Emergencies and Medications – Are You Prepared?

ready-emergency-supply-list
Remember medications and medical equipment in emergencies.

Hurricane Matthew has wreaked havoc on the Caribbean and now part of the southeastern US. Millions of people evacuated while millions more ‘weathered out’ the storm in shelters and secure buildings. In all of those scenarios, daily life was drastically altered.

When you take chronic medications, they are a part of your daily routine. When that routine is upset, medications can be missed. Or, in the excitement, they can be taken more than once.

In emergencies, you might forget to grab them as you evacuate. Or, the emergency can take place right as you are taking your last dose. Then what?

Preparing for Emergencies

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a program called Ready. You can find it at www.ready.gov. One of the many valuable resources is a list of items to include in an Emergency Supply Kit. You can get the full list here. The items that I want to emphasize are:

  • Prescription medications – at least 3 days; more depending on the emergency
    • Include inhalers, eye drops, and patches
    • Include the medications you only take when you need them
    • Include any ‘just in case’ medications such as an epinephrine injectable or migraine therapy injectable if one has been prescribed for you
    • Supplies such as syringes for insulin
  • Glasses
    • Take your glasses even if you usually wear contacts
    • Take the supplies for your contacts
    • Take your reading glasses if you just wear those as needed
  • Feminine supplies
  • Urinary incontinence supplies
  • Ambulation devices – such as a cane
  • Sturdy shoes – you might be in a situation where you are not walking on an even surface
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Warm, dry change of clothes and a blanket (in a water proof bag if in wet conditions)
  • Written list of:
    • medications
    • allergies, including what happens if you take that medication or eat that food
    • medical conditions

The available lists provide step-by-step guidance on what and how to prepare for emergencies. There is another good one available through the Centers for Disease Control found here. Note, if you live in an area where natural events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, or wildfires are not uncommon, it will help to pack these emergency kits before the danger season. You will save yourself tremendous time and stress.

Prescription Medications

I have one more important fact about your prescriptions and associated medical supplies to share. When the threat of the emergency is known ahead of time, and you are nearly out of medication, make getting your refills a priority. You will not be alone trying to get more medication. Your pharmacist and their staff will appreciate the advanced notice. You will save yourself a lot of time and frustration waiting in long lines to get medication when you need to be doing so many other things to prepare. In the high-risk seasons, be extra vigilant about dwindling medication supplies.

I do want to share that I hear heroic stories of pharmacists, physicians, nurses, and others assuring their patients have what they need in the worst of circumstances. I am grateful for such dedication!

For more information about emergency preparedness, contact us at www.medsmash.com/contact.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

I have had two songs going through my head this week as I’ve prayed for the people in the path of Hurricane Matthew. One is ‘Eye of the Storm’ by Ryan Stevenson. You can find a link here. The other is a song that is frequently sung by the Maryland State Boychoir, ‘The Storm is Crossing Over’. One of the moms posted this recording.

It’s interesting how often STORMS are found in the Bible. In nature they can be ferocious and devastating. And wow, isn’t the same true of the storms that brew up inside of us?

Remember in Matthew (and in Mark 4) when Jesus was taking a nap in the boat?

Matthew 8:23-27 ESV

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

Do you often feel weak and helpless in these storms? There’s no doubt we will face them. Again, you find reference to them all through the Bible. So, how do we prepare for them, survive them, and move on from them?

2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Besides Hurricane Matthew, one of the ‘storms’ weighing heavy on my mind right now is all of the war, turmoil, and conflict in the world. A dear friend is active duty as of this weekend and will be deployed this week. He has a loving wife and young children. And we all know he is not alone in this situation. I am holding in prayer those deployed, those in all layers of leadership, and those on the ‘other side’ who don’t want to be doing this and are caught in an ugly situation.

Psalm 46:10 ESV

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Nahum 1:7 ESV

The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.

Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Praise be to God, our strength in the storm.

Blessings,

Michelle

Image source: http://www.ready.gov    

 

 

 

 

Vaccines – Important part of your travel plans

Flu vaccine CDC
Ask your doctor or pharmacist about vaccines needed before international travel.

What are your views about vaccines? Are you up-to-date? When was your last check-up appointment with your primary care provider?

What exotic locations are on your bucket list?

There has been a lot of discussion, many articles, and many opinions shared about vaccination.

Vaccines protect you from communicable diseases. Vaccines also protect other people. For each kind of vaccine, there are some people who have medical conditions that prevent them from receiving the vaccine. So, they rely on those around them to not have the disease and spread it to them.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) monitors diseases across the country and the world. Viruses and bacteria can change over time. If these changes make a former vaccine less effective, then guidelines change. So, your vaccine needs change based on these recommendations.

Then there is the issue of travel. Different parts of the world pose risk of various diseases.

I have been updating my understanding of the importance of travel vaccines as I prepare for this medical mission trip to Jamaica. The vaccines recommended for Jamaica are different than those recommended for other areas.

I heard a very sad story recently about two very charitable and successful brothers who traveled to Ghana. One chose to not take precautions for malaria. Once home he acquired a fever and felt poorly.   He saw his doctor who gave him some self care strategies. His condition then declined further. Once it was realized he had malaria, it was too late. So, when you do travel abroad and become ill, immediately tell healthcare providers exactly where you have been. In the US we so rarely see some diseases that we don’t look for them.

I encourage you to travel and explore the world! I also highly encourage you to talk with your doctor and your local pharmacist about any travel vaccines you should obtain prior to your travels. You can learn more about CDC recommendations at this link.

As fall approaches we will talk more about flu, pneumonia, and shingles vaccines in more detail. These are important even if you don’t travel.

For more information about vaccines, please contact us at www.medsmash.com/contact.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Vaccines protect you against disease. And God provides you with protection against evil dark forces. We are reminded again and again of His constant love and protection.

Isaiah 41:10 ESV

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Doesn’t that sweep over you like a big wave of calm? Fear not. God has your back.   God has plans for you. God is with you in each and every circumstance. God is with you no matter where you are or what is happening.

2 Timothy 4:18 ESV

The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

We all make mistakes. We all sin. These promises and assurances of rescue are so comforting.

2 Thessalonians 3:3 ESV

But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.

James 4:7 ESV

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

You have a God who loves you and will protect you.

Blessings,

Michelle

Image source: Centers for Disease Control, Department of Health & Human Services, US Public Health Service

Sunscreen – Necessary protection or just a nuisance?

clipart-sun-opT55BpiB
Protect your skin with sunscreen this summer. Rest in the protection of the Son!

It is that sunburn time of year. Do you wear sunscreen? If you do, do you wear it every day? Do you just wear it when you are going to the beach?

I’ll start by admitting I have made nearly every sun protection mistake, so this blog comes from scientific research, reputable articles, and a little ‘school of hard knocks.’

Sunscreen for Babies

The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend sunscreen for infants under 6 months of age. Their skin functions are still developing. It is best to keep them out of the sun. But, if parts of them must be in the sun, a little bit of SPF 15 sunscreen is better than unprotected skin. Sun blocks are most protective. Look for ingredients of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

Sunscreen for everyone else

Suncreen is important to protect your skin.

Why?

Sunscreen can protect against skin cancer, age spots, and skin damage from the sun. It can also help prevent actinic keratoses, which are not cancer but are big brown spots. It can also protect against rashes and reactions to the sun (photosensitivity) that some people get.

How much? 

For an average size adult in a swimsuit, the proper amount is enough to fill a 1 ounce (30mL) shot glass.

When?

Chemical sunscreen products need to be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure because they need to be absorbed to protect your skin, but products containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide protect right away. Reapply after each dip in the water and at least every 2 hours.

Which kind?

Interestingly, SPF 30 is NOT twice as good as SPF 15. When a proper amount is applied (see above), SPF 15 sunscreen absorbs 93% of UVB radiation. SPF 30 absorbs 97%, and SPF 50 absorbs 98%. Using SPF greater than 50 doesn’t really add any benefit.

So, if you put on the recommended amount and replace as recommended, SPF 15 is enough. If you put on a light layer or don’t repeat as often as you should, use SPF 30 or 50.

What if I have dark skin or already have a tan?

Studies have not found that this protects you. Skin protection is still important not only for sunburn but also for cancer and other skin damage. So, keep on wearing that sunscreen, even after you get tanned.

What else can cause me to burn?

There are several medications that cause you to be more sensitive to the sun. If you take these, your risk of sunburn is much greater. Some of the more common ones are:

  • Tetracycline or doxycycline (antibiotic – used for acne and Lyme’s disease and other infections)
  • Hydrochlorothiazide or furosemide (diuretic/water pill)
  • Sulfa antibiotics (SMX/TMZ, Bactrim, Septra)
  • Fluoroquinolone antibiotics (Cipro, Levaquin, and others)
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – (piroxicam, ketoprofen, maybe ibuprofen or naproxen)
  • Phenothiazines – antipsychotic agents

Check with your pharmacist or look on the written information that comes with your prescription for the word ‘photosensitivity’ in the side effects.

Besides using sunscreen, keeping your skin covered with clothes, hats, or umbrellas can provide protection.

If you have a history of prolonged sun exposure, you have new brown or other colored spots on your skin, or you have spots that are changing, make an appointment with a dermatologist. Skin cancer screening is quick and can save your life. Don’t delay or wait to see with these skin changes.

For more information about sunscreen contact us at www.medsmash.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

The sun is such a critical part of our existence. Yes it can harm us.

The Son is such a critical part of our existence. He can protect us.

What does that protection mean? Will you be without any trouble? If God is on your side, will no one be against you?

No, it doesn’t work like that. We are assured that trouble will come. We are assured we will be tempted,

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 TLB)

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken. We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going.

Knowing who is on our side and protecting us helps us through the trouble.

Psalm 121: 5-8 MSG

God’s your Guardian,

    right at your side to protect you—

Shielding you from sunstroke,

    sheltering you from moonstroke.

 

God guards you from every evil,

    he guards your very life.

He guards you when you leave and when you return,

    he guards you now, he guards you always.

So go on out into the sun relying on the protection of the Son in your life. Go where He leads with the assurance of His love and oversight.

Proverbs 3:5-6 MSG

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;

    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.

Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;

    he’s the one who will keep you on track.

 

Enjoy these sunny days with confidence!

Blessings,

Michelle

Flu – Not to be Taken Lightly – It’s NOT too late

Flu vaccine CDC
Flu vaccine – it is not too late!

People are dying from the flu! Now, this week!

Do you get an annual flu vaccine?

If yes, does that mean you will not get the flu?

If you do not get a flu vaccine, why not?

Let’s review some common responses to these questions…and the truth based on evidence.

There are several varieties of flu vaccine available. A lot of research in recent years is responsible. Remember within the last 10 years when there was a shortage? Not everyone could even get the vaccine. Then, in 2009, a new strain called H1N1, or ‘swine flu’ emerged making many people very sick. Since all of that, these new options protect against H1N1. They cover more specific strains expected to be active this year. Some are now safe for people with egg allergies. Some are specific for people over age 65.

When you get the vaccine, it is NOT LIVE VIRUS that is injected. It is virus that has been grown then ‘killed’ before injection. Most are placed, via needle, in your upper arm muscle just below your shoulder (deltoid muscle). The injected substance then prompts your immune system to develop antibodies to the virus. Antibodies are the parts of your immune system that fight infections. The antibodies will be specific to the strains of virus in the vaccine.

Some flu vaccines cover three strains of flu while others cover four. The strains selected for the vaccine are the most dangerous. There are other milder strains of the flu not covered by the vaccine. So, you can still get the flu, but not the most deadly types.

The type of flu vaccine that is specific for people over age 65 is a bit stronger. In our 60’s and beyond our immune system often isn’t quite as active. So, the stronger vaccine will provide better protection.

There is also a live version of the flu strains that is given in the nose. This is an option for people who really, really hate needles. Note, people with cancer, compromised immune systems, and some other conditions cannot receive the live version. Please check with your doctor or person providing immunizations.

Who should NOT get the flu vaccine?

There are very few people in this category. For people with egg allergies, there is now a type of flu vaccine that does not contain egg. If you had a severe allergic reaction to a flu vaccine in the past, be sure to talk with your doctor before deciding whether to get one. With several varieties of vaccine available, there might be a version that does not contain the substance to which you are allergic. If you have or have had Guillain-Barre Syndrome, talk with your doctor. There is not currently a vaccine approved for children under 6 months of age. Otherwise, you should be seeking your flu vaccine!

The people who are DYING from the flu usually get the flu then get pneumonia while they are sick. Flu deaths tend to occur most often later in the flu season (so now!). Those who die are usually over age 75 or they have other medical conditions involved. Then there are those who no one would have expected.

Don’t let the flu catch you by surprise. It is NOT TOO LATE to get your flu vaccine!

For more information about flu vaccines, contact us at www.medsmash.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Flu vaccines can protect our physical health. What protects our spiritual health?

The armor of God is the first thing that comes to my mind.

Ephesians 6:10-18 ESV

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.

And all through the Psalms you will find cries for protection and rejoicing for the protection offered!

Psalm 5:11 CEV

“Let all who run to you for protection always sing joyful songs.

Provide shelter for those who truly love you and let them rejoice.”

Psalm 34:8 CEV

“Discover for yourself that the LORD is kind.

Come to him for protection, and you will be glad.”

Psalm 118:8 CEV

“It is better to trust the LORD for protection than to trust anyone else,”

I feel so assured when I read these verses! These are good ones to memorize or carry in your wallet for reference at frightening times.

Blessings,

Michelle

Image source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Skin – Is It Just for Beauty?

SkinHere in this season of thankfulness and celebration, I offer you a part of yourself worthy of thanks and great care.

Did you know…

  • your skin is the largest organ of your body
  • your skin is your primary defense against infection
  • millions of bacteria live on your skin – and it’s a good thing
  • your skin sheds 50,000 cells every minute
  • you get a new layer of skin about every 28 days
  • your skin weighs about 9 pounds (for the average adult)
  • your skin covers about 21 square feet (for the average adult)
  • your skin plays a big role in regulating your body temperature
  • the melanin in your skin is responsible for its color

As our chief protector, our skin deserves some respect, care, and attention.

Burns

In this season of celebration, there is often a lot of cooking. For me anyway, that means an increased likelihood I’ll burn myself. If the same is true for you, here are some facts about treating your burns.

  • First, if a burn is larger than 2 inches, on a very tender area, or caused by a fire, electricity, or chemicals, go get it checked out by your doctor or the emergency room.
  • Cool the burn with cool (not cold) water.
  • For a minor burn, wash it with mild soap and water then cover with aloe vera or petroleum jelly (not butter, egg, cortisone, lotion, or oil).
  • Do NOT break blisters.
  • You can cover with nonstick gauze to help protect the burn.
  • If your doctor has approved you taking over-the-counter pain medicine like acetaminophen (brand Tylenol), ibuprofen (brand Motrin), or naproxen (brand Aleve), this can help control the pain. NOTE, avoid aspirin in children under 2 or people recovering from chickenpox or flu.
  • Do not scratch the burn as it heals (it will be itchy).
  • Consider a tetanus shot if you have not had a booster within the last 10 years.

Dry Skin

This is also the season where we often spend more time indoors with the heat on (if you’re in a more northern climate). This plus the blustery, drier air outside, can make your skin more dry. When your skin gets too dry, it can crack and lose its ability to protect you. Here are some tips to help you keep your skin moist:

  • Limit your bath/shower to 10 minutes and avoid very hot water.
  • Blot your skin dry gently after cleansing.
    • Apply an ointment or cream after cleaning. Note, these will moisturize better than a lotion, and you don’t have to buy the expensive products. I recommend the generic or store brand that’s on sale.
  • Choose ointments and creams without fragrance. Fragrances and other additives can further irritate skin.
  • Wear lip balm.
  • Protect your skin when outside with gloves, scarves, and hats.
  • As good as it feels, sitting in front of the fire or heater can further dry your skin.

Skin Cancer

1:5 Americans will have skin cancer in their lifetime. Be sure to show any changes in moles, spots, or other skin markings to your doctor. Use of sunscreen, even on cloudy days, helps protect your skin from harmful UV rays. The earlier a skin cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat, typically.

So, enjoy the beauty and festivity of this holiday season, and keep your chief protector, your skin, moist and healthy.

For more information about skin protection, contact us at www.medsmash.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Are you afraid? Do you feel exposed and at risk?

I know several people who are dwelling on the events in the news. It seems there is so much bad news. There is so much killing and strife. Wars are being waged in new, frightening ways. People are living in fear of one another on the basis of superficial labels of race, religion, or skin color rather than the person inside the skin.

Protection from fear and evil is on many minds and being spoken about at many dinner tables.

I often read (and try to memorize) Psalm 121 at times like these. It begins with:

Psalm 121:1-8 ESV

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.

I encourage you to listen to ‘Praise you in this storm’ by Casting Crowns. It incorporates this Psalm into a beautiful message of hope in God. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjZBZv_771o

There is hope at all times, even these times of turmoil. Jesus gives us the spoiler alert about how all things will ultimately resolve in Him.

John 16:33 NIV

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Consider how you can reach out to other hurting people and spread the light and love of Christ.

Blessings,

Michelle

Image source:  MedlinePlus; National Library of Medicine; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Flu Shots – Do I REALLY need one?

Most of us grew up Flu vaccine CDCbefore influenza (flu) shots were recommended for nearly everyone. We lived a lot of years just fine without them. Sure, we got sick for about a week sometimes, but we lived through it and got right back on track with our daily lives.

So why make such a big deal now about flu shots?

We are in the last week or so before flu cases start presenting here in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “Flu causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths every season.”

In 2013-14 less than half of eligible people in the country obtained a flu vaccine. For those who were vaccinated, there were 7.2 million fewer people sick with the flu, 3.1 million fewer doctor/clinic visits for flu, and over 90,000 fewer hospitalizations. In particular, there were 55% fewer hospitalizations in people over age 65.

This year (2015-16) the strains of flu covered in the vaccine are even better matched to the dangerous strains expected to cause illness this year. So, this year’s effectiveness will be better than 2014-15.

There are some common beliefs about flu vaccines that are NOT TRUE. Two key myths are:

  • The flu vaccine will make me get the flu
  • The flu vaccine causes problems like autism

The TRUTH is:

  • The flu vaccine is not a live form of the flu virus. It is a killed version that will stimulate your immune system to build resistance against the flu.
  • Many studies have been done that consistently show vaccines are not the cause of the rising number of children with autism. (Unfortunately the real cause(s) have not been found).

You have some options when getting your flu vaccine.

  • Regular vaccine in to your upper arm muscle.
  • High dose vaccine in to your upper arm muscle (approved for people at or over age 65).

Note, there is a live attenuated nasal vaccine. This is for people ages 2-49. There are several reasons why people may not be able to take the nasal vaccine, however, so please talk with us at Meds MASH and/or talk with your doctor about whether this option is good for you.

Be sure to let your doctor and whoever gives your vaccine if you are allergic to EGGS. Note, this is not a reason to avoid vaccination. There is a vaccine you can get. You will be watched more closely for a few minutes after your vaccine.

For more information about flu vaccines, please contact us at www.medsmash.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

The flu vaccine can protect us against a week of feeling miserable (and maybe even more dangerous illness).

What protects us from the other miseries of the world?

The Psalms contain many promises about God’s protection for his people.

Psalm 34:7 ESV

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Psalm 17:8 ESV

Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings,

Psalm 18:2 ESV

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,

    my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,

    my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Psalm 46:1 ESV

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Psalm 125:2 ESV

As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore.

My Refuge and My Fortress Psalm 91  – check out this Psalm

You are not alone! Your deliverer and protector loves you dearly.

Blessings,

Michelle

Photo credit: Public Health Image Library cdc.gov