Dude, Are You Dehydrated?

When we’re at the convention we’ve been looking forward to all year, we want to feel our best. We want to be in fighting form to be able to squeeze every drop of fun out of our weekend! Much like training to run a race, we’ve got to take extra good care of ourselves to be able to withstand the feats of daring-do! If we’re going to walk 5 times as far as customary, sleep ½ as much as usual, and perhaps enjoy some adult beverages, we’ve got to check under the hood and make sure to top off the oil!

What if I told you there was something you could do to support your brain, muscles, and internal organs that was free and doesn’t have to take up any precious convention time? DRINK WATER. Most conventions have water stations conveniently located throughout the event venue. Use them! Quaff a glass of water with your favorite anime, and if you’re at a dance, make sure you’re drinking enough to keep up with your sweating.

Hydrate!

How do you know if you’re drinking enough water? Well, if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. But if you need a more concrete indicator, take a look at the color of your pee. Ideally, your urine is mostly colorless and transparent (except in the mornings when it will be more concentrated). If it’s bright yellow, or heaven forbid, cola-colored, DUDE, you’re dehydrated! Drink water now!

Handy-dandy urine color chart.

What are the consequences of pretending you’re a camel and not keeping hydrated? The most common thing folks notice, something that sends them to first aid in droves at conventions, is headaches. Sure, the bright lights, noise, and crush of fellow fan-folk doesn’t help, but if you’re dehydrated, you’re going to have the Lord Orc of all Headaches. Along with your headache, you’ll be tired and cranky, have bad breath, and you’re likely to crave sweets that are going to make you feel worse when you get that sugar crash. Ignore those warning shots across your bow, and you’re looking at dizziness and muscle cramps. Keep that up, and you risk falling down a dangerous dehydration cliff that can end in rhabdomyolysis, which is even less fun that it sounds. Then you have to go to the hospital, which means you miss that late-night panel you had your eye on.

So, keep an eye on your pee, and drink enough water to stay out of the yellow zone. It’s a free and easy way to help ensure that your convention is the most fun it can be!

Mind Your Mind

This post is authored by By Jennifer Clark, LMSW and Mickey Desai.

In Usagi Medical Group’s ongoing series to help you maximize your con-going experience, we’ve compiled a short list of tips and resources that you may find useful if you or someone you know is suffering from some variety of mental-health issues during your con.  These issues are not always easy to identify, and may range from anxiety attacks to self-esteem problems, addictions to body-image issues, or even just good old-fashioned depression.  

A quick reminder that the UsagiMed room(s) are always available as Safe Spaces to anyone who needs them.  UsagiMed provides non-judgmental service and support and welcomes anyone who feels they need a safe, quiet place to rest at any time during the con.  If you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed-out, isolated (yes, it happens in crowds), just need to chill out, or need someone to talk to, visit the UsagiMed people at your con.

Your con may have additional spaces: At Anime Weekend Atlanta, Safe Spaces are designated with a teal ribbon (which is the ribbon for anxiety and ptsd awareness) and the words “Safe Space” on them. Hospitality Services offers space to both crew and con goers. Accessibility Services has designated areas as well. Check with your convention to see what resources are available.

If you or someone you know is struggling, here are some quick tips and coping strategies:

  1. Get connected.  In the world of mental-health, even tiny moments of connection and understanding can have a tremendous impact for someone who might be struggling.  It is too easy to suffer silently.  It may seem preferable to isolate.  Instead, reach out to your friends–the people you trust.  There’s no harm in saying, “I’m having a hard time with this.  I think I need a minute.”
  2. Similarly, let your friends know you care.  If you should happen to see someone struggling, don’t try to fix them.  Ask them if they’re okay.  If they want to talk about it, just listen.  Don’t offer solutions.  Don’t try to diagnose.  Don’t try to fix anything.  Simply listen to your friend.  Let them know you care for them, and that you will support them in their journey towards being emotionally healthy.
  3. Remember your boundaries with other people. In your day to day life, you have developed coping skills to help you deal with other people and stressors. These don’t have to fall away simply because you are at con. Remember what your triggers and warning signs look like. Avoid the drama llamas who you know might be triggering. Don’t be afraid to share your boundaries with your con buddies, so they can help you enforce them as well.
  4. Know your healthy patterns, keep to them as much as you can at con. How much sleep do you usually need to keep your mental health on track? How much daily caffeine do you normally take? When and how much do you eat on a daily basis to keep healthy? When you’re at con, it’s too easy to deviate from “normal,” and you will crash, which brings an end to your fun. Stick to your routine as much as you are able.
  5. If you can’t stick to your regular routine, please Eat Healthy and  Take Rest.  Give your body the resources it needs to be healthy.  If you eat poorly, don’t get enough water, and run yourself into the ground, your body will find ways to make you stop and rest even if you don’t want to.  Or worse, you might become a grumpy bastard if you don’t get enough sleep and try to compensate with too much caffeine. (Trust us, nothing good comes of this.) So plan accordingly, employ the 5-2-1 rule, and treat yourself right.
  6. TAKE YOUR MEDS! Do we really need to tell you this? You know what happens when you don’t take your meds?  Bad things.  Bad things happen.  Take your freakin’ meds, already.  Sheesh.

If you need some extra help, UsagiMed will support you in finding it. Help may not be that far away. Please follow this link for a list of nationally available resources.

The quest to mental health begins with you, but remember that you are not alone in that journey.

Get Your Flu Shot!

The ‘flu vaccine is a controversial thing. We’re going to side-step the controversy by repeating the baseline truth: even if the vaccine isn’t perfect, it will AT LEAST reduce the duration and severity of symptoms if you somehow catch the influenza virus.

Get Your Flu Shot!

Last year I watched two of my relatives (both of them medical professionals) waive off the vaccine because they’d heard it wasn’t that effective. Both of them were completely laid flat with the ‘flu. For THREE weeks, neither could work. I’ll spare you the gory details. They both then rescinded and openly wished they had gotten the vaccine. Please learn from their example. Get your vaccine early.

The CDC recommends annual influenza vaccination for everyone 6 months and older with any licensed, influenza vaccine that is appropriate for the recipient’s age and health status. They also suggest you get vaccinated by the end of October, in preparation for ‘flu season.

UsagiMed recommends getting vaccinated at least two weeks before your favorite fall con. This gives your body plenty of time to build up antibodies and overall immunity before you risk catching any sort of con-crud.

Influenza can be deadly. Even if you’re relatively healthy, you don’t want to share the ‘flu with someone who is medically frail like a child, or a cancer patient. Please join us in spreading the word: Get your flu shot!

Radio Etiquette

This post is for all our convention-organizer friends who have to use any kind of two-way radio during their con. And you’re right, most of this seems obvious. But we’ve seen things, man! There are a lot of people who work a convention just to grab a radio and enjoy some kind of rush throughout the weekend. Many of them don’t know what they’re doing. Or they abuse the privilege. Usagi Medical Group works hand-in-glove with both convention staff and licensed first-responders who may be on scene. Proper radio etiquette helps us avoid delays and mistakes. We hope your personnel will find these guidelines useful in avoiding unnecessary frustrations in times of an emergency.

Get Prepared

Know how to use the radio. Know what the PTT (Push To Talk) button does. Know how to not trigger it by accident. Hold the button down firmly when talking, and be sure to LET IT GO when you are done. When you have the PTT button pressed, no one else can speak or be heard. You might be blocking someone on your frequency with an emergency message. You’ll drain your radio battery faster, too! Let. It. Go.

(BTW, remember to talk across the microphone, and not directly into it.)

Identify Yourself and Your Recipient

Know in advance what you are going to say. Take a moment to get collected and maybe even mentally rehearse your message. Decide who the intended recipient of the message is. Start your transmission with your name, followed by your department, and follow that with the name of the intended receiving department. “This is Holly with Main Events to UsagiMed.” There’s no point doing much more than identifying yourself and the recipient at this point. When the recipient acknowledges you, you can transmit the rest of your message.  

Short, Clear, Concise

As a general rule, if your message is longer than 20 seconds, use your phone instead. It’s best to keep your transmissions short, clear, and to the point. This gives other users an opportunity to acknowledge your message or request further clarification before you carry on with your next point.  

Be Patient

LISTEN for a response. The other person may not be able to respond immediately–be patient and give them time to reply before re-sending your call.

Acknowledging The Message

UMG first responders fill a necessary gap for conventions and event planners.

Radio users sometimes repeat a message to make it clear that they’ve heard and understood the information. For example:

Public Safety: “Jared with Public Safety to UsagiMed. Assistance required at Western Ballroom.”

UsagiMed: “This is UsagiMed confirming assistance required at Western Ballroom. We’re on our way.”

These Useful Guidelines

Please refer to these handy guidelines. (Only one page long, it’s suitable for downloading, printing, and distributing to your staff.) Remember, everyone is listening.

(It’s a handy one-pager.)

Dealing with Con Crud

Atchooo!

So, it finally happened. You attended your favorite show, and despite your best efforts to stay well, you’ve become a member of the infected horde. Con Crud is a convergence of diseases from all around the world, all attempting to trounce your immune system via the promise of having a fun time at a convention. It was bound to happen sooner or later. If you get sick during a con, come see UsagiMed! We’ve got lots of stuff that can help you feel better and keep the con dream alive. But sometimes, maybe it’s just better to cut your losses and go home before you make someone else sick. And sometimes, symptoms don’t even show up until after you’ve made it home.

So what do you do now? How do you get back to that happy place you were in during the convention, where the sun was shining, and you could sing along with Totoro without coughing up a lung? Here are a few tips:

1. Take care of your self at home

Mmmm. Ramen.

Do you have the sniffles, a light cough, a headache? Mild symptoms can be taken care of at home. Catch up on the sleep you missed during that 24 hour Doctor Who marathon. Eat some nutritious food. REAL food, not just Red-Bull and Pocky. Drink a lot of water! Consider taking some over-the-counter medicines if they’ll help you relax and rest better. (Follow the directions on the package.) Take it easy for a while, and hopefully you’ll be feeling better in no time.

2. Head to your regular doctor or urgent care

If you’ve got a sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, chills and general weakness, it might be time to head to a doctor’s office or urgent care. There are some tests and treatments that can only be done in the first day or two of the flu, so identifying the difference between a cold and something more serious can be important. Your doctor may prescribe you some special medicine to help you feel better faster. The other suggestions above still apply though. Rest up, so your body has the energy it needs to fight off the invaders.

3. If necessary, escalate to the ER

It’s rare, but in some cases people can get really sick from an exposure at a convention. If your symptoms are severe, head to the Emergency Room. If you can’t make it there on your own, call 911 or your local emergency number for help.

4. Don’t share!

After you do everything you can to help yourself get healthy, the second best thing you can do is NOT give the crud to anyone else. Depending on your bugs, you can be contagious for up to a week after you get sick. Follow the CDC’s guidelines to help fight the spread of the crud. Some people are especially vulnerable to disease, especially children, cancer patients, and the elderly. Staying home when you’re sick helps curb germs in the community. Staying home when you’re sick may save someone’s life. You can be sure we will always say THANK YOU when you choose to keep your crud at home. UsagiMed will be ready to continue the party with you next year.

5. Keep it from happening again

Nobody wants to get sick. Certainly nobody wants to get sick twice. So before you head off to your next con, be sure to check out our tips for how to stay healthy.

Heading to MTAC Lunar

We’re heading back to Nashville, Tennessee for the 2019 Middle Tennessee Anime Convention (MTAC)! We will be on-site providing our Walk-In Clinic and Emergency Medical Response services.  

As you’re getting ready for MTAC, remember to break in your shoes. Blisters suck. Remember the 5-2-1 Rule. (Especially the 1 part.) And remember to STAY HYDRATED. We want to see you, and we want to see you having as much fun as possible.

We’re looking forward to seeing some old friends and making new ones while we’re there. Stop by to say hi and get a cool sticker!

Oh yeah! I’m sure you don’t need the reminder to bring your meds. And if you’re sick, consider protecting others. See you soon!

Crew Bio: Theja Lanka

I started working with the group that would become UsagiMed at Anime Weekend Atlanta 2013. At the time, I had just started medical school and was looking for like-minded people in the area. I saw AWA had a medical department so I jumped on the chance to get some experience and get a behind-the-scenes look at conventions. The crew was gracious enough to accept me as one of them. They have certainly seen me grow over the years from someone who was too reserved to practicing triangle bandages to becoming more confident in my decision making.

I got into anime sometime around the middle of high school when a girl in my class was retelling Rurouni Kenshin. I was completely entranced by the story. Having only watched Indian movies up to that point, it was great to see something without a forced love story. And then I awakened my powers of time dilation and immediately consumed more anime than should have been possible.

My favorite part of UsagiMed has to be eating food together in the mornings, and after the Saturday night dance when everyone is too tired.

Crew Bio: Jazmine H.

My name is Jazmine, but you can call me Jazz like the music. I’m a licensed EMT. I serve with Usagi Medical Group. I’ve been in the medical field for six years and I’m a licensed Aerospace Medical Technician with the United States Air Force. I am also a trained Cardiac Monitor Technician with Gwinnett Medical Center, and I’m a Nursing student at Georgia State University. My favorites animes are currently My Hero Academia and Food Wars, but my all time favorites include [anything] Studio Ghibli and Yuyu Hakusho. I prefer to watch shonen and slice of life anime and I’m not much of a manga reader. I’ve had the pleasure of working with the other medical professionals in UsagiMed since 2014. My favorite part of working with UsagiMed: I get to work with super smart, super geeky people like myself, and help all the con-goers enjoy the con every year. My favorite part of Anime Weekend Atlanta is the smaller con feeling you get with a big con experience. I love cosplay watching and going to the cool events we have planned every year.

Become A Part of UsagiMed

Friends, we are always on the lookout for medically skilled folks to join us as volunteers. If you or someone you know wants to be a part of what we do, please fill out the form linked here. Thank you! We hope to be working with you, soon.

We love our patients! And your patients will love your con for bringing us to the table.