The complex my mother lives in has suffered from bed bug infestations before, so as a matter of course they do some occasional checking of the units for any new signs of bugs. A couple months ago, my mother called me to warn me that they’d found something and treated her unit.
Now apparently it was due to finding just a single spot on her sheets, which isn’t definitive proof of anything, but they did the treatment anyway just as a precaution, since it could have possibly been a sign of bed bugs. Since she’d just travelled to Vancouver recently, she could have possibly picked some up on that trip. It could have possibly been a hotel she stayed at, and since I was on the trip and stayed at the same hotels as well, I could possibly have picked some up and brought them back with me, too.
Now that’s a lot of possiblys, so there’s only a chance I could possibly have bed bugs as well (it’s not even proven that she actually had them to begin with), so I started keeping an eye out for any potential signs of them. And now, about four months after the trip and a couple months of checking the sheets and mattress and some traps, I haven’t seen any definitive signs of them yet, so that’s a pretty good indication that I don’t have them, right?
If only it were that easy to convince the stupid brain…
It’s easy to put the mind into overdrive about possibilities and become paranoid. Oh no, I see a spot on the sheets! …oh, that’s just lint; I tend to wear dark-coloured sleepwear. Oh no, I feel an itch at night! …like I always do in the dry winter climate; I get those itches all day long too, but it’s a lot easier to notice them when you’re lying there trying to blank your mind. Oh no, a tiny little egg-shaped speck! …that crumbles in my fingers because there’s a ton of little bits of random crud everywhere, really. Oh no, spots on my skin! …and I’ve long been prone to random breakouts of acne and rashes, especially again in the winter and when I’ve been eating poorly like I have lately. There’s a ton of ordinary things that make that fear instantly resurface, so it’s never long out of my mind.
And then even when I can recognize all of the above as paranoia, there’s still the lingering thought that, logically, it’s still not proof there aren’t any bugs… They’re sneaky little buggers, I might just not be looking hard enough, the signs could just be hidden away, and how would I even tell if there was an actual bite among the acne, and maybe there’s a secret colony that’s just getting bigger and bigger and… Even getting something like a sniffer dog wouldn’t necessarily help; from what I’ve read there’s still enough of a margin of error to leave lingering doubt of a false negative, and a false positive would be a massive expense and hassle.
There isn’t really any way to prove they aren’t there but for enough time to pass, so the mental war rages on…