Disasters and Mental Illness

Staying closer to home again lately. The cases of covid are increasing again. It’s only a matter of time before it hits my hometown again. With the bad heat waves the western part of the country has experienced, we have had more rain the normal. It too is only a matter of time before the heat waves hit my hometown. We don’t have the water shortages that places like California and Arizona have. But I think if my state gets that level of drought, a new Dust Bowl will result.

Being prepared for disasters is extremely important. If wildfires, freak blizzards, and chronic flooding can’t convince some people, nothing will. Growing up in a rural farming community over an hour’s drive away from the nearest Wal Mart and Home Depot, it was necessary to have enough supplies to be able to fend for ourselves for at least a few days in the event of a bad blizzard or flooding. Growing up around farmers, I personally know several farmers who have lost entire corn crops to hail storms and floods.

When the covid disaster relief payments came, I made a point of buying extra food, over the counter medications, and clothing. I also bought a new computer. My old one was starting to die and I was afraid prices were going to go up with the shortage on microchips. And prices are going up. I certainly pay more for food than I did even two years ago. Clothing prices have increased. And gas prices are on the rise. When the Colonial pipeline in the southern states was shut down by hackers, I remember thinking if I was an Uber driver in Atlanta who had a Tesla, I’d probably have more work than I could handle. As it is, I no longer have a car. Sold it two years ago. But, since I can get anything within reason delivered to my apartment and I don’t road trip anymore, it made little sense to keep a car. If I really need to go anywhere, I can hire an Uber driver or sweet talk one of my neighbors into giving me a ride and offer gas money in return.

In addition to natural disasters, many people are more on edge than usual. A friend of a friend had a gun pulled on her a few days ago. My friend in Denver said she’s dealing with far more rude and angry customers than even a few years ago. My brother and his family moved out of their suburb and bought a place with a large lot just outside of the city right before housing prices skyrocketed. I have two friends in Omaha, both college educated, working two jobs each barely just scraping by. Gone are the days when a father could support a family of six kids with a factory job. Lots of people are hurting. And we are turning on each other instead of working together to solve problems.

Our science, tech, medicine, etc. are what’s keeping us afloat. Other institutions, namely politics, haven’t kept up with the changes in tech and world affairs. I can’t imagine how much worse covid would be if we still didn’t have vaccinations or work from home options. People who were saying this covid isn’t as bad as Spanish Flu was 100 years ago may have to back track those words. They certainly would if not for the efforts of scientists, doctors, nurses, farm workers, grocery store workers, delivery drivers, truck drivers, merchant marine sailors, etc.

Quarantine April 8 2020

Been warmer and sunny the last two days.  While I didn’t go outside, I did have my windows open during daylight hours.  Even though spring has officially started, we are supposed to have some chilly weather starting this weekend.  My town has even a forecast for snow on Easter Sunday.

My neighbor gave me a facemask two days ago.  I wear it whenever I answer the door.  I haven’t had any deliveries for a couple days.  I’m sitting alright in terms of supplies and food.  So glad I listened when one of my friends mentioned back in early February that this could outbreak could get rough.  Allowed me to beat the rush when it came to getting supplies.

Social distancing hasn’t been much of a problem for me.  I was isolating and not going out as much for at least the previous year.  Now I no longer have to feel guilty for it.  I haven’t had any symptoms, at least not yet.  I do take vitamin supplements every morning with breakfast.  I still wash and disinfect my hands several times a day.

Talked to my cousin this afternoon over facebook.  She is married to a career Navy man.  She’s handling it alright, even with two young children.  My hometown has at least a couple dozen cases, but then I do live in a small town of less than 40,000 people.  It is a college town, and with the college going to only online classes, there aren’t as many people in town.  It feels quiet like summer around here, granted without the warm weather.  My town always comes back to life in late August when the college students come back.  Even though it’s been 15 years since I was a college student myself, I still have many happy memories from those years.  And I am grateful that facebook allows me to keep in touch with many of my old classmates.  My dad had always said he regretted not keeping in closer contact with his college and Air Force friends.  I hope people my age and younger don’t make the same mistake.

Sleeping well overall.  Been feeling stable for the most part.  I sometimes do get a little irritable.  I guess it was only a matter of time before some of the symptoms of my schizophrenia crept back in.  I don’t feel paranoid about my neighbors, landlady, or even the coronavirus.  But I guess I do sometimes get irritable about having to stay home all the time and just being so limited.  Yet I can deal with this.  Just press through.  If my grandparents’ generation had to go to war or work in war time industries, then the least I can do is stay home and stay healthy until the pandemic burns out.

I still take my psych medications every day.  I’m not about to ration those.  I have a set up with my doctor and my pharmacy where I get 90 day supplies at a time.  And I have been able to change over to having my medications mailed to my house so I don’t have to drive out in a blizzard or anything like that.  I also had some samples saved up from my doctor’s appointments.  I explained to the doctor why I wanted to do it this way.  I was completely up front in saying in case I couldn’t get out for several days I wanted an emergency supply.  I’m grateful he agreed.  I guess growing up in a farming community and having lots of farmers and small business owners on both sides of my family, we took emergency preparation seriously.  No, we didn’t build a fallout shelter in my cellar or listen to conspiracy theories when I was growing up.  But, with the nearest Wal Mart over an hour drive away and the nearest grocery store being a 15 minute drive away, we knew very early on if we had some emergency, whether a natural disaster, etc., we would have to be on our own for at least several days.  Every farmer I knew had either a gas powered generator, solar panels for emergency electricity, or both even back in the 1980s.  Having a plan for emergencies is a good insurance policy.  I sleep better at night knowing I can weather at least some crisis.

 

Emergency Preparation and Disability

A few years ago I wrote a couple articles about emergency preparations.  Now that COVID 19 has been officially declared a pandemic, now is a good time to review this.

Some musts people must have include several days worth of emergency food, mainly non perishables that require little to no preparation.  Things like beans, rice, canned foods, jerky, peanut butter (if you are not allergic), honey, several days worth of bottled water in case the water goes out are a good place to start.  The best are things that don’t need to be kept cold and or won’t spoil for a long time.

Other things that will be needed are extra over the counter medications like pain pills, cold medicines, flu medicines, nasal spray, and a first aid kit.  With as overwhelmed as hospitals could become, you may have to rely on yourself, family, and neighbors for anything that isn’t life threatening.

Prescription medications are a problem.  Most places won’t allow you to fill several months worth of medications at once.  It’s simply against the law.  Prescription meds are a tough call.  As for me, I have a set up where I get my meds filled for 90 days at a time.  I also had some samples from doctor’s appointments.  Do not go off your meds, especially anti psych meds.  We’re all already under stress as is.  Going off psych meds during a crisis like we are facing will make things even worse.

Having cash on you may be a good idea, especially if the power goes down or there are bank runs or ATMs run out of cash.  Always be aware of your surroundings, especially when away from home.

Get on good terms with neighbors and family if you aren’t already.  If things get really bad, like survival type situations, you will be glad you have a close by network of neighbors, friends, and family to fall back on.  I am limited mobility now, but I am on good terms with most of my neighbors and my land lady.  It helps that I helped out lots of people when I was still healthy and very mobile.

Also, wash your hands with soap and water.  I can’t stress this enough.  Avoid going out in public if you feel like you have a fever or are getting sick.  Stay home if you have to.  Wearing a face mask is not going to keep you from getting sick.  What it can do is, if you are sick, reduce the spread of germs from you to everyone else.

Finally, we are living in a time and place where history is being made on a daily basis.  Our descendants will be talking about these days years after all of us are gone.  Stay calm and avoid large crowds as much as possible.  Don’t be touching other people unless necessary.  We are living during stressful times.  But most will make it through.

Emergency Preparation and Disability

We had a lightning storm that knocked out electricity for over an hour in my hometown shortly after sunset tonight.  As I’ve been a small city dweller for over a decade, I forgot how dark it gets after dark, especially on cloudy nights.  Since the power went out, I found myself sitting in the dark.  But I was able to find my flashlights and battery powered emergency radio pretty quick.  Rode out the black out listening to short wave weather radio and the local classic rock station.  Now that the power is back on and so is my internet, I thought it would be rather appropriate to write a blog about emergency preparation while having a disability.

One thing people in my country learned the hard way during Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy was that a person can’t always count on emergency crews to get to them right away.  Anymore a person and family has to be self sufficient for at least a few days in case of a major emergency.  These emergencies could range from anything as mundane as a winter blizzard, a flood, the the unusual like a chemical leak or terrorist attack.  People do need things like emergency radios, flashlights, a few days of bottled water, a few days of non perishable but easy to prepare food, blankets, a few changes of clothes, a few extra days of medications, at least one first aid kit, and maybe some lighters in case you need to start a fire.  Everyone’s situation and needs are different.  I don’t have candles as I live in a crowded apartment complex and that could be a fire hazard.  But having a battery powered radio and flashlights are musts.  You have to find out what’s going on outside your neighborhood in case an evacuation order is issued or if help is on the way.

Sure I got off real easy this time being without power for only part of an evening.  But sometimes it’s a good reminder that things can and occasionally do go wrong.  And that being prepared in case of emergency is a must.

Emergency Preparation and Mental Illness

It is my hope that the advice in this column never has to be used for more than a day or two of inconvenience like in case of a blizzard or a power outage. This post is going to be about being prepared for emergencies with a mental illness or disability. I probably should have posted this entry before the last blizzard hit the East Coast.  But with a blizzard going to hit my part of the US coming, I think this is still relevant.  Being prepared for possible emergencies can be overwhelming for some people. But as we have seen from previous emergencies, particularly natural disasters over the last several years, it is vital to be able to take care of yourself for a few days if necessary.  It is also important to be aware of your surroundings.  What follows is a short, though not definitive, list of things to have in case of emergencies if outside help can’t get to you for a few days.

A supply of non perishable food for several days as well as some bottled drinking water.  It isn’t necessary to go overboard and be buying things through the internet (which can usually be found locally and is usually overpriced).  But something as simple as beans and rice, canned foods like canned pasta and chili, or anything that just needs water.  Foods like beef jerky that don’t require refrigeration are also handy.  Essentially anything that doesn’t need refrigeration and requires little to no preparation are good.  As far as bottled water goes, be sure to store it no longer than one year because the water tends to pick up a plastic like flavor to it.

Flashlights, batteries, a weather radio, extra blankets are always good things to have.  So is cash on hand.  This is not money to be spent except for emergencies.  Also might come in handy in case there are economic problems and banks won’t allow more than a small amount to be withdrawn.  It has happened in countries like Greece.

A first aid kit.  This can be picked up at any pharmacy or general store.  Hopefully you will never need it.  But you’ll be glad if you have one and you get hurt or sick with no immediate access to medical treatment.  Have one for your car and one for your house.

Especially important for people who have to take regular prescriptions (like myself), have at least one week of emergency supplies of all your prescription meds.  This does not mean skipping doses until you have your back up.  This means simply asking your doctor for a few samples.  Be upfront with your doctor and they will be glad to help you out.  But be sure to rotate these meds probably once a year.  And be sure to update your emergency supply in case your meds get changed.  Be sure to have a list of your medications and doses in your purse or wallet in case you have to go to the hospital and are unresponsive.

This is just a small generic list of things to have in case of an emergency that could leave you house bound and on your own for a couple days.  This is not meant to be an exhaustive list.  I’m not a wilderness survival expert or hardcore prepper, but I do believe it’s a good idea to always have emergency supplies and plans as a backup in case of natural disasters, fires, or just any kind of emergency that comes up.