One year ago today was an awful day for me. I was booked in for a medical procedure early the next morning and needed to spend the night in a hotel in urban Manitoba. My husband and I drove into the city and settled into the hotel around 4:00 pm. We didn’t do anything that evening. We just laid on the bed and watch television for hours. I was tired, and cranky, and although my medical procedure was one I needed, I was annoyed that it was booked over the holiday season as it put a bit of a damper on my holiday spirit.
The hotel was a standard one. Nothing abnormal about it. Not cheap, not expensive, not luxurious, not a dump. Just your average run of the mill middle class hotel in urban Manitoba. I am quite active on Trip Advisor and had checked out the reviews beforehand and they all seemed fine. In fact, I had previously stayed at this hotel and found it to be a wonderful experience. I had no hesitation in booking this hotel.
Around 12:30 am my husband had fallen asleep. I stayed awake with just the dim light of the television. Out of the corner of my left eye I thought I saw something. Something small and black. I am a chronic sleepwalker and sleeptalker and one of my common sleep mishaps is to dream that there are bugs in my bedroom. I have no idea why or how my sleepwalking and sleeptalking about bugs started, perhaps it was a premonition of this very moment in this very hotel room. I turned my head to the left and this time, for the first time in my life, there really was a bug on the bed. I whipped my head in the other direction and saw another bug. Then three. Then four. Then five. Then six. OH MY GOD THERE ARE BED BUGS IN THIS BED! I jumped up faster than a lightening bolt, vigorously shaking my husband. I startled him with my screaming “we are laying in a bed full of bed bugs, get up, get up!”. For a brief few seconds he assumed I was just up to my regular sleepwalking and sleeptalking tricks. Much to his dismay when I flicked on the light and he saw the bugs he knew this was no joke, I was not asleep, it was real and it was disgusting.
Our bodies felt creepy and I kept jumping up and down shaking my arms. What in the world do we do now? We have been laying in a bed bug infested bed for hours and hours. Where do we go in the middle of the night? How do we prevent the spread of these bed bugs? What do I do to ensure we don’t take these bed bugs home and infect our house? Am I going to still make it to my medical procedure in only a few hours? My husband flung into action. He called the front desk. They told us to leave the room and come down. At the front desk the owner of the hotel and pest control was called. I was very upset. It was late, I had no sleep, and I had a medical procedure the next morning, and I had just laid in a bed bug infested bed for hours. My actual worst nightmare had come true, one that I had been preparing for in sleepwalking and talking for years.
Pest control arrived and confirmed it was bed bugs. They suggested all our belongings should go into a hot dryer to be treated and that we should shower immediately. Done and done. The room and surrounding rooms were put under quarantine for bed bug treatment and we were relocated to a different section of the hotel. I started flinging the questions at the pest control guy. How did this happen? Is this common? What can the average person do? Basically he replied that bed bugs are a world wide epidemic and Manitoba is not immune to the problem. He indicated they are common in Manitoba, just like the rest of the world, and they have shown up in Manitoba apartment buildings, homes, and hotels of all kinds. They can happen to anyone and anywhere and that the best thing to do is to take proper precautions when you travel. He recommended everyone should educate themselves on the bed bug problem. In the back of my head I remembered seeing an advertisement in my local Manitoba newspaper about bed bugs in Manitoba. I had brushed it off as nothing, uncommon, something that would never really involve me. I was wrong. It can affect anyone, anywhere, anytime. They do not care who you are, or if you have a medical procedure booked in the morning. They do not care if you are staying in a high end hotel. All they care about is feeding on your blood and hitching a ride to the next meal. Disgusting, I know, but it is the truth.
So all you Manitobans, and others worldwide, please take note of my horrible experience. Don’t think it can’t happen to you. It can. Learn to watch for bed bug signs, and check the room properly before you take your belongings in. It only takes a few minutes. Take precautions when heading home to prevent dragging the little buggers into your house. Thankfully, we caught the bed bugs in action and were able to take precautions from lugging them home and spreading the problem. We have yet to see or experience bed bugs since that horrible night and are confident we did the proper prevention steps. Not everyone is as lucky as I am, most people don‘t even know they have run into bed bugs until it is too late and they have already brought them home. My traveling habits have changed dramatically since this bed bug incident. I now know what to look for, and what to do to prevent another run in with bed bugs. Please learn from my experience. Educate yourself on the problem and how to prevent it. I am not sharing my story to scare you, I have traveled many more times in the last year without incidents, and travel remains my favourite activity. Rather, I am sharing my story to educate you, so no one else has to experience bed bugs.
For more information on bed bugs in Manitoba please visit http://www.gov.mb.ca/bedbugs/index.html.