Chronic Illness and Conventions, Part Three: Location, Location, Location

Conventions of all genres (fandom-based or otherwise) are usually held in one of two types of locations: hotels or convention centers. Just like with everything, exceptions exist (I have attended cons on college campuses and heard of others being held on state fairgrounds!), but you will generally encounter them in one of those two locales.

As with the content of Parts 1 (here) and 2 (here), the advice in these posts can be applied to any environment where there will be crowds, or when you are on vacation, or simply away from home for the day.

Let’s start with the more common of the pair: hotels. Most large hotel chains will have convention or conference space with a multitude of purposes, with cons only being one of them. This is a great source of income for hotels, since conferences, weddings, et cetera often come with people who will want the convenience of staying on site. This all accounts to something called attrition that can be a regular thorn in the side of someone renting the space…but that is a whole different topic for a whole different type of blog!

I honestly prefer hotel-based conventions, especially if I am staying in the hosting venue. If I have an attack, I can take a break in my room away from the hustle and bustle of the con (in the case of Omni, where I am usually working, I have a few people who can cover me for a short spell in the event that my attack gets so bad I have to lie down). If I am not staying in the venue, I can usually find a relatively calm corner out of the way to recover.

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The Vendors Room at Omni [Fandom] Expo in 2015, taken early in the day on Saturday. Small cons are great if you prefer to avoid large crowds.

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Chronic Illness and Conventions, Part Two: Have a Plan for the Unexpected

Yay, part two of the Chronic Illness and Conventions series! Remember, this is not only relevant to conventions, and can be applied to any situation when you are not at home and among strangers. Theme parks, concerts, whatever!

Here is the link for part one, in case you missed it.

Part two is all about Planning. Planning for the unexpected, having a plan for anything related to your chronic illness. Here are some examples:

  • A person with diabetes will have insulin/glucose tabs/snacks on hand.
  • Someone with a chronic pain illness (fibromyalgia, lupus…) will have a walker or cane if their pain can reach that point. Maybe they will have pain medications within easy access.
  • Asthmatics keep a rescue inhaler nearby.
  • Someone with extreme allergies will have an epi-pen on them.

Now, I know what you are thinking, Duh, Silly Rabbit! Of course they will have their supplies with them! I know that. The point of this post is not “don’t be irresponsible,” it’s “have a plan.”

The reason that I am having a full post in this series about having a plan and dealing with the unexpected is because it is seriously important. Now, in my experience with working with conventions in both hotels and convention center venues, there will always be resources available. Security teams from the event and the venue, as well as local police, and medical personnel is required by many (not all) venues during large events (like the popular dances at conventions). They are there to help you if you see something (like possible shoplifting or harassment), need something (like you locked your keys in your car or lost something), or in case of an emergency. These resources vary by event and by venue, so if you have any concerns, feel free to email the event staff in advance, and they can tell you which will be at their event.

Now, I cannot stress enough that while they are there to help you and keep everyone at the event safe, they have to keep everyone at the event safe. This could be thousands of people. They are not there to focus on any one individual. That could prove unsafe for the other patrons present. Now, don’t get me wrong, if there is an emergency, that emergent case is paramount and will be the main focus. However, if I have a migraine, I don’t expect them to bend over backwards and allow me to camp out wherever I please until I recover.

That is my responsibility.

This, of course, does not apply to anything that falls under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If you have any concerns about service animals, wheelchair accessible areas, etc, feel free to contact the event staff! They will be more than happy to comply! With this in mind, if you have some sort of necessary accommodations that fall under ADA guidelines, contact the event staff and ask about such specific accommodations in detail. The people who run conventions and other such events are not psychic and cannot predict every individual need for every possible disability that may or may not be present at their event. For example, if you suffer from Epilepsy or seizure disorders, you may want to ask about what lighting is used in the dances, and if they have a policy about strobes. As someone with Chronic Migraine, I struggle with strobe lights, but when I am managing the Main Events room at Omni, part of the schedule includes a rave-style dance. Typically, strobes are a staple. Since this is usually the last event of the night, I can get away with slipping away not long after it starts (a perk of having one of the co-owners of Omni be the DJ and Tech Chief!). I don’t expect him to not use strobes in my presence, or to make the music softer while I am there. I make myself scarce and go to bed.

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Friends dance together during a rave at Omni [Fandom] Expo in 2015. I have seen several occurrences over the years of friends looking out for each other over the course of a con weekend.


❄️Note: Omni is a unique event. DJ Shadowfax hosts a signature event called The Blackout Rave where strobes are a common accent. Since he has many friends who have seizure disorders and since I have Chronic Migraine and photophobia, he starts the event with a “strobe-free” period. This is a special case, and should not be expected at every event! This is his choice!

Just remember that it is your responsibility to know what is in store at an event!

Now, back to the planning! You should be prepared in case of practically any circumstance.

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A Relaxing Bath to Find a Break

I have mentioned in a previous post, I like to take a hot bath during a migraine attack to find some relief. In that post, I said:

I fill the tub with water as hot as I could stand it, get in, and put my cold compress on the back of my neck or my forehead. While this relief sometimes lasts only as long as I am in the tub (typically during an extreme attack), it can give a good reprieve.

I was inspired to do this by stumbling across a pin on Pinterest. I tried it as the pin says, only with a gel ice pack on my neck instead of frozen peas, but I found that precariously perching a clumsy rabbit on a small bathroom counter whilst in the throws of a migraine attack was not the best idea.

And I already get anxious and woozy when climbing ladders and around heights in general. Almost falling off the bathroom counter is the bad idea to end all bad ideas.

Then there was the time I dislocated my knee cap after nearly falling off my bed…

…but I digress.

I decided that risking my life (hyperbole intended) was not worth it, no matter how much relief it would give, so I adapted it.

So, I am going to give a rundown of my bathe-away-the-migraine routine!

❄️Note: During a severe attack, I often find that I will only find relief while in the tub. Even though the pain comes back as intense as before I got in, the break is worth it as far as I am concerned.

After summoning up the energy to make my way to the bathroom, I will gather up my iPad, cold compress, and water bottle and make my way to the bathroom. I will put a towel on the floor so it would be easy to reach when I was done. I will also put my small trash can beside the tub if I was experiencing any nausea (just in case). The water bottle would also remain in reach. The water is important, so please don’t forget it! I would light some small candles, I keep some in the bathroom, to avoid using the vanity lighting (can we say, “OWW“?), activate the drain, and turn on the tap.

Make sure the water is as hot as you can stand it. I usually will add some hot springs powder (a current obsession, thanks to my acupuncturist!), bath salts, or a bath bomb to the water. I won’t use strong fragrances for obvious reasons (all of the above are usually scented). The other day, I picked up some Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salts that have lavender added to it that I will try during my next bath-worthy attack. Lavender is one of those scents commonly used to aide in headaches and migraines. I don’t intend to use as much as the package says to use in a bath, just enough to relax and give the scent. Sometimes, I will light my oil burner with some peppermint oil. Depends on my mood and my migraine. Sometimes, I will add a few drops of Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap (Peppermint) to the water. I get travel sized bottles at Target!

When I have the tub filled to my liking, I will climb in slowly to allow myself to adjust. I would put my compress on my head or the back of my neck and eventually lie down and just breathe while soft relaxing music plays from Spotify on my iPad. I like either Josh Groban or Celtic Woman the best, but use whatever helps you to relax.

If at any point while adjusting to the heat of the water I feel lightheaded or dizzy, I will drink some of the cool water from my water bottle. This is why the bottle is important. When my acupuncturist recommended the hot springs powders to me, she told me to make sure I had it nearby and sip it when dizzy.

Sometimes I will meditate, but usually I just focus on breathing. When I am ready, I will get out, put on fresh pajamas, and settle back into bed. Sometimes I feel last relief, sometimes I don’t, but either way, I am relaxed enough to doze off into a healing sleep.

πŸ’–Hearts and Sparkles!πŸ’–
~Bunny~