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I have money. I have the means. I have everything I need... Except the cure for epilepsy.
I am a devoted fan, and I know I'm not alone in having to risk my health to see the bands I love in-concert.
Epilepsy is a neurological (brain-related) condition that causes the suffering individual to go through seizures: either convulsive fits or losses of bodily control. These episodes increase in frequency when triggers are present, and can return at the presence of triggers even if the individual is medicated and "seizure-free." Seizures can be triggered by many things, but the most common trigger is flashing lights.
I'm not asking for a total change in the lights. I don't want a "handicap tour." But the only way to be "safe" from the lights would be to pay hundreds of dollars for prescription light filter glasses that still don't completely remove seizure risk--and for anyone suffering any cause of recurring seizures, even a single incident can have a huge effect.
In the state of Texas, a seizure suspends driving priveleges for 6 months; there is accumulative neurological damage, and depending on the type of seizure, the concert itself might only last ten minutes for the attendee. Not all seizures are convulsive; for example, absence seizures are usually about 10 seconds of unconsciousness without falling over. Some seizures cause muscle contraction without release, and some only affect one side of the body. Each type reduces or removes mental capacity, meaning an at-risk individual would either remember little to none of the concert or be stuck in an ambulance before their favorite song is played.
Even one concert per tour made "low risk" would be better than nothing. There's nothing worse than having no way to enjoy the same things that other people do freely.
I am seventeen years old. I work hard for my money, take my anticonvulsants every morning and night, and I'm tired of staring wistfully at tour dates and ticket prices alongside eager concertgoers' descriptions of the violent strobes and colors that would threaten my health.
There are 8.4 Americans with a currently active epileptic disorder for every 1,000, and that's not including individuals who have a lowered seizure threshold due to strokes or separate neurological conditions. That means there are over 2.5 million currently epileptic Americans (according to the Epilepsy Foundation). There is no known cure, and sometimes the condition is left untreatable by medical means.
Others recognize this problem. Even a substitute teacher who heard me talking about epilepsy and concerts had input: "Oh, no way. Twenty One Pilots? Way too many lights. I wouldn't let you go, no matter what."
I'm really not fond of "cutting my mind off," feeling "like my heart is going to burst," or living a literal version of Ode to Sleep and fighting inside my mind. I'm sure other at-risk music fans will agree--and I sincerely hope that everyone who loves music will take a stand for their fellows in bandom and their right to come and sing along.
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