“You’ve got a classic case of purtussis, commonly known as Whooping Cough.”, my doctor said in a rather matter of fact way. The expression on my face betrayed my surprise. I’d known that the airborne disease had made a resurgence in other parts of the world, including industrialized countries such as Ireland, but I was unaware that it was making a comeback in the U.S.
Yet, it has. The U.S. is expected to have the worst year for Whooping Cough in more than 50 years according to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia.
100 Days of Coughing
My cough of the past six weeks had been rough but manageable with over the counter medication. I didn’t feel well; I haven’t had a lot of energy to get projects around the homestead done. The constant coughing was draining. But it was manageable.
But being a stubborn kind of guy, I had ignored the symptoms and just fought through the constant coughing and the bouts of wheezing and chills/sweating episodes. That’s what we homesteaders do, right? We push through.
Eventually, though, I’d had enough of not feeling well. I finally visited my doctor. He gently scolded me for delaying so long before seeking medical treatment. It wasn’t that he is greedy and wanted my copay. That wasn’t it. He was genuinely concerned that 1) he couldn’t provide could care if I don’t keep him informed, and 2) I could spread it to others.
He prescribed some antibiotics to kill the bacteria causing the infection but cautioned me that I still have weeks of symptoms to go. Weeks of coughing to the point of almost vomiting. Weeks of little energy. Weeks of over the counter medicines to treat the symptoms. (Mucinex has worked very well for me, by the way.)
An Eye-Opener for the Prepper
There is a silver lining to this story, a couple of them in fact. First Laura and all of my kids have already been vaccinated for the disease so they haven’t shown any symptoms as yet. I’m glad! I don’t want them to have to go through this. (Laura and I are skeptical about the benefits of some vaccinations; we research and weigh the risk/benefits of each one. In this case we decided that the pertussis vaccine was worth it for our kids and for her. I still hadn’t gotten the vaccine though.)
Secondly, the disease has revealed yet another situation for which we must prepare. Another scenario that we must take into consideration when we plan for the worst.
As preppers, we buy extra food, extra ammunition, extra medical supplies in preparation for whatever troubling times may happen in the future. We have plans for different scenarios that may happen. We are constantly learning, adding to our coffers, and expanding our homesteading capabilities.
But as this illness has demonstrated, one outbreak can sideline an important member of your family. A prolonged disease, like Whooping Cough, can spread through your ranks. Without effective symptom-treating medication, it’ll incapacitate many of them and it can even be fatal to others.
Even if you have the right medication to treat the disease, one case can drain your stockpile quickly. 100 days of coughing, 100 days of Mucinex per person will zap your medicine cabinet.
So how can you prepare?
- Keep informed. Watch the news and do your own research for illnesses that are making a comeback. Decide whether a vaccination is right for you. Learn what medication will combat the symptoms.
- Deepen your coffers. Keep adding to your supplies of medication. One illness might just wipe out your supply. This is especially true for pain medications and antibiotics. Store what you can and be prepared to make tough decisions about rationing it.
- Plan for less-than-perfect. Many of our plans assume the best case scenario, a pretty healthy family with our current supplies and livestock. Just as with other areas in life, a perfect scenario is probably not the most likely scenario. There will be contingencies to be considered. Illnesses are just one of them.
I’m thankful this illness hit during “normal” times and not during a real emergency.
Have you had experiences with Whooping Cough or another illness?