Death by Dust Mites

They’re back. The Today show has once more reported, and so it has to be true, that we are again in danger of being eaten alive by the dust mites that inhabit our beds and pillows.

If you don’t want to believe it, the doctor who reported this most disturbing condition, had proof in the form of petri dishes that were growing all kinds of unappetizing offerings, allegedly gleaned from the residue found on pillows of ordinary people–presumably like you and me.

If you haven’t noticed, similar reports get run about three times a year. The reports used to be content with showing pictures taken with a microscopic camera lens, catching these unsavory little creatures crawling around in the places we sleep. Apparently that approach has not had the desired effect, which brings up the question, what is the desired effect? Sky rocketing mattress and pillow sales, perhaps? Makes me wonder what lobby is behind this.

In any event, here it was, the oft-repeated report–again to let us all know that we are about to be consumed at worst, or become walking petri dishes at best, hosting and supporting these most unappetizing growths that even the most skillfully applied make-up would have a hard time concealing.

To prove how unappetizing the harvest of the Petri dishes were, there was a panel of real people, including a teenage boy, who were asked how they felt about the Petri dish produce. You know, that typically dumb question that reporters ask on such occasions, usually after a disaster of significantly greater proportions than Petri dishes growing slime, as in, “How do you feel now that you’ve lost your home and family?”

The teenage boy gave something of what the producers had been looking for in a reaction, although it was not the probably hoped for all out teenage exhibition of disgust complete with graphic pantomimes.

So back to the mites. According to what was said, in addition to the dead dust mite bodies, our mattresses and pillows are getting bogged down with our own dead skin cells, and thanks to these two unwanted additions, increase in weight by 10% every two years. I hate to think of how much my mattress–actually a futon, which I suppose is even worse, weighs now.

What to do about this grievous state of affairs?

According to the guy on Today, we just need to seal up our pillows and mattresses with special covers that don’t allow mites to pass through them. There must be a catch. I’m guessing it’s in the cost. What do you want to bet that each pillow or mattress cover costs 3 or more times the cost of the pillow or mattress itself, and that the guy reporting on this works for a company that manufacturers them?

Well beyond that, I got to thinking of other places we lay our bodies and heads that are also likely alive with things we’d rather not think about. I shouldn’t have because life has not been the same since.

Airplane headrests. Remember when the airlines used to have those disposable headrest covers that one assumed, although perhaps wrongly, got replaced after each flight? After that they went to the cloth variety that made you think that at least every once in awhile they were cleaned and replaced. But now there’s nothing–just the cloth covered back of the seat itself. No one could imagine that ever gets replaced, and who knows if it ever gets cleaned, with the airlines cutting costs at every possible corner. Think of the heyday those dust mites and who-knows-what-else are having there. Maybe you’d better not.

Movie seats. Now this one is really scary if you just let your imagination go the least little bit. Need I elaborate? No wonder the Today Show has not gotten into this, after all it is a morning program.

Hotel beds. Yikes. If our own beds are crawling, what must those beds in hotels be doing? It’s enough to get you to take your own sleeping bag with you whenever you check in.

Gym equipment. All those sweaty bodies being draped–often without benefit of towels or anything else to wipe things up and off–over all of those torturous machines–the very ones you yourself will be draping your sweating body over. Yuck. Enough to make you stop working out. Here’s the excuse you’ve always been looking for.

I’m sure the terrorists have thought of using dust mites and their relatives to finish us off as we sleep. Thing is that they can put these critters to work at so many places that we frequent for parts of our days or weeks. So before you run off and invest in all those mite proof covers, think about all the objects in your environment that need similar covering if you really are to accomplish what you hope to in beating back these beasts.

If we choose to follow the admonitions, we could all be forced into our own personal plastic bubbles. It’s allegedly that bad. At least that way we could all breathe mite-free air and sleep in mite-free beds–separately from the mites and every other living thing. Is that what life should be about? I guess I’ll take my chances, mites and all.

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