Friday, September 21, 2012

Playing Doctor

The sea is an incredibly healthy environment, seemingly free from allergens, viruses, bacteria and germs.  Scott and I suffered from not even a single sniffle once we shoved off from Chicago in 2010.  It wasn't until we came back for this extended visit that I was plagued with a severe head cold right off the plane and allergies I never knew I had surfaced once summer reached full-bloom.  Turns out, the fresh "sea air" really is good for you.

That said, the sea can also be a very scary environment if and when you do get sick or hurt offshore.  Medical facilities may be days or weeks away, and when you do reach care, it can sometimes be less than ideal*.  Not to mention, living on a boat is a fairly "extreme" way to live and there are all sorts of horrible calamities that can occur; from burns, cuts, and severed fingers, to broken bones, lacerations and hypothermia.  Before Scott and I left in 2010 on Rasmus, we were gifted the Marine 3000 Offshore Medical Kit.  It is literally chalk FULL of great medical applications and can treat everything from burns to fractures.  We have yet to open it (thank God) but it gives us peace of mind to know that we have something to turn to if we need it.

Now that we have a baby, our health (and hers!) has taken priority so this time around I decided to go a step further and stock up on some antibiotics.  We visited our pediatrician, told him our plans and were prescribed the following for Isla:
  1. Epi Pen Junior:  Because Isla is so young and hasn't started on solid foods yet, we don't know if she has any allergies.  The epi-pen can be a lifesaver if we discover suddenly that she suffers from anaphylaxis due to a severe food allergy or insect bite/sting.
  2. Azithromycin:  This is a general antibiotic that would be able to treat most ailments that might affect Isla, the most common being ear infections. 
  3. Orapred Dissolving Tablets: Orapred is a steroid that is used to treat skin, respiratory and allergic inflammations (among other things).
Furthermore, I went and got a physical and was prescribed the following antibiotics for Scott and me:
  1. Epi Pen: Despite the fact that Scott and I do not suffer any severe allergies we think this is a good thing to have on board for guests or "just in case".  We have a pack of two.
  2. Ciproflaxin:  This is the quintessential "traveler's antibiotic".  "Cipro" is used to treat many infections from abdominal to respiratory, the most famous treatment being for "traveler's diarrhea".  We have enough for three to four courses of this.
  3. Amoxocillin: Another great all-around antibiotic used to treat everything from strep to salmonella. We have enough for three to four courses of this.
Scott and I are not big into taking drugs, and we'll probably never need any of the above but it is nice to know we will have them on hand in case we or anyone else we know need treatment.  Of course we will consult with a doctor before taking anything. 

In addition to the one provided in our medical kit, we also plan to have an offshore medical book on board for reference.  We have ordered Advanced First Aid Afloat for our marine library.

While we don't ever want to play doctor, it's nice to know we can if we have to.  How do you handle first aid aboard?

Brittany, Scott & Isla

*But not always!  Tropical places are ideal for treating tropical diseases and oftentimes the care is much, MUCH cheaper in the islands and abroad than it would be here in the US.  When I lived in Africa and came down with dysentary, I was hospitalized for two days and given treatment.  The entire ordeal cost less than $200 out of pocket at the time. 


Anonymous said...

My husband is a physician & those are the same meds we bring with us. We also have anti-emetics (for nausea/vomiting)like phenergan & zofran. He also put together a suture kit...which we used more than once for other cruisers.
Good job guys! :)

Freedom-Kewl Change said...

How easily did your doctor agree to prescribe the meds?

Windtraveler said...

@SFLV - good to know we're on the right track!!
@Freedom - easy, we just told them what we are doing and they said no problem. My doctor is used to it - he's prescribed me travel meds since I was 18! I suppose if we would have asked for painkillers or something more "addictive" they might have been more cautious...

Dan K said...

Just be aware that an epiPen is a stop-gap measure and that real medical treatment is generally necessary for severe allergic reactions. It buys you a little time, but if the epinephrine wears off before you get them help it really won't do much. IT IS NOT A FIX FOR ANAPHALAXIS.

Windtraveler said...

@Dan K - yes, we are aware of that but thank you for the reminder because this is very important to know. If we were ever to use it we'd be well on our way for professional medical help!

Last Paradise said...

Good call on the Epi pen... We never carried one before but now that we are having to deal with all kinds of allergies (many still unknown, broccoli? Geez... Kids dream come true...) I have it near Lily at all times. My dad prescribed our meds for us and we had a well stocked cabinet. Cipro came in handy as well as the amoxicillin when Jeff managed to cut his foot picking a coconut and then got a strep infection from the warm pacific water (thank goodness it didn't progress into staph, could've been really bad). Playing doctor is no fun, but good to know the basics just in case.

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