Festival Planning

Paul Young

May 1st 2019

You might think of your medical oddity as a disability or a quirk, a mild obstacle or a giant felled tree in life’s road. Whichever it may be, ideally as little as possible will stop us doing what we want to do. Don’t let the bladders win, etc. So, this summer, for me, that meant: a music festival.

I’m 39. Surely well past the music festival demographic, though yes there are older clientele too. I’ve got an older pal who can’t resist a Burning Man, but he’s a seasoned traveller, he loves his music, and he’s happy to slum it with just his rucksack and his smugly regular bladder. Good luck to him.

Many of us will be happy never going to a music festival again. But if your favorite band is on, or your friends are going, and you don’t want to miss out, or – I don’t know – you win tickets and don’t want to turn them down, here are some tips from one who’s been there, and catheterized, and lived to tell the tale.

Firstly, if you want to do it, do it. Festivals are becoming more and more inclusive. Many are doing better at accommodating those with wheelchairs and other disabilities. Over in Theatreland they’re doing better still offering autism-friendly relaxed performances – lower volume and calmer lighting. Outdoor festivals might find it tricky to have a quieter stage, but they’re increasingly hosting more relaxed areas, disabled toilets, and tracks and pathways so travel routes aren’t grass-only. It certainly seems to have improved since I first went 20 years ago.

That advice the festival organizers send out? I read that more than I used to. Certain sentences I mentally bold up. When it says to plan ahead, bring water, get there early to beat the queues – I imagine those underlined, in bold, and in large type font. Expect to queue but aim to beat them where possible. Is there a smaller queue at a different entrance? Or a fast-track for those with disabilities? (You don’t always need medical proof – sometimes a winning smile, a good story about a wonky bladder, and the gall to wave a catheter in a security guard’s face is all you need.)

Some music events ban outside water bottles. I’ve chanced it before though and smuggled the odd water bottle in my cargo trousers (pockets in the knees, genius). The worst they’ll do is ask you to bin it – and I’ve previously blagged it that I need my water for urological reasons. Might work. If it doesn’t, the worst that happens is you buy your water from that stand over there (for the price of a small car).

For me, at my time of life, I’d much rather sit at the back than stand up the front. That’s just me (and several thousand others in the latter half of their lives). Wherever you base yourself, if you’ve come for a particular band, it’s worth finding out in advance their approximate stage times – helpful to time that toilet break. Next time, we’ll head to those toilets – and oh my, they’re not in a good state...

 

The opinions expressed here are of a personal and anecdotal nature, and are in no way a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult your doctor or nurse if you have any questions.

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