How To Enjoy the Summer Concert Season When You Are An Invalid

7:46 PM AirplaneFoodCritic 0 Comments

DEVO as seen from some make-shift handicap seats at the Fox in Oakland

You may have noticed that there were no posts this whole summer. My sickness has been very difficult to manage lately so all I have been able to do physically is....well....nothing. I applied for Social Security Disability and am in the process of that still now. I had to fill out many, many forms. One of those forms asked me what I do on a typical day then they provided two and a half lines to do so. Luckily (yeah right, lucky me) I was able to get my whole average day down in the provided space. It went something like this. I wake up around noon, I use the restroom and take my medicine. I lay down, use the restroom again, take more pills and go to bed at about midnight.

Going into some sort of machine after they injected glowing stuff into my veins. Ending up in the hospital is not uncommon for me after attending a concert.

That is pretty much exactly an average day for me. Sure, I do things like go to concerts and walk my dog but these things are not the same for me as they are for every other person on the planet. Walking my dog, for example, means opening the front door, he walks himself around, then I call him, he comes in and I close the door. So really, all I am doing is shuffling to the front door, opening it, sitting in the doorway for 5 minutes, using all the energy I have to raise my voice so my dog can hear me, closing the door. Then I use borrowed energy to make it back to my couch. Concerts are a whole different animal as well. I do all that is in my power to make it to concerts because it is a release for me. The music in my ears lifts my soul and spirits. The feel of the bass and the vibrations of the sounds pulse through my body. Those vibrations turn me into a human tuning fork which sometimes can totally transform how my body feels if only for a little while.

Watching the Dandy Warhols from a position ON the stage.

Before I was this sick, I was a crazy concert goer. I went at least once a week. I would go early, get a spot against the stage. If I was late, I would weasel and push my way to front and center. Once the music began I danced and pumped my fists until I could not feel my limbs. I would pour sweat. I never cared, and still don't to this day, how I looked. Yeah, I'm that girl. Music moves me and without it I would be in a much worse place than I am today.

We were at a massive venue for James Taylor. Look how blurry he is way down there!

Now that I am sick, too sick to dance, too sick to even STAND, I have had to find other ways to enjoy concerts. I have found a way to do just that, and this summer I was able to attend some 15 concerts thanks to my boyfriend, my friends and family's help and LOTS and LOTS of pain killers. What I do is this:

First I take a good look at the venue. Most of the music I like is underground so the venues are too small to have seats. This summer we saw some major bands like QUEEN, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney. Those were in massive venues which are more likely to provide seating. Depending on how much I like the band, I made decisions about purchasing either assigned seating or General Admission. If you are very sick like me, choosing assigned seating is an obvious choice. I have studied all the venues in my area and know them very well. I have seen them online and I have, in my less sick days, seen concerts at pretty much all music venues in the San Francisco Bay Area and San Jose. For the larger venues like where I saw Queen, Ringo Starr and James Taylor the decision was made for me. There was no choice beyond sitting in an arena chair. For those concerts I took advantage of their handicap facilities. The same can be done for sporting events as they offer the same amenities. This year we attended a couple Sharks games at the San Jose Shark Tank. I just made sure we bought seats near the entrances so I did not have to climb stairs. We attended a Giants game in San Francisco where we were able to use a provided wheelchair on the ferry AND at the game so it was GREAT. I also got to use a special elevator just for handicapped people. I had to climb a couple stairs to attend the playoffs of the Warriors in Oakland but the attendants and ushers there were super helpful in getting me into my seat. I was even allowed to move down to a closer seat that was being unused. Well, it was more that they looked the other way when I went closer. I could not get up to my real seat so we sort of sat wherever we were at the point I realized I could go no further. So, for sporting events, I learned that the employees are not only used to helping handicap folks like myself but they are good at it and go beyond the necessary to make it enjoyable and not embarrassing for me. It helps to call ahead too.

We saw Queen and Adam Lambert at the San Jose Shark Tank, the same venue as our beloved hockey games.

Back to music concerts. I found that once that same venue is set up for music, I got a little less help. It may not have been the people who worked there so much as my attitude. I don't particularly like being waited on or helped like I am totally useless and unable to do something as simple as get to my own seat but I am often that helpless. For the concerts the first thing I do is buy a ticket close to stairs or entrances. That is the first step. Now, to get to that seat, the next step (for me) is to take extra medication. In order to stand up and walk long enough to get from the car to my assigned seat, I have to take about 4-6 times the prescribed amount of pain killers. I also take a little less of my healing medications so I am not feeling the effect of the disease being fought which gives me a bit more energy and a bit less pain. If you get a seat near the entrance or stairs you are at least ensuring you have the least amount of walking or scooching past others which can be quite painful and difficult.

One of the best bands in the world, Trust, and I was confusing the poor singer by sitting way far back on the stage. Can you see from this photo that I am actually behind the lead singer?

That feeling of the disease being fought is called a Herxheimer Reaction and is a very real issue with my disease. If you have Lyme Disease or any of it's coinfections you know that treating the disease is more painful than the actual disease. Fun, right? So, a combination of less treatment and more pain killers is the second step in getting to your assigned seat so you can enjoy a concert.

If you are not at a large arena you sometimes have a choice of General Admission which means the floor and/or against the stage, or you have the option to buy balcony or assigned seats. When we saw The Knife, I bought balcony seats because I knew I was too sick to even stand or walk to the floor or stage area. I got seats that were right next to the aisle so if either of us wanted to dance, we could get up and dance in the walkway and then sit back down. I assessed the type of music and decided that because this band put on such a great visual show, I would not miss out by sitting in my seat.

The Knife as seen from waay far away in the balcony.

Some bands I just love so much that I MUST be closer to the music and the band. When we saw Morrissey, The Faint, DEVO and others, I had to be there with the musicians and fans, feeling the music. For these situations, I still do the medicine things but I adjust my location in the theater. I purchase General Admission tickets and arrive as early as possible. This often causes a conflict with how long my medication lasts so for this I have to take extra medicine with me because I am out of bed for a long period of time. I arrive early and stake out a spot against the stage. Not a spot in the center but about 1/3 from either side. I talk to the bouncers and photographers as they arrive to let them know about my condition. They will pretty much always let me sit on the stage or on the railing until the concert begins. Once the music starts, I am usually no longer allowed to be on stage so I position my body flat against the stage from my waist down. Then, I flop the upper half of my body onto the stage and lay there splayed out. This way I am not really standing up at all but rather lying on the stage but because my feet are on the ground I don't get in trouble with the bouncers. From that position I am not only able to be up close to the performers and the speakers but my body can feel the music pulsing from the stage into my bones and head, giving me an extra connection to the music. An huge perk to this method is I get trinkets and gifts to take home like guitar picks, drum sticks and play lists. I also get handshakes and acknowledgement from the musicians so that is a win-win.

I got the play list off the stage when we saw Gary Numan because I was basically already on the stage.

On the occasions where my boyfriend likes the band more than I do, like when we saw the PIXIES or Filter last month, I buy General Admission tickets and then go lay on the stage way to the side. That way we are pretty close to one another yet he gets to dance and be in the front and I get to lay down and be out of the way. There are also some really cool times when it is a band I love so I get the GA tickets, I get there early and then I find out there is no security at all, I get to just climb up on stage and sit there for the duration of the show. I did this for Trust, one of my all time favorite bands and as a bonus, the singer, Robert Alfons, noticed me and acknowledged me multiple times during the show which made me feel quite special. He may have been staring at me and walking over to me because he was confused and perhaps scared but he is so gorgeous I just didn't and don't care. When we saw the Dandy Warhols a couple months ago, I was sitting on the stage and the band assumed I was supposed to be there so they passed me a joint! I can't smoke marijuana, so I passed it along but being passed a fatty by such an iconic and amazing band made my bf's whole year.

Sitting on the stage at Filter got us numerous handshakes from the band and the set list. The bf's head was spinning because he loves Richard Patrick.

So there you have my summer. The only reason I made it out of my house was to go to concerts. I know for many people who suffer from Chronic Illness can't even do that much. But if you are ailing or disabled like me, and there is something out there that means the world to you, there ARE ways to get out there and do it. For me, getting there is arduous and challenging, not to mention painful, and I pay for it in the days following, it is worth it to me to cleanse my spirit with the vibrations of meaningful, stirring music.

This is the angle the bf got. I had to sit almost behind the stage to make it through this PIXIES show.

I will try to post more but I am working on two major projects. I am writing a book and planing my 40th birthday. The latter is coming up on us fast, less than two months from the posting of this blog! eeeep. Super excited. I hope I can stand up and walk around for that. Fingers crossed!!
We were close enough to Morrissey to touch him. I had to sit on the stairs you can see on the bottom right of this photo.

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