Bring Your Own Bandaids- Part 5, by A.&J. R.

In this six-part article, we are focusing on the supplies we will need in order to address the medical issues we are most likely to experience, whether we get to a “Bring Your Own Bandaids” clinic or we have to treat matters on our own. Our lists and discussion goes way beyond the first aid kit, and at the end of each section, we also note essential oils that may be helpful.

Pregnancy

In a grid-down scenario, pregnancy tests are not used to satisfy curiosity. A few should be stored by every woman as pregnancy can mimic other serious conditions. If a woman is pregnant, treatment protocols need to be adjusted. Is that pelvic pain appendicitis? Or an ectopic pregnancy?

Radiation Sickness

Exposure to radiation, whether from a nuclear blast or power plant meltdown, is perhaps best decreased by taking refuge in a very good shelter. In addition, taking potassium iodide 30 minutes to 24 hours before radiation exposure will prevent thyroid cancer. Anti-radiation tablets are available from SurvivalBlog advertisers ki4u.com and campingsurvival.com. Essential oils to consider include rosemary, clove, thyme.

Pandemics/Biological Warfare

Historians and physicians have warned for years that the world is overdue for another pandemic. Terrorists and rogue nations threaten biological warfare every once in a while.

Smallpox

It’s suspected that though smallpox research was officially ended years ago, there may still be smallpox samples out there that could be weaponized and bring about a pandemic. It’s also theorized that even if an individual were vaccinated against smallpox, that vaccine (received at least 50 years ago in most cases) would be ineffective against weapons-grade smallpox. Antibiotics are not effective against smallpox; prevention is either by vaccination (supposedly the CDC has enough vaccine on hand for all of us) or complete isolation away from infected individuals.

Influenza

Influenza, or flu, was addressed previously. Whether it is caused by a “normal” virus, or a pandemic virus, the treatment is going to be the same.

Anthrax

We’ll assume exposure to anthrax is by means of bioterrorism and not due to raising livestock. Unfortunately, an infection due to inhalational anthrax, the most deadly form, looks a lot like a cold or pneumonia or plague. Without diagnostic equipment and trained personnel, it will be very hard to differentiate between the three. If used as a preventative or in early treatment, penicillin, doxycycline, or ciprofloxacin can be effective against anthrax. If anthrax is a concern for you, you’ll want to have a two-month supply of doxycycline or ciprofloxacin for each person.

Plague

Pneumonic plague is the infamous Black Death that killed millions during the 14th century. Legend says that there were four thieves in Middle Ages Europe who made their living robbing the dead and dying during the Plague. Supposedly they used a blend of essential oils to protect themselves. Scientific studies support claims of the anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties of these oils (and others). Pneumonic plague is transmitted by air droplets from person to person and is usually fatal within 2-4 days unless early treatment is initiated with doxycycline, ciprofloxacin, or tetracycline. Natural cases of bubonic plague occur only in western U.S., with the greatest incidence around the Four Corners area. It is transmitted by fleas that live on rodents. Essential oils: clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus, rosemary, lemon.

Pain Management

Pain can be debilitating. Whether it is acute or long-term, we need to find a way to deal with it.

OTC Pain Relievers

While aspirin, Tylenol (acetaminophen), Advil (ibuprofen), and Aleve (naproxen sodium) can sometimes be used to treat the same problem, many times they are not interchangeable. Do not just store one or two of these; store all of them. Also consider storing a few children’s chewable versions of the first three. The medications in the chewable versions are much faster acting, which is especially important when time is of the essence, as in a heart attack, or a fever needs to be reduced quickly. Keep in mind that many of today’s OTC pain relievers were yesterday’s prescription meds. Pain patches and muscle rubs should also be purchased in quantity.

Prescription Pain Relievers

Of course, like all prescription medications, they can only legally be used by the person to whom they are prescribed, unless a licensed physician is on hand to legally reallocate. With tightening regulations, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to obtain any narcotics for “just in case.” So if you have any on hand, guard them carefully, and definitely don’t let anyone else know about them. Many of today’s OTC pain relievers are sold in higher dosages by prescription. Some physicians recommend combining acetaminophen with an NSAID. (Combining one NSAID with another is generally avoided.)

Prescription strength Tylenol is 1000 mg per dose. Prescription strength ibuprofen is 800 mg per dose. Regular prescription strength naproxen sodium is 440 mg per dose. These prescription strength doses should always be taken with food and should only be taken for a short time at these strengths. If an individual experiences stomach pain with these medications, an acid blocker like Pepcid or Zantac can be taken an hour prior to taking the pain med to help prevent stomach discomfort. If the pain reliever causes nausea, meclizine can be taken an hour before the pain reliever to prevent stomach upset.

Lidocaine

Injectable lidocaine is available only through a physician. However, lidocaine powder to make your own injectable solution can still be purchased without a prescription. One supplier is MedicalNumbingAgents.com. The topical creams often used in tattooing contain up to 5% lidocaine, the strongest available without a prescription. Just this week our daughter used it to numb her ankle before digging out a deep sliver—without the slightest bit of pain.

Epinephrine

Epinephrine works synergistically with lidocaine for a local anesthetic. In the liquid form, it is only available through a physician or veterinarian. Powder (for making your own injectable) is available through Dr Natural Healing.

Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride

Diphenhydramine hydrochloride (Benadryl) has an interesting off-label use as well. Believe it or not, it has anesthetic properties. Like lidocaine and epinephrine, the injectable solution is available only through a physician. However, the powder from diphenhydramine capsules can be mixed with sterile water to make your own injectable solution, or mixed with less water or a cream to make a paste to be applied topically.

Alcohol

For use of alcohol as a painkiller, here are the opinions of the two gentlemen I took classes from. Both of them were emergency room physicians who had also been attached to Special Forces units earlier in their careers. The Mormon said, “Let them drink.” The Jew said, “All you get is a drunk, angry patient who doesn’t want to be hurt.” You’ll have to decide that one on your own.

Ether

Diethyl ether is what was used as the first general anesthetic for amputation in the U.S. in the 1840s, and up until 2005 was on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines for its use as an anesthetic. Even the most painful of surgeries can be performed using ether as the anesthetic. (Remember, you are not performing the surgery. You have a licensed physician for that who will also know how to administer the ether. You are merely legally gathering legal supplies so that you will have them when they are needed.) Diethyl ether is currently (May 2017) available through Amazon and Ebay.

Essential Oils

You can make your own “morphine bomb” using essential oils—five drops oregano, five drops balsam fir, five drops frankincense, five drops copaiba—in a capsule. Most people say there are no side effects, but in our experience there is some burping and the breath can taste like Pine-Sol. Our son uses this for serious abdominal pain. Our daughter, who has severe menstrual cramping, experienced phenomenal relief. Another daughter also used it for pain from menstrual cramps that weren’t as severe as her sister’s. She said it worked but wasn’t worth the Pine-Sol breath.

Placebo Effect

The placebo effect is real and shouldn’t be discounted, especially in a grid-down scenario where pain management options are limited. All patients are different; some will respond better to one medication than another. Tylenol does absolutely nothing for me, but apparently it works very well for others. Some find great relief using essential oils; others scoff at the mere mention and prefer to go the traditional route. Remember, what works best will likely be what the patient thinks will work best. The mind is a powerful tool.

Antibiotics

Pills

To date there are numerous articles on SurvivalBlog about stockpiling antibiotics for a TEOTWAWKI scenario.6 In general, “they” say that fish antibiotics are acceptable. Antibiotics for people are available from overseas pharmacies like All Day Chemist and your family doctor. Fish antibiotics can be purchased through survival stores, like Camping Survival and Ready Made Resources, online veterinary and pet supply stores, and even your local ranch and feed store. The more difficult problem is determining how many of each kind you want to have. What diseases are you going to contract?

Will it be something that involves only one to two weeks of antibiotic therapy? Will you get anthrax, which needs up to two months? What about tuberculosis, which can require up to one year of antibiotics to eradicate? Are you allergic to any antibiotics? What other conditions do you have? Are you pregnant, or might that happen in the future? Do you have children in your group? All of these factors have to be taken into consideration.

Best Antibiotics to Stockpile

To sum up, physicians generally agree on the best antibiotics to stockpile. These antibiotics will treat 90% of the illnesses we are likely to encounter. For a family, Dr. Koelker advises 100 tablets of each of the following: amoxicillin, cephalexin, ciprofloxacin, doxycycline, erythromycin, metronidazole, trimethoprim-sulfamethazole. Buy tablets if possible, in the largest dosages. Large tablets can be split if needed and are generally less expensive per dose when split (but do the math to be sure). And they take less space to store.

Liquid Antibiotics

Liquid antibiotics are not advised for stockpiling, simply because they actually do decrease in efficacy much closer to the date stamped on the bottle, unlike their tablet and capsule counterparts.

Opthamalic Ointments and Drops

Ophthalmic ointments and drops can be difficult, and expensive, to come by. Consider getting all the refills possible on any prescriptions you are given. A few ophthalmic drops are available from overseas pharmacies.

Topical Creams and Ointments

Topical creams and ointments have the same shorter shelf life of other liquids and ointments. Your bacitracin, polysporin, and triple antibiotic ointments need to be rotated. That being said, most people apply way too much antibiotic ointment to their wounds. You only need an amount the size of a grain of rice for every quarter inch of wound.

Come back tomorrow, as we wrap up our article on common medical issues that you may want to get supplies on hand to treat so that you’ll have what a physician needs to use to care for your needs.

See also:

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been part five of a six part entry for Round 76 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
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  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
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  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
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Round 76 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.




11 Comments

  1. One of the most informative articles to come about this blog. Thank you so much for your time and effort in sharing your obvious professional knowledge on this topic. This one will be in the keeper file for me. Stay well sir (s).

  2. Given the difficulty opiod epidemic and the difficulty in obtaining prescription pain relievers, I find the “morphine bomb” information to be particularly useful.

    I’d like to know whether the “morphine bomb” is supposed to be taken orally, rather than injected. I assume that it is or that an injection would have been mentioned, but I’d like to be sure.

    1. Yes, the “morphine bomb” is taken orally. And we should have mentioned, there is no kind of “high” associated with it. It’s also not as effective as something like Percocet.

  3. On the epinephrine and the lidocaine. When they are used together for local anesthesia it is because epinephrine is vasoconstrictive. It slows the absorption of the lidocaine allowing it to remain effective longer. It is never used on fingers, toes or the nose. Vasoconstriction in these areas could cause damage to the area from lack of blood flow.

    Lidocaine is typically painful to inject (it burns) and IMHO is often not needed prior to suturing as it is used to numb the area by injection. The actual act of pushing the needle for suturing is probably less painful and it doesn’t burn. I’ve sutured a number of people without using it and it worked okay. I had to suture my forehead once when I was without insurance. It was fairy easy to do in a mirror but tying the knots was a little more difficult.

    On the topical lidocaine, Vagisil is an OTC cream containing 15 to 20% benzocaine, a close relative of lidocaine. Vagisil is used for “feminine” itching. Benzocaine is useful for much more than that. Look it up. There is also a generic equivalent that is a bit cheaper.

    On the OTC pain meds. Recommended dosage has been reduced from previous years. It would seem that big pharma wanted you to take twice as much as you probably needed. Not that it would have anything to do with them selling twice as much and doubling their profits. Anyway, for more severe pain I see no reason to not take both ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Just alternate the times. Take the ibuprofen every six hours and the the acetaminophen 3 hours afterwards. Maintain that schedule and as the ibuprofen is starting to wear off the acetaminophen is kicking in. Know what you are taking and be familiar with the dosing as recommended for providers to prescribe. As a nurse I could not tell you how much and how often the doctor could tell you to take it. I could only tell you to follow the directions on the bottle. I know how the doctor would prescribe it.

    I would also be very cautious about using sterile water to mix with medications so they can be injected. Most medications that I know of that require mixing specify that normal saline be used. Sterile water can be very caustic when injected and I have seem tissue damaged from it.

    I didn’t get to read yesterdays article until today and would wonder about using antibiotics for pink eye. In a limited availability scenario it might be best to reserve these for more serious problems. Pink eye usually heals up just fine without treatment but is uncomfortable. It is also very contagious and good hand washing is essential.

    For those interested, Ebola is again reaching epidemic proportions in the Congo. The World Health Organization is trying out an experimental vaccine for it.

    1. Recent first person experience here on lidocain and epinephrine.
      Regarding the recent stupid “accident” that required many sutures (poly-irrigation line, box cutter and awkward position do not mix) the lidocaine shot was by far the most painful part of the experience. I’ve had lidocain used before and it seemed to me that much more was used this time. However, while no artery was breached, several veins were severed so the bleeding was quite profuse. The doctor specifically said that the shot would constrict the blood vesels and help control the bleeding so that they could suture the wound. It was either that or a tourniquet and they don’t like to use tourniquets on non-arterial bleeding.
      As a side note, I could have used a clotting agent to stem the bleeding, but they would have had to clean that out before they could suture the wound. The total elapsed time between cutting my forearm and the doctors sutures was about an hour and fifteen minutes. That’s not enough time to worry about a clotting agent on an extremity that direct pressure on the wound worked well. Perhaps if the wound had been in an area where direct pressure wasn’t as effective I might have considered a clotting agent, but I can hold direct pressure myself for an hour. I actually lost very little blood during the ordeal.

  4. Thank you so much for your comments. We could have written so much more, but then the article would have been so much longer. We really wanted to focus on acquiring the supplies doctors would want to have to address the most common illnesses and injuries. No one should be injecting any lidocaine or epinephrine without significant training, which is beyond the scope of this article. The doctors teaching the austere medicine courses both recommended acquiring lidocaine and epinephrine.

    We’ll definitely study up on benzocaine.

    We’ve read about staggering acetaminophen and ibuprofen for improved pain management.

    Agreed on the pink eye antibiotics. Antibiotics will be precious. People will eventually learn which conditions will usually resolve on their own and save the antibiotics for more serious conditions.

  5. Regarding lidocaine and epinephrine, I assume that the bottles come with clear instructions about how much powder should be used with the specific amount of water, correct?

    1. Our packet of lidocaine powder does not come with mixing instructions, and neither would the saline solution it needs to be mixed with. Everything is going to depend on your intended use. What strength do you need? Is it topical or injected? What other drugs are being used? These and other factors need to be taken into consideration.

      Same goes for epinephrine.

  6. Grapefruit juice potentiates opioid analgesics (and some other drugs) by blocking certain enzymes that metabolize them. A cup of grapefruit juice taken 1-1.5 hours before the opioid provides the maximum effect.

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