I had a lot of time to think the other day as I was sitting in the emergency room -for S-E-V-E-N HOURS! Don’t worry, everybody is okay, but as I was sitting there and observing what was going on around us at the hospital, I got thinking about the pandemic again and what would happen if everybody, or if it-just-seemed-like everybody, was sick.
Dr. Osterholm, University of Minnesota, CIDRAP Business Source (September 11, 2008), stated that there are19 life saving drugs, most of which are generic (these include drugs you would find on a crash cart, insulin, etc.), but that 95% of those drugs are produced outside of the US and that the supply chain is very weak and could be disrupted in a variety of ways, but during a pandemic, the supply chain would be nearly non-existent.
During the pandemic, when the supply lines are cut off, or seriously curtailed, who will have access to these life saving drugs – those living closest to the delivery point or those with the most money? For all of you insulin users out there, don’t take any chances – get extra insulin and the other necessary supplies, like needles and such, built up and stored for a time that sources are no longer available.
Insulin is not a controlled substance and it has a very long shelf life if kept cold. I actually bought one of those little $50.00 – $60.00 countertop fridges just to store extra insulin. My husbands diabetes coach said that insulin will last indefinitely under the right circumstances and if you have a year’s supply on hand, rotating the newer bottles with the stored supply, it will give you peace of mind and the diabetic in your life will have an easier time eating whatever is available (most likely simple carbohydrates) and not have to worry about diabetic shock or coma.
I know that it isn’t possible to store a year’s worth of controlled substances if you use them, but what prescription medications do you use that maybe you could store possibly two or three months worth? Talk to your doctor about your concerns and what you need to do to be prepared. I know that insurance companies are very particular about how often they will pay for certain medications, but for most medicines, insurance companies actually encourage you to purchase three months worth of medication at a time because it is cheaper.
Now that the obvious gotta’ have medications have been taken care of, lets talk about the OTC’s in your life. Over The Counter medications are available to us unlike any other time in history. We can even go to a local 24-hour gas station and get relief medicines for colds, flu symptoms, allergies and headaches. We are even given a variety of choices: daytime, nighttime, children’s, adults, adults with high blood pressure, and on and on. The point is, is that right now all of these choices are available to us and we should take advantage of that availability.
Think back and remember how many bottles of cough syrup did your family go through on the last round of colds? Do you use zinc lozenges? How about those wonderful Breezers™ lozenges that numb your throat and even taste good – how many packages do you need on hand? Throat sprays. You should always keep a bottle, or two or three, around for sore throats. I would also suggest that you buy a big commercial size bag of Jolly Ranchers™ to have on hand. When your body has plenty of cough medication, but you are still coughing and you don’t want to overdose, it is helpful to suck on Jolly Ranchers™. A doctor told my mom that sometimes all we need to do is to keep the throat moist by swallowing and it will control the cough. Jolly Ranchers™ works really well for this and the kids never complain about it tasting like medicine.
Another big concern, when people are sick, is fevers. Do you have enough aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen? Of course children can’t take the aspirin, but they can take the other medicines. Look at what you are trying to control; are you trying to break a fever or just get rid of the aches and pains. Get age appropriate medications and make sure that you use them for the right symptom.
It is important to have the medication to treat the fever, but it is equally important to have the right equipment to monitor the fever. Before both of my children were two years old, they both had to have their tonsils out because they were so inflamed. This inflammation caused extreme fevers, especially in my daughter. She would routinely have fevers that were between 102 and 104 degrees. This is very scary for a new mom, but I got really good at taking her temperature and learning how to bring it down, with medicine and other dramatic measures. The doctor told me that with children that young, the rectal thermometer was the best thermometer to use. You can also take a young child’s temperature under their arm, but trying to take a temperature from their mouth was out of the question.
What you need to know is how to take a temperature and what thermometer you need to use – and then make sure that you have them on hand. Obviously an oral thermometer won’t work where a rectal thermometer should go or vice-versa; using the correct tool correctly is important, especially when it involves your health. I also love the new electric ones that you point and click in your ear and the digital ones that you put in your mouth, but you have got to make sure that you have extra batteries stored in case they go dead.
I’m not too impressed with the ones that you tape on your forehead because I have heard that they aren’t too reliable, but if you have used them, and like them, then by all means have a bunch of them stored. One good thing about that style is that they get thrown away and you don’t have to worry about sterilizing them. If you have some of the newer cool electronic gadgets that help you monitor a high temperature, make sure that you have at least one good old fashioned glass/mercury thermometer as a back-up (If you can even find them anymore.) Sometimes the most basic is the best.
Being prepared and building up a supply of prescription and/or OTC medication is just smart. When we are in a situation where up to 30% of all of the population could be sick, you will definitely want some medicinal help, but if you wait too long there is a good chance your friendly local pharmacist or doctor won’t be able to help you. As with everything, rotate, rotate, rotate and make sure that you store the medicines in a cool dark place, watch the expiration dates and keep out of the hands of small children.
Of course the best thing is to not get sick in the first place and so we will talk about staying well next time. Until then, get your water stored and stay hydrated! Two gallons, per person, per day for a two-week period.