About two months ago, I sliced my leg open with a beer bottle. I work in a bar, so that was extraordinary in itself, but the depth was. Bone wasn’t visible, but everything else was. Luckily, it didn’t bleed too badly. My coworkers insisted that I needed stitches, but I just butterflied the bitch. Maybe I should’ve gone to the hospital, seeing as it took over a month to heal, and I’ve got a nasty scar out of it. Still, four weeks and no infection later, I recognize that I scraped by on the bare minimum. But, sometimes, that’s all that’s going to be available to you.
I had the luxury of being able to go to the hospital if my pride would’ve just let me. But that’s not always a reality. Whether because you are too far away from medical personnel or because there are none available, you’ve got to be prepared to deal with your own medical emergencies. Now there are some things that just aren’t possible (performing your own open-heart surgery, for example), but you’d be surprised what you’re capable of doing yourself if necessary. Below are some tips with dealing with three medical emergencies by yourself.
Mandatory disclaimer: I am not a medically trained professional. This guide is for informational purposes only, based on my experiences and best research. This knowledge is only to be referred to as a last resort- if you do have access to a medical professional that should be your first go-to, no matter what complex you have about receiving help. For the purposes of this guide, you are days or more away from real medical help.
Alright, so there’s a couple things you need to take into account when dealing with your own gash. First, access how badly it’s bleeding. If you’re lucky, like I was, then it won’t bleed too much. That means you’ll be able to clearly see the wound for what it is. For now, let’s assume that’s the case. Access the nature of the cut.
- Is it jagged? You may have to trim the edges, but only what is completely necessary. My cut was completely straight, luckily, so all I had to do was pull the two edges together.
- Is there debris lodged within it? If you close the wound and leave bacteria in there to fester, you could develop an infection. Since you don’t have access to a hospital, make sure you clean the wound every day until it closes.
- Is it over a joint? This will make stitches a lot harder, since the sides of the wound will constantly pulled apart.
- Is it the result of an animal bite? If the answer is yes, you may not want to stitch it. Doing so will only result in a higher chance of infection, as you’ll be trapping the bacteria inside the wound.
First, see if you can stop the bleeding with tape. That’s your main goal here, so if it can be accomplished with pressure and some tape, you should stick with that. If that’s not the case, you may have to stitch yourself up.
Clean the wound and sterilize your equipment. You’ll need a needle and something to thread. Dental floss or fishing line is stronger than thread, but you’ll have to make do with what you got. You probably don’t have a curved needle, but the smaller the better. If possible, make each stitch independent from the next, so that if one comes undone, you won’t have to start all over. You won’t want to repeat the experience. Then, make sure to cover the wound to prevent infection.
On the other hand, if it is bleeding very badly, you might be tempted to apply a tourniquet. However, keep in mind that they aren’t recommended unless it is a life-threatening injury. If you’ve suddenly got a stump where your leg used to be, go for it, but you don’t want to cut off blood flow unless necessary.
I know, this seems a little anticlimactic after talking about stitching yourself up, but tooth pain is some of the most agonizing pain out there. Unfortunately, dealing with dental problems by yourself is very tricky. The angles just aren’t right. But trust me, you’ll be pushed to the point of no return and willing to try anything. If that time ever comes (knock on wood), and you don’t have access to a dentist, try and remember this guide.
If you can, look in your mouth. Try to identify what’s causing you pain. If it’s spread all over, it might be a gum disease. You’ll need to clean your teeth as best as possible and get plenty of rest so your body can defend itself. On the other hand, if you can see a cavity, or if it’s one tooth that’s bothering you, you have a more straightforward solution: pull it out.
This might sound horrifying, and that’s because it is. However, plenty of people have done it due to a lack of dental coverage. While not recommended, it’s definitely an option in a survival situation.
The difficulty will depend highly on which tooth it is. Your front teeth have mostly one root, but your upper molars have three. The more roots, the more difficult it will be. This is especially dangerous, because if the tooth fragments while you’re pulling it, you might leave some root pieces behind, which can lead to an infection later on.
Hopefully, you have some pliers or forceps handy. Grab the affected tooth carefully, making sure that you’re just handling the one, and begin wiggling, first towards the cheek and then towards the tongue. You’ll have to get every root loose. When you’ve done that, the tooth should come out relatively easy.
Of course, the best tactic here is preventative care and preparation. You don’t want to end up holding an ice skate and a rock, wishing you’d taken the time to floss.
It’s not exactly unheard of. Yes, in the United States, less than .25% of births were unassisted, intentionally or not, but in this scenario, you haven’t been planning for this. You or your partner is suddenly having contractions and you are days from the nearest hospital. What do you do?
The good news is that women’s bodies are designed to get this done without help. Just like dogs, giraffes, rabbits, polar bears, and every other mammal, we’ll give birth. Yes, there can be complications, but hospital births are far from perfect. Understand that while you are certainly in a serious situation, it is not necessarily dire. Many women choose to give birth alone or with little aid. If you’ve had a healthy pregnancy, you’ve got every reason to make it out of this alright.
Here are some steps on how to give birth in a car, but the basics will apply no matter where you are. Listen to the mother’s body. Support the baby when it comes out. Don’t wrap the umbilical cord around the baby’s neck. Deliver the placenta. Sometimes things go wrong, but if you don’t have access to a medical professional, there’s nothing you can really do.
These are three scenarios that the everyday person has a chance of dealing with by themselves or with limited help; they’re also common enough to be a persistent concern. It’s always better to be prepared, with materials and knowledge, so even if you can’t find a trained medic, you can handle the situation temporarily. Seconds count when medicine is concerned, so you’ll have to find the courage to act if necessary. Or, maybe you’re unreasonably stubborn like me, and just want to see how far duct tape will take you.
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If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor, go to the emergency department, or call 911 when possible. This content is intended for informational purposes only. See our full disclaimer here.