Showing posts with label family survival. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family survival. Show all posts

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Suture (stitches) and wound care...

By: Sebastian Berry

As with all my articles...

DISCLAIMER: Instructions and information here is not a substitute for professional medical care and treatment. If you are having an emergency call 911 or your local emergency number for assistance.

I do not claim credit to any of the images used unless specifically indicated. All rights and credits remain with the original owners

My apologies to our faithful readers and staff here at Family Survival Farm. I have been away taking care of some family things that came up, namely my wife having surgery. For me, this is a very timely and appropriate topic.

About four months ago my wife began to complain of elbow pain in her left elbow that ran down her arm. Being who I am I dismissed this as overuse with the baby and told her to take some Tylenol and ibuprofen and learn to switch arms when carrying the baby.

About three weeks ago the missus complained again about her arm hurting more consistently from the left elbow through the left hand and having numbness and tingling in the fingers of the left hand. Again, being who I am, she didn't get a choice about going to go and see the hand surgeon.

Now she and I both have suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome. If you don't know what that is you can find out here. Essentially it is a compressed nerve in the hand/wrist that causes numbness and tingling. A contributing cause to this injury/syndrome is repetitive work, such as manufacturing assembly lines, farming, mechanical, building, and typing. Go figure, I have done all of these, it's no wonder that I had carpal tunnel release surgery completed on both hands in my early thirties.

Back to my wife though, her issue was not simply carpal tunnel syndrome. Her condition was complicated with the addition of cubital tunnel syndrome, which you can read about here. Long story short, similar symptoms in a different spot with relatively the same cause-repetitive use.

From her appointment, to testing, then to surgery was less than a week. From surgery to follow up was almost two weeks to the day. While dear wifey was recovering, I had full control of the house (insert maniacal laugh here). This is where we get into the meat and potatoes of my topic.

My wife, much like every other woman in the known universe, has her quirks and intricacies. One of those is post-surgical recovery. I was faithful at her every request to check her bandages and re-wrap them as they shifted. Elbow bandages do not stay in one place. She was insistent to make sure that her surgical sites were appropriately bandaged and cared for and that they did not "open up".

Typically speaking, sutures (stitches) and staples of almost any flavor stay in for 7-10 days and are then removed. 7-10 days helps to ensure full closure and decreases the chance of dehiscence (opening up). There are some things that we have to do on our end though...
  • clean and dry for the first 24-48 hours
  • avoid use/overuse while sutures are in place
  • application of antibiotic ointment
  • use of steri-strips to reinforce sutures and wound approximation (how it lines up)
  • on time removal of sutures
Generally speaking, clean and dry means exactly that. Depending on the location of your wound and sutures, you may be able to shower with a little extra precaution. You also might not be able to fully bathe for those first 24-48 hours. After the first day or two you should be able to shower and clean normally. The caveat to that though is that you should not soak or submerge the site, i.e washing dishes or sitting in a hot tub. Allowing water from the shower or from washing to run over the site is totally fine and appropriate, just don't scrub the site while washing. When you dry off you'll pat dry, DO NOT RUB AND DO NOT USE A HAIR DRYER. Most suture material is made of nylon and what happens to nylon when heat is applied? Oh yeah, it shrinks. I kid you not, this is something I include in patient teaching in the emergency room.

Imagine for a moment shaving with a dull and dry razor. You would get a lot of tug and pull and it would be very uncomfortable. Imagine putting a dry dressing over your wound site and sutures, same thing happens-lots of tug and pull and being uncomfortable. Obviously if you are in a family survival situation you may just have to put up with being uncomfortable. The dressings that I apply in the emergency room have several parts.
  1. Antibiotic ointment- I always recommend ointment + pain relief. It only costs a little bit more and is worth every penny.
  2. Steri-strips with skin prep adhesive
  3. A non-adherent dressing- This includes telfa (the pad on a band-aid) and adaptic (petroleum gauze)
  4. Dry gauze
  5. Tape or coban
The dressing should stay in place for the first 24-48 hours. Coincidentally this is also the amount of time we ask people to keep their injury clean and dry.

After the first day or two, we can imagine the tasks and chores that have piled up on your family survival farm. In many instances, you'll be able to return to limited work and play. My instruction to my ER patients is rest as needed and activity as tolerated. This is always dictated by the situation, please make sure to follow the direction of your medical provider. Steri-strips should be allowed to fall off on their own as time elapses.

After 7-10 days usually your sutures can come out. I'll tell you that it's not rocket surgery. If you have any hesitation about taking out your own sutures you should see your medical provider. Notice, I'm not giving any instruction on how to take them out yourself. Seek the guidance of your medical provider.

After your sutures come out, are you done? No not really. Now you have an area of skin that requires some extra attention in order to return to its full and healthy state. You probably won't need to continue applying antibiotic ointment. Now you can start to use your normal moisturizers and creams. I always recommend to folks to use something with vitamin E and for folks to use sunscreen on the affected area for six months or more in order to reduce scar prominence. It is very common for wound sites to have dry skin. You can't overdose on plain lotion with vitamin E, use it as often as you like.

Back to my wife. By virtue of having an ER nurse at her beck and call, her wounds healed very well. I'll give some credit where due though, the surgeon did an impeccable job with his suturing technique and provided a very well done closure of the surgical sites on her left hand and left elbow.

Credit: Sebastian Berry

Credit: Sebastian Berry

A special thank you goes out to everyone that helped my little survival family. Many small favors and friendly gestures were received and our hearts were full from the outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and neighbors.

What things do you do for your ouchies? Sutures, tape, glue? Let us know in the comments...

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Fourteen Everyday Household Items That Can Improve Outdoor Survival

By Karen Roguski

There are so many items that you use everyday that can improve outdoor survival, help achieve a missing item in your camping kit, or make it easier to eat outside. More often than not survival items can be just about anything if you take the time to think outside the box a bit.

That being said here are our top fourteen everyday household items to help make life a bit easier, dryer, safer, and all around more functionable.

  • Shower Curtain or Garbage Bag
An everyday shower curtain or garbage bag can have numerous uses. They can be used as a ground tarp, shelter, a means to catch rainfall, or a watertight means of storing items.

A fun outside the box idea can be digging a hole and then use the shower curtain or garbage bag as a liner - instant outdoor bathtub.

  • Watch
Besides simply a means for telling time watches are great makeshift compasses, timers to ensure water safety, or even a blade when taken apart.

  • Can - Aluminum Or Tin
The aluminum or tin can can be the perfect pan in a pinch, fill with kerosene for a lamp or torch, a popcorn popper, a candle holder, a scoop, when strung can become a noisy alarm, poking a  hole in the sides can make a lantern, or they can even used for a campfire cake pan.

  • Ziplock Bags
Some of the many uses for ziploc bags can be found by reading this article.

When thinking outside the box the ziplock bags can be filled with water and then hung from a tree in the sunlight to warm the water. When ready poke small holes in the bottom for a makeshift shower. For a bit more showering privacy use the shower curtain or trash bag from above to shelter your backside from others.

  • Tool Belt or Apron with Pockets
Yet another item that is often overlooked as a means of outdoor use or survival. They can be attached to trees for clean storage, storing items away from critters and animals, or any other hack one can come up with when thinking outside the box.

  • Rope, Bungee Cord or Shoe Laces
Ropes, bungee cords, and shoe laces can have complete books written about there many outdoor and survival uses, For example these can be used for virtually anything from a  tourniquet, a snare, a splint, a clothesline, or even bundling wood.

  • Dental Floss
Dental floss is great for way more than just great oral hygiene. Dental floss is also great for fishing line, a means to hang food bags, patching or sewing holes, for snares, trip wires, cutting food items, and even for clothesline. Dental floss is a must have in every home, kit, or pack.

An outside the box hack that many look is using dental floss to fix pack or backpack straps.  

  • Bandana
The square cloth bandana can easily make life easier or possibly even save your life. For this list we think bright colored bandanas are the best as they are easier for you to be spotted if hurt, lost or otherwise in need of a quick rescue.

Other uses for the bandana also include water straining, face coverage, bandages, splints, a sling, or a means of keeping the head cool and shaded.

  • Nail Polish
Waterproofing matches can be done by using nail polish. Simply paint the match about halfway down the stick for a guaranteed way to light a fire every time.

  • Gallon Jug
The gallon jug is another item with more uses than many possibly consider. Obviously they can be used for water storage. When cut can become a scoop, or even a spoon.

When thinking outside the box one should consider filling the gallon jug with water and freezing it to make the perfect outdoor refrigerator.

Another creative outside the box idea can be to poke numerous small holes in the cap, add water and place in the sun to warm, hang at an angle for a quick shower.

  • Book
The book is great for reading and helping to pass the time. But thinking outside the box a book can also be used in a pinch for toilet paper, or a great fire starter.

  • Coffee Can
Much like the aluminum can, tin can, or gallon jug the coffee can (the kind with a lid) can be utilized in a number of ways such as a toilet paper holder, food strainer, bowl, utensil holder, or even a scoop.

  • Paperclip
The common paperclip cannot be forgotten when it comes to improving outdoor survival and outdoor hacks. They can be used as fishing hooks, as a hook for hanging items, keeping packages closed, a zipper pull, and even a sewing needle.

  • Duct Tape
Duct tape ideas are too numerous to list. I mean seriously what can you not do with duct tape?

As one can obviously notice this is by far nowhere near all of the items around that can be utilized in a number of ways or for alternative means but merely the top fourteen my family have used personally.

We would love for you all to let us know of any everyday items that you use or have used to help with outdoor living or outdoor survival.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Unknown and Uncommon Food Sources: Edible Weeds and Plants

By Karen Roguski

There is absolutely no reason in which one should starve when there are so many free to pick food sources available. The primary problem is that these food sources are often unknown or uncommon to the average individual.

The trick is in learning to distinguish between the unknown and uncommon foods sources by sight. If one is not careful it would be way too easy to eat something that is harmful or even deadly. Below are some helpful tips to consider in your search for edible weeds and plants.

  • Be certain you know exactly what it is you are picking, cooking, or going to consume. If there is any doubt seek professional advice or simply avoid using until you are certain.
  • Never pick anything from an area that might have had herbicides or pesticides used. These chemicals when consumed will have negative or adverse reactions when consumed.
  • Keep at least a twenty-five-foot radius from roadways. Besides the possibility of pesticides or herbicide being sprayed in this location, you also place yourself at risk from vehicle exhaust soil contamination.
  • Research the poisonous plants in your area. This is to prevent contact while searching out the edible weeds and plants.

Highlighted here are the names and images of the most common of the weeds and plants that are edible. One must be certain to do their homework as to what parts are usable, taste good, and great recipes in which they shine.

Wood Sorrel







Lamb’s Quarters


We encourage you to comment on your stories, recipes, adventures, or previous uses of these or any other often unknown or uncommon food source. We look forward to reading each and every one.