[a stadium story]
Each year, Houston’s NRG Stadium converts into a giant dirt track for monster trucks. The monster truck drivers wow the audience by performing stunts and racing each other. It’s truly a spectacle!
Gene obtained an obsession for monster trucks early on, so it was an event we were eager to take him to. For the first few years, our reasoning for not taking him was nap time and following schedules, but as he got older and we could be more flexible, the excuse became his allergies.
NRG is a major stadium and, as such, it is filled with more germs and allergens than this mom wanted to think about. However, I knew that this had the potential to be a memorable experience for our family and I did not want to be held back. So, we decided to go in celebration of Gene’s third birthday. We purchased our tickets, arranged for a family member to watch baby Farrah, and began to plan, plan, plan!
I scoured NRG’s website for information on outside food. I knew we had to have our approved clear bag, but in most situations, outside food is not permitted, so I needed more precise details. The website clearly stated that “exceptions are made for medical reasons and children”. I felt that we qualified for both of those exceptions.
I made sure to screenshot this piece of gold and packed our bag! Our clear bag included multiple allerGene-friendly snacks, Gene’s EPI Pens, chewable Benadryl, and anti-bacterial wipes. Off we went!
I had so much fear leading up to this outing. I prayed and prayed for weeks and even asked others to pray for our family. As we approached the security check, I was still anxious, but knew we were as prepared as we could be.
I opened our bag and the gentleman immediately saw the stocked goodies. Before he had a chance to even open his mouth, I explained that Gene had food allergies and he could not eat anything in the stadium. He paused with hesitation and said, “Let me talk to my supervisor”. As he walked away, I got my screenshot ready and was fully prepared to cause a scene and be on the 5:00 news.
Fortunately for him (and the news that evening), the man came back and said, “Alright, those are fine. Go on through”. My entire body gave a sigh of relief as I knew the first battle was over.
The second battle would be fighting the allergens inside the stadium.
We got to our seats and promptly used our antibacterial wipes to wipe them down. I scanned the nearby sections for allergens and didn’t initially see anything that would cause alarm.
The show began and Gene looked absolutely precious wearing his noise blocking headgear. We made it almost two hours before the group diagonally in front of us pulled out a bag of peanuts. If that didn’t make me nervous enough, they proceeded to throw them down the row to other members of their group. Not the entire bag, but individual peanuts flying through the air. They meant it as a way of sharing with each other, but through my eyes, all I saw was the potential for a deadly reaction.
I opened my mouth multiple times to say something, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Being an allergy mom means you’re usually caught between a rock and a hard place. I didn’t want Gene to be at risk, but I also didn’t want to impose our burden on others. Airborne allergies are tricky. You never know when or if a reaction is actually going to occur, which makes me hesitate when it comes to asking others to change what they’re eating.
Unfortunately, they ended up sharing the peanuts with more than just their row of friends. Hives began to appear on Gene’s cheeks and our chewable Benadryl was utilized. Between the minor reaction and Gene’s sitting still time maxing out, we knew it was our time to go.
It’s been a year since we went to Monster Jam and I still think about those peanuts flying overhead. I have replayed that scenario over and over again in my head and, after all this time, I still don’t know if I would say something to the people in front of us.
ROCK | me | HARD PLACE
So, let your takeaway be this: Next time you’re at a stadium event, please be cautious if you choose to eat peanuts. Peanuts have a high potential of posing an airborne risk, meaning that people can have reactions simply from small particles circulating through the air they breathe.
Ask those around you if they have a peanut allergy, ask for a container to throw your shells in rather than throwing them on the floor, and definitely do not throw them down the rows.
Although we didn’t make it the entire way through the show, the few hours we did see were enough to make us want to go back again. I’m not sure when that will be because I am still so terrified of Gene’s airborne peanut allergy, but I know we’ll try again some day.