Saturday, 26 July 2014

The Oh Shit Kit: don't leave home without it

I don't know know I got by before I had an Oh Shit Kit.  It's saved my hide more times than I can count, and comes with me almost everywhere. I think everybody needs one.  They're especially handy if you have sensory issues, or pain issues, or anything that might flare up and cause trouble while you're at large.

It's not a thing you buy over the counter.  There are no rules about how big or small it is or what it contains.  It's a pack you put together yourself, containing whatever you're likely to need to deal with whatever you're likely to face while you're out.  It might live in your handbag or backpack or the boot of your car, but it doesn't live in the bathroom or under the kitchen sink - it's no use if you leave it at home. If you're of the handbag-using persuasion you probably already carry an assortment of tissues, band-aids and other handy items around with you.  This takes that idea a step further and makes sure everything you'll need is in one place, where you can find it when you need it.

It's also about making a conscious point of thinking about what you need and having it with you.  Maybe that level of organisation comes naturally to some people, but my wobbly executive function issues means it certainly doesn't for me.  That's how I deal with most of my executive function issues - having an explicit system for it is the only way it's going to get done.  Making a point of filling up the kit every month or so to replace anything you've used also avoids that terrible moment when you have a splitting headache and realise that packet of panadol you've been carrying around for the last six weeks is empty.

Here's my kit:

It contains:
  • Band-aids
  • Earplugs
  • Tissues
  • Soap, in a wrapper so it doesn't crud up everything it touches
  • Scented lip gloss, to sniff or smear under my nose when smells are getting to me
  • Panadol
  • Pills for indigestion, motion sickness, and muscle pain

Everything but the tissues and soap fits in the red tin, which was a present from a friend who appreciates my fascination with the story behind the "keep calm and carry on" poster. 

Yours might be entirely different.  It'll be dictated by what you need, and limited only by your imagination and the amount of space you have to work with.  Other stuff that might be handy:
  • Spare tampons or pads
  • Sunglasses, for dealing with visual overwhelm
  • Stim toys
  • Paper and pen, if verbal communication can be difficult at times
  • Autism alert card or the like
  • Epi-pen
  • A bandage
  • Snacks
  • Water 

With the best planning and preparation in the world, sometimes things just go wrong.  We get hurt.  We get sick.  Timetables fall apart.  Things and places that have never caused sensory trouble suddenly do.  There's no getting around that short of never leaving the house again, which would be a pretty crap way to live.  But a little kit like this can at least make the inevitable minor catastrophes a little more manageable.

Don't leave home without it.