How to Prep For SHTF When You Are Not At Your Best
by Linnea Johnson
Most prepping articles assume you are at your best or darn near your best. That you may need to lose an extra few pounds, run a few more miles, or take up the next hand-to-hand combat phase is acknowledged, but with the understanding that you’ll do it.
This article is about those preppers who may have had surgery recently, who may have a chronic condition, who have a child with a disability, and who may feel the prepper-sphere has left them behind.
My personal experience as a prepper when I was not at my best
Last summer, I had knee replacement surgery. I went through 6 months of physical therapy, struggling to get back function in my leg. I still have a limited range of motion and pain, but nothing could have prepared me for the next wrung of the recovery ladder.
In January, I woke up with all my joints and my teeth in pain. “No worries,” I thought, ” I’m coming down with something or trying to fight it off.” Weeks went by, and my joints hurt more and more. When I lay down to sleep, I cried from the pain, which permeated all my joints. In the morning, I cried again from the pain. I could hardly walk, and my hands were so swollen and painful, they were unusable.
Finally, a diagnosis and some relief, although it was not over
I was working from home, and it was becoming impossible to type—a necessary skill when working from home. Finally, I went to urgent care, where they put me on a short course of steroids. The steroids took the edge off, and the tears subsided, but I was back to unbelievable pain when they ran out.
A friend got me in to see her rheumatologist, who wasn’t seeing new patients but would accept me. It would be eight weeks before I could see him. Finally, after an initial visit and lots of blood tests, he diagnosed me with psoriatic arthritis, a lifelong condition that involves lots of pain and difficulty in walking, using hands, and lifting. I started on more steroids and on a treatment plan supposed to take the edge off in 3-6 months.
Sharing, as a prepper, the thoughts and emotions I went through
My initial thoughts conveyed to my family were, “If you need to bug out, leave me behind because I’ll slow you down.” That was a sobering thought.
After coming to that conclusion, I started trying to think of what was going right. First, I was grateful for all I’d done over the years, and especially since the pandemic, to prepare my household for difficulties. We had almost a year’s worth of food put back and many of the preps needed for a grid-down situation.
Still, I worried, so I did what I could
I learned that I could still do research. I could still order groceries from Walmart and have them loaded into the back of my car. I could still order from Amazon, and the retailer would deliver the goods to my house. Trust me when I say that those services have been lifesavers for someone who can’t walk well or even hold a pen to sign a check.
I learned that if I had to fly somewhere, I could order a wheelchair from ticketing to the gate and between flights at no extra charge, except for tips. I learned that if I needed to bug out, I’d need motorized transportation.
Reflecting and identifying became handy tools for me
Given my recent experience, I’d like to suggest these thoughts and reactions in the face of a chronic or acute illness.
- Start with reflecting on what you can do.
- What are things you can still do but may need helper tools to complete? Get those tools. I’ve used scissors or a knife to pry open a can lid with a pull-tab.
- Identify what you can’t do and train others to do it.
- Write down what you know or print out articles and make a binder. Knowledge transfer is essential for a group working together. (This PDF book has a great print out for making your own binder)
- Allow for more time to accomplish the tasks than you’re used to allotting.
- Accept help when necessary.
- Don’t lose hope. Every operation needs brains and brawn. Be the brains.
Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional
People who’ve been through difficulties are more creative in their solutions. They’ve thought through things in more detail than those who have not had to struggle. They can provide step-by-step analyses and solutions.
People who’ve been through hard things are more resilient. People who’ve been through problems are more understanding of other people’s problems—they have bigger hearts and can be more empathetic.
What kinds of difficulties have you had? How have you coped? How have you prepped? Is there anything that makes it tougher for you to prep or would make it harder in an emergency? Let’s talk about it in the comments.
Linnea Johnson has her MA in Curriculum and Instruction and has taught preschool students through adults on topics including music, English as a 2nd language, technology, business, and personal finance. She now works in technical business development with universities. She and her husband homeschooled their two active sons, who went on to careers in mechanical engineering and entrepreneurship. Her greatest joy is spending time with her family, cultivating a little urban farm, and traveling with her husband of 31 years.