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Jul 022011

Get A Kit,    Make A Plan, Be Prepared.

I love that the CDC invokes popular culture to get the word out about being prepared for ANY potential problem even a Zombie Apocalypse. This is especially prevalent when you think back on all the recent tornado damage and upcoming hurricane seasons. It is not just the zombies….Nature is out to get us.

But don’t forget the pets! ASPCA Disaster Preparedness

The following comes from the CDC blog post Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse

A Brief History of Zombies
We’ve all seen at least one movie about flesh-eating zombies taking over (my personal favorite is Resident EvilExternal Web Site Icon.), but where do zombies come from and why do they love eating brains so much? The word zombie comes from Haitian and New Orleans voodoo origins. Although its meaning has changed slightly over the years, it refers to a human corpse mysteriously reanimated to serve the undead. Through ancient voodoo and folk-lore traditions, shows like the Walking Dead were born.

In movies, shows, and literature, zombies are often depicted as being created by an infectious virus, which is passed on via bites and contact with bodily fluids. Harvard psychiatrist Steven Schlozman wrote a (fictional) medical paper on the zombies presented in Night of the Living DeadExternal Web Site Icon. and refers to the condition as Ataxic Neurodegenerative Satiety Deficiency Syndrome caused by an infectious agent. The Zombie Survival GuideExternal Web Site Icon. identifies the cause of zombies as a virus called solanum. Other zombie origins shown in films include radiation from a destroyed NASAExternal Web Site Icon. VenusExternal Web Site Icon. probe (as in Night of the Living DeadExternal Web Site Icon.), as well as mutations of existing conditions such as prionsExternal Web Site Icon., mad-cow diseaseExternal Web Site Icon., measlesExternal Web Site Icon. and rabiesExternal Web Site Icon..

The rise of zombies in pop culture has given credence to the idea that a zombie apocalypse could happen. In such a scenario zombies would take over entire countries, roaming city streets eating anything living that got in their way. The proliferation of this idea has led many people to wonder “How do I prepare for a zombie apocalypse?”

Well, we’re here to answer that question for you, and hopefully share a few tips about preparing for real emergencies too!

Disaster or Blackout Emergency Supplies

Better Safe than Sorry

So what do you need to do before zombies…or hurricanes or pandemics for example, actually happen? First of all, you should have an emergency kit in your house. This includes things like water, food, and other supplies to get you through the first couple of days before you can locate a zombie-free refugee camp (or in the event of a natural disaster, it will buy you some time until you are able to make your way to an evacuation shelter or utility lines are restored). Below are a few items you should include in your kit, for a full list visit the CDC Emergency page.

  • Water (1 gallon per person per day)
  • Food (stock up on non-perishable items that you eat regularly)
  • Medications (this includes prescription and non-prescription meds)
  • Tools and Supplies (utility knife, duct tape, battery powered radio, etc.)
  • Sanitation and Hygiene (household bleach, soap, towels, etc.)
  • Clothing and Bedding (a change of clothes for each family member and blankets)
  • Important documents (copies of your driver’s license, passport, and birth certificate to name a few)
  • First Aid supplies (although you’re a goner if a zombie bites you, you can use these supplies to treat basic cuts and lacerations that you might get during a tornado or hurricane)

Once you’ve made your emergency kit, you should sit down with your family and come up with an emergency plan. This includes where you would go and who you would call if zombies started appearing outside your door step. You can also implement this plan if there is a flood, earthquake, or other emergency.

Picture of Family by mailboxFamily members meeting by their mailbox. You should pick two meeting places, one close to your home and farther away

  1. Identify the types of emergencies that are possible in your area. Besides a zombie apocalypse, this may include floods, tornadoes, or earthquakes. If you are unsure contact your local Red Cross chapter for more information.
  2. Pick a meeting place for your family to regroup in case zombies invade your home…or your town evacuates because of a hurricane. Pick one place right outside your home for sudden emergencies and one place outside of your neighborhood in case you are unable to return home right away.
  3. Identify your emergency contacts. Make a list of local contacts like the police, fire department, and your local zombie response team. Also identify an out-of-state contact that you can call during an emergency to let the rest of your family know you are ok.
  4. Plan your evacuation route. When zombies are hungry they won’t stop until they get food (i.e., brains), which means you need to get out of town fast! Plan where you would go and multiple routes you would take ahead of time so that the flesh eaters don’t have a chance! This is also helpful when natural disasters strike and you have to take shelter fast.

Never Fear – CDC is Ready

Get a Kit, Make a Plan, Be PreparedGet a Kit, Make a Plan, Be Prepared

If zombies did start roaming the streets, CDC would conduct an investigation much like any other disease outbreak. CDC would provide technical assistance to cities, states, or international partners dealing with a zombie infestation. This assistance might include consultation, lab testing and analysis, patient management and care, tracking of contacts, and infection control (including isolation and quarantine). It’s likely that an investigation of this scenario would seek to accomplish several goals: determine the cause of the illness, the source of the infection/virus/toxin, learn how it is transmitted and how readily it is spread, how to break the cycle of transmission and thus prevent further cases, and how patients can best be treated. Not only would scientists be working to identify the cause and cure of the zombie outbreak, but CDC and other federal agencies would send medical teams and first responders to help those in affected areas (I will be volunteering the young nameless disease detectives for the field work).

To learn more about what CDC does to prepare for and respond to emergencies of all kinds, visit:

To learn more about how you can prepare for and stay safe during an emergency visit:

May 272010

Of course when they called and told me my blood work was back and everything was okay except I had a high SED rate, I had no idea what that could mean and they did not explain it to me either. Thank goodness for (maybe), where I got an explanation even if it wasn’t exactly promising.


Sedimentation Rate

The sedimentation rate (sed rate) blood test measures how quickly red blood cells (erythrocytes) settle in a test tube in one hour. The more red cells that fall to the bottom of the test tube in one hour, the higher the sed rate.

When inflammation is present in the body, certain proteins cause red blood cells to stick together and fall more quickly than normal to the bottom of the tube. These proteins are produced by the liver and the immune system under many abnormal conditions, such as an infection, an autoimmune disease, or cancer.

There are many possible causes of a high sedimentation rate. For this reason, a sed rate is done with other tests to confirm a diagnosis. After a diagnosis has been made, a sed rate can be done to help check on the disease or see how well treatment is working.
Why It Is Done

A sedimentation rate (sed rate) test is done to:

* Find out if inflammation is present.
* Check on the progress of a disease.
* See how well a treatment is working.

High sedimentation rates may be caused by:

And their definition of autoimmune wasn’t very promising either….

Autoimmune disease

The immune system is the body’s defense against foreign substances, such as bacteria or viruses, that may be harmful. An autoimmune disease is an abnormal condition that occurs when a person’s immune system attacks its own tissues as though they were foreign substances.

* Normally, when a foreign substance enters the body, the immune system creates special cells to attack and destroy the foreign substance. These cells include antibodies and white blood cells (lymphocytes).
* In a person with an autoimmune disease, the immune system recognizes some of the person’s own tissues as foreign substances. The body makes antibodies and other cells that attack and destroy these tissues. This process often leads to inflammation and eventually, if it continues, scarring and destruction of the organs that are made up of those tissues.

Why the body attacks its own cells is not known. Autoimmune diseases include lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, and Sjogren’s syndrome. Certain types of diabetes and thyroid disease are related to autoimmune reactions. People who have autoimmune diseases are at an increased risk for infections.

Feb 122010

I was just reading about how about half of the country’s uninsured people actually choose to be uninsured not because they can’t afford it but rather they just don’t feel they need health insurance. Can you believe that? Even if you are young and healthy you still need insurance for the simple fact that you never know what lies ahead for you.

California Tonik Health Insurance was designed to address that very demographic.

Having health insurance was always something that was drilled into me by my parents. I could never have imagined being without it even when I was in my 20s.

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Apr 302009

Target pharmacy has pissed me off. These days that is real easy to do (not that it isn’t pretty easy any old time, just more so now). Target no longer calls their customers — well, customers. They call them guests instead. I think it is to foster a better image, but it doesn’t work. All it does is allow them to ignore the age-old adage that the customer is always right (whoever heard of the guest is always right?) Heck, it even allows them to ignore the customer.

Well in my home the guest is treated with respect and gets pretty much what they want not so at Target especially the pharmacy. I went on Sunday; my only available day, to pick up my prescriptions and the pharmacy was closed for lunch! They can’t even man the pharmacy for the posted hours for their store. For god’s sake take people from other departments but don’t shut down in the middle of the day when people need to get their medications. I could not wait for it to re-open as I had to get to the hospital and it would be closed by the time I got home. I had to wait until my next day off to make a special trip in to Target just to pick up my pills. If I weren’t already boycotting CVS I would take my business there. Maybe I will see how the new Rite-aid does with my next Rx.

I’m just saying if you can’t be open during published hours then maybe you don’t deserve any business?

Jan 052009

I had to go to the hospital for tests (more ultrasounds on my legs because of the accident) the Friday after mom’s funeral. It was hard enough going back into a hospital only days after my mother just died in one, but given the reception (or lack there of) at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Reading it is a wonder I did not snap. My appointment was at 1pm, bad time because most likely everyone takes there lunch from 12 to 1. When I first arrived there was no one in the reception area that I was directed to for patient registration. So I popped out to ask the person at the window I had just passed, but she was now gone. As I was going back into the waiting area a couple was coming in as well. I held the door for them and said something about nobody being here. Just then a lady popped out of an office a started to take the couples info. When I spoke up about being there first she got downright nasty to me saying she saw them come in first (DUH, I held the door for them as I came back in the room). After a little argument with her she finally took me in first.

Yes, I could have waited a few minutes, but as I said it was bothering me even being in the hospital in the first place and her treatment of me become a real issue for me. Why would any hospital have someone with such a horrible disposition working the desk where patients need some kindness and compassion? She had no idea why I was there or what my back-story was yet she treated me like dirt. I could have been there for a very serious test and been extremely worried about my health and the outcome of said test. If that were the case I certainly should have been handled with kid gloves not in the harsh manner that I was. In fact ever person walking into that room should be treated in a kinder, gentler manner than how she addressed me since you never know why they are there in the first place.

Once I was finally registered (by another person thankfully) I was directed to another unmanned waiting area. After my last experience I decided to stay put this time and wait to see if anyone ever bothered to show up. Someone eventually did and took me back for my test.

The lady that gave me my ultrasound that day was so kind and personable that it almost made up for the treatment I received when I first walked in that hospital. While I was back there they called a code blue (you all know what that is) and I got really upset as the memories flooded back to me. I told her that my mother had just passed away to explain my tears. She reached out and touched my leg telling me how sorry she was. I could tell that she was showing genuine compassion for me. She also told me if she were me she would not be having this test done. (But I knew Mom wanted me to find out why my legs are still so bad even a year after the accident, so I went.)

After my test was over I thanked her repeatedly for her kindness and for explaining what she was seeing during the ultrasound (techs won’t usually do that they leave it to the doctors who don’t really tell you anything). I just wanted to make sure she knew how much I had appreciated her that day.

Now St. Joe’s needs to find a few more of her to deal with the patients as they walk through the door and get rid of that grouchy one they have now.

Aug 202008
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May 112008

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