Wednesday, March 30, 2011

#51 - On the Farm with Addison's

Having a rare disease that might require emergency life-saving treatment is not so scary when you are surrounded by people who understand the procedures for urgent response to help you through an Addisonian Crisis. But, being in the middle of "no where" and much farther away from the possibility of a fast response requires you to carefully put in a plan of action to protect yourself.

I decided to write about all of this because it is exactly what an Addison's/Adrenal Insufficiency patient should consider when tackling changes such as moving to a farm. Contemplating worst case scenarios can truly help you prepare to avoid the worst. Considering all angles will save you precious brain power when an emergency strikes. Developing a plan of action will hopefully result in less surprises and better coping skills because of rehearsed preparedness.

Cleaning & trimming hooves.
All of this is heavy on my mind right now, especially after we visited a friend's farm this past weekend. She has a goat dairy farm with a lot of chickens. Other items she makes include heavenly goat milk lotion, goat milk soap and goat cheeses. I found the entire farm concept to be very interesting. In fact, I even got an opportunity to milk a goat and found it much easier than I expected.
Look at those smiles!!!!
Frankly, I've never been around goats, beyond a petting zoo experience or at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, so this was new territory for me. As I walked around the field with goats of every size all over the place, I was keenly aware of dangers that might be a nuisance to a "normal" person, but life-threatening to a person with Addison's. The possibility of injury is increased on a farm, unless you have safe practices and a sharp eye and mindset that can stay ahead of any potential problems so they can be avoided.

My current suburb home is within two minutes from a paramedic response team, but our own farmland would be much farther away from any emergency teams. With almost ten acres of land that has major hills, bluffs, a creek and a large 15 acre lake at the back, it would take detailed instruction for a paramedic team to find me quickly. Every time I am on our land, I am aware of this reality. In fact, we cannot even change cell phone carriers because AT&T is the only one who has reception on our land, other cell companies still require us to travel a mile down the road to the closest highway. Our land, located off of a two lane Farm Road is not a priority zone for most carriers, at least not yet. So, I stay with AT&T because the phone is a possible life-line.

The goat cracks me up as she cuddles up inside the metal bucket.

As I walked around the friend's farm this weekend, I could see that I would need to keep emergency medications within access at all times, along with a cell phone. I could envision a call to 911, "You'll find me off the Farm Road, second entrance to our land marked by trellis, take that private road onto the land as far as it will go and I'll be about one acre more beyond the stopping point of the private road in the largest barn." Well, that would be an "easy" version. It makes me realize the importance of having landmarks easily visible for emergency personnel to follow as a guide. I will be working on this angle over the coming year.

With good planning, I intend to maintain control over my own health when an Addisonian Crisis hits and this means keeping emergency meds on me at all times while roving around on the farm. Yes, this is a pain in the rear, but necessary.

As we make our move to live on the land full-time, a process that will take a couple of years, I hope to have a MacDaddy golf-cart so that I can easily access all parts of the land, and I plan on keeping the cart nearby and stocked with an emergency kit to include my emergency injection kit. I certainly don't want to attach a fanny-pack to me all day nor do I want to carry around a back-pack, that is not practical, not when you are with animals who want to nip at anything attached to your clothing.

My husband taking notes about medicines for his goat herd's health.
Before moving to the farm on a full-time basis, I would also visit the local EMS team and provide them with information about my condition and I would inform the local police so they can also have it on file. The great thing about small towns is that you are more likely to be remembered. Instead of 50 families living on my size land, it's just us. The neighbors are spread far apart by a great deal of acreage, so it is easier to know who lives where and to know who is doing what. That's simply how it works. But, since things are more spread apart, it is more critical to get to know your neighbors and your local police, fire-fighters and EMS workers. Safety networking is a smart idea for anyone living in the country.

Part of a friend's small goat farm.

But, I do my best to not let Addison's interfere with my lifestyle. It pushes me and I push right back. Besides, my husband is a livestock man; he finds our land to be his most peaceful and beautiful asset. Together, we look forward to this next exciting phase in our lives and to years of joy as we build our farm. It will take considerable time, but every moment counts.

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