Lessons Learned From a Suburbanite, by Battle Ax

I am your typical thirty-something suburbanite that lives in a cookie cutter house (on the grid of course) in a nice little subdivision, with a wife, 2.6 kids, a dog, and two cats.  I have a steady job, pay my taxes, keep my lawn manicured, and chat with the neighbors out front.  I try to keep up with current events, and I believe things are going to get worse before they get better.  Not being pessimistic, but realistic.

My roots in preparedness go back to my childhood where my step-father was a military man, and subtly assigned each one in the house a “job” to store a specific item “just in case”.  I did not realize how wise he really was.  As I got older and made my own way, I ended up in South Florida for a while and was exposed to the annual Hurricane Season that comes every summer.  Needless to say a few Category 3 and Category 4 hurricanes opened my eyes and reinforced the principles I learned early on.  But once things got good again, some of those ideas and practices faded.

Now that I have a family of my own, I was unexpectedly thrust into a very unique situation this summer that “awakened” me again to the preparedness mindset.  A couple months back, my wife was leaving our community pool, holding our daughter, when she slipped, rolled her ankle and fell on the sidewalk.  The fall resulted in her sustaining a compound fracture in her ankle and fractured up her tibia bone as well.  The doctor said that rolling an ankle is a very common and easy thing to do.  As far as fractures go, this was a pretty severe injury.  Did I mention that she was six months pregnant at the time of the accident?  Two surgeries later, a plate and seven screws in her leg, and abruptly changing our lifestyle has been a real eye-opener.  I have taken leave from work to stay home and take care of my wife and two year old since.  Thank God no injuries were sustained by my two year old or the new baby.

I am writing to share what this experience has done for me and how it has changed my perspective and the way I do everyday activities.  Before the accident, I went about my daily routine very carefree, checking things off my daily “to do” list and helping to make sure the household runs smoothly and that we have what we need.  I also took for granted simple things, and never realized how any injury of this type would alter our lifestyle.    Because of the severity of my wife’s injury, for the first month and a half, she was virtually immobile.  She had to keep her leg elevated constantly because of the external fixator holding her leg in place, and to keep the swelling down.  When she did need to use the bathroom, I had to keep her leg elevated and assist her with everything.  I had to do everything for her; dress her, get her food, clean up after her, etc.  A gentle reminding of our vows; “For better or Worse”.  Providing twenty-four hour care for a pregnant lady with a broken leg and running after a two year old is physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting.  One lesson, stay in shape and maintain good health and fitness to be able to assist others.

The revelation came after reading material from Mr. Rawles and articles on SurvivalBlog that I asked myself, “What would I have done if this happened during TEOTWAWKI or a grid down situation?”  As difficult as this has been with running water, electricity, and lots of take-out/delivery food, I can only imagine how much more difficult if not impossible to do on my own during a worst case scenario.  I have seen several articles on emergency medical aid, medical training, and gun shot wounds, etc.  And given the probability of increase in broken bones and disabling injuries from nineteenth century living, I found this area lacking.  I have yet to read much on short and long-term care of severely injured persons or disabled persons.

As I contemplated this situation in a worst case scenario, several points came to mind.  First of all, as a renewed prepper, I must assess my situation and plan of action for a TEOTWAWKI scenario; given my current family status (wife, two year old, and soon-to-be newborn), bugging out is not that realistic or practical for me, with or without my wife’s current injury.  A lot of different things factor in to be successful in G.O.O.D., and I think the percentages and all the other variables are against me, so I’ve elected to prepare for survival in place in my suburban environment.

Now that I have accepted my plan, one of the next things is getting help.  From what I have read already, most folks are in agreement that whether you bug-out to a retreat or stay put, you can not go at it alone.  As I have gone through this situation with my wife, it has taken a tremendous amount of effort on my part to stay on top of her needs and that of our 2 year old.  Family has come in intermittently, which has helped, but that is more mouths to feed.  There is no way that I could have done these things in a worst case scenario by myself.  In a grid down situation, (as I currently have no “back-up” power sources yet), I would have needed several others to provide security, prepare and cook food, and gather water, etc.  Seeing as we have no family closer than ten hours away, all we have is a few close neighbors, who have been of great help during this time, and a couple other close friends.  In our current carefree society this works great, and is probably more than what most people in my situation have.  But in TEOTWAWKI, I will need help.  So, slowly and carefully I must find and select a support team.  There are many articles and ideas on this, so I won’t go much further, especially since every person and situation is different and one must consider the “totality of circumstances” for themselves.

If a family member or member of your retreat becomes immobilize or disabled, is your current home or retreat compatible to housing a disabled person, or someone who requires a wheelchair or crutches?  I quickly learned that my two-story suburban home was not compatible with a wheel chair, or crutches on the stairs.  There is not a lot I can do now to change the interior of my house, especially since this will not be a permanent situation.  If it were permanent, I would have to make changes.  But I have rearranged things to be more efficient given the increase in tasks I have to do, and the limited mobility my wife has.  I have now established a daily routine in which I get things done for my wife and daughter, but this is in our current “perfect world”.  What if, one of your family members is permanently disabled already?  Are you prepared to accommodate and survive with them?  Our families are the most precious things in our lives, so we must plan to protect and provide for them.

If this type of injury happened in a worst case scenario, do I have the necessary medical training and tools to render proper aid?  Currently the answer is no. Aside from basically splinting the leg, keeping it elevated and providing as much comfort as I could.  In a survival situation, this type of injury could be disastrous to your retreat or survival in place situation.  At the very least your mobility, op-sec, and combat effectiveness will suffer.  If it occurs outside your retreat or home, movement to safety will be a major undertaking, needless to say accompanied by a lot of pain.  I saw first-hand how difficult and painful it was for my pregnant wife to be moved from the ground to a gurney/stretcher and then on to an ambulance.

Another important thing to have on hand is a pair of crutches.  I have not seen this listed too often on medical lists, but unless you plan on carrying your wounded/disabled member everywhere, then go ahead and get a pair of crutches.  We got ours from the hospital, but you could probably find them at any medical supply, craigslist, or from someone who was recently injured and used them.  As I have learned from this experience, compound fractures take a long time to heal, and that’s with today’s modern medicine and rehabilitation.  Even if you find a pair of old wooden crutches or construct your own, something is better than nothing.  We currently have a wheelchair, a walker, crutches, and a shower/potty chair at the house, all which have been used in the recovery process.

Another great lesson for me was communication and servanthood.  We have been married for eight years and feel we have a strong marriage.  But this is the first time in eight years that we have been together twenty-four hours seven days a week a little over three months now.  We both usually go to work and then come home and spend a couple of hours together, before going to bed, and then repeating the next day.  For those young lovers that wish to be with their significant other “all the time”, hopefully you build a strong foundation before you have to, because it will test you.  The vows I took before God, He has held me to.  The Lord has used this time to show me how to serve her joyfully and love her, and to put aside my own desires and needs.  I have learned how important it is to communicate.  And this was during a time when I did not have to worry about water, food, electricity, etc.  Build strong foundations in your marriage now, so that it will sustain through the challenges real stress brings.
In conclusion, I wanted to communicate some of what this experience has shown me that it may help others who have not considered this situation.  What will you do if a member is disabled?  For those who practice weekend “grid down” scenarios, to add a twist, randomly draw a members name and select them to be disabled somehow (blind, use of  one leg or loss of both, etc.) throughout the scenario.  What will you do if you or a member is disabled before, during, or after bugging out?  Would you still be able to make it to your retreat?  Do you have crutches, splints, painkillers, etc?  What if the injured member is the only one skilled in a certain area that is vital to your retreat or home which requires mobility and self-sufficiency?  Is your retreat or home compatible to a disabled person?  How much extra help would you need to take care of a disabled member and/or small children?  In what ways would you need to improvise to maintain survivability should this situation arise?
Just some food for thought for those who have not considered it.  I hope this has helped others, as I have tried to do the best that has been dealt to me right now.  God Bless.