A Doctor's View of TEOTWAWKI

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Dear Mr. Rawles,

I am a physician
in Iowa and have read SurvivalBlog and many books related to survival
including yours. In general there are many good thoughts and insights
in the Blog. History predicts the future and some facts of history
seem to have been overlooked by many survivalists. Many predict
that in a long term situation, those left would be in an 1880s situation.

In Iowa, most
counties had a peak population in the 1880 census. Most counties
in Iowa have lost population every census since then (1940 was generally
flat) this means that the land could support more people if individuals
and society were prepared. Furthermore, if society were to collapse
there would be trillions of calories of food in dent corn, soybeans
and livestock which farmers would gladly exchange for anything useful.
This would help bridge the gap in food production. This situation
is common throughout the midwest. I would argue that west of the
Mississippi is just as good as west of the Missouri River. Iowa
does not have any very large cities and there are limited bridges
over the Mississippi. Note what happened over the Mississippi River
Bridge after Katrina where local law enforcement prevented refugees
from crossing the river.

Many point
out that in the north, if TEOTWAWKI
were to happen in the winter, most would freeze, not starve. This
is probably fairly certain outcome. Economic panics seem to develop
in the Fall, meaning the winter would be a fairly likely time for
an economic collapse to occur. Preparing to heat your house or remote
location without power is fairly easy. This would limit the Golden
Horde
as many would freeze in place and limit the distance traveled
of those that do leave. This would lower the effective population
density of the north.

A study of
the history of medicine came to a conclusion that it was not until
the 1930s in which a person was probably helped more than harmed
by seeing a physician. Antibiotics were the main reason for this.
Other studies indicate that plumbers have saved more people than
physicians by improving sanitation. I am not certain about the second
statement but the point is valid. Sanitation needs to be a prime
concern, mostly with respect to clean water. Prevention of a disease
is better than treating it. Infections could be treated fairly well
with a few antibiotics which have a long shelf life. Most human
to human only infections are viruses and since nearly everyone is
now vaccinated to most of these, and travel would be limited, these
should not be a big problem for many years post TEOTWAWKI.

Most bacteria
are not specific to humans and antibiotics would be worth their
weight in gold. Although any antibiotic would be valuable post TEOTWAWKI,
Doxycycline should be included in any pharmacy. It would be effective
against tick borne infections as well as Brucellosis from infected
meat and milk, chlamydia and malaria. Some of these are bacteria
that are inside the host cells and other antibiotics would not be
helpful and the bodies immune system is not good at fighting them.
I relearned this by an infection that I received while backpacking
for three days. I am normally very careful to check for ticks every
evening after being outside. But while backpacking, this was not
done as I was tired and did not remove all my clothing. After returning
to civilization I noticed a lesion that ultimately turned out after
becoming very ill to be Tularemia (this was in Wyoming). There are
several more common similar diseases Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain
Spotted fever being the most common. As people would be outside
more and personal hygiene would suffer these infections would be
common. These infections become chronic or fatal. Most other infections
would be fought successfully by your immune system, an appropriate
antibiotic would be helpful but often not needed. I do not have
great advice as to how stockpile antibiotics. Physicians would probably
be more comfortable giving these as prescriptions than narcotic
pain killers. I do not know anything about veterinary medications.
Although narcotics may be nice and valuable post TEOTWAWKI, they
are unlikely to be life saving.

One pain killer
that would be very life saving post TEOTWAWKI and has a long shelf
life is aspirin. This should be the first stocked drug. If you have
a heart attack and you take an aspirin you cut the risk of dying
in half. Do not take it if bleeding is an issue so after in injury
it may not be a good option.

If you really
think that narcotics are important, remember that opium, the mother
of all narcotics was and still is made from poppies grown in temperate
climates. I do not know what is legal but you can by poppy seeds
to eat or plant. In case you do not take my advice and buy aspirin
when it is cheap and legal, you can try making it from willow bark.

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the rest of the article

December
17, 2010

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