Help Out of Reach? The Doctor Is YOU
When you or your family are isolated far from medical infrastructure, that situation comes with responsibility. Whether you distrust modern medicine or count on it, now YOU are the practitioner. Experts often advise us to seek the help of a medical pro, and that’s great advice.
BUT, if you’re on the island and the boat is gone, on the mountain and the snow is 3 feet deep or at the cabin when the cat 3 hurricane hits, seeing the Doc may not be an option.
If you don’t expect to ever have an accident or experience illness, then preparation is a waste of time. Unfortunately, people DO make mistakes, get hurt and get sick. Considering that reality, getting ready to “Be the doctor” could be essential if you find yourself in isolation from modern medical attention.
I’m-the-doctor Readiness Kit
If you plan to be ready when the need arises, there are a few basic requirements you best put in place now. This will differ depending on who will be cared for, skills, ages, conditions and risks, but in general you will need:
- A thorough understanding of a safe, healthy lifestyle and a willingness to live it – caring for yourself is hard enough for the healthy, learn not to make it worse
- Basic knowledge of diagnosis, first aid, routine care, treatment and emergency care; if you are to respond effectively, you need a foundation of knowledge
- A medical reference library to consult for diagnosis and treatment; if career professionals need references, you REALLY need them
- A very well equipped medical/first aid kit including bandages, disinfectants, medicines, other first aid materials and treatment tools; if we are to assume you are truly isolated, UPS, Amazon and Uber will not be able to help
- Remote access to health care professionals and technology for medical aid if and when you have the need and the opportunity. If you are isolated by choice, rather than necessity, access to the diagnoses and advice of professionals is a powerful asset, and you can have it without leaving home base, if you prepare
Take your time and plan out your response approaches, while you study your self-care options. Taking full responsibility for your own medical care is not for everyone.
Depending on the isolation situation you envision, it may well be easier to plan for emergency evacuation options to the nearest medical treatment center than to get ready for the DIY approach.
Remember that choosing an isolated living situation may leave you with limited choices. Be sure to plot out different problem cases so you can put together realistic response plans that are practical and safe for you and your family. Take this seriously, as lives depend on this planning.
Self education and your references
Educating yourself on healthy living, emergency care and diagnostics will be a lengthy process. After all, human beings are not simple systems – there’s a lot going on under that skin!
You can take on this task from a variety of angles, but I suggest you start with building up your medical references and getting familiar with them. You can then refer to these books, websites and expert contacts as you learn. You can start by getting a general self-care medical reference written for non-professionals.
There are many such books available, but one I can suggest is “Take Care of Yourself, 10th Edition: The Complete Illustrated Guide to Self-Care” which is available at Amazon for under $15 in ebook or paperback format. This is very reader friendly, and it covers many non-life-threatening conditions, while suggesting you seek professional care for the more challenging ones.
A more comprehensive book is “The Survival Medicine Handbook: THE essential guide for when medical help is NOT on the way.” This is a long and thorough handbook that covers much more serious conditions and even suggests alternate ways to treat them when conventional medical options aren’t available. This is available in e-book, paperback and spiral bound forms for under $23 on Amazon.
If you are adventurous you may also find heavy, detailed medical texts to add to the library, but consider getting these others first. The medical texts generally assume a lot of education, experience, tools and facilities you won’t have, though it may be helpful to have them for looking up symptoms or treatments not found in the more public-reader friendly books.
Another possibility is a military field medical handbook. There are many to choose from
but one of the better and more accessible ones is “Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook” this is both thorough and inexpensive ( paperback under $25 and ebook under $9). This book covers all manner of treatment from acute diarrhea to lightning burns. It even covers skunk bites!
What is important is that YOU feel comfortable with the material in terms of your ability to understand and use it, the credibility of it and the amount of your needs that it covers.
So long as you have internet access, several web resources can be great assets to assist with diagnosis and some routine care. WebMD, Mayo Clinic and Healthline are three powerful examples of fairly comprehensive diagnostic and advice sites. Both Google and Wikipedia also offer a great wealth of medical information, although both should be checked against multiple sources to ensure accuracy.
While these resources are great assets, they do have limitations. The judgement, experience and advanced tools of modern professionals can offer much that the best DIY approach can’t match. In a true emergency isolation situation, your DIY options may be the only ones that count. In other circumstances you may be wise to expand these resources with powerful services from the modern medical community:
If you can find a nearby doctor or other healthcare professional to assist you in or near your isolated home, that may be important for some complex problems.
Otherwise, there are two ways we can recommend to access medical resources remotely:
- Tele-medicine*: the consultation and guidance you can get via phone or video chat that can take the place of most doctor visits. This is powerful and readily available, and surprisingly inexpensive compared to most insurance or private office visits. There are tele-health networks that provide all the virtual office visits with board-certified physicians (in your state – sorry US only) you need for a low subscription price well under the cost of one family meal out per month.
- Medical Testing Services: if you have concerns that are not easily diagnosed, the services of a modern laboratory can be critical, and you can order them with or without a doctor. They can be expensive, but they are available across most US states by mail-in, mobile or walk-in services. In any case, they are completely confidential, and YOU are in full control. Some laboratory firms offer a thousand test types or more. Walk-In Lab (one of our sponsors) is a good test service for US residents.
*Note: this is a sponsored topic.
After obtaining medical reference books, beginning your study, and arranging for Tele-Health protection you will be ready to start the next step: Self Care in Isolation, Part 2