How to Attend a BIG Event When You Have a Lung Condition
Anyone who knows me well, knows that I love a good concert. I adore country music and when I get the time to have a girls’ night out, I prefer a concert or a show. It’s the artist, the music, and the company that I am with that combined is a recipe for a fun time for me. Just last night I was attending a concert in Richmond and I saw several people there that were using walkers and scooters to attend the event. My first thought about them… “They rock!” My next thought… “I need to write a blog post about this!” LOL! That’s the way my mind works these days. Always thinking about “How To’s” and “Tips For” people with lung conditions when I’m out and about. When the opportunity to go to a “big event” like a concert, graduation ceremony, or game at a stadium arises for a patient of mine with a lung condition (i.e. COPD, pulmonary fibrosis, asthma, etc.) it’s not always full of excitement. In fact, going to a big event may seem quite frankly… scary! The idea of walking distances, climbing steps, being in a crowd etc. can be quick reasons to say “No.” But, I truly believe that people with lung conditions can make most situations work and not have to decline invites or opportunities to go to big events, however, there is some preplanning involved. If you are willing to plan ahead… you can do it.
Here are my tips for attending a “BIG” event and most importantly enjoying it!
Things to do in advance:
1. Consider a “handicap” ticket – Many venues these days have a certain number of “handicap” tickets available. These tickets are often on an entry level and don’t require you to go up and down stadium seats. There is generally more leg room and room to place a rollator, scooter, etc. These handicap seats are typically coupled together for a buddy to sit beside you to enjoy the event together. You may have to contact the venue directly when purchasing these seats however, some ticket sites like Ticketmaster have them available to purchase.
If you look at this screen shot of a random game at the Capital One arena… When shopping for your tickets on Ticketmaster, you click the wheelchair icon and it asks you what accessibility you require. And you can uncheck any areas that don’t pertain to you.
2. Call the venue ahead to inquire about parking – Most venues in the U.S. have designated handicap parking areas. They may require you to gain entrance from a specific street so knowing that in advance will prevent any anxiety about where to park. If you plan to be dropped off, ask about where the drop off / loading zones are located. Find out which areas are closest to the entrance so that you can eliminate walking any further than necessary.
3. Communicate with people you are going to the event with – Your family and friends want to do these fun things with you but also don’t always know how they can best assist you. Talk to them in advance. Make a plan as to who will drive. Let them know in what ways they might help you at the event, like possibly standing in line for a beverage for you or carrying a few items in a bag or purse that you might need so that you don’t have to carry anything but your oxygen tank or portable concentrator (if applicable).
4. Plan to wear comfortable clothing – I cannot stand for my feet to hurt. In fact, it will ruin my experience if I am uncomfortable. Dress in clothing that is appropriate yet comfortable. We all like to look our best at special events, however, don’t wear items that are too tight or binding. If weather warrants, wear light layers that are easily removed. Don’t carry a heavy purse. Make sure your shoes have a non-slip sole and avoid wearing shoes that might spark instability like flip flops or heels.
5. Bring extra O's – Have extra tanks ready for transport or extra batteries for your portable oxygen concentrators fully charged.
For the event:
1. Bring a handicap placard so that you can park close – If the person driving doesn’t have a handicap license plate, bring a placard (obtained in the states from a DMV) to hang or place on the windshield. If there are people at the event directing traffic, stop and ask where the handicap parking spaces are or if you can get close to drop off. Consider doing a “drive by” before the event to see where entrances and exits are located. This will help to alleviate any anxiety about “where to go” that you might have.
2. Prior to walking into the venue take your short acting bronchodilator or rescue inhaler – I have said many times, that the best time to take your inhalers is BEFORE you need them. Prepare for the activity and have the medication “on board” and assisting you with your breathing. Bring your rescue inhaler with you if you should need another breathing treatment while you are there. (For more info on how to properly use your inhaler click here!
3. Wear your oxygen – You should wear your oxygen while walking into the venue and while you are recovering. Sometimes my patients tell me that they don’t need as much at rest, however, wear your prescribed flow while walking in and finding your seats. Have a family member, friend or companion with you carry any extra tanks or batteries that you might use to deliver your oxygen. Walking with your oxygen will be enough for you to handle. Have them carry the extra weight.
4. Most public venues in the U.S. have handicap entrances, elevators, and ramps– use them. These accommodations were put in place because it’s the law… but also because the venue wants you there (and let’s be honest… they want you to spend your money there). When you arrive, ask ushers and employees where you can find elevators and other handicap facilities that you may require. Some venues have a few wheelchairs available for ushers to use to get those that need them to their seats. (You should call ahead if you think that you may require this accommodation to see if it’s available.)
5. Get there in advance so that you can take your time – There are many benefits to getting to a big event early. Parking is more readily available, shorter lines, and restrooms are typically in decent shape. If you have gotten to the venue early, you can take your time walking in, stopping occasionally if needed to catch your breath without the worry of missing something. Consider using a rollator (rolling walker with a seat) or your scooter to assist you with getting in to the venue. Have an usher assist you in taking you the most direct route to your seats.
6. Use the buddy system - Have a friend, family member, or companion get you something to eat or drink if needed. Don’t try to stand in line and/or carry food back to your seat.
7. Take pictures – Okay, you are probably thinking to yourself…”Come on Christina. What does that have to do with anything?!” Well a few pictures (don’t go overboard) will allow you to look back on your event and say, “I did that!” It will also give you mementoes to look at on occasion when you need a “pick me up” or need motivation to plan something new.
When the event is over…
1. If appropriate, try to leave before the masses – skipping the encore or last inning may mean beating loads or people and traffic out of the venue. Consider leaving a few minutes before the close of a show or if the game is a runaway and there is a clear winner. One thing to consider is that if your event ends after dark, lighting may be an issue when leaving. Be careful during low light situations of obstacles that could cause you to trip and fall.
2. If you can’t leave early, wait it out – If you have chosen to wait to the close of a show or the game was a “nail biter” to the last seconds, consider waiting until most of the crowd has left the venue. Think about it… You are probably very comfortable just sitting and hanging out versus trying to leave in a crowd with traffic jammed up in the parking lot. Once a bulk of the crowd has cleared, typically you can use the “facilities” one last time and then take your time walking out to your vehicle to head home. In my opinion this is possibly the best option for leaving a big event like a concert, show, or game.
3. Don’t plan a lot of activities the next day – If possible clear your calendar the day after a big event. You are probably going to need to catch up on your rest. Take it easy and if anything, spend your day reminiscing about your experience, looking through photos, and making mental notes about what worked well, and what changes you may need to make the next time you want to attend a big event.
Thanks for reading!
If you would like to read more from BreatheLiveFit... Check out some of my recent topics!
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Tips on How to Start Your Day When You Have a Lung Condition
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Remember: We are in this TOGETHER!
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