TEOTWAWKI Preventive Medicine, by Dr. Bob

Thursday, Jul 7, 2011

There have been many article about medical advice and certainly there is no shortage of information available in SurvivalBlog. But as a good old-fashioned country doctor I hope to give you some solid, comprehensive information that you can use now to prepare for WTSHTF.  There are some basic assumptions about TEOTWAWKI that most people have pondered.  Let’s go over the lists first.  It will be darker, colder, hotter, wetter, drier, and dirtier.  There will be less safety, less clean water, less food, more danger, more work, more exposure, and more pain.  Sounds like a bad camping trip. The difference is that it lasts forever and there is no hot shower and massage afterwards.  Anyone reading this already knows this, so what can you do about it now medically to make survival for you and your family more likely and easier?  First, go shopping for some basic supplies.  Second, go shopping for some basic over the counter medications to put on your shelves.  Third, go to the local doctor or health department for some shots.  Fourth, head to the dentist a lot this year.  Fifth, and lastly, figure out how you are going to get some medication for infections and ongoing maintenance treatment for chronic medical conditions when there is no pharmacy available.

Basic supplies include first aid materials that you might not think of and the ones you probably already have.  My experience has been that most camping first aid kits have 1 or 2 useful items and a dozen or more that take up space.  Don’t buy a kit unless it is a good one and get gauze, Band-Aids, Ace wrap, chemical ice packs, a couple splints, and tape.  Make sure you have enough quantity to last your family or group for a couple years.  Gauze and Band-Aids really can’t be reused, so make sure that those are given a priority in space accommodations.  Ace wrap and splints can be rewashed and reused for a long time.  The good old cowboy method of using a stick and some rags works—but only if you lay in a bed, don’t move, and expect to die while not contributing to your society.  Chemical ice packs will be a great thing to have when there is no ice, having them or ice will be extremely helpful WTSHTF.  This is not rocket science and you probably grow angry that you have wasted your time reading this so far—fear not, good stuff is coming.  Medical supplies you may not have thought of include screen, duct tape, foam spray, super glue gel, soap , eyeglasses, and a glasses repair kit.  It is assumed that shelters of some sort will still be standing and hopefully there is some ability to weatherproof such a structure against critters large (like dogs) and small (like mosquitoes).  Therefore the duct tape, foam spray and screen.  Prevention of bugs is a really helpful way to reduce your risk of stupid things that can kill you like infected bites, malaria, or a variety of killer meanies.  Duct tape should never be in short supply repairing large gaps and tiny holes, and holds wounds and bandages too.  Super glue works great to close up small wounds when stitches are not available, of course the soap is needed to wash them first which is reviewed in detail in some of the prior posts in great detail.  The gel works better than the watery stuff because it is much easier to control and not glue yourself to the patient.  We have used super glue on our animals many times, it works great on torn goat and dog ears so it would work on humans too.  Many of the glues we use medically are just expensive super glue in individual sterile containers.  Owning just one pair of eyeglasses is a really bad idea, as Twilight Zone fans are fully aware.  It would be best to have three or more, even old ones are better than nothing.  If you have lots of cash laying around losing value, you might talk to your local eye doctor about getting surgery to avoid glasses altogether, but there is risk involved and certainly eyeglasses are fine if you have them.  An eyeglass kit with the little screws and tools would make you a real friend to lots of people WTSHTF.

Over The Counter (OTC) meds are currently readily available at rock-bottom prices, so make sure they are on your stock shelves and not in your medicine cabinet.  Medicine cabinets are a horrible place to store medications long term because of the humidity and temperature changes.  Our  family likes to have regular supplies and TEOTWAWKI supplies separate because we are just not that organized to replace everything multiple fingers may “lift” from the stockpile without proper notification.  You already know how much lists amuse me, so here goes the next one:  Diphenhydramine (Benadryl), acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin, naproxen (Aleve), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), RID, anti-fungal cream and spray, vitamin C, multivitamins, bug spray and sun block.  Benadryl will work for allergies and itching, plus is a pretty good sleeping pill for most people.  Tylenol works good for fevers, some headaches and pains.  Aspirin is one of the world’s greatest medicines, multipurpose pain pill and blood thinner.  In the future, will be a must-have for anyone on a blood thinner now that would be unavailable.  Naproxen is another good pain and ache medicine along with ibuprofen to have on the shelves.  Pick one, unless you have the room and the knowledge about Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflamatory Drugs (NSAIDs) beyond the general population. 

RID will come in handy to try to get the lice out, but again prevention and haircuts work better.  Anti-fungal creams and sprays may help but usually won’t eliminate fungal skin problems in wet, dark scenarios.  Vitamin C is a great thing to stock up on, many of us will not have the available fruits and vegetables we are used too, and vitamin C is kind of important to prevent you from looking like a pirate in 2020.  It also helps fight off infection and should be used anytime anyone is sick with fever, so having enough vitamin C may be tough from a shelf space standpoint.  My suggestion is the chewable type as kids can easily take them and is a great substitute for candy which won’t exist.  A regular old multivitamin a couple times a week will provide some of the micronutrients missing from a fattened calf American diet we are all currently used to, so taking one  more than twice a week won’t do much for survival and makes for expensive urine.  Bug spray prevents ticks and mosquitoes, both of which carry potential infections you don’t want to have to put up with if you could help it, so use when needed until supplies are gone.  Obviously, the medical recommendations above are loose and should be verified with the most senior medical mind available in any given scenario.

Now, to address your local health care professional usage preventively.  The one thing you can and should do now is get your tetanus and pneumonia shots from your local health department or clinic.  Make sure your kids are up to date on their shots.  (Conspiracy theories should be ignored, shots are a good thing generally; this is a subject books have been written about on both sides, short story is:  shots don’t give you autism—case closed.)  The only other health-related info that you may find helpful is really basic and simple.  Be able to be in good enough shape for hard labor and lots of walking.  If you are obese now, lose weight so you are overweight but not obese.  There are some evidence showing obese people actually die sooner in starvation situations because of ketone buildup as they process their fat stores they believed would protect them from the hard times.  You are kidding yourself if you think your pasty, flattened fat bottom is suddenly going to burst into survival mode “when the time comes”.  The time is now, tubby, to get your body mass index (BMI) to 26-29 to maximize your survivability.  The same applies if you are currently working on your modeling career and have a low BMI of under 22.  You do need some fat on you; so certainly you should shoot for 24 if you really want to live longer and not been eaten as “lean meat” by the survivors.   There are BMI charts available online and at every clinic that will tell you your BMI for your height and weight.  Now you can lecture all your too fat or too skinny friends and neighbors with some authority on the topic of optimal survival weight—you’re welcome.  Medication that needs to be prescribed by a health care professional (used loosely) is a complex topic addressed in the last section and will be addressed separately below.

No one knows the date of WTSHTF and it could be today—we all know that and will recognize it when it comes.  Until then, get some friends and family together and make your local dentist a lot happier.  Preventive dental care can save a lot of pain and suffering when it is not available anymore.  Get that tooth pulled that looks like a gray chiclet, fix that small cavity, repair any current dental devices with the best permanent options available.  If there is a choice, my advice is always opt for pulling a tooth from a survival standpoint.  We will all be a lot uglier, hopefully the people around you won’t really care that you look like the rest of us.  Tooth lifters and booze may be the only option to pull a nasty tooth in the future—it works, but it sure isn’t fun.  Flossing is the world’s greatest dental prevention, start now and continue to floss at least twice a week until death.  Having floss, a toothbrush supply, and some toothpaste will really pay off for long-term survival and general happiness.  All of us have had a toothache before, it’s not really happy.  Topical numbing medication does work and should be on your shelf.  Toothpaste, even used rarely, will provide that loving fluoride to your teeth that will be missing without government provided water.  Teeth are something that most people take for granted, don’t leave them out of your survival planning.

Lastly, we get to the very tricky topic of getting the medication that you may need for survival or at least comfortable existence.  Know your medications, what they are for, and what you really need for survival.  If you show up at your local doctor’s office requesting medications for TEOTWAWKI, you may end up in a hospital bed with a nice snuggly coat on.  Most doctors are too busy to really care about TEOTWAWKI and are not married to survivalist nuts like yours truly.  Some doctors have not thought even one tiny bit about the subject and will not cooperate when you dreaded “educated patients” come barging into their routine day with demands for the unusual; it will also increase your likelihood of ending up with the snuggly coat.  Most doctors also work for large organizations with electronic health records—tied in heavily to government control and potentially government monitoring now or in the near future.  It is to your advantage to keep most of your survival preparation out of your medical record, just to be safe.  Antibiotics, antiparasitic, and antifungal medications are very complicated in real-world use and need extensive knowledge to treat effectively and safely.  There are some resources available and doctors that still take cash out there not connected to electronic health systems—for now.  Seek them out and pay cash for what you need—that is the best way to stay “under the radar” as they say.  A final word about medication expirations—they are just numbers on the side of the bottle WTSHTF.  The U.S. military asked the FDA to conduct a major SLEP test on medications when they started dating them. They found that 90% of medications were good up to 15 years after their expiration date was long past.  Both OTC meds and prescriptions should be kept in cool, dark, stable environments to maximize their effective use.

Hopefully, this information was helpful to you and can help give you a new check list of worries that can be completed shortly and without too much difficulty. We own and operate a clinic and a web site that provides medications to patients for health and survival.  Our web site is SurvivingHealthy.com. Antibiotic preparedness packs are available along with all the information here and much more.  You can also use my consulting service for your ongoing prescription needs for disaster preparedness.  This blog has helped inspire us to help people with their medication concerns and was one of the motivating factors in keeping us on the right track.  Stay strong and stay healthy, - Dr. Bob
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