Taking Care of Those You Love in An Emergency
By Denise H
In an effort to not repeat articles that have already been written, I had held back on sending in anything. “The Pack” is so large and with so many backgrounds, I wondered what I could say that would be of benefit to the community we have become. Then, I realized that because of the expanse of our experiences, some of us have “holes in our preps” of knowledge, that others do not have. I treasure the time I spend here learning and those I have learned from. I realized that my life experiences are unique to me as each of yours is to you.
I will write this article with the benefit of hindsight, so you have the opportunity to benefit from my learning curve. Among my different jobs, I have worked in the medical field, but I am not licensed… Nor do I wish to be. The medical community has my respect. If you need medical care and it IS possible to get to a health care professional, I urge you to get there, as soon as possible. The delaying of required treatment costs humans,… and animals much pain, money, and often costs those we love, their life. Give yourself the best treatment you can every day, there is only one you, and others depend on you to be your best.
Much of what I know is basic medical knowledge and seeking natural remedies for problems of myself and my immediate family. It is my hope and prayer that you will never be required to use, what is written here. I am writing it so that you may learn to give aid when someone is depending on YOU, as their first and best resource. Knowledge is power, I would like to pass on some things I have USED effectively, with the rationale behind the process used, with the benefit of hindsight… I have no connection to any product I mention, except as a satisfied customer.
I have written before about taking care of infected wounds, and some lessons we learned from an injury episode. I have continued to use the same methods for new wounds these last several months…we continue to learn.
Our latest wound episode, occurred late one Friday night. I was giving our dog a bath. He became frightened when I changed my hold on him to get another towel. He wasn’t having any of that “falling stuff” and his only way to grab, was with his teeth….and he did so. I sustained a painful bite to the inner /radial aspect of my wrist and thumb….Just a couple of small breaks in the skin, It bled profusely…(so much so I had to hold pressure for 5-10 minutes, to stop bleeding.) Several blood vessels were burst..as evidenced by the immediate swelling on the base of my thumb…and did I say, PAIN! There was also nerve pain in the wrist. It was quite uncomfortable. I tolerate pain medications, worse than the pain, so rarely take anything, I was awake every hour thru the night.
ASSESSMENT AND INITIAL TREATMENT:
There were two tooth puncture wounds and another scraped area. It bled very well(a natural wound wash) and so didn’t concern me too badly. Immediately I washed it with peroxide and then alcohol. Applied pressure, (after I thought It had flushed the wound,) to stop the bleeding. We put a sterile bandage on it, then, elevated it on a pillow. Ice was applied, via Ziploc, for about an hour to the swelled areas. It did help the pain.
RE-ASSESSMENT AND AGGRESSIVE TREATMENT::
The next morning I was unpleasantly surprised to find red streaks, extending down into my palm almost to the base of my fingers….and conversely about 9″ the other way, about half-way to my elbow.
Just after my first cup of Joe, I again pulled out the chlorine bleach, Epsom salts and a large stainless steel pot…filled the vessel about half full of water, as hot as I could stand to hold my uninjured hand in for a minute.
- I mixed about 1/2 cup of each in the water, ..then I mixed in about another half gallon of cool water to reduce the heat for the injured tender area, plunged the injured arm in…
- I soaked the hand, wrist and as much of the arm as I could keep in the pot. Until the water became cool, swishing it around frequently to get the flow of salts and bleach across the wounds.
- Then, I patted the wound dry, applied some PRID salve and a light sterile dressing., secured with gauze.
- I applied one of those “hot hands” to injury site over light dressing to localize the infection. I poured out the soak solution and bleached the pan.
I did the same process 2 times a day, about every 12 hours, for four days. The red areas began to shrink within hours of the first treatment, and after about three treatments the redness was greatly reduced.
- I did have to express the wounds, due to the depth of the infection after those first several soaks. After the second day, the 4th soak, the red area had shrunk to within 1″ – 1 1/2 circ. of the deepest of the wounds.
- I continued the soaks until the wound gave no exudate and there was no redness. I did not go to the doctor. By the time Monday morning came, and the medical clinic was open, the wounds were healing as evidenced by reducing redness and decreasing drainage…
#1 Muzzle the dog before I bathe him! LOL. Seriously, remember a scared animal will hurt you, whether you intend to frighten it or not. Protect yourself from injury if you have a nervous dog.
#2 With the 20/20 hindsight:
A.) I wish I had at least washed the wound with a bleach and Epsom salt mixture and warm water…, instead of the peroxide and alcohol that I did use. A dog bite, even from a known vaccinated dog, is one of the worst injuries you can have, because of the public’s general lack of dental care for their pets and the possibility of some animals procuring their own “wild ” meat…. A human bite is worse.
B.) I should have scrubbed it well– instead of just pouring the wash over it. ( even though it bubbled well from the peroxide.)…and even with it bleeding very well. This step alone might have minimized the infection, and prevented much pain.
I plan to make some wound wash to have for future use.., using the same ratio. ..ie..1/8 cup of each standard bleach and Epsom salts, to a half- gallon of water. That will need to be re-made every 3 months, due to the decreasing strength of bleach. I could also keep the recipe on the bathroom mirror, and the ingredients ready to mix.(That way the bleach would be rotated with regular use.) Then, that solution will need to be rinsed from a fresh wound with sterile water or saline solution(think: eye wash/flush/). …and I should have applied the PRID immediately. That drawing salve is the best thing since sliced bread!
C.) What I did right.
The dog was vaccinated, and immediately, initiated wound care. The longer a wound is open without care, the greater the possible contamination. (To SOAK a fresh injury in very hot water immediately, would have increased the swelling and bleeding, so soaking immediately would have been a bad idea.) Applying ice and elevating it, reduced the pain. A pain reliever that was anti-inflammatory such as Motrin or would have helped with the inflammation, but I can’t take anti-inflammatory medications…
If there is anyone that you will be required to assist in a SHTF situation, you should have a list of all medications they are allergic to…and know what medications and conditions they are routinely treated for.
Develop plans for serious disease treatments before an event occurs. Having a kit for superficial injuries, a kit for diabetic care, a blood pressure kit, and notebooks and pencils/ pens to record what is given to a person. When under stress it’s easy to forget numbers, and progression of illness, writing it down will help focus complete attention on care being given. Know that medications that can be safely given orally can be given rectally.
If necessary to do this the medication should be placed inside the rectal spincter, against the wall of the intestine. It could be melted in a teaspoon of warm water, and inserted with a syringe, dropper or baster tip.. if available
A secured supply of allergy medications in several forms, and doses should be procured and stock rotated with regular use. Keep the capsules and cream as cool as possible…for longest effectiveness.
Benadryl should be available in liquid, capsule, and cream. Hot liquids, cola, and Honey can each be used to help medications assimilate quickly in an emergency. Honey is very effective.. also. And doses of medications given with it should be absolutely safe.
Keep the informational sheets on every item your family has stocked for daily and for use as needed. Tylenol has a narrow range of effectiveness that is very close to a toxic level. Tylenol is toxic to the liver and in large doses causes liver failure. The liver can not detoxify it. The liver failure from an overdose of this substance is not treatable without a transplant. Be sure to avoid duplication of this medication when giving pre-made cold formula’s.
Multi-use supplies should be procured and placed with medical supplies.
- Honey,..to expedite effectiveness of oral medications, can be used as a wound dressing, has antibiotic properties…
- Baking soda can be used in small doses to relieve indigestion, can be mixed with vinegar to be put on mild sunburn…
- Vinegar,. Can be used to restore PH balance of woman’s delicate areas, can be applied to a clean cotton cloth to cool a severe sunburn…
- Vanilla extract ..especially effective on kitchen burns.. the spray that is used to remove gum, can also be used to give immediate cool to a burn.
- Benadryl in liquid, capsules, and cream. Know the amount that is safe for each size child you may care for. Write it down! Place the information with medications.
I generally seek to use the kitchen -herbals, spices, and teas.. for common illness and distress’ of different stripes. I have gleaned information from herbal and gardening books,.. and even commercials presented as a “come -on” to buy books. General directions can be found in such sources.
Read and seek information on all the herbs and spices you have available. Write down all the information, with dose, how to prepare, and any cautions for use that you can find documented. Be sure to note what it says about safety in children and pregnancy…Interactions with medications or foods that are known. Is it safe to use with grapefruit?
The guidelines I use is to procure a book and instructions., for a particular herb or spice. I make the first “batch” of an herbal at half the strength suggested….for whatever the perceived need. I use it at that strength. If I use it and it has the desired effect. I will continue to use it at that strength, but if only partially effective is obtained, I will make it by the full strength recipe for the next “dose” .
I use a variety of teas on a regular basis., I often mix them for a more pleasing flavor or for a combined effect. The mints are my favorites, Spearmint is prolific and invasive unless you keep it cut regularly, that just means I have enough to mix with most (every) thing.
General TIPS and information:
Keep in mind that food can be used to balance the fats/triglycerides in the body. The benefits of grapes have been documented as healthy. Persons that need those benefits can also get the same benefits from the seed of the grape. Olive oil and Grapeseed oil can be used to replace butter/margarine and Crisco in recipes, with health benefits of the grape and the olive. When the healthy fats are low, they can be raised effectively by adding a teaspoon per serving of either of these to oatmeal or rice. When your body gets the proper fats, you can process the fat-soluble vitamins, you feel full longer and the intestines are lubricated.
Each herb, seasoning or other item mentioned in this article… has specific amounts that sources recommend, to bring the desired result. Just like you limit the Tylenol or Aspirin you take, herbs and spices have specific amounts as well. Use them with caution, especially when trying something for the first time, until you know how you respond to an ingredient. Either food or not ( prescribed by a physician or not.)
Some people have harsh reactions to common things. Every person has the ability to have reactions to common items… Examples….I know several people who take Valerian for sleep, but I am one of the few, that have slept the biggest part of 26 hours from a single dose. My DH uses it with only desired effects and is able to get up after 6 hours. My DD is allergic to Thyme. A family friend takes ” Milk of Magnesia” to stop diarrhea, and “Syrup of Black Draught” for constipation…this persons system is completely opposite of most people’s! These are not recommended uses for these over the counter products.
I limit trying new remedies, to one per week., but often combine several different products over the course of a day, for a single problem…especially when using remedies.. I partake of often.
Write out uses and all available information for a kitchen file and for a medical file. Record the sources of the information, remember, your life may depend on what you have recorded.
Teas: I use these regularly and obtain gentle and effective results most of the time. I can’t remember the last time I drank a tea that did not help in the manner I desired. I can’t say the same for medications that have been prescribed for me at one time or another.
There are specific mixes on the shelves of major grocery store chains…there are ones for specific malady’s…from PMS to insomnia, intestinal problems, sore throat, immune boosters. This is a good place to start to find the ones that might assist with a problem, or just to determine what flavors you prefer.
Chamomile, – for stomach and to relax for sleep. My Mom was especially surprised by this, When she was growing up she called chamomile, “bitter weeds”. Because when the cows ate them and gave milk, it made the milk have a distinctive bitter flavor. The milk could be used safely,. Granny broke my youngest Uncle from the bottle because he did not want to drink that “bitter weed” milk… My Dad and his brothers made a big batch of butter with some, in the cleaned out …wringer washing machine, back in the mid to late 40’s. You just use the centers to make the tea, after they are dry. I mix with some kind of mint for my preferred flavor….and sweeten with honey.
Everlasting- (Rabbit Tobacco) for chest congestion with or without wheezing, intestinal imbalances, both diarrhea and constipation.it also helps with balancing the enzymes in the intestines.. for everlasting tea, general instructions, are one ounce of whole herb to 16 oz. of water, steep at least 15 min, may reheat on stove top, but do not place medicinal herbs in microwave and then think they will produce good results. I add a few mint leaves in and sweeten with honey. The usual amount for intestinal problem mixed at this strength is ONE OUNCE, for an adult…
More will cause intestinal cramps, This is what I use to treat lactose intolerance with inflammation. This herb has given me more tolerance to all kinds of milk products. (I can eat an ounce of ice cream or drink a couple of ounces of regular milk-without developing the excessive gas that twists my guts.) For chest congestion, to make a cough productive, drink one ounce daily…hot or cold as you prefer… If you wish to know more info on the use of this herb, I would suggest you read articles by the gentleman known as “the southern herbalist”. Just do a search on him and rabbit tobacco, He has some interesting materials, re; its history on his website.
Green tea is recommended by people who have studied its effects more than I.I use it with other teas because I just don’t care for its flavor…so I slip it in any concoction I make that has a strong flavor like citrus or mint.
Ginger tea is soothing, good for nausea and has anti-viral properties. Years ago, it was given to help various measles to manifest. The idea was to break them out and the fever would resolve and healing could begin. Mom remembers drinking it as a child, and she lived thru it.
Orange peels and Zest can be made into a tea by adding it to a green tea base for a boost in vitamin C.. Pine needles can be brewed to release the vitamin C, for an immunity boost.
Mint, Oh, did I say Mint? These are my favorite, both peppermint, and spearmint I have and use often.
SPECIFIC instances/ problem: My immune system is just not as good as it should be. I am a twin, this is common in twins. I have fought anemia for several years, additionally this a known side effect of the anemia. The anemia is a residual effect of extensive intestinal surgery. I use buffalo liver capsules to slowly build my hemoglobin-(from range-fed young buffalo). (I also have the option of eating the liver of various critters.) I like liver, just not once or twice daily! I am trying to cut down on the hormones added into the meats that are common. Most iron preparations do not have the intrinsic factor in them. The liver is the only food source I know of. There is only one prescribed medication, small enough I can swallow,(Foltrin) that doesn’t hurt my stomach…so this is an on-going battle to keep my blood count to a desired level.
OCCURANCE: and Initial Assessment: Last week, Tuesday afternoon, I found a cold- sore, fever blister, on the mucosa of my inner jaw. , I had been exposed to the flu-( this, I discovered later.) I don’t run to the doctor for minor things, the office is too busy and my pocketbook is not that deep! No need in exposing others to what I have if I can help it. (Tamiflu is a common anti-viral and was prescribed for a family member- it was to cost 80$ or more.) I was already taking L-Lysine for viral prevention and usually use everlasting tea, two times a week…for an immune boost, and intestinal benefits.
Actions taken: 1) I doubled the amount of L-Lysine- started taking 1000 mg 2 x a day,(5 days), then, back to 500 mg morning and night.
2) Then, I rubbed my gum, inner jaw and mucus membranes of my mouth with one drop,( fingertip application from bottle…I inverted bottle, with washed hands, on to a finger and applied amount left on finger..) of Peppermint oil 2 x day( x 3 days, 3) Then, waited an hour ….
4) took the first dose,( I had ever taken).. 2 gtts. (per dropper received in the bottle) of Oil of Oregano, in 2 ounces of water. 2 x day x 3 doses.
In 24 hours… the blister had reduced to approx. 1/3 former size., and was no longer sore, with complete healing noted in 4 full days.
What I did right:
1)This is the fastest, I have ever had a cold sore heal…I believe the Oil of Oregano was the difference because I had used both other remedies with good results before, but was not as rapid. You will notice, I called 2 drops of Oil of Oregano in 2 Oz warm water a “dose”. I used it according to the label. This did work.
2) I had already had lab work done to assess dietary/Iron levels.
Should and Could have done:
1)I also had the strong taste of Oregano for quite a while after ingestion. I usually, just drink water but Kool-Aid after would have facilitated the removal of residual flavor. It could have been placed in a teaspoon of tomato sauce, this would have masked the residual flavor, at the very least.
2)There are many natural, quickly available substances that have anti-viral properties, among those are garlic and ginger.
3)Ginger tea (1/8 tsp. of ginger in hot water) with a tsp. honey and a squeeze of lemon would have been good.
I could have used this twice a day instead of the Essential Peppermint Oil. Its effectiveness is about the same.
4) Been more diligent to keep my blood count up to the desired level.. by seeking alternative and additional iron sources-beets, greens- with each ingestion of either the buffalo liver or the liver eaten and the Foltrin supplement, I can raise my iron levels faster.
I have since used 2 drops of oil of Oregano in a little (one Ounce)warm coffee, drank, for pressure in an ear, once at night, just before bed. Woke with no ear-ache or pressure. This stuff works, The taste, well, it could be worse.
An episode of Sudden Allergic Reaction:
A couple of years ago, my DH and I were traveling for a long-anticipated trip. We had planned for 16 days duration… Day one, smooth trip..no change in diet(we had packed and eaten from ice chest), medication, temperature, clothing, or detergents. When we stopped for the night, very late, and got settled into the motel room for a night’s rest.
We experienced anything but rest. Before we could get settled in bed- my DH began to break out in hives! A sudden itching, then he looked down and called my attention to it….A whelt on his upper thigh, quickly passing to a blister stage! I could see them pop up before my eyes- red splotches getting bigger and becoming blisters 2-3 inches long -within 2 minutes..
What caused it, did he get something on his skin? Intense itching, quickly increasing in area and whelts developing with each scratch. What to do? strange area…no contacts except a late desk in the motel….miles from anyone we know… We had lotion and Benadryl cream in reach and He began to apply it to the first areas.. ..(3 minutes from start.)…along with intense itching ..areas.. beginning over his thighs, belly, back lower …DH got in cool shower…to cool, and reduce…and flush.
First….I got out the /prn/ meds package for both of us…and quickly gave him 100mg..(.4 -25 mg capsules) of generic Benadryl.. As He turned on and adjusted the shower, I handed him the capsules and a small amount of coke. The acid in Cola helps medications in capsule form melt quicker to release medication… Warm liquid will work to do the same thing.( I had used this dose for a red wasp sting, when I was at a similar weight. Close to 200lbs.)
I also started recording signs and symptoms, and what we had given him, and the time and dose of everything that we did for comfort and the symptoms as they appeared….so I would have a record should he require emergency services, so it could be with him,( if I was in a separate vehicle, ie..behind an ambulance), In triage situations, it used to be the case that, Doctors at a remote scene would record medications, doses and times on a patients forehead.( I got to play the victim in a couple of emergency drills.)
- … 15 minutes pass, after Benadryl loading dose..(all time from here are from this dose) with more whelts spreading from the first one we noted on his left thigh to over his thighs, abdomen, both lower extremities with severe itching. The cool shower helps some with swelling and itching… the whelting begins to slow…but still progressing… While he chills in the shower, I get out all of our routine and “as needed” medications to see what options we had in our arsenal. Anything to give any effect over the next 20-30 minutes, the time the Benadryl’s full effectiveness could be realized.(When I take Benadryl, for a sting, I usually notice effects in 45 min to one hour)
- ..at 20 min…I give him a 12 hour and a 24 hour anti-histamine. ., then 25 min. me, watching, assessing, .he’s still itching, I encouraged him to let water cool and not scratch…,he noticed his airway seemed tight… he began to be scared,
- …, I handed him the albuterol inhaler. And he used two full puffs…still in the shower.
- .. then I got out the pocket knives, and a cigarette lighter which I keep in medical kit) (DH whittles with) and began to think about the things I had witnessed in the medical world…..and what I had that would work to get and maintain an airway until an ambulance could arrive. I wiped them, briskly, with alcohol and peroxide, each twice.., and placed them on the table ,on a clean napkin. and a clean, still wrapped straw… I got the phone number for the front desk. and placed the phone close.
- …@30 min…the albuterol has begun to kick in, breathing is beginning to ease and he is not so scared
- …the blisters stop growing. And begin to slowly become smaller.. he begins climbing out of the shower, chilling further. And I mix these three creams equal portions cortisone ,Benadryl, and vagicaine (20%benzocaine) cream , to apply the worst areas..to help the swelling, itching and allergic from a topical standpoint… (This also works well on severe ant bites)
- ….@ 35 min…all symptoms continues to decrease. It’s now 1;30 am.. and DH begins to relax…itching is reduced to a nuisance, breaths are without effort, wheeze or congestion. He is able to finish a large cola with ice.. then… He goes to sleep. I watch his whelps reduce and note them every 15 min for the next two hours. It’s now 3:30, I am still awake, tired from driving,
- … but unable to sleep. Now 4 am, blisters almost completely gone, I count his respirations and listen for audible wheezes or congestion. I lie close and listen to his heart beat even and strong…sometime after 4:30 sleep finds me, for a little while.
The things I had that might be used were…. 4-hour antihistamine-instructions said repeat possible q 4hours..(generic Benadryl). a 12-hour antihistamine and a 24-hour antihistamine. Benadryl cream, hand lotion, 1% cortisone cream, and vagicaine Generic) and an albuterol inhalation for emergency asthma attacks…alcohol, peroxide, a basic first aid kit with a few sterile bandages, a small roll of medical tape, antibiotic ointment, matches and a cigarette lighter… Pen, writing tablet. Had an emergency airway had to be cut in his trachea, suction would have been needed, a sterile shot syringe of 20 cc would have been nice, airway would have had to be held in place until secured..after the emergency care was completed on him, then it would have been my turn for care!
MEDICAL ASSESSMENT and HINDSIGHT thoughts…
When we returned home, It was time for his routine visit. to his PCP. We reported the episode, and I had my written notes from what I had observed and what actions we had taken. He was a bit surprised we had not required the ER, for this episode. He said that he has known of several people who did this, who were unable to find the cause of the allergic reaction. The usual treatment is to prevent another occurrence by use of low dose anti-histamines.
The things we did right:
- …. Immediate use of dose of anti-histamine.
- …. We got the swelling down, by using topical lotion, cool water
- ….and further reduced them by applying mixed cream to reduce inflammation, itching.
- ……Used his prescribed inhaler for steroidal effect…on the lungs.
- ….., forced fluids after edema started to subside….this flushed much of the anti-histamines
- …. I continued his anti-histamines for two days.
- ….We tried to isolate anything he had eaten, or experienced differently. No change in diet, laundry detergent or medications..so we could eliminate those sources. For allergens.
His regular PCP… thought I had done overkill on antihistamines- because I gave all three antihistamines…. a loading dose of 4-hour, a single 12 hour one, and a 24 hour one..we were more frightened of it not taking effect than any complications from too much.
When you realize your airway is rapidly closing, and the medicines have not begun to reverse that process…or the one you love is having this problem-overkill was temporary,…at worst blood filtering is done three times weekly for kidney shut down, airway closure is a permanent thing-can’t fix that later, you just have about 5 minutes until it is too late!
In hindsight,… I wish I had waited until the Benadryl had kicked in and he was ready to go to sleep, then I should have given the 12-hour one only. Or waited until three hours after initial dose then given the 12 hour time limited one…
Had I not given a longer lasting anti-histamine, he could have had an episode in the middle of his and my sleep time. We never did find out exactly what the allergic reaction was, He has had several others, but none as severe as this first one. We got him an Epi-pen, but it has expired….and we never used it. His MD gave him a prescription for another antihistamine because he had complications from Decadron, and the others that are over the counter.
I have at least 2 allergy medications with us at all times. and the inhaler….his prescription and extra Benadryl. He rarely has to take anything but his script.
He put him on a low dose of .(ALLEGRA, generic.60 mg daily)which he took daily for several months. After about 5 of these reactions, we decided it must be a delayed reaction to bug/tick/mosquito bites..so we watch them much closer now. We try to limit exposure to all insects At the first point of any bite, we watch it, and continue to watch it for several days until it is completely gone….sometimes it takes 2 weeks….If it starts to increase in red area,..(.if there is any doubt, I mark it with an ink pen, for comparison.) we give the anti-histamine that is prescribed.
Bottom Line: None of us wish to do an emergency Trach – especially on our mate.
The loading dose of Benadryl, and cola…were critical, The cool shower, lotion. And creams helped to calm the blisters. and the itching….and the albuterol inhaler which was prescribed for his asthma attack, gave him the steroid effect to keep an airway for those final minutes it took the Benadryl to be effective.
Caution: some people develop an allergy to their own prescribed inhalers. This happened to one of my nieces , and she almost died…she used her own inhaler! In a SHTF situation, she would not have survived.
Never use medications of another person…one never knows what allergies we may develop.
Our vet recommends generic Benadryl for a nervous or car sick dog @ the rate of one mg. to one lb., up to 25 lbs. This is what is given for snakebite to dogs. Also along with a large amount of bacon, or similar grease.
- Develop the protocols you will use…if a child steps on a nail..(.record when tetanus shots are given, and know how long until you need another..)..if there is an allergic reaction, a localized reaction versus a shock reaction like my honey had…a broken ankle or a badly sprained one…a broken leg, a broken wing..Know what you need, how you have to use supplies, what you must procure from surroundings..
- Use each injury/illness as an opportunity to learn from those you trust for the care of your loved ones. Write down what you learn as soon as you can for accuracy, repeat instructions for after care, back to one who gives them to verify you understand them.
May you have good knowledge when those you love, depend on you for assistance. And remember that this is not to be taken as medical advice only my opinion if you have medical questions on health issues please seek medical help at your nearest medical clinic.