Chronic Illness and Conventions, Part One: Understanding Your Illness

In my “About Me” post, I briefly mention that I am a cosplayer. I also work at one of my local conventions, Omni Fandom Expo, as their Main Events (or Ballroom) Manager. Basically, I have the job of making sure that anything that happens in Main Events happens when it is supposed to happen as smoothly as possible. I have to think on my feet, and make sure that if it looks like something is going to run late, how can I stop it from starting a chain reaction and delaying the rest of the convention.

It’s a ruddy pain in the fluffy bunny tail, but I love it.

One of the associates at Omni told me that I should write a series of posts directed to people who go to conventions, or want to go to conventions, who struggle with a chronic illness. (❄️Side note: If you are not a convention fan, but you frequent places like Theme Parks, you can definitely apply these posts to that!❄️) So, here is part one!

I actually have many convention-attending friends and acquaintances who are living with chronic illnesses. From autoimmune diseases (which includes, but not limited to, Lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Crohn’s Disease, Alopecia areata, Ulcerative colitis, etc.) to cancers and everything in between. I know I am not the only one with Chronic Migraine. One thing I want to make perfectly clear is that you are not alone. The thing with many of these diseases is that it is rarely obvious that a person is suffering from them upon first glance. I can probably show you photos of me at conventions and you would not have any idea that I was battling a migraine at that moment. Actually, I will!

chitwins

I am in black. Sheesh, this was a long time ago. I am actually really suffering this day. The only reason I remember this is because this is the only time my sister and I wore these costumes together, and I had to drop out of the costume contest due to that migraine! I felt so bad about it!

The struggle is real, my friends. Luckily, it was just my sister and me entering that convention’s costume contest together, and she understands my migraine hangups, so she was reasonable about my need to withdraw from the contest.

Now, this entry in this series is about Understanding Your Illness. Before you go out to have fun in a place that could easily have a couple of thousand other people there, most of them perfect strangers, you need to know your illness backwards, forwards, and upside-down. The last thing you want is to be caught off guard by an attack or flareup. Know your triggers, know the signs that an attack is coming, have a plan.

Anyone who knows me at conventions, I am that cosplayer that always carries a huge bag around.

meandmybag

Imagine me doing a big dramatic point at my canvas bag there. The pink one is my sister’s. Note: It’s more normal-sized!

In the bag in this picture, I have a change of clothes, medications, a bottle of water, snacks, a hat, and necessities (wallet, phone, keys, etc.). When I go to conventions (or a Theme Park like Disney or Universal), I usually carry the same things. Well, not the spare clothes, but you get the idea. About 90% of the time, I will get a migraine while enjoying my day at the parks or a con. However, I am always prepared in that likely occurrence.

This is because I understand Chronic Migraine.

Someone with Fibromyalgia will know what they need in case they have a flare up, for example.

So, if you plan on heading out for a day in the theme parks, or to a convention, make sure you know your disease. If it was a recent diagnosis, read up on it! Facebook is full of support groups (I think I am a member of about fifteen to twenty Chronic Migraine-related groups), who will likely post links to reliable websites for information. Head to Google! I know they say a Google search of your symptoms is a surefire way to convince yourself that you are dying, but if you are looking up a disease that you know you have, you can only learn more. I know that I am not the only blog out there about living with Chronic Migraine, let alone for the scores of other illnesses and conditions! The internet is at your disposal! Use it!!

The better you understand your illness/condition, the more fun you will have. It’s hard to enjoy yourself when you are distracted by the “what if?” factor.

The only limit you have is the one you set, not your illness.

Well, that is it for part one. I know that it short, but it is the introduction! Stay tuned for part two in the future!

If you have any anecdotes about enjoying conventions or similar atmospheres with a Chronic Illness, please share them in the comments! If you want to hear about something specific, send me a message!

πŸ’–Hearts and Sparkles!πŸ’–
~Bunny~

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