The Mighty Logo

What No One Tells You About Surviving a Natural Disaster With Chronic Illness

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

For those who don’t follow my Facebook page, I live in Texas on the gulf coast and we were just hit by a hurricane. It made landfall hundreds of miles away, but it caused a lot of rain and I do mean a lot. My town was on the national news for receiving the most rain in the shortest amount of time, 50 inches in three days. That’s how much rain we get in an entire year, so as you can imagine, there was significant flooding. Our neighborhood was one of the few that stayed dry (though it got pretty close) so I thought staying up all night three nights in a row was the worst I was going to experience. There are a few things I didn’t think about.

Not Having Access to Medication

I had a doctor appointment scheduled during the flood event, but since the roads were under 12 feet of water I obviously didn’t make it. The office was closed so I was unable to get a prescription called in. I ran out of my most important medication and had no options for getting more. Not only was the doctor’s office closed, there were no pharmacies open either.

This is a huge problem that occurs after a natural disaster that no one talks about. Many people were in worse circumstances than I was. I’m a paranoid person so the minute the water started rising I packed an emergency bag with all my medication in it, but I was lucky because the water rose over several hours. Many of the homes flooded so fast that people were barely able to get out alive, much less with their prescription medication. Now they’re in a shelter going without because there just aren’t enough doctors to keep up with all the medical emergencies.

The Stress Takes a Huge Toll on Your Body

a street flooded after a hurricane

This was our street after the water went down. As I mentioned we had some stressful nights when the water kept rising and rising. The first night we were awake all night because the water got about two-thirds up our driveway (that doesn’t sound that high, but we are built up above the street. It was probably five or six feet of water). There were also multiple tornado warnings so we spent a lot of time huddled in the bathroom. We were on social media at 2:00 a.m. seeing our friends flood in real time. It was awful.

The second night we slept a little bit, but the third night the water came up again. My husband and I slept in shifts so we could keep an eye on the water. It was brutal on my body because I was so stressed I couldn’t relax, not to mention the sleep deprivation. I can’t remember the last time I was in so much pain.

Not Having Access to Medical Supplies

Maybe this is naive of me, but I did not realize that I wouldn’t be getting mail for weeks (as of right now, a week after the storm, there is no date set for when we’ll get mail again). I buy all my medical supplies on Amazon, and now I have no access to them. I ran out of the pads for my TENS device as well as electrodes for my Quell device. For now I’m trying to stretch my last pair of pads far beyond how they should be stretched. If I could do things over again, the minute I heard about a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico I would order all my supplies, whether I needed them or not. Because now I have no medication and my pain devices are useless. Don’t be like me, think ahead.

You Feel Helpless When It Comes Time for Recovery

cleaning up after a hurricane

This is what flood clean-up looks like. Only picture this pile in front of every house on the street. After surviving a 1,000 year flood event without a scratch, I felt guilty. So many people around us lost absolutely everything. I wanted to go out and help, but as always my body wouldn’t let me do as much as I wanted to. I was able to help clean out two flooded houses as well as do laundry for people who were flooded, but I wanted to do more. I wanted to be out there every day helping, but I couldn’t. I hate feeling helpless on any regular day, but this was far from regular. I do not want to sit around while people are struggling, but I have to.

I hope I never have to go through this again and I certainly hope that none of my readers have to experience something like this. In case you do though, keep some of these things in mind. Learn from my mistakes!

This post originally appeared on Chronic Mom.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Citysqwirl.

Originally published: September 6, 2017
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home