Friday, 21 August 2015

08:39 – Barbara returns sometime this afternoon or this evening, which means Colin and I need to get rid of the nekkid women and dead bodies. Fortunately, we get recycling pickup (blue cart) and trash pickup (black cart) today, so I figure we’ll recycle the nekkid women and toss the corpses in the trash. Or vice versa. We got yard waste pickup (green cart) yesterday, but neither Colin nor I was quite ready to get rid of the nekkid women. Or the dead bodies.

Nearly all of my time this week was devoted to working on science kit stuff, but here’s what I did to prep this week:

  • I bought a box of 15 packets of Oral Rehydration Salts, with each packet sufficient to make up a one-liter serving. Actually, we stock the chemicals we’d need to make up hundreds of liters of ORS solution on-the-fly, but I wanted the commercial product to shoot an image for the book. Also, it’s not a bad idea to have these on hand for an emergency, and they’re cheap enough. What’s bizarre is that they have an expiration date two years after the manufacturing date. All the packets contain is anhydrous glucose and some inorganic salts, all of which have real shelf lives measured in centuries or millennia. These won’t go bad any time soon.
  • I continued work on our long-term food storage inventory spreadsheet. Overall, we’re in pretty good shape, although there are a couple areas that need attention.

So, what precisely did you do to prepare this week? Tell me about it in the comments.

11:49 – When I was talking to Kim yesterday, she mentioned that her aunt had just been taken by ambulance to the hospital. I figured she must be pretty old, since Kim’s mother, Mary, is in her mid-80’s. I asked Kim if this was her mother’s sister or her dad’s. Kim said, no, that it was actually her great-aunt, her mother’s aunt. My estimate of the patient’s age went way up.

When I talked to Mary this morning, she said her aunt had a urinary tract infection. UTIs can be very serious, particularly in older women, where they’re often asymptomatic until the infection is well advanced. One of the standard treatments for UTIs in patients who can tolerate sulfa drugs is sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim, AKA SMZ/TMP. Like all sulfas, sulfamethoxazole is a broad-spectrum antibiotic, which is useful for a lot more than UTIs. But bacterial resistance to sulfas is pretty widespread, so they’re often used in combination with TMP or another DHFR inhibitor. The two in combination work synergistically and are more effective in most situations than sulfas used alone.

From a prepping standpoint, a lot of people buy Thomas Labs Bird Sulfa tablets, which contain 400 mg of SMZ and 80 mg of TMP each, or Fish Sulfa Forte, which are twice that amount. The problem is the cost, which is $0.50 per tablet or thereabouts. Here’s one place that sells bottles of 500 SMZ/TMP tablets (800/160 mg) for $115, or less than half the cost per tablet. If you’re storing antibiotics for a large family or group, you might want to grab a bottle and stick it in the freezer.

Note that I am not a doctor. I don’t even play one on TV. Sulfa drugs would not be my first choice of a broad-spectrum antibiotic, not least because severe sulfa allergies are quite common. But SMZ/TMP is effective against a pretty large number of bacterial pathogens, and it’s something I’d want in my toolkit.

I just added a new category that I’ll use when I write about something that I’ve found that’s particularly important or a particularly good deal.