We really try to do everything right, so we won’t get sick. We wash our hands frequently, and we hold our breath when the person next to us sneezes. We get flu shots, pneumonia and Shingles vaccines. But despite our best efforts, we know we are only human. One of those quiet voices in the back of our heads worries how we’ll handle it if we get sick. We can allow that anxiety to fester, or we can anticipate the inevitable, and plan ahead so that we can manage almost anything that might come along.
In case of illness, the home should be a refuge, a safe and comforting place that is well stocked with anything we might need.
The Medicine Cabinet
Start by going through the medicine cabinet as it is. Toss things that have expired. Be careful to not flush things into the water supply. Your pharmacist can advise you on how to dispose of old medications safely.
Now that there is some room in the medicine cabinet, let’s start to stock it. Non medicine items include a thermometer, a blood pressure cuff, a good supply of tissues, and an ace bandage. An ice pack or heating pad might come in handy. Maybe having a cane in the closet in case of a sprained ankle would be nice.
The medicine cabinet should be stocked with medicines including:
• cough medicine
• cold medicine, Zicam or Airplane (to shorten length of a cold)
• allergy medicine
• aspirin or other anti-inflammatory
• pain relievers
• anti-bacterial cream and anti-fungal cream
• band-aids, sterile gauze
• Hydrogen peroxide
• Tums or Alka Selzer
• Calamine lotion
• Keep a reasonable supply of your prescription medications on hand, refilling at least a week before you run out.
• Calibrated measuring spoon or cup, conveniently located with the medicines
First aid book – or consider taking a first aid course. The Red Cross offers trusted, affordable classes all over the country, in addition to on-line classes. Check out their website for more information: www.redcross.org/lp/cpr-first-aid. You’ll learn such helpful tips as how to remove a tick using tweezers, cleaned with rubbing alcohol. I’ll give you a little hint - Gently grasp the tick’s head with your tweezers and pull away from your skin. Be slow and gentle to avoid crushing the tick.
Caution: If there are children ever in your home, keep medications out of their reach.
I hear people ask, “Who will get me chicken noodle soup when I’m sick?” Having a well stocked pantry will be very comforting, and will get us through the minor illnesses. The pantry should have at least chicken noodle soup, Gatorade, ginger ale, and jello. Consider what else you might like to have if you’re sick. Maybe some saltine crackers or Italian ice would be helpful.
Stay Connected to People Who Can Help
If you’re ill, let someone know so that they can check on you at least once a day. That person should know your doctor’s name and contact information. I have an agreement with another single friend that we can call on one another if we are sick.
If you can’t decide whether or not to call 911, call it. Let the professionals decide on a diagnosis and plan of care. Be prepared to give your name and address, and a description of your problem. If you can, unlock your front door for the emergency personnel.
In your wallet, there should be a paper with your medical history, medications that you take, your blood type, the name of your primary care doctor, the name of the person who has your medical power of attorney, and contact information of who you’d like called in case of emergency. Your health insurance information should also be readily available.
By preparing when you feel healthy, you can relax if you feel a sneeze coming on, knowing that you have what it takes to handle it. Did you know that lowering stress actually reduces the risk of getting sick? So spend some time while you feel great preparing a kindness for yourself on a day that brings challenges.