What is MND/ALS?

What is MND/ALS?
MND/ALS is characterised by progressive degeneration of the motor nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The motor cells (neurones) control the muscles that enable us to move around, speak, breathe, and swallow. With no nerves to activate them, muscles gradually weaken and waste. Symptoms may include muscle weakness and paralysis, as well as impaired speaking, swallowing, and breathing. In most cases, it does not affect intellect, memory or the senses. Progress is relentless and generally rapid, with a life expectancy of between 2 and 5 years from the onset of symptoms. There is no known cause and there is no known cure. See links on the right for further information.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Accessible seating issues at Manchester Arena

As anybody reading this will already know, I have Motor Neurone Disease / ALS which is a terminal neurological condition, diagnosed July 2014. In March 2015 I bought a ticket for Madonna's Rebel Heart Tour in Manchester on 14th December 2015. At the time of buying the ticket I was relatively ok and able to talk & walk. Aware that this could change at any time I emailed Manchester Arena in August to enquire about what would happen if I needed accessible seating by the time of the show December and they advised "If you find that you are in need of wheelchair assistance then you must speak to customer service on the night of the show, who are situated just inside the arena next to block 101. Speak to staff members there and they would try there up most best to move you to a wheel chair accessible seat".

Its now less than 2 weeks until the show and I am now unable to speak, unable to walk, am fed by a peg tube into my stomach and have to use a wheelchair pushed by a carer when I am out and about. The disease has accelerated considerably over the past few months. I emailed Manchester Arena again in mid November to advise I would now need a wheelchair accessible seat which was disappointing as I had bought a ticket for a great seat close to the stage, Block A, Row L, Seat 12. Two weeks passed and I hadn't heard back so I chased them up and received the following reply on the same day "Unfortunately all the accessibility seating is sold out for the Madonna Concert. You can still use your floor seating ticket, if you can transfer to the seat and the steward will take your wheelchair and storage round at the customer service desk". 

This isn't really ideal as I am not physically capable of sitting in my original seat, despite wanting to. Not only can I not walk, if I do I am prone to falls due to muscle loss in my legs. I need a carer with me to push my wheelchair and look after my equipment as I carry a portable NIV ventilator on the back of my wheelchair too for when I get breathless. I'm also a bit miffed as I had been told by the venue to wait until the night originally.

I have contacted Ticketmaster who said as I bought the Rebel Heart Package (whatever that includes) I would need to contact Live Nation VIP. They did say to come back to them if Live Nation couldn't help. Emailed Live Nation who confirmed accessible seating has been exhausted and there is nothing they can do. Emailed Ticketmaster back and now waiting for response.

I am very keen to go to this show as it may well be the last time I see Madonna in concert, having been to all of tours since 1993.

Anybody got any other suggestions? I have tweeted Guy Oseary and Madonna to see if I could get their attention about my plight! The other option is to sit in my original seat and risk my health, but not sure its worth ever doing that for anybody, even it is our Queen Madonna!

UPDATE: Oh just heard back from Ticketmaster. "Thanks for your patience whilst I've been looking in to this. I've escalated this with our senior account management team who have also been in touch with the guys over at Live Nation to see what we're able to arrange for you under the circumstances however they've also confirmed that unfortunately we're unable to guarantee seats in the accessible area in advance because of just how popular the show has been and that we've no tickets available to exchange you to. The team have advised that if you speak to the box office on the night of the show they'll do their very best to accommodate you in a different area of the arena or in the accessible area, however this would be subject to availability. I'm very sorry that we're not able to guarantee something specific in advance of the show, however if you speak to them on the night of the show they should be able to assist. If there's anything else we can help with in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact us." 

Great! Looks like I'm not going then, can't risk going with a maybe. £320 down the drain!