Family Medical Preps – Part 1

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by Doctor Dan, Survival Blog:

As Americans, we live in a time of relative peace and prosperity and are blessed to enjoy the most advanced healthcare system in history. Yet, as good as we have things now, we do not know what the future may bring. How can we find better health now, prepare for medical emergencies we may encounter in daily events, and also prepare for an uncertain future where medical resources may be limited or completely absent? The latter is commonly called a When The Schumer Hits The Fan (WTSHTF) scenario. Here are a few suggestions from a practicing physician:

PREVENTATIVE HEALTH:

Prevention is superior to treating diseases or injuries after they occur.

  • Immunize against preventable diseases. (This may be a controversial topic to some readers, but vaccines do save lives from many preventable, deadly diseases.)
    • Communicable diseases will become more prevalent in a WTSHTF situation simply due to lack of sanitation, medical care, and antibiotics/antivirals.
    • These problems will be exponentially magnified if a pandemic is a major component of a TEOTWAWKI scenario.
    • Young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and the immunocompromised (those whose immune systems are weakened due to other diseases) are especially vulnerable to all communicable diseases and should especially be immunized according to recommendations.
    • The CDC publishes a list of recommended immunizations by age, which serves as a good reference for consideration.
  • Diseases which are preventable by immunization and “herd immunity” (such as measles and whooping cough) are especially prevalent when large groups of prisoners, refugees, and illegal immigrants…many of whom are unvaccinated…are concentrated. In a WTSHTF scenario, the likelihood of ordinary law-abiding citizens becoming refugees (or being falsely incarcerated as political prisoners) is greatly increased. Being immunized ahead of time may thwart a preventable death from a multitude of diseases.
  • Take advantage of the modern preventative care options you have while they exist:
    • Visit your Primary Care Physician regularly for a general physical exam to screen for diseases.
      • Ladies, this includes screening for breast and cervical cancer; Men, this includes prostate cancer.
      • Yes, I realize everyone dreads the thought of a colonoscopy, but I’ve witnessed them save many lives throughout my career. Most colon polyps can be found early enough with scheduled colonoscopies that they can be removed through the scope before they become life-threatening cancers. Most caught in this stage do not require any surgery other than the removal via the scope, with the patient returning home within a couple of hours. (I frequently perform the anesthesia for these procedures, and they are not painful. Most patients say the 1 day of diarrhea from the bowel prep was the worst part of the entire ordeal. This seems like a small price to pay to avoid a life-changing cancer.)
    • When working with your PCP, you should optimize your management of any chronic diseases (such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.) and prevent them from taking as many of the long-term effects on your body.
INCLUDE A VISIT TO YOUR EYE DOCTOR AND DENTIST IN YOUR PREPARATIONS:
  • Address your eyes and teeth while you can.
    • Repair any dental issues. Pain may be enough reason to wish you had seen the dentist before a TEOTWAWKI event, but a cavity that grows out of control into a dental abscess may be fatal. Good oral health cannot be overrated.
    • Be sure to stockpile plenty of toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, and mouthwash in your preps. Oral care may prevent life-threatening issues in a world where dentists may be scarce.
    • It’s hard to shoot straight if you can’t see, so have your vision checked! Get a backup spare pair of glasses, as well as a large supply of contact lenses if you prefer contacts. (If you wear contacts, always make sure you still have 1-2 pairs of eyeglasses, with currentprescription lenses, for when your contact lens supply runs out in a prolonged WTSHTF scenario.)
    • If you are a contact lens wearer, make sure to stock adequate cleaning supplies for the supply of contacts you cache. You can ill-afford an eye infection from a dirty contact lens at a time when medical care will be limited or non-existent.
    • LASIK eye surgery has become incredibly safe and common in the past two decades. It may be a very good investment prior to a WTSHTF moment (imagine the tactical advantage you might have with 20/20 post-LASIK vision over fumbling around to look for glasses or placing contact lenses in the event of a 3:00 am intrusion into your house). LASIK also enhances your lifestyle even if we never experience a WTSHTF event for similar reasons (imagine not needing glasses or contacts, especially in the cold or with watersports). Over the long-term, the return-on-investment of not purchasing contacts and glasses is recouped as well.
LIFESTYLE MODIFICATION:
  • Maintain your health.
    • Develop healthier eating habits (less processed/carbohydrate-laden items), and portion control.
    • Get regular physical exercise. While intense cardio or lifting weights at the gym are both great ideas, something as simple as getting out for a 2 mile walk rather than watching TV can be beneficial to your health.
  • STOP TRASHING YOUR BODY!!!
    • Quit smoking. Your bugout bag won’t have much room for bullets and food if you have to fill it with an oxygen tank and a nebulizer. Withdrawal is hard enough now with the aid of nicotine gum, patches or medications like Chantix…imagine how tough quitting cold turkey will be after a major catastrophe in the world has just occurred.
    • Don’t drink in excess. Again, withdrawal at a time of major social collapse will be unimaginably difficult. Learn to limit your alcohol intake to a moderate level.
    • Illicit drugs. This should go without being said…drugs are a bad idea now, and an even worse idea when you cannot afford dulled senses, poor judgement, or withdrawal.
OBTAIN A SUPPLY OF EXTRA MEDICATIONS:
  • Over-the-Counter Medications: Purchase a generous stockpile of over-the-counter medications which you may need. Many of these may be purchased inexpensively at Costco or Sam’s Club. The generic brands are just as effective as the name brands, at a fraction of the cost…especially when purchased in bulk quantities.
    • Pain relievers such as Tylenol, Motrin, Aleve.
    • Hydrocortisone cream for rashes and poison ivy.
    • Antifungal cream (such as Lotrimin or Lamisil) for athlete’s foot, jock itch, or ringworm
    • Medication for reflux (ie- omeprazole), diarrhea (ie- Imodium), and constipation (ie- Dulcolax)
  • Multi-Vitamins: These do not keep terribly long, even when sealed. I recommend only purchasing one year’s worth for each family member at maximum, then constantly rotate on a first-in-first-out (FIFO) basis. They are beneficial supplements to “meals” when food is scarce or food pyramids cannot be followed.
  • Prescription Medications:
    • If you have an established, cordial relationship with your PCP, many would be receptive to the discussion of prescribing extra months’ worth of certain chronic medications to you, especially if they have your dosages on the medications stabilized and aren’t making frequent adjustments to them.
      • I recommend opening this discussion with them by being honest, yet not sounding extremist (you don’t want to turn off your doctor if he/she doesn’t share your same worldview).
      • You might consider a conversation such as: “Dr. X, I am concerned about the possibility we could have a natural disaster or other event that could cut me off from medications for several weeks to months before supply chains are re-established. Would you be comfortable writing me a prescription for my chronic medications for X, Y, Y (e.g.- blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes)?
      • Be extremely careful not to ask for, or in any other way pressure, your PCP to prescribe any controlled substances such as opioid narcotics, benzodiazepines, or ADHD/weight loss medications. The DEA and many states have developed extremely aggressive rules regarding prescribing limits for each of these in response to the nationwide opioid epidemic. These “controlled” or “scheduled” prescriptions are now tracked in databases at pharmacies (each state has a different system). A prescriber risks losing his/her medical and prescriptive license (and ability to earn a living) for any prescription outside of these parameters. As a physician myself, PLEASE DO NOT ASK for us to prescribe any of these, as we will have to tell you “no,” and many physicians would then become uncomfortable with even prescribing extra months’ worth of non-controlled, non-narcotic medication at that point in the conversation.
      • If you suffer from recurrent infections that are well-documented, such as frequent UTI or strep throat, you may also consider requesting a prescription for the specific antibiotics you take for these conditions.
      • Please keep in mind that whether to prescribe any or all of your existing medications is solely the prerogative of the prescriber. They are under no obligation to do so. Therefore, I would encourage you to strike a very honest, cooperative, conciliatory tone with them before even broaching the conversation.
      • Also, seeing a patient who is “meeting the doctor halfway” in their health (e.g.- following the recommendations the PCP has already made for weight loss, lifestyle modification, smoking cessation, or better management of chronic diseases etc.) will demonstrate you are more worthy of their time and effort to write the extra prescriptions. Your preparedness request is much more believable when you show you’re making the effort to want to live a long period of time by taking care of yourself.
      • As more and more PCP’s are forced to convert to electronic medical records, prescribing medications with extra refills outside of your normal monthly allotment (even the non-controlled medications) may become more difficult. It would behoove you to begin forging this relationship with them now on this topic.
      • I would also suggest that you “catch more flies with honey” in this situation. If your physician does you a favor to write these Rx (this is typically uncompensated extra work at an office visit), then consider taking them a “thank you” gift card to a place they might enjoy (perhaps a $25 coffee shop gift card if you don’t know them well enough to guide your token of appreciation towards another gift). You can leave it in a sealed envelope with their front office staff and ask them to hand it to your physician when he/she is available. A very brief note thanking them for going the extra mile to write these medications will go a long way towards making a favorable impression with them. They will likely remember this, and it may facilitate future conversations about other long-term medications.
    • If you have a physician/PA/NP or dentist in your preparedness group, they may be able to legally acquire some life-saving medications in bulk, such as large doses of common antibiotics to help the group stockpile (some wholesaler pharmaceutical distributors will sell to licensed prescribers). Many of these medications remain effective for years after their stated shelf-lives. Please do not pressure these medical group members if they are uncomfortable doing so, as their license to practice/ability to earn a living is on the line, and the laws vary by state regarding this practice of bulk purchasing of antibiotics. Whatever you do, ASBSOLUTELY DO NOT pressure them to stockpile or prescribe any narcotics or other controlled substance against current legal guidance by the DEA and the state they practice medicine in!!! Their medical skills will be of little use to your preparedness group if they are locked up in jail WTSHTF.

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