With festival season now in full swing, here's what Mark Hanson has to say on the matter...
Mark Hanson's festival fever
From the age of 18 I had been a regular visitor to music festivals, with my customary painted face, relaxing around a campfire until the early hours. But being diagnosed with diabetes came as a huge shock. It took me a while to come to terms with the changes that came with it, but over time I became used to my new lifestyle.
However one question nagged me, ‘Why don’t you go to music festivals anymore?’ Secretly I had been putting it off. I would make excuse after excuse, but to be perfectly honest, I just thought it would be too much hassle – not just for me, but for whoever I went there with. Finding a smelly chemical toilet to do a blood glucose test or inject my insulin never quite appealed. Neither did the worry of having enough insulin to last a whole weekend – on a campsite in the middle of nowhere. But finally I decided I would head to the V festival in Staffordshire. It turned out to be the confidence booster I had hoped it would be.
Probably the best tip I can give to anyone venturing to a festival is to take too much of everything (insulin, glucose tablets, snacks, etc). My philosophy was, the more you take with you, the less you worry. Believe me it works. I always carried my insulin around with me, but also left some behind in the tent (in a hidden place) and in the car (if it wasn't a hot day). I did the same with sweets, glucose tablets and bottles of Lucozade too and I always had glucose tablets in my pockets.
Make sure the clothes you take have enough pockets to carry your essentials (sweets, blood glucose monitor, insulin, money, and that festival essential – a camera).
Take a camping stove too. These are fairly cheap (you only need a small one) and in the long run it will save you money. We took some tins of beans and pasta shapes (Postman Pat ones were a particular favourite), some bread, and some bottled water to cook those delicious noodles in. But you will also find a huge amount of food on offer at music festivals. Just be prepared to pay more than you do back home (the same goes for bottled water).
Best festival yet
The weekend I had at V was by far the most enjoyable festival experience I have ever had. My diabetes was never a problem and didn't get in the way of having a good time. All my fears were quickly forgotten and it was just like I had never been away. Even the chemical toilets weren't as bad as I had expected.
Now I've done it, I know there is nothing to worry about and wish I had done it again much sooner after my diagnosis. Hopefully I’ll see some of you there next year, down at the front.