June 07, 2007

Name: Eddie
Posting date: 6/7/07
Stationed in: Baghdad, Iraq
Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
Milblog url

The room that I sleep in has a bug zapper in it due to the insane number of mosquitos that we have flying around. For some reason I seem to taste like a delicacy to these little flying bastards, so any preventive measure that will keep them from eating me alive is a good one.

Back home in AZ mosquitos are not too big of a problem. In fact bugs in general aren't, so I'm not real used to bug zappers. So I don't know if this is how they normally are or if the bug zapper in my room is special, but whenever a mosquito meets his maker via 100,000 volts of electricity, there's this awful loud snap/pop as his mosquito carcass turns to smoke. Good. One less bloodsucker. But every time, it scares the ever-living shit out of me! It's really bad at night, right as I'm getting ready to fall asleep: "ZAAP!!!", another one bites the dust. I feel like the biggest sissy, but I practically jump in the air when it really catches me off guard.

I think it has to do with the night that I was in the alleyway and the guy jumped out and started shooting at us (me being the front point man) from 25-30 meters away. The ferocity of the sound of the bullets coming at me and hitting around me has left me slighty jumpy. It's gotten a lot better, but it used to be bad. The sound of the vampires dying is very very very similar to the snap or pop of rounds as they pass very near to you, and I think that is why I am startled so much.

I probably normally wouldn't write about this, but last night had me really thinking about it. It seemed an armada of mosquitos was flying around in the room just as I was trying to go to sleep. They were being drawn to the bug zapper like a fat kid towards cake. It was just  "pop, POP! SNAP, pop pop SNAP!" all night long. And even though I knew another one would fly in there soon, it still startled me when it did. The craziest thing was I noticed my heart rate accelerate, and I got the feeling and alertness of a tiny amount of adrenelin starting to work its way through my body. I seriously think that my body was reacting to what it thought was combat. No matter how hard I tried to not have it happen, and just tell myself "This is stupid," my body did its own thing. Kind of crazy huh? I don't know how I finally dozed off, but I do know that I only got a few hours of sleep before having to wake up early to go out on patrol.


LOL! You will get use to it.
Keep safe out on your missions!

I'm sorry you have to get used to this. I hope that soon you will be at home and a more peaceful environment will help your body to relax. Thank you for your sacrifices. Stay safe.

Get someone at home to ship you cheap mosquito netting and bunge chords to suspend it. Also find and use ear plugs, the more recent designs are much more comfortable. If the military version isn't, you can have someone buy you them in bulk from Walmart and other vendors.

You're showing signs of acute stress response, in that jumpy response to sharp sounds; not at all unusual. If you smoke and chug a lot of caffeine, its adds to this problem of hyperawareness and sensitivity to sudden noise.

Note that it also increases your chemical signature that attracts biting insects.

Calming music (not head banger stuff favored by troops), meditation and turning off worry while laying quietly using belly breathing will help you to improve your stress response threshold.

Keep as well as you can, sir.

Just like a mom with sleeping kids who have croup, you waken becuz of your need to stay alert, I guess.
Thanks for doing this awful job for us, even tho we would prefer you were home in AZ with fewer mosquito bites. I live in WI with MANY bugs and drink lotsa tonic( quinine) & they don't often bite me as a result.

If you have ever been to Louisiana (Ft.Polk) you know about how many bugs are here! Read the directions on the bug zapper, the one I have says keep it at least 50ft away from site you want protected. The emitting signal has some sort of color/band/etc (I don't know electrical jargon) that draws the bugs TO the unit, and AWAY from you! I realize a tent/room does not have that space, but maybe as far away as you can get it. Many people here put them on their porch, and their porches look like some insect-horror movie set! \. The mosquito net is hotter, but at least it will keep out the biters! Also some people here think putting pure vanilla extract on your skin will ward off mosquitoes, also the skin-so-soft theory, but these Louisiana biters I have do not know those theories! Why just the other day I got away from two big ones. One had me, just about to do me in, when his buddy came up and wanted me, they got to fighting, and I got away!! (So old and so dumb a joke!) Maybe you should start collecting mosquito jokes. Youall keep up the info. I was a Vietnam wife, I enjoy all the personal insights.

What a great parallel - mosquitos & bullets! Your body's been sensitized & is very suspicious of anything that sounds like bullets. It's normal. I would definitely try netting, and Skin-So-Soft. It works for me and for a lot of hunters in the Northeast US in early fall when it's still warm. Rather than vanilla I would try eucalyptus oil as a repelant. Your body really needs a time & place to relax a little. that Zapper should go.
How large are your sleeping quarters? Maybe the space is too small for a Bug-zapper. If it's any consolation I was eaten by mosquitos in November in Belgium three years ago. They are VERY creative critters.

Geez... I don't know what's worse, listening to them die or getting bit by them... I remember one time getting ready to take off in a bass fishing tourney, deep south, sun just coming up and mosquitos everywhere, I remember thinking "if we don't take off soon, I will run screaming blindly into the woods cause they're driving me crazy!! I really feel for you... Hang in there... Hope you find a remedy... God bless...

the good news is, you can't hear them scream :)

see if you can find a mute button on the damn thing...

(asking for comfy earplugs sounds like a great idea.)

If the room is well-ventilated, try a mosquito trap. It attracts them with CO2 and sucks them in with a vacuum. Just a steady hum. Sounds crazy, but I'm told they actually work.

I'd send you one myself, but I'm stuck on a boat offshore for the next two months.

Hang in there.

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