Going to sick call is seen as optional by many troops. I mean, who wants to waste a nice morning run when you can just treat whatever ails you on your own? After all, it worked that one time, so why wouldn't it work again now?
There's a tendency among troops to take it upon themselves to try and fix minor medical problems without bothering the doc and missing out on a super critical 6-mile ruck. You wouldn't want to be accused of malingering, would you?
In the minds of troops, it's often better to roll the dice and hope you can treat yourself — and, as you can imagine, this isn't always the best answer.
The truth is that some of the common "treatments" employed by troops are either not all that helpful or they make matters worse. Here's the best advice we can offer: Don't be an friggin' idiot. Use common sense. If the sickness or injury is bad enough, go see the doc. The only prize for "toughing it out" is a f*cked up body. And by skipping out on a visit to sick call, you miss out on putting your issue on your medical records, which can be a big problem down the road.
The following are the unofficial tools for avoiding sick call — and why you might want to reconsider:
"It ain't called "Grandpa's cough syrup" for nothing! It's like taking Benadryl — only more fun, right? After all, you can't feel sick if you're passed out!"
Ask anyone who's ever tried drinking while sick and they'll probably tell you it's a terrible idea. Being sick dehydrates you — so does drinking. By consuming alcohol, you're flushing the water your body needs to heal itself. In the end, this just prolongs your recovery.
If you don't feel it immediately, you'll sure as hell feel it in the morning...
(U.S. Air Force)
2. Guzzling down water
"If there's one thing that the medic kept getting on your ass about, it was to keep drinking water. The surest way to detect how healthy your body is by comparing your pee to that chart that's hanging in the latrine. It's like a check-engine light for your body."
This is a fantastic idea. Drinking water is a perfectly healthy thing to do. But if you quickly go from consuming barely any water at all to chugging gallons of it, you can actually become overhydrated. Your kidneys can't process that much water and you'll lose it all — along with some other needed stuff, like sodium. If you really want to use the pee chart, know that "pale lemonade yellow" is the healthy medium.
Beware the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide...
(U.S Army photo by Sgt. Leo Jenkins)
3. Ignoring it
"Sometimes, all you need is a good night's rest and you'll be right as rain. If that doesn't work, ignore whatever's going on until things get better. If it still hurts, well, just toughen up and stop complaining."
If it's a cold or a sore muscle, roger — get some rest and carry on. This mentality becomes a problem when whatever's ailing you doesn't show signs of improving. Say you tear some kinda muscle — if your body is given the proper time to heal and you take it easy, it could heal on its own. If you try to shrug it off and continue to push yourself, things are only going to get worse with each passing day.
If it remains a problem, get some help.
At least get a sick call slip. It's an official order from a medical officer that says you can be lazy for a few days.
4. Popping blisters
"It's only natural to poke at something when it hurts. See that blister? Screw waiting around! Pop that sucker with a needle so it can start healing and let's get a move on."
It doesn't take a medical degree to know that popping blisters on your feet is a terrible idea. For starters, blisters are your body's way of repairing itself. Popping blisters only prolongs the healing process and leaves the wound open for infection. And since it's oftentimes on your nasty-ass feet, it's definitely going to get infected.
If you are going to pop the blister, at least use extreme care to keep it clean. Bandage it and use moleskin.
(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Brian A. Barbour)
5. Lots of ibuprofen
"Why bother the corpsmen when you already know what they're going to give you? No matter what you tell them, the solution is always the same: Motrin and a bottle of water. Skip the line and just pick some up at the local grocery store and pop a few. Besides, it's totally funny to watch peoples' reactions as you down three 800mg pills of ibuprofen and wash it down with an energy drink."
Ibuprofen is not a super drug that can cure everything. First of all, it's really only used to treat fevers and soothe pains and inflammations. Secondly, despite what you might think, there' is such a thing as too much ibuprofen — quit popping 800mg pills whenever you start feeling a cramp. Finally, don't be taking the huge-ass ones without food or water unless you feel like ripping your stomach and intestines up.
If you don't want to be literally sh*tting out blood, don't exceed 800mg per 6 hours.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dennis Spain)
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