Saturday, January 5, 2013

See no Evil!

Even my screened porch office isn't safe .
The thing that bugs me most about the Keys is something I can't even see.

We hadn't been at our place in the Keys five minutes when I got my first bite from a No-See-Um. Sometimes you don't even feel the bite, you just find your legs covered with red bumps like a bad case of measles. And they itch like crazy. They don't bite everybody. Steve is evidently immune. But when they are biting I can't do anything.

Usually they are only active in the early morning or after dark. But today we went to the Saturday morning flea market. It was really muggy and cloudy and I guess the bugs consider that the same as dusk. I was getting so many bites that I could barely pay for my purchase and run back to the car. I felt like a swarm of them was chasing me.

Screens do not deter them. They chase me out of the screened porch sometimes. And they bite me so badly in the house that I can't sleep. I woke up the other day and my hand which had been outside the blanket was covered with so many bites that it felt swollen.

No bug spray works either. I've tried them all. Some swear by DEET. Some say Avon's Skin So Soft works. The worst attack I ever had was when I put Skin-So-Soft on my legs. The bugs were swimming in it.

Friends give me anti-bug Christmas gifts. Steve bought me something called a Thermo Cell, which has a miniature butane burner that creates its own DEET-infused fog. I was having trouble reading a book on my screened porch so I fired up the new thermo cell. It seemed to be working and I was reading in peace, although I could smell the fumes from the Thermo Cell. Then I could taste the fumes. Then I realized I was getting woozy from the poison. I went and got the package:
If inhaled: Move person to fresh air. If person is not breathing call 911.  Well, duh!
Reading about No-See-Ums on the Internet only frustrates matters. One post said you can't use bug spray and sunscreen at the same time because the DEET in the bug spray neutralizes the sunscreen, and neither will work. Well, since my dermatologist has me under orders to wear sun screen every day, I have to chose between bites or skin cancer. I'm thinking it over.

I  shower twice a day to clear off all the preparations that are accumulating on my skin. Today I sprayed bug spray on my feet and legs, sun screen on my arms and shoulders, and a combination sunscreen/moisturizer on my face. When I came home I itched so bad all over, I slathered on an "ocean of calamine lotion. "

But nothing seems to work for long to ease the itch. I take benadryl at night but during the say it leaves me too groggy to function. I've had the best luck with an ice pack. People who know me know that I advocate ice for every ailment: headaches, backaches, bum knee. And yes, an ice pack will numb the burning itch of no-see-um bites.

The bites are everywhere. Between my toes. On my ear lobe. Behind my knees, On my scalp.  Cheeks. Ankles.Fingers.  In my butt crack. Along my jaw line. Everywhere. Bites last a week or more. Sometimes they get all festered with yellow liquid. Usually leave a scab when they finally dry up.

The most frustrating part is not being able to see the enemy. You can't swat them or shoo them. I desperately want revenge. I want to watch them writhing in the fumes of the thermo cell. Hear them sizzling on the bug light. You didn't know I had a sadistic side, did you?

The good news is they say you build up a resistance in three or four weeks. It did seem to get better last year. It's been three weeks today since that first bite when we arrived, so I'm probably at my peek accumulation. And if you asked me today, I'd be hard pressed to think of anything nice to say. Sun, sand, blue skies and warm weather are not worth much when all you can do is scratch.

1 comment:

  1. How awful to be in such torment, Sue. Will keep you in thought and prayer.