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chapter 54

Disco damage! A medical selection of common raving injuries, their treatment and how to avoid them, compiled by Dr Phil Dudman, MD(MA), CDJ, GHB, NRG-1 (with expert advice from Clive James of the St John Ambulance and Emma Harrison of the Royal National Institute for Deaf People)


fig 1.1. Sore Throat

Hand aid to amplify whisper

Toe Nails

Ibiza Voice

Symptoms: What a holiday. Seven huge nights out on the trot, memories that will last for ever. You’re bankrupt but who cares, you feel absolutely marvell… oh wait, ATCHOO!! Actually you can’t speak above a whisper, you’re bunged up and your throat feels like you’ve been gargling with Cillit Bang and toenails. Say hello to Ibiza’s revenge. Oh, and check your watch. You’ve got work in an hour. Causes: What did you expect from a huge, week-long binge of hedonism, zero sleep, exotic narcotics and returning to good ol’ Blighty on a plane full of people in exactly the same, er, plane. Welcome to SneezyJet: fasten your seatbelt and begin sweating. And that air nozzle blasting down on your face? That’s pure, unadulterated disease. Mmmm. Treatment: Clive says: “There’s little you can do but keep warm, drink plenty of fluids and take over-thecounter cold remedies. If it’s a virus, stay at home to avoid passing it on”. Not all bad, then.

Symptoms: When the sun breaks through, festivals come into their own. Everyone is on a one-track mission to strip as bare as possible and let the good times roll. Such a feeling of freedom is never more apparent than when chucking your wellies into the crowd and whipping on those flimsy little flip flops. Until, that is, you start experiencing sharp, painful sensations in your feet and hear the sound of bone being crushed into fragments. Still, at least the warm dust helps soak up the blood. Causes: Probably something to do with wearing flip flops in a crowd of 150,000 people who all like to jump up and down. Escape the masses and you’ve still got tractors, cows and novelty spiked crash helmets all ready and waiting to grind, stamp and drop onto your vulnerable little pinkies. Ha, and that singer thought you were screaming for him… Treatment: Clive says: “Swelling, soreness and being unable to stand are signs that you have an underlying injury. Get some ice, wrap it in fabric and apply. Rest it and prop it up when you’re lying down.” Prevention: A leathery-based foot covering and perhaps some kind of tough, rubber-like sole. Tape them together. Hang on, that sounds like a boot, doesn’t it? Yes. Buy some boots. fig 1.2. Swollen Toes


[[1L]] october 2010

fig 1.3. Friction Burn

Cutting ’n’ scratching’

Symptoms: At festivals, cuts and scratches are perhaps the number one cause of a trip to the first aid tent, but even the tamest night on the tiles can end up drawing blood. Causes: These can range from full on fights to head butting the booth in excitement, or being bottled by your mate for a laugh. In fact, given the weekly accounts of injury-byflying glowstick and even one story of an eyebrow being split open at a festival by a squash thrown by a motley bunch of countryside alliance protesters, you’ll do well to get home in one piece. Treatment: Clive says: “Use cold running water or a bottle of water to clean the cut. Dry it, then cover up with a plaster if you’ve remembered to bring them – they’re a good fallback for painful feet too).” If you have been hit by a vegetable, why not cook it into a healthy soup? Prevention: Try all-over Kevlar body protection, or a suit of armour if it’s Bestival. Alternatively, cover your entire body in Vaseline and everything will just slip right past.

fig 1.4. Depression

Post-raving depression

Symptoms: The morning after often brings sense of grave despair. Suddenly you lack the ability to enjoy even life’s simplest pleasures. The only sound you are capable of making is a whimper of self loathing; worse, you can’t be arsed to change the channel despite having been warned of a James Corden double bill. Eep! Causes: Sheer sadness at the thought of swapping a utopian world of communal love and sensory excitement for a queue at the coffee machine whilst Fiona rabbits on about last night’s episode of X Factor? Or the fact that you need a new job, your relationship is in tatters and you’re only ever happy under a disco ball? Or is it simply massive serotonin depletion thanks to lots of drugs? Er… Treatment: Serotonin (the brain’s happy juice) takes time to restock, but a diet rich in the amino acid tryptophan may help. That means bananas, nuts, seeds, shellfish and turkey, blended into a smoothie and downed in one. A more cognitive approach involves thinking positive thoughts and trying to put your temporary blues in perspective. If all else fails, dig out Anchorman on DVD. Only joking about the smoothie. Prevention: What do you think? fig 1.5. Ringing Ears Outer Ear

Ear Drum Ringing sound

Clubber’s Ear

Symptoms: These will no doubt include regular expressions of “What? WHAT???” every time you have a conversation and the notion that while you were asleep an entire telethon of phones have started ringing in your ears. Your hearing is as dull as a night in watching Midsomer Murders and even the latest Cocoon compilation is starting to sound like the soundtrack to a 70s Pong arcade machine. You may well have the imprint of last night’s bass bin on the side of your face. Causes: Huge bass, huge volume and your mate shouting ‘I said I LOVE you man!” directly into your eardrum between each

electro breakdown. Falling asleep by the speakers is another classic instigator, as is trying to insert your mobile directly into your mouth when the taxi man calls, so as to bypass your dysfunctional ear lobes. Or perhaps you were DJing at that party last night and enjoyed your own tunes so much you had the booth monitor on full and headphones to the max as well. That’s why you didn’t hear everyone leaving, isn’t it? Treatment: Emma Harrison from RNID says: “If you have ringing in your ears or dull hearing after a night out, you’ve been listening to music too loudly for too long. A handy rule of thumb is that if you have to shout to be heard by someone two metres away, the volume is too high and you should protect your ears. Remember, there’s no cure for noise-induced hearing loss, but it is 100 per cent preventable!” Prevention: “Wear reusable earplugs that reduce the volume but not quality of sound – at around £10 they won’t break the bank. Stand away from speakers and use chill out zones to give your ears time to recover.” fig 1.6. Flaming shell suit


Symptoms: We suggest checking your clothes for hot, orange-yellow flames or sparks, as these are a good general indication that you’re on fire. Shout ‘You’re on fire!” at people and they’ll just look smug and start highfiving anyone in sight. This can prove especially dangerous if they are actually on fire, particularly in high winds or 90s shell suits. Causes: Beyond a build-up of friction from shuffling around to nu-disco, burns are most likely to result from standing close to too many hot lassies... who are all holding cigarettes in your direction. Burns are a prominent affliction during festival season too, with camp fires, fireworks, gas stoves, barbecues and even the Kings of fucking Leon all begging to set you, or your sex, on fire. Of course, you may already covered yourself with petrol at the sheer thought of hearing that song again. Treatment: Clive says: “Cool it down, if you can – pour water or a soft drink over the area. Avoid alcohol, though, as if you pour this over it will sting. When the pain is relieved, dry the burn and stick a plaster on”. What Clive didn’t say, though, is for Christ’s sake ditch the shell suit. Prevention: Avoiding being set on fire isn’t like avoiding athlete’s foot or the common cold. Just. Stay. Away. From. Fire. Especially if you are drunker than Gazza at an armed siege.

Disco Dick

fig 1.7. Disco Dick

Symptoms: You start singing, “I can’t get it up...” along to Soulsearcher, and find the only thing that’s ‘hard’ is sealing the deal. Causes: Though perhaps not a strictly-cum-dancefloor injury (ho ho) it’s been estimated that around 1 in 10 men will experience recurring impotence at some point in their lives. It can be a side effect of drugs; psychological impotence is where thoughts or feelings result in a loss of mojo. Treatment: Beyond surgery or injections too painful to write about, some sources suggest aerobic exercise is a great way to keep the blood flowing, so keep on dancing. Or find that dealer who looked like Morpheus and take the blue pill this time. If it persists see your doctor. Prevention next time: Get your priorities right, lads. D’you want to take a lady to paradise, or take another line of frankly dubious provenance?

Festival Foot

Symptoms: An all too common affair at our British rain-soaked festivals. If feet are cold and wet for too long, tissue and nerve damage can occur within 24–48 hours. Blisters and swelling may appear along with numbness, pain and a decaying odour as your foot literally zombiefies. Prevalent at mudsoaked festivals and booze-covered student union dancefloors alike, it reached epidemic proportions at Bestival 2008, which holloweyed survivors describe as “like the Somme, but with more girls dressed as air hostesses”. Causes: Prolonged exposure of the feet to cold, wet and unsanitary conditions, worsened by keeping the same sodden trainer on for a whole weekend spent trudging though mud and watching The Chems from a foot-deep puddle. Treatment: Podiatrists recommend a potassium permanganate footbath to dry out the waterlogged tissue, followed by an antibacterial and anti-fungal dressing. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatories may also help. Prevention: Keep your feet as warm and dry as possible, and change your socks at regular intervals. Or perhaps just quit, pack your bags and treat yourself to a toasty fire and a hot chocolate at the nearest B&B. fig 1.8. Festival Foot

Go to, for more on how to protect your hearing. St John Ambulance is the nation’s leading first aid charity:


october 2010 [[2R]]

Disco Damage October 2010  

Ibiza Voice, Glas-toe, Post-Raving Depression and Disco Dick - some of the clubbing's most horrible medical hazards...