Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I Always Hated Health Class

Part 1 -- Pyramids in Argentina
Part 2 -- Bricks without straw
Part 3 -- Still Thinking

As far as dealing with an economic collapse, having gold or any of the other commonly recommended resources is not nearly as important as having good health.  The first thing I think everyone should consider is health.  If a person is in need of an elective medical procedure, now would be a really good time to get that done.  Not only will medical treatment get more expensive, but the rationing of health care is an impending reality, as is the deterioration of medical care.  Besides, why suffer with something when it can be corrected. 

Aside from medical procedures, if a person is not in reasonably good physical condition, now would be a good time to begin exercising and eating better.  I used to joke that I carried a six-month supply of food with me at all times.  It's not so funny when you can't move quickly or you find yourself puffing climbing up the basement steps.  A little excess body fat isn't a problem.  If you can count your ribs in the mirror, you're probably too skinny.  If you think, 'I know I've got ribs under here somewhere', or, 'Umm, ribs!', you might need to lose weight. 

Exercise doesn't have to be a big expensive process.  There's no need to join a gym unless a person feels that would be motivational for him or her.  The important thing is to develop endurance, general strength, and coordination.  A good start on this can be obtained with a decent pair of shoes and no more equipment than perhaps a jump rope.  If you can't "pull your own weight", consider calisthenics and body weight exercises which require little or no equipment.  Weightlifting to improve or maintain your strength is not a bad idea, and, again, it doesn't have to be excessively expensive.  A person is never going to wear out even moderately priced weights.  In my opinion the best real-world weight lifting exercises are the Olympic-style power clean and jerk and the squat — especially the front squat.  With all strength training, first concentrate on form rather than repetitions or weight.

Also on the topic of health, I recommend stockpiling vitamins and supplements that one thinks might be beneficial.  If a person needs presciptions medications, some provision for building a reasonable reserve of those medications would be prudent.  All of us should have bandages — adhesive and gauze, and topical antibiotics.  A magnifying glass on a stand comes in very handy for such things as removing splinters.  OTC medications for treating pain, insect bites, blisters, rashes, allergies, etc. are useful.  Use your imagination with regard to things you might need if you were isolated and could not get to a doctor, an emergency room, or a pharmacy — or if there were no supplies to be had at the pharmacy or Wal-Mart.  From cuts to dog bites to colds to diarrhea, it is wise to have basic treatments on hand.  Watch the expiration dates and the storage environment.  Rotate and replenish.   

On the subject of antibiotics drugs, I am conflicted.  Obviously, these drugs can be life-savers.  It's my opinion that the various antibiotics have been a major contributing factor to extending life expectancy both in the United States and around the world.  It's very easy, though, to misuse and overuse antibiotics.  Antibiotics can kill off intestinal flora and cause digestive problems.  I suspect they contribute to the development of allergies.  Sloppily prescribing antibiotics and being even sloppier in following the directions for their use have helped create resistant strains of superbugs.  Nevertheless, having an emergency supply of antibiotics could mean the difference between recovering from a relatively minor injury and death by sepsis.

I'm not sure it's wise or legal, and it's not something I would normally do or ever encourage, but I have known farmers who kept a supply of antibiotics for their livestock.  Some of those farmers have used the drugs on themselves without apparent ill effects.  Again, I'm not recommending it.  I'm relating what I've heard. 

A extraordinarily gifted orthopedic surgeon once told me that he was not a healer.  He considered himself more or less a carpenter.  He put things in order so that healing could take place.  Maintaining health is usually  a mostly thoughtless process of not doing damage.  Regaining health is usually a matter of not doing further damage and avoiding secondary infections in the case of wounds.  I've heard missionaries talk about hospitals in third-world countries.  Being hospitalized in many areas of Africa was considered a virtual death sentence.  Even in the United States we have problems with nosocomial infections.  With the influx of illegals we are seeing a return of tuberculois.  Dengue fever has been seen in the southern United States. 

My personal approach to medicine is to avoid doctors, clinics, and hospitals as much as possible.  While it's worked pretty well for me, it's not a recommendation for anyone else.  No one is immune to illness or accident.  All it takes is a moment of inattention on the road, a misstep, or a few wild cells, and I or anyone can be laid low.  People with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, are always going to be more dependent on medical facilities.  All of us, however, need to learn to take responsibility for our health and to take care of ourselves as much as possible.      

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