Vaccinations – a misadventure and some advice

Okay, so I went to my doctor’s office because I needed a tetanus shot. Unfortunately the only thing on hand was the new tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis vaccine.

To be fair the physician, a wonderful doctor who deserves NO blame for what follows, did ask me if I had ever had any problems with this vaccine.

I stated that I did not know but that I did not think so.

My bad.

I got the shot and left the office. I was unlucky in that my appointment was the last of the day. The nurse was locking up as I left.

About four minutes later I was suffering from severe anaphylactic shock.

Here I got lucky. My fiancee who was with me took my seriously when I said I was in deep shit and he went around the building and pounded on doors until he got the attention of the nurse inside.

And so fortunately I found myself back in the examination room I had just left getting poked with all kinds of needles.

I’m actually a bit hazy on the details but I believe they included a benedryl shot and a corticosteroid shot. I don’t think the epipen they had actually got used. I then spent thirty minutes on my back talking to the doctor and nurse as they monitored me until I was out of danger.

They saved my life.

The lesson here? Ignorance is not bliss and if you are doing traveling that involves vaccinations it would be a very good idea to know what your risks are and what allergies you may have.

That said, how can you protect yourself?

Get your vaccinations at a doctor’s office rather than a clinic. Try for an early appointment so you don’t have to worry about locked doors if something does go wrong.

Ask questions about any possible side effects and the incidences of an allergic reaction.

Remain in the clinic for fifteen minutes after the vaccinations – this is legally required in most states but a lot of doctors will let it slide. It is your responsibility to ask to wait and to explain why if challenged.

Keep a list of all vaccinations you have had and take it with you to the doctor’s. And if you are taking other drugs you might want to ask about interactions.

Since more and more laws about vaccination are coming into effect you are going to want to take more precautions than usual.

It is also a good idea to visit the CDC Yellow Book website to find out what diseases are in the area you are going to and what vaccinations are required. (http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/content/yellowbook/home-2010.aspx )

You might also try their travel health page at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/ .

And if you answer the question “Are you allergic to [drug]?” with “I don’t know?” then make sure your doctor will look out for you.

If it turns out you are allergic to something see that a big notation makes it into your medical records and also make a note of it yourself somewhere.

Trust me, with anaphylactic shock, once is more than enough.

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It’s about to snow here in Western North Carolina

Preparing for the snow storm here tonight. Four to six inches, oh my! I remember being a child in Michigan and seeing twelve foot snows, I also at the ripe age of 33 remember when this area got four foot snows. Ah, climate change. But I digress. 

Since me and my brother, Dan,  were both raised by survivalists, we are better off than many – we both keep what out blood father called “oh shit kits” stored in our rooms and cars. Candles, flashlights, batteries and essential foods and meds are all on hand. We have a wood stove and plenty of wood. Lots of blankets. Canned food and can opener. Cast iron for cooking on the wood stove. (A trick better not tried with thin bottomed aluminum pans!) Stuff for our cats.  The only tricky bit is water as our well pump is electric – something we intend to rectify soon. I am filling up lots of gallon jugs tonight. I usually try to keep twenty or so on hand…and if it snows all the better. We can wash dishes, clothes, and so on in snow melt. At worst, I will be typing this on Steve’s laptop – on battery power – and sending it by analog landline before reading a book by candle light, eating a stove top meal of canned stuff, and then sleeping in a bedroll near the fire. We’ll stay better off than many. Last time we ended up hosting our  neighbors because they had no ideas and no tools for coping. Hopefully they learned something from that adventure and will be better off this time. 

And at the very worst, I go out into the woods and shoot a deer and find some edible lichen…but that seems unlikely. The worst I expect to face this go round -knocking on wood – is some dangerous driving, mostly caused by my fellow NC driver, all of whom seem to mistake their SUVs for tanks. People here seem to go absolutely crazy here at the sight of a single flake.

And perhaps a shortage of bread and milk – which I neither eat nor drink but which some people seem to feel are absolute essentials during a storm. No idea why.

But perhaps this would be a good time and place to post some basics for the modern dweller. So I am adding a new page link from the home page here call “There’s a storm coming. I need…” Check it out for a quick list of useful things that will help you survive the storm.

Okay, so a few of your screws are REALLY loose…

"Upscale" private room

Like the shades? They belong to an RN named David. It was the only way I would consent to be photographed.  

Okay, an example of involuntary travel here. For whatever reason you have just found yourself in either a mental health wing/floor at a hospital or have your own room at your local Sunnyvale Asylum. I’ve done this one a few times; and the rules are a little different for the two and also depend on whether you are there of your own free-ish will, i.e. sane enough to ask someone to take you to one, or rather arrived there in the back of a police car with or without handcuffs.

In the worst case scenario, you have either just tried to off yourself or have gone batshit in a public place but in such away you did not hurt anyone else. (If someone else is hurt, the process is different and usually includes a cell.) Next you were processed at your local ER and it was decided that you were going to live. Step two of the process is an either/or. You will be 

a) escorted to a tighter security mental health wing of the hospital where you will be very throughly searched outside and in and then watched for 72 hours. And I do mean watched. You will not sleep, eat, or pee alone. You will be dressed in either a hospital robe or in sweat shorts and a cotton one piece shirt so that you will not be able to conceal anything or hang yourself. All of your personal effects will be taken from you…and you will be entirely reliant on staff for care. After that there will be a communal evaluation by your physicians to decide whether or not you need longer term care. During that watch period you will not be allowed to communicate at all with the outside world. Or they with you. 

b) taken directly to a long term care facility where you will be watched for seven days with all of the above occurring again but in less pleasant surroundings. 

In either place, there will be medications, dietary restrictions, restricted visitation rights (if any), and almost no civil rights until your doctors adjudge you sane enough not to hurt yourself or others. Restraints -physical and chemical – can also play a role. As can electroshock therapy. 

My best advice to involuntaries? Co-operate. Do what you are told when you are told and do not play games with your keepers. Believe me they have seen it all. And they can hold you as long as they choose. And stay away from the other patients as much as you can. They might be crazier than you are. Nonetheless try not to be offensive to them either, it is a good idea to cultivate a polite aloofness here.

If you are a voluntary committal, then almost all of the above still happens but you have more rights. You can contact people in the outside world and you can have more regular visitors. You may be allowed to keep some of your possessions, and will certainly be allowed to keep your own clothes within reason. Dangerous items will still be taken away from you, however, and you will have to go through the watch period. You have more say in the course of treatment and in your daily schedule. You can discharge yourself from care at almost any time. I still recommend being courteous to employees and to your medical aid workers. They can always decide that you might need to have your status change to “involuntary” if you make their lives too hard or dangerous. 

I will write more and more in depth on this topic later but those are the very basics…there are obviously more things to cover, like the difference in private and public facilities and the levels of care, how much this is going to cost you ( mentally, physically, and financially), and what to expect in system. I’ll cover all that later when I am not so tired.

My current bed – or the indoor applications of cardboard

just need a pinch of my native soil...

I recently found myself needing to sleep somewhere other than home…and a friend was kind enough to let me stay with her. The friend in question, however, lives in a combination dung heap and construction zone. (Although not as much a construction zone as another friend of mine’s!) We are talking a place where cockroaches wait at table in little Victorian suits and cap an apron. This is where the cardboard comes
in…this large box, lined with paper protected me from dog doo, and dirt, and other carpet filth and also allowed me the illusion that only the ex-Alpiner’s among the insect population would come calling. It’s bottom and sides also protected me from the constant floor level draft and the coldness of the  floor itself. A large blanket served as bottom sheet, top sheet, and pillow…and it was really quite comfortable.