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It was Easter weekend. Well, it was also Passover. And it was 4/20. But all I cared about was what I was going to be eating that weekend. Friday night was a Passover Seder at my friend Marissa’s, which meant savory brisket and chocolate covered matzah. On Saturday, a baller brunch at Jon & Vinny’s. Then Sunday was Easter brunch: I was making placek, my grandma Marge’s recipe for Polish coffee cake.

Everything proceeded as normal.

Passover dinner was delicious.

Being raised Catholic, I was a little jealous that in Judaism, a traditional Seder includes meat so prominently, when a lot of Catholicism is spent not eating meat on Fridays. I know that’s not the only reason for Passover, but it still rules.

Saturday’s brunch at Jon & Vinny’s was also amazing.

That place is a marvel, and I will never stop wanting the ricotta toast with honey or the spicy vodka fusilli. Come to L.A.; I will take you there (but tell me in advance so we can get a reservation). Saturday night, I went to a dope party/comedy show where someone mistook me for one of the performers and told me I have “the face of a comedian,” whatever that means.

Then, Sunday morning on the drive to Sydney’s, I noticed some bumps on my wrists while glancing down at the steering wheel. On one arm, they were in a neat line: three in a row, like connect-the-dots. I looked at my other arm and gasped in horror. I was covered in these tiny red welts.

Arriving at Sydney’s, I tried not to panic. Well, they don’t itch, I told myself. Maybe it’s allergies. I had also woken up that morning with a sore throat and a cough, which sometimes happens when there’s a high pollen count. I tried to shake it off and enjoy brunch.

As time passed and I studied the spots more closely.

I came to one, sinking, seemingly inevitable conclusion: These were bed bug bites.

I sped home and searched my mattress and bedding for the signs: bugs themselves, red or black spotting, or anything else suspicious. I saw a few minor stains which I thought were from coffee, along with some spots that I thought were eggs. I rushed to the laundromat with everything I could: sheets, pillows, couch cushion covers, chair covers, laundry. I ordered a full evacuation of anything that I could have touched in the past few days.

The next morning I called an exterminator, and my roommate Meg bought me a mattress cover. The mysterious bumps remained, continuing to not itch and stay their same size. I was embarrassed, ashamed, frustrated, grossed out, and scared.

My own bed wasn’t safe, and my body had been infiltrated.

My sickness worsened into a full blown nasal nightmare. I went to urgent care to get checked out, and the doctor reassured me that it was a viral infection. “The bumps are a reaction to the virus,” he said, prescribing me some antibiotics. “Not bed bug bites.”

“But the lines! Don’t bed bugs bite in lines?” I persisted.

“Rashes can be weird like that,” he said, sending me off.

Unconvinced, I waited for a consultation from Terminix. The consultant examined my room and my mattress carefully as I paced around outside my room. “I don’t think you have bed bugs,” he said. “The bites could be from something else. Spiders, something else.” He recommended a general spray, since bed bug treatments started at a whopping $1,000.

Finally, Friday rolled around, and an exterminator came to treat the apartment.

I showed him the evidence again, as well as my “bite” marked arms, and he, too, dispelled the notion. “Nope, not bed bugs. Not bed bug eggs.”

The bumps on my body remained a mystery, but continued to dissipate as I took my antibiotics. My ailments, both respiratory and skin, lessened over time. It took me weeks to sleep well in my own bed again, and even longer to feel okay in my own skin and with my own body.

To this day, I’m not really sure what the bumps were.

Most logically, the bumps were part of the viral infection, since they started to go away once I took medicine. However, it could have also been an allergic reaction to the couch I had sat on that Saturday night (the person who owned the apartment has a cat, and I am very allergic) or an allergic reaction to a weed pen I had bought on 4/20. Welcome to L.A., baby!

Possibilities I had crossed out: fleas from dog sitting, carpet beetles from another couch I had slept on, and eventually, bed bugs. If I had bed bugs, my whole apartment would have gotten them, and no one ever had any other traces. I also still haven’t had a repeat incident of the bumps.

I survived #BedBugGate2019 and lived to tell the tale. And I am now extra prepared for if— and I’ll leave it at IF—I am ever faced with a real bed bug infestation.

Erin Vail

Erin is the 2003 West Reading Elementary Geography Bee champion, a TV obsessive, and never not thinking about Buffalo sports.

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