item that wasn't drying well. All the lines. WTF" His response. "IDK. Maybe they're not fleas?" then, "No time. Google little bugs that look like fleas."
At times like this, it becomes very apparent that Google wears the faces of both friend and foe, knowledge is the best and worst thing when facing the unknown. It quickly became apparent that we were not dealing with fleas, fleas are actually a bit bigger, not so difficult to see. I kept reading, and a gnawing idea was forming from the cloud in my head as I scratched a bite under my arm, on my neck. . ."Something wicked this way comes.", the telemarketer, the door to door salesman- they still do that?, bad signs. The window was uncharacteristicaly wide open in our room. Bird nest up in the eve. Bird who lived there was acting strangely just the day before, chirping at me frantically when I went out that end of the house. I thought perhaps her chicks had fledged, and she was worried I would step on one, but I didn't see a thing on the ground. Now I wondered. . .
My suspicions were confirmed when I began to read about how bird mites will migrate when their host bird leaves the nest. Identification is key here, and getting rid of the source, ie. the nest, is key. . . Good information! Then the nightmare stories (whatever you do, Don't go to birdmites.org!!!), they feed on any blood source, they can take days to exterminate. Another page, "they can live up to nine months without a bird host" The nightmare, I could see was far from over. Armed with an arsenal of borax, tea tree oil, epsom salt, and insecticide we continued our battle against the creepy crawlies in the night. Tired, but wary, we fell into bed, hopeful for peace.
I startled awake, 2:00 in red numbers, and the thought, "They aren't gone." My husband snored on, apparently he did not taste so sweet. I showered, scrubbed with epsom salt and tea tree oil dressed in clean garments, after bagging and running more laundry, load number 15? 16? I can no longer keep track. I rolled out my yoga mat and slept fitfully, till morning, then began again, strip bedding, wash. . .everything, dry, fold, vacuume, sprinkle borax, add para mothballs (not old fashioned). I am thankful that the problem(s) were isolated to just our room inside, no sitings elsewhere in the house, but the decks are off limits till further spraying and the clothesline will be burned and replaces as well.
My husband, armed in long clothing and bathed in OFF! with deet, continued the battle outdoors. He removed every nest and burned them, the one above our window was indeed The source. Four dead baby birds and millions of bird mites, I thought of the mother bird yesterday. One spray just slowed them down, another seemed to do the trick. Peace of mind begins to set in, but this is just one battle, the war is not yet won. That night we slept, bathed in bug repellant with an undertone of Tea Tree oil. I don't know if it was the OFF, the removal of the source, the general sense that we were getting ahead of the problem, the toxins or just plain exhaustion, but I slept hard and didn't wake till morning.
We are not finished. The washer and dryer are still running. Our pillows remain in mothball filled bags, maybe I will just burn those too. I am afraid to open them. We change our sheets daily, and I still scrub with Tea Tree Oil and salt. I haven't seen a mite in days, but last night I woke to see the red numbers 2:00 AM and wondered when the nightmare will really be over.