Preventive Maintenance (PM) is a series of activities and procedures performed on machines to keep them in top shape and functioning properly over the long term. The body is a biological machine, and needs a certain amount of Preventive Maintenance (PM) to work well when it is needed to work. This is a compilation of some things that can be done to make that personal machine run better, ready for whatever tasks that it is asked to do. This is my list, I am not a medical professional so do not take it as that, and as always, mileage may vary.
Momma told us most of these tips, we may have forgotten some of them. First and foremost, get a Medical Kit and learn how to use it, and stock some of the materials in it.
It has been said for years, but moving keeps the body able to continue moving. Muscles need to work, tendons need to stretch, bursa between bones needs to be exercised. Take that walk in the woods, or to the store, or around the yard. Stretch and do some squats. Use the hands to do things, make things, repair things. Pick up those things on the floor and stretch out that back. Soreness may come, but it will work itself out if the body can keep moving. As a former football coach used to say, “Walk it off”… Well, choose wisely. If not, take ibuprofen or acetaminophen. If Rangers use it (Ranger Candy = 800 mg Ibuprofen), I’ll use it. Skeletal issues, injuries, and assorted other major calamities aside, movement is a good thing.
Care for Teeth
Taking care of permanent teeth will take care of the whole body. One set per customer, for life. Brush them, rinse with hydrogen peroxide, floss them, go to the dentist and get them cleaned regularly because they check them out at the same time that they clean them. Infections can be prevented by the hydrogen peroxide rinse, just don’t swallow it.
Don’t let Infections Get a Hold
Basics. If for cuts and blisters or some break in the skin, clean it with soap and water, apply some treatment like hand sanitizer (alcohol over 62%) or antibiotic cream or ointment (we used to use merthiolate or benzalkonium chloride), and cover it with an appropriate bandage. Preventing little infections keeps them from becoming big problems. Change the dressing regularly, and continue to clean and hit it with the treatment of choice before putting a clean bandage back on it. Oh, and of course, wash the hands. Wash them more than is necessary.
Skin, Feet, and Nails
This should be obvious, but nail-biting is bad for several reasons. It opens up cuticles to infection and it transfers germs from hands into mouth. Use nail clippers, avoid the transmission of germs. Same with the skin… don’t pick at it which will open it up to infections, when there is a rash like athlete’s foot or “jock itch/ jock rot”, get Lotrimin (that is a brand name, active ingredient clotrimazole and/ or butenafine hydrochloride) powder, spray, or cream and use it. Keep using it. Many available over the counter.
Insect bites, Bee stings (unless really allergic) are relatively minor, remove the stinger if still in the wound, and clean it, treat it, and maybe use a topical to control the itching such as hydrocortisone cream, and cover it. Poisonous plants like poison ivy and poison oak and poison sumac cause an allergic reaction unless strong soap is used to wash the area pretty quickly after exposure. To control the allergic reactions of both insect bites and poison plants, consider Benadryl (diphenhydramine and a few others). It is cheap and easily available over the counter.
Do Preventive Maintenance (PM) on the feet by keeping nails trimmed, keeping them clean, don’t let detritus build up around the nails, take care of callouses and use the powder mentioned previously. Change the socks, like Lt. Dan told Forrest Gump in the movie. Let the feet (and the socks) dry out. Launder socks promptly and well.
If not wearing glasses, keep fingers away from the eyes. Don’t transmit germs into them. If wearing contacts, be aware of where the hands are touching. I like wearing glasses, as they tend to offer some protection to things going into the eyes from the environment, and keeps me from touching my eyes as an unconscious habit. Wear safety glasses. They save eyes.
Many people have sinus blockage issues, and this is one time when touching the face will do some good. Take the thumb and forefinger and block each nostril with one of them. Breathe out one nostril, breathe back in the same nostril then close that nostril and slightly “puff”, then open the other nostril and exhale… then inhale through that nostril. Go back and forth doing this for 5 or 10 cycles. Now, don’t “puff” like when equalizing the ears underwater and don’t make them pop, just a mild pressure to slightly inflate the sinuses. A drainage will come down the back of the throat and should be handled as seen fit. This helps keep sinus cavities clear.
They told us to not put anything smaller than the elbow into the ear, but cotton swabs really help keep them clean and uninfected. Don’t push the material into the ear canal, use a rotating motion to bring it out of the ear. Consider a little sweet oil on the swab if necessary.
Good gut health in healthy people is a matter of eating more fiber in foods, and drinking adequate water. Go for the beans and lentils, enjoy the veggies, savor the meat and its flavors. Most important is regularly scheduled meals, so don’t skip them. Keep Imodium (loperamide) for when it gets loose, and milk of magnesia when it gets constrained, and don’t use either of them on a regular basis. Keep them in the supplies, and don’t forget them.
Lungs transfer oxygen to our bodies. Without oxygen transfer, there is no life, at least for humans, so take care of those air sacks in the chest. Breathe clean air, breathe deeply, hold for a second, then blow it out. A cough may come, so let it come. That is how the lungs clean themselves. Do this several times a day to get rid of the obnoxious “phlegm” and clear out the little passages in the lungs. And, for crying out loud, don’t smoke! There is enough bad stuff in the air without adding that into the lungs. Pick another stimulant, something more positive like a hard run or lifting weights, but don’t give all that hard-earned money to the tobacco barons and don’t clog up the lungs with tar.
Momma told us to change our underwear, and she was right. We already talked about socks, but also keep the rest of the wardrobe squared away, clean and neat to avoid getting stuff growing in them and reduce the chance of little critters and bugs setting up housekeeping in sensitive areas. Wash the clothes, use detergent (it can be unscented) and stockpile detergent to use for this purpose. A nice hand-operated washer (a plunger in a bucket, with a clothesline) will do when needed. Otherwise, take advantage of technology and use the washer and dryer.
Clean The Abode
For crying out loud, clean up the living area. Don’t let stuff grow on the dishes and drink containers, keep it squared away. Vacuum, sweep, wipe-down, clean. No excuse for dirty, messy accommodations that breed disease and put people at risk.
The body’s first defense against germs and viruses is to raise the body temperature to kill off the invader. This is natural, but when the temp gets above 103 degrees (or whatever number that feels right), take some aspirin or acetaminophen to lower it a bit. To know this number, a thermometer is needed and the skill of how to use it. There are many types, pick one and check it for accuracy, and use it.
Many things can lower blood oxygen saturation, from a cold to more serious problems, and this number is easily read with a Pulse/ Oximeter costing 20 bucks at any drug store. They clip onto the finger and run off a battery, no sticks, pricks, or body invasion of any kind. Clamp it on the finger and it will show the pulse and Blood Oxygen Saturation. Pulse should be in a normal range, most of us are in the 60-80 beats per minute range, and Blood Oxygen is normally above 94%. If having respiratory issues, this will be where it shows itself in that Blood Oxygen Percentage will go down and pulse goes up indicating the heart is working harder than it should at rest. This is also a good predictor of potential blood clots/ embolisms which are becoming more common with COVID or with not moving enough.
Automated blood pressure cuffs are available at most drug stores, work off batteries, and the normal reading is 120/80. If the numbers are significantly higher than this, it is said to be “hypertensive” (high blood pressure) and the doctor should be consulted, need to move more, lose some weight, and eat less. If the numbers are significantly less than this, schedule a doctor visit. Salt in the diet increases blood pressure. Overweight increases blood pressure. It is known as a “hidden killer” for good reasons, so get a professional to evaluate it and help with it… and that leads us to:
It is more difficult and more expensive to visit doctors now, but there are a lot of tests that they can run as a Preventive Maintenance (PM). Drawing blood is no big deal, and they can tell the blood sugar level (keep it below about 110 to prevent diabetes), and they can run a whole blood panel to see if anything is out of whack. I won’t go into detail here, but an annual physical should include a “blood panel” that will come back with ranges of normal numbers, and show where the test results sit in those ranges. Everything in the ranges, no problem.
Tell the doctor if there are “odd” feelings, or anything is hurting. Don’t be afraid and don’t be embarrassed. Use the doctor as long as doctors are available.
If a form is needed for a Yearly Physical, there are many available online. Some doctors will ask about things like firearms, smoke detectors, violence, seat belts. Don’t answer what should not be asked. The government is asking them to ask those things, and doctors will not push for an answer. Doctors will use their own format, likely on a computer, and they may not give a printout, so know what data that they put on their form and keep it.
And, keep all medical records in a folder or notebook, don’t throw them in a pile of paper and hope to sort it later. If hospitalization is needed, or if something else goes wayward, the hardcopy record will be valuable. Preventive Maintenance (PM) on the body allows the historical documents to drive future work.
Dentists are also people that tend to generate a lot of fear. Get over it, get a cleaning every six months and they will check lots of other things in the mouth. Pretty cheap, pretty important.
Some folks are afraid of getting eyes checked too. Just get over it. Glasses (or contacts) will help to see clearly, and the optometrists check for eye diseases in the exam too. Better to get it fixed than to not get it fixed… this is all about Preventive Maintenance, so do it. If your vision changes, get a fresh prescription and new lenses.
I won’t get into the “yes or no” of vaccinations other than to say that I use them and I have avoided the previously deadly diseases that they purport to immunize. I’ve avoided tetanus despite more poked holes than I care to count. Same with diphtheria, whooping cough, polio, and a host of other diseases that used to kill and maim without remorse. Make the choice, and choose wisely. Get a list of available vaccinations from the Doctor and make the choice.
Water-borne diseases are the scourge of humans everywhere. That is why municipalities treat and distribute water. They try to kill the germs that make us sick. Don’t be a victim, treat the water. Get a filter and use it, and/or use chlorine or any of the other treatments available. That crystal clear, cool stream flowing lyrically over the rocks and rills has also flowed over dead animals, rotted fish, and droppings from a selection of all earthly creatures before it showed up in front of the campsite. And while we are on the subject, take care of that sewage. I’ll not go into gory detail.
Never stop learning how to do Preventive Maintenance (PM) on the Body. Here are a couple of good references follow:
- Where There is No Doctor, a Village Medicine Handbook by David Werner. Hesperian Health Guides
- The Survival Medicine Handbook by Joseph Alton MD and Amy Alton ARNP
We are responsible for the health and well-being of ourselves and those in our care. Maybe some of these tips seem new, but most are common knowledge to keep us healthy and productive. The key to keeping healthy is consistent application of the things we know, and doing the personal Preventive Maintenance (PM) to keep things running smoothly.