Louise shares her tips on how to plan for concerts and nights out
You can read Louise's blog uponasunshine.co.uk where she shares her positive outlook on living with epilepsy.
Epilepsy: 10 Quick Tips!
As a teenager and a university student, pre-drinks and getting ready with the girls, going out until 3am and annual concert/festivals were my thing! Since my diagnosis of epilepsy, I've had to adapt to certain changes to make sure I can still enjoy myself without putting my body in danger. Here's just 10 tips I have for you, your best friend, anyone and everyone!
- Medical ID bracelet
For me, this bracelet has been my life-saver! I've said before in my YouTube videos that having an ID bracelet has helped me feel more at ease when travelling alone for short and long trips and for nights out. There's plenty of designs available - whether you're looking for one that stands out or perhaps one that compliments your Pandora charm - the world's your oyster! I cannot stress enough how important having ID on you is as you never what could happen...
- Alcohol... and some water please!
Okay so study suggests that alcohol does not cause seizures on a lot of medication (the ones I've taken anyway) however alcohol can cause your body to become more vulnerable to seizures, especially when it's leaving your system. There is a heightened risk when drinking alcohol that you may forget to take medication or even vomit it up, remember to drink responsibly to avoid this happening. I've always made sure to have water when I start to feel too drunk, or when I know I'm going to be going home within the next 2 hours, or simply because I don't want any more alcohol! Once I'm then home, I make sure I have a bottle of water beside my bed. It's so important to look after your body because it's actually doing a lot to keep you all together!
Please remember to always drink responsibly!
Always take spare tablets with you, in your bag or at least at your friend's house if you're crashing out for the night! Things happen and sometimes you can lose your medication or even forget to take them, so I find that carrying extra tablets with me, along with my iPhone medication reminders, will help me to keep on track of my daily dose. Tip: keep your medication with your make-up bag - since doing so, I've never forgotten to take my tablets (because I always take make-up with me!)
- Going to a concert? Check for those strobe lights!
So I've recently gone to see J Cole, Jhene Aiko and Pusha T and it was amazing! Problem was, JC's big on the ol' strobe lights, so I was having a bit of a nightmare and spent the majority of one song with my head in my hands! If you're like me and have photosensitive epilepsy then take the time and speak to the arena that the concert is held at as they may be able to provide you with more information with as and when the lighting is... you've got nothing to lose.
- ICE and medical cards
As well as my medical ID bracelet, I always keep my medical card with me in my bag. This way if anything was to happen and I'm unable to communicate well, there's access to key information about myself and my condition. If you have an iPhone, there's also a medical ID section that you can keep all of your information too. On top of this, I make sure to have ICE (in case of emergency) on certain contacts on my phone, so if anything was to happen to me it's easy to know who the correct person to call is. All of these points are a must as they've really helped me in sticky situations!
- Listen to your body
Okay so you're on a night out and you're having an awesome time - the DJ's playing those summer beats, you're with your friends and you're feeling fabulous! But hold up, you're beginning to feel a little spaced and dazed and those familiar symptoms and side effects are beginning to show up. If they do then listen to what your body is telling you. Take a step back, breathe, sit down and have some water and maybe even just hop in the next taxi. It's important to look after yourself and only you know your body best - not your friends! Having epilepsy hasn't stopped me from enjoying nights out and having drinks, but I've learnt my own way of handling my condition in a healthy way and not pushing my body is one of them.
- Have a safety plan in motion!
You're going on a night out with your friends and you're not sure where you're going, you've just finished your assignments or a long week at work and you want to blow some steam... whatever the reason is always make sure you have a back-up ready. Say if you suddenly feel symptoms and need to get home ASAP, having someone as a back-up who can come and collect you is a life-saver. Way too many times my friends have put me in a taxi and told the driver where to take me and I've crashed and the driver's like "ummm wow you're drunk, get out" and then I tell them I have epilepsy and they have a little panic and drive quicker! It's crazy, but it happens! So I like to have someone there for me who will look after me in case of emergencies!
- Give yourself time to recover: lots of zzz's, magazines and Netflix
Nights out and being hungover can be difficult for anyone but if you have epilepsy you are more prone to seizures when alcohol is leaving your system, so it's crucial to give yourself time to regain your strength. If I'm going to go out and drink alcohol, I'll only do so if I know I either have a day off from work/university or I don't start until late afternoon. It's important to know your limits and look after your body before and after; my limits may be completely different to yours.
- Stay with others
Okay so myself and my best friend would always get ready and go out town together but somehow would lose each other and meet up hours later! Now I have epilepsy, I always make sure I'm never alone. It's also important to make sure your friends know the basics of first-aid and what to do in an emergency for you and your seizures. Practice the recovery position at home together and let them know where your medical ID card is and access to your phone for emergency contacts. It may sound pretty daunting, but once everyone is on the same page it's less of a worry all round.
- My most important tip of all... enjoy yourself!
Having epilepsy may cause a few issues or extra planning along the way, but if you manage and look after yourself and have the right outlook then epilepsy will never take your life away from you. So don't forget to have fun and enjoy yourself! Prove epilepsy wrong. Sure, my condition can be such a pain but it's never stopped me from doing what I love. So next time you're worried about planning a night out, a festival trip or concert - don't be! Just make sure you take time to plan the event and the best way to look after yourself and I assure you that you'll be laughing away your worries!