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Touring with a health condition

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by E.J. T.N.T., Apr 19, 2016.

  1. Hello everybody,

    I am 29 and I have been diagnosed with Crohn's disease 5 years ago. At the time of the diagnosis I was in pretty rough shape. I was weeks away from getting my intestine perforated. Luckily not only I managed to recover but I also managed to stabilise my condition. I could go on in detail regarding the symptoms of my case but unless you want me to I would rather not. Point is, it has been very bad, like near-death bad. I eventually also got surgery where a part of my intestine was removed due to a stenosis. I am very happy to say I am very stable, healthy and quite physically active. I am only having some hard time with my weight (I am rather underweight) but other than that I am ok.

    Around the time I was diagnosed, I joined a band that started playing more and more gigs and eventually also came to tour 2 to 3 times per year(Mostly central and eastern europe). Thinking in how bad shape I was and the things I have been through I am actually very happy that I can do what I do and I feel I should share my experiences and some advice with you.

    First of all if you are planning to travel/tour tell your doctor! They can provide information regarding the conditions of your destinations and very helpful advice (e.g. avoid drinking tap water from certain areas)

    If you are on medication, plan ahead and have enough for your trip and also some extra just in case. If your medication needs to be kept cool invest in a small fridge. Fill it with ice packs even if it can be powered via the car lighter socket. Maybe get some treats and refreshments for your group just so they know to take care of it as well. I also have a very basic first aid kit and I also keep a notebook that explains I carry (in my case injectible ) medicine in a lot of different languages, that is signed and stamped from my doctor.

    Make sure your insurance covers you in the places where you will be travelling, if not try to extend your coverage even if temporarily. I am very lucky to be living in Germany which means I am entitled to healthcare throughout most of EU plus some countries more. I have actually needed to be hospitalized in a foreign country once. The process was a bit complicated but ok in the end.

    Diet is everything! As much as you might be tempted, play it as safe as possible. Avoid fast food, things you have never tried before and eat as healthy as you can. Better make stops in supermarkets and stock up on things that can survive without refrigeration. Avoid soda and alcohol. In my case this has helped me tremendously. Last tour, I had one beer, 3 shots and 2 drinks in the entire length. You can combine this by being the designated driver, or co-driver. Your bandmates will love you. Also it helps when one of the members is sober when the beer goggles kick in and make all the ladies look like 10s.

    Always be prepared for a toilet emergency.There has been quite a few times that when I had to go, I really had to go. This is one of the effects of the condition. In my case I always have hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, wet wipes and a boatload of tissues. There have been toilets that I have left them cleaner than what I found them. Moreover, it is very useful to learn to squat and go nature style. Unfortunately I had to learn this the heard way. Last but not least, bring extra underwear.

    Get as much rest as possible. I have learnt to sleep in the most amazing places. I am very lucky to have met a drummer who was a siesta master that taught me well. Even 30min of sleep can provide great benefits. If you can lie down even better. Try and get 8 hours in everyday. The closer the better. Every time we get access to a shower, I shower for as long as I can with the hottest weather I can withstand in order to relax my body.

    I would be really happy to hear your experiences on touring with a health condition and your advices.
    crguti, Farrin D, bassestkkm and 28 others like this.
  2. BassCliff


    May 17, 2012
    So. Cal.

    Thank you for sharing a LOT of helpful information. I hope and pray you are able to manage your condition and have a long and prosperous life, full of love and joy.

    I don't really have a health condition, other than just being old. So I'll add just a couple of minor things. You mentioned health insurance. You'll want to bring your insurance paperwork with you, usually it's just a card you keep in your wallet. You'll also want to keep a supply of bottled water with you as you travel. Everybody needs fresh water.

    Yes, sleep is very important. I always have trouble sleeping when I'm out of town and it can detract from my performance. Ear plugs and a sleep mask can help you block out noise and light that could disturb your sleep.

    Thank you for your indulgence,

    dralionux, wintremute, dfoehr and 2 others like this.
  3. dbase

    dbase Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2008
    South Jersey, USA..
    There you go dropping the age card you young whippersnapper. You have no idea of what being old is .. Just ask me, McG, and GravdiggerDave sometime. We'll set you straight ;)
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2016
    Matthew Barrack and Shortie like this.
  4. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Fort Worth, Texas
    And me. 5/25/1943. Beat that and still gigging.
  5. Indeed very good points on the water, insurance card and sleeping mask. I always have my earplugs on me quite possibly the best music related purchase I have ever made (other than a van). I forgot to say, a traveller's pillow goes a loooong way. Don't go cheap on this one, try a few different ones and see what works for you. I have one that turns from a regular pillow to a wraparound pillow that is filled with a grainy material. Our guitarist has one with memory foam with clip on in order to stay tight. Nice as well.

    I really hope that one day the band will do well enough to have a bus. This would make things a lot more comfortable.

    I did not mean to offend anyone with that. I am sorry if I did. When I was going through the bad days, I bet you would outdo me in any physical activity I can think of.

    I know some older guys that still have travelling gigs that would some of our youngsters to shame.
  6. I only can hope that I will be able to gig at that age. Don't mean to sound morbid none of my grandparents made it past 74 and apparently dementia runs on both sides of my family.
  7. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Fort Worth, Texas
    I hope you can, too. I am blessed with genes that have long lives. I have ancestors that have made it past 100. 80s and 90s seems to be the norm, except for my dad who smoked a couple of packs a day and drank himself to death and a brother who died in his 50s from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. I had an aunt who was a singer, dancer, and comedian who was still gigging into her late 60s. She died at 95.
    nixdad likes this.
  8. The parents of my grandmother actually both lived over 90. My great grandmother passed away at 95 and my great grandfather at 104(I think, since his birth certificate was not available and he did not care at all about his birth date). They were both very healthy and active without a sign of dementia. Ironically they both died of very similar reasons. They somehow got some internal bleeding. In the case of my great grandfather by the time they noticed, it took the ambulance more than 4 hours to get him in the hospital (they lived in a very remote area in the countryside) and in the case of my great grandmother, she did not mention any of her discomforts until it was too late.

    That said I have a funny story about my great grandmother. She was notoriously active for her age. A couple of years before she passed away, she called one of my uncles who is a doctor, complaining that her hip hurt. My uncle arranged a taxi driver to take her to the closest practice, to have an x-ray of her hip thinking that her hip joint was damaged due to her age. When she got there, she explained to the doctor where she was in pain. It was not even close to the hip joint area but more like on the buttocks. To the big surprise of the doctor she had a big bruise there. They took an x-ray, but nothing was broken. It turns out she has actually fallen of an almond tree, she has climbed on when trying to collect almonds, because the branch broke. Apparently she fell on her butt. The fall was actually from a little more than 5ft high. The doc was speechless...
  9. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    Cliff, I hate to break it to you, but that's not curable.. unlike many other conditions.. :roflmao:
    dbase, Bassammich and BassCliff like this.
  10. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    That means there is HOPE for us all.. :)
    Bassammich and Gravedigger Dav like this.
  11. McG

    McG Goat Hill Gamblers

    Oct 6, 2010
    Costa Mesa, CA
    Oh man, that's a rough disease. Especially getting at so young. I have a good friend who has been struggling with it for 15 years (he's 60 now). But he didn't stop drug and alcohol use or clean up his diet for several years after diagnosis which really made things worse. Guitarists! Whatchya gonna do with them :rollno:

    I think dbase was referring to BassCliff saying he is old. He always says that. He's like what? 50?? :woot: Heck, between me, dbase and G-Dav there's real age going on. And I'm the young pup of the bunch :laugh:

    That was a great story! My hope is to remain at least mentally sharp enough to remember how songs go. ;)

    Maybe not curable but I'm gonna keep fighting old age until it kills one of us :roflmao:

    IME playing music is a big key to this whole aging thing. As I say in my sig: Music keeps you young. I guran-dam-tee it!
    Shortie, dbase and s0c9 like this.
  12. tedious1


    Feb 14, 2014
    Yep, this ^. We head out for spring tour tomorrow, so on my way into the city, I'll be hitting the Costsco and picking up four flats of bottled water and a case of 5w30 motor oil. Buy it local, buy it in bulk, I think it worked out to something under $0.30 per bottle that way, better than $2.19 for two on sale at every last chance gas station... (All prices in CAD.)

    Our guitar player is diabetic, so we're also needing to worry about temperature control for his insulin. But the insulin is also in water proof packaging so we typically just rely on water ice, since we're playing mostly bars, we generally can get a kitchen catcher part way filled with ice to maintain refrigeration, gratis. That might not work out for you if you have long hauls between shows, we generally have one day we dead head in the two weeks, right up front, and cold packs have cut the mustard for that haul, after that it's a different bar every nite, so...
  13. BassCliff


    May 17, 2012
    So. Cal.
    Hi guys,

    No offense was taken with any age remarks. I'm fighting age tooth and nail but don't mind making fun of myself as I get older. And to dispel any rumors, I'll be 59 in a few months. But we're not here to compare birth certificates. ;)

    Mr. @E.J. T.N.T., you seem to have a good attitude and willingness to do what it takes to stay healthy and enjoy life. These will serve you well as you deal with the cards life has dealt you. I wish you all the best.

    Thank you for your indulgence,

    nixdad and dbase like this.
  14. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Fort Worth, Texas
    Moving parts don't rust.
  15. Good thread, I am not touring but I suffer a bit from Hiatal hernia and GERD. I cleaned up my eating habits and doing much better these days. Still the worst thing is coffee -i can have a half caffeineted latte twice a week. I look forward to those days. Oh and a few beers on the weekends -nothing like that partying guy i was in my 20's -40's though ;)
    TNT, you may want to try refrigerated acidophilus -helps a lot with digestive issues. Good luck nman and keep on truckin out there.
  16. :cool: Fifty Four here! Like I always tell people, It ain't the age, it's the mileage! ;)
    Groove Doctor and cardboardJoe like this.
  17. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    Hillsdale, Portland
    To the OP, cool story about dealing with it head on. Excuse the pun, but it takes guts to do what you have. It's inspirational really.
    Life is a box of chocolates, you never know till you bite in.

    @GravediggerDav - love the line that moving parts don't rust. Thinking about a tatoo and that might just make it (1950).
  18. My hat is off to all of you I have to admit to wimping out these past few months from gigging due to an intestinal illness (C-Diff) but I am getting back to it playing beer joints and other dives because I must make music to stay sane.
    HolmeBass, Shortie and BassCliff like this.
  19. pbass2


    Jan 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    I have several musician friends with Crohn's. I know it's no fun. I have suffered from fairly life-altering IBS at times(feeling like you can't leave the house, losing too much weight/getting weak, etc. etc.) but it's nothing nearly as severe as Crohn's. Anyhow, your tips are all great--diet, limiting alcohol, being prepared with medication and for the unknown in regards to bathrooms(which helps eliminate some stress which is a big factor I bet)….You're a tough man if you can go on tour like you have--it's scary I bet to away from the comfort of your own home--kudos to you!
    Actually, if I'm not mistaken, one of the guitarists in Pearl Jam has suffered from Crohn's for some time, including when they were on the road all the time starting out.

    EDIT: here it is: Pearl Jam guitarist shares his personal struggle with Crohn’s disease | Fox News
    HolmeBass likes this.
  20. dbase

    dbase Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2008
    South Jersey, USA..
    As I'm reading these posts about illness and old age, I'm opening the mail and I got another one of these.
    Feels like the vultures are circling over my house. So you youngsters keep gigging as long as you can. Life is short. Just another tip from your old uncle Dbase. ;)
    Shortie and BassCliff like this.

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