Fighting Con Crud

If you’ve ever been to a convention, you know that when you awake on the Monday after the con, you’re likely to encounter two of the most dreaded phrases in convention lingo: “Post-con depression” (also called “PCD”, which is that sad deflated party balloon feeling after you say goodbye to all your friends before returning to the real world) and of course “Con Crud.” You don’t need to be smoochin’ or sharing drinks to be susceptible to the latter. If you’re a dealer or shopper, you’re at a higher risk thanks to all the people you interact with during the weekend as you exchange paper currency (paper money is HELLA GROSS by the way!) for three days straight.

Although we can’t ban germs from cons and we might not know which con attendees are bringing their cooties to the party, we can follow some of the steps outlined below and do our best to defend ourselves against these microbial menaces and reduce our chances of getting caught in the cursed clutches of con crud! (Woot, alliteration!) This post is mostly concerned with viruses and bacteria since they are the most common culprits of con crud. Don’t forget that other parasitic organisms can lead to a bad time… but also try not to lose sleep over them.

Before I dive in, I hope that you all can appreciate the irony in the fact that I started writing this post while recovering from some freshly brewed con crud from my first con of 2019. (Rest assured that I was laughing internally despite sneezing and coughing outwardly.) I’m also hoping that this pep talk will help myself and others down the line!

BEFORE THE CON

  • SHOTS! SHOTS! SHOTS! EVERYBODYYY! – Make sure your immunization records are up to date. Balto didn’t die for you to spread your preventable diseases and I really don’t like the new trend of treating nearly extinct contagions (like polio and measles) as a new version of PokemonGo. #Sorrynotsorry, anti-vaxxers.
  • TESTING 1, 2, 3? – If you’re sexually active, get tested often (before and after the con just to be safe) so that you don’t send someone home with an unwanted souvenir.
  • EAT SLEEP HYDRATE REPEAT – Healthy immunity relies on a healthy body! Get sleep, eat nutritious foods, drink water, shower regularly. This holds true before, during, and after the con!
  • VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS?? (… maaaybe not.) – Many people rave about taking a hit of vitamins leading up to the con to “boost immunity” but the way our body absorbs vitamins and minerals is little more nuanced than just chugging some Emergen-C. Treating supplements like an easy button belittles the complex inner workings of our biology. If you take too many vitamins, the best option is that you’d just waste your money (likely by peeing out any that don’t absorb) and get the placebo effect of pretending that you’re “doing a science”. In the worst case you could cause harm to yourself (Vitamin E is one that is necessary for our bodies to function but actually has a side effect of death if taken in excess. That’s a yikes from me bro!) Not to mention that some vitamin suppliers are disingenuous. With vitamin supplements, you could be throwing money away or hurting yourself so if you want to do a vitamin boost regimen, I suggest talking to your doctor first. Basically, a balanced diet that is high in naturally occurring antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals (lots of greens, fruits, nuts, beans, fish, and eggs) is your best bet.
  • Take a chill pill. [This means YOU, con staff and dealers!] – It’s hard to chill when the con rush is upon us. I know that every week leading up to a convention my anxiety runs rampant; trouble sleeping, feeling like I can’t take time to focus on a the things that make for a happy, healthy me. If you can, try to minimize stress by working on commissions, packing, and other prep farther ahead before the con, you can use the last few days like a little pre-con “zen week”; all about self-care, healthy habits, and good vibes! If you’re prone to procrastination or letting time slip by, set alarms two or three weeks out so that you can get into con prep mode with plenty of buffer room.

“I’m sick… but the con is coming up! I HAVE to go!”

Oh boy, now you’ve done it. You have a convention coming up but you’re sick. Whether you’re dealing, staffing, or just attending for fun, many will advise that you stay home and quarantine yourself for the good of the convention (and for the sake of a quick recovery.)

Doing the right thing is of course easier said than done; it costs money to attend and you may not be able to get refunds on all expenses, it may be your career and a profitable con that you can’t afford to miss, or you may be the driver or host of the hotel for a bunch of your friends. “People are relying on me!” However it’s important to remember that all the attendees, dealers, artists, performers, and con staff are also hoping they won’t encounter Patient 0 of the common cold on their vacation or work trip!

The right thing to do is to admit your travel and registration purchases are sunk costs and stay home to recover. But it’s really hard to flush hundreds of dollars down the drain and even worse if you’re a dealer that relies on cons for income; we have to say “bye-bye” to the money spent on travel expenses and “bye-bye” potential sales. I don’t like the idea of sick-Os doing anything other than staying bundled up at home, sleeping, and allowing their immune system kick some microbial butt, but I can commiserate with those who choose to go instead of doing what may be best for the greater good.

Sometimes con crud pounces on you faster than you expect. I’ve been to cons where my friends and I started out healthy as could be but developed a cold during the weekend. Plenty of people push their limits of their health, get food poisoning, or other poor decisions that lead to an unhappy con-goer. For most of these cases, there are ways to continue to attend and enjoy the con responsibly while you’re sick.

  • Take care of your body – You’re sick and need to let your body fight infection. This may mean fewer social interactions and more rest, less junk food and more veggies, no alcohol and plenty of water, and so on but it all comes into play when your immunity and recovery is on the line. If you do too much while your body is in the early stages of fighting off an infection, it could stress your immune system more and you’ll take longer to recover. For instance you might want to cancel your dance competition if you suddenly discover you have the flu.
  • MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: Keep your cooties to yourself – Wear a face mask, cover your mouth in the crook of your elbow when you cough or sneeze, don’t let anyone touch you, and if you need to touch anything (no sharing your fursuit, food or other possessions), and try not to touch anyone or anything. Of course if you have to touch things (elevator buttons, door knobs, etc) be sure you’re clean by thoroughly hand washing before you do. The cold, flu, and other diseases want to jump host to host; you have to put your body on lockdown so that they don’t get that chance.
  • Let people know that you’re sick so they can properly defend themselves – not everyone goes to a con with paranoia that everyones’ cooties are out to get them. They may need a reminder so they can be on high alert; if one person is sick, there are chances that others are sick too. By knowing, they can do more preventative measures and increase their chances of leaving the con illness-free. It also takes the weight off you as being the only one on bug-busting duty!
  • Follow all the steps below without question! With your immunity suppressed, you might find yourself doing a cootie swap; sick before, during, and after the con AND getting tens of others sick in the process… no one wants that.

DURING THE CON

Regardless of whether or not you’re sick, these are some tactics that everyone should do while at the con to help increase your immunity while hindering your likelihood to contract and transmit con crud!

  • Wash hands well and often – Especially after touching money, elevator buttons, railings, door knobs, and other peoples’ possessions (fursuits, hands, phones, credit cards, etc.) Not to be all “You don’t know where that’s been!!” on you guys but if someone else touched something before you did, you should wash your freaking hands after you touch that thing. As for how one washes their hands, just follow three easy steps: 1.) lather your hands with regular hand soap in all the nooks and crannies of your hand, 2.) rinse with running water, 3.) and thoroughly dry.
  • Sanitize me, Cap’n! – Microbes don’t enjoy isopropyl alcohol (a.k.a. rubbing alcohol.) If you’re a dealer and can’t wash your hands as frequently as you make sales, a bottle of hand sanitizer out of view of customers so you can get a quick “squirp” of sanitizer when you need it should help prevent your hands from becoming a transmission hub for microbes on the move. I usually bring one hearty 8 oz. bottle with a pump nozzle applicator to cons that I drive to. When I fly to cons, I pack a bunch of tiny 1 oz. bottles. If you want to be resourceful and save $, you can reuse all these smaller bottles and refill with the giant 68 oz. mother of all bottles between cons.
  • Wax on, Wax off – Dealers that use their phones for Square as a credit card register should wipe down their phones (not just the screen) frequently and especially between sales if used for transaction purposes. Also, if you are a dealer that has display pieces, print books, price sheets, or other things that customers are encouraged to touch, wipe those suckers down daily. And fursuit spray your tails and paws (especially if you sell irresistibly soft ‘n’ cuddly fursuit parts that no one can resist touching!)
  • Do not share food or drink… EVER – Also prepare your own meals and drinks whenever possible. Someone may not appear sick when they are harboring a contagion that they recently came in contact with. Trust no one.
  • Avoid rubbing eyes or putting hands near mouth – Our skin is pretty amazing at keeping things out that would otherwise cause us illness. But because the mucosa of our eyes and mouth are easier for microbes to transfer from our hands and get into our bodies, this habit mostly helps as a last line of defense if you forgot to do any of the steps mentioned above.
  • Sleep, eat vegetables, drink water, shower! Yeah, yeah, yeah. I have mentioned this earlier. Cons make posters about this. Doctors preach this. There’s a reason for that! I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH! You’re concerned about being sick? That means you are striving to be healthy. Being healthy means participating in healthy habits and eating nutrient-rich foods. If you take care of your body and mind, your body will take care of you! Wash away the grossness, eat some green veggies, drink water, and get 6-9hrs of rest. Especially when you’re sick… and especially when you’re healthy. Well, all the time.
  • Before you “do it”, do yourself a “protec” – If you’re sexually active during the weekend, wear protection to minimize chances of STI transmission. Just be aware that some STIs can be contracted by skin-to-skin and mouth-to-mouth contact. Be honest and forthcoming with your partners about any serious previously diagnosed infections. Mentioning it afterwards is dishonest and not a great way to make or keep friends.
  • Think kink, think clean – Don’t forget to regularly clean your Bad Dragons!

CON CRUD TOOL KIT

Here are some basic essentials to pack for cons in order to stay healthy or kick the cruddy feelings during a long weekend:

  • Cough drops – Even without con crud, 3 long days of yelling over the din of the dealers den or laughing with friends can beat up your throat!
  • Vitamin C drops – for those times when I don’t have access to fresh produce or forget about fruit and veggies completely! Pizza is a delicious temptress…
  • Travel pack of tissues
  • Sanitizer or Handy wipes
  • Cold & Flu gel caps or pills – easier to keep in stock and administer in small doses. It may not be a cure but they can diminish the suffering if con crud gets you early in the weekend.
  • Pain relievers – I bring a mix of over the counter pain relievers: Advil, Aleve, and Tylenol for headaches, tendinitis, and muscle aches. Check your cold & flu pills before using these since many cold medications already have a pain reliever in them. Just remember to avoid drinking alcohol when you’re using Aleve (naproxen) or Tylenol (or anything with acetaminophen); alcohol + acetaminophen or naproxen = unhappy liver.
  • Tiger Balm – this stuff is magic. If your back is hurting or you stressed a muscle in your arm lifting heavy things, rub some on your skin and wait for the cooling and heating effect to soothe your pain. Has a cinnamon-like scent that smells pretty nice too!
  • Water / Gatorade – As mentioned in an earlier advice blog, I like to pound a Gatorade for a little boost in the morning so I don’t start off my morning with grogginess or dehydration headache. I also keep a refillable water bottle with me for times when I can’t escape my dealers table.
  • Melatonin – to help knock me out and guarantee I get more sleep
  • I’m not sexually active at conventions but if you are, pack plenty of condoms and use them. They should be fresh (check expiration dates) and properly sized; too big or too small could lead to a break and that’s about as good as not wearing one at all.


If you found this post informative, feel free to share on social media! I’m @Crazdude on most major social media sites. And if you have personal experience or suggestions to share, I would appreciate your comments below!

Much LORF!
Crazdude




Do you enjoy Crazdude’s Art & Advice Blogs?

Please be sure to share your favorite blog post on social media!
Also consider checking out Crazdude’s referral links for a way to show your support in a way that benefits you as well!




2 Responses to “Fighting Con Crud

  • One thing I’ll swear by for con crud prevention is this chinese herbal honey loquat syrup. It’s marketed as a cough syrup, but it’s worked really well for me as a general supplement. I usually take it regularly during high-stress periods, as well as before and after cons, (if home con, then during also). I’ve only gotten con crud like… twice? In ten years. And those were times where I didn’t take this. So. My proof is in the pudding. XD;;

    • Oooh that’s so cool! Sounds like it might be a nice addition to tea! Thanks so much for the tip and the link! Maybe it will come in handy for myself and others! 😀

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

NEW ENAMEL PINS FOR PREORDER IN THE SHOP! - Also running out of the Wax & Wane and Craz-wolf pins! If you want one, better buy while you can! Dismiss