Thoughts on peanut allergies, the Cubs and people who are total idiots

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In May of 2010, my then 17 month-old son Colin got his hands on some trail mix that his older brother and sister were eating. Within minutes, he was vomiting, coughing, wheezing, and struggling to breath. It seemed pretty clear to us that he was having a severe reaction to the peanuts in the trail mix.

As we watched his respiratory situation deteriorate rapidly, my husband and I frantically debated whether to make the 20 minute drive to Children's Memorial or take him to the local hospital around the corner. We decided not to chance to 20 minute drive.

After an extremely unpleasant few hours in the emergency room, medical personnel declared that my son's situation had stabilized and I was free to take him home. They suggested we make an appointment with an allergist as soon as possible.

A few days later, an allergist confirmed that Colin is severely allergic to peanuts, treenuts and eggs (that's a whole other story).

So now we are a food allergy family. No nuts in the house. We have Epi pens in the kitchen and diaper bag. I read food labels and bring our own snacks to playdates and parties.

Like thousands and thousands of other families in similar situations, we do what we have to do to prevent our son from having a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.

The truth is that, on a daily basis, my son's food allergies really aren't that big of a deal. We've made the necessary adjustments. We're taking the right precautions. And we're moving on with our lives.

However, there are a few situations that can be particularly nervewracking. Like being on an airplane where the person next to us is throwing back bag after bag of peanuts. Or attending a baseball game at a stadium where spectactors are participating in the time-honored tradition of cracking peanuts open with their teeth and throwing the shells all over the ground.

Just last Friday, my husband and I took our two older children to a Cubs game. As I sat in my seat surrounded by peanut eaters, for the first time I realized that Wrigley Field was going to be a tough place to bring Colin. My husband and I decided that, due to his current status as a crazy and restless toddler who couldn't make it through more than two innings, Colin wasn't going to be attending a game anytime soon so we would deal with the situation when we had to.

Then yesterday, I saw this story in Chicago Tribune about how the Cubs had announced that they were going to designate the centerfield Batter's Eye skybox as a peanut-free zone for next Monday night's game so that little Cubs fans with nut allergies could enjoy a trip to Wrigley Field without their parents standing by with Epi pens at the ready.

How great for kids with really severe peanut allergies, I thought. So smart of the Cubs organization to be sensitive to this issue.

And then I took a look at the comments made about the story -- where most people were either making fun of the situation or acting totally put out by the idea that they might not be able to eat peanuts for 3 hours of their lives. People can be really stupid.

So in conclusion: (1) Boo to the total idiots who are all hot and bothered by this situation. (2) Hooray to the Cubs for making this small accomodation for a group of their fans. (3) And to the kids who are going to the game on Monday -- I hope you have an awesome, safe time.

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  • I've had to deal with food allergies as both a parent and a (former) teacher. My son had a life-threatening strawberry allergy that he fortunately grew out of. You had to constantly check labels, ask questions, etc. But the peanut allergy is worse. When I was a teacher, we had "peanut free" tables in the lunch room. With the strawberry allergy, you can just watch the diet. The peanut allergy was worse; a trace of peanut oil that you couldn't even see, on a table, chair, railing, etc. could trigger the reaction. Good for the Cubs for doing what they did.

  • People are in denial that it's a life-threatening allergy. Seriously, it's a peanut. Not crack. They'll be just fine for an afternoon doing without.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: People!

  • In reply to VelvetMinxx:

    I'd like to think that people wouldn't be so flippant about the whole thing if they understood the possibly fatal consequences, but . . . I am not sure so about that.

  • In reply to VelvetMinxx:

    Well said.

  • In reply to VelvetMinxx:

    Just wondering why the rest of the world has to make concessions for a minute group of people.
    Eating peanuts at the ballpark, not just Wrigley, has been a life-long tradition! That would be like getting rid of the 7th inning stretch and the fans' rendition of Take Me Out to The ballgame! How about YOU find a way to deal with it instead? Since you are the one with the allergy and not the tens of thousands who attend the games, YOU need to find a way to co-exist, or don't go to the games. I'll say the same for schools and the ban on peanut butter sandwiches: wear gloves, bring wipes, etc and wipe lunch tables down, don't eat the peanuts at the game or touch them once they hit the floor (it's possible, ya know).

    I have a step-son who was allergic to peanuts, as well as many other things. We didn't make our house a peanut-free house: there were 3/4 of us who weren't allergic to peanuts and happen to love our peanuts. ERIC became peanut-free instead.
    Use your resources to find out why this is a growing trend, and what you can do to reverse the allergy and live in harmony with a world that has peanuts. There are more of us than you. I'm not insensitive to your problem, by the way, just tired of making concessions for every group that comes out wanting to change things that have been in existence sine the beginning of time. You're the one with the problem, so you should be the one who adapts. Simple!
    So, in the words of another poster: PEOPLE!

  • In reply to Dixiecharm:

    Wow Dixie, Eric's parents must really enjoy him visiting with you! Can you imagine growing up thinking that Grandma loves a peanut more than she loves you? Imagine knowing that every surface is covered with residue that will cause you to breakout into hives and if you inadvertently rub your eye, lick your finger (to turn a page in a book) or pick your nose (kids do it) you could allow that residue to enter your blood stream and cause a potentially life threatening reaction. Even Grandmas kisses have peanut on them.
    I hope you know how to use the auto injector, you will need to someday!
    You speak of living in harmony but when someone is as aggressive as you are I think that is impossible.
    Thank goodness that some baseball fields are creating peanut-free zones. To think that, by utilizing one of these, my daughter will never have to sit in your toxic presence!
    When did eating a peanut become a right? No one chooses to become deathly allergic to peanuts or any other food. You choose what you put in your mouth and on your table.
    Thank you for being honest enough to post your feelings, it's good for us to remember that we need to be constantly vigilant because there are people like you still out there.

  • In reply to Dixiecharm:

    Peanut allergy is not an "I don't eat meat so no one can" problem. It means a toddler with a severe sensitivity can inhale peanut particles and die on the spot. Your step-son must not have a very severe case.

    (My child is allergy-free and healthy as a horse, btw.)

  • In reply to Dixiecharm:

    Dixie, I wouldn't treat ANYONE, related or not, the way you do! You totally do not get what a severe allergy is. Please educate yourself (it's possible, ya know!)since having a peanut allergic stepson didn't work in that respect!

  • In reply to Dixiecharm:

    Whoa Dixie,

    I can't decide whether you are ill informed, or just downright cruel. For now, I will go with both. As to being misinformation, no one at the one Cubs game had to "make concessions" for peanut-allergic folks. What the Cubs did was provide a small skybox of space to a limited # of individuals in order that they could partake ALONG SIDE peanut-eaters at the Cubs game. Peanut-lovers could still eat as many peanuts as they wanted. You mention that peanut-allergic folks should find a way to CO-exist. This is exactly what they did at that one Cubs game: an event in which everyone could (literally) breathe easier and partake in this American tradition.

    Its incredulous to me that Caitlin shares the story of her son's potential fatal reaction to a peanut, and you respond by digging your heels in a vat of chunky peanut butter.

    What is also unbelievable is your outmoded simplistic argument that majority should rule while at the same time having the audacity to flaunt "tradition" as a means to support your argument. You may recall other similar arguments in our history in which those argued majority should rule before milestone legal achievements were implemented like the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other similar laws - all of which were created to protect discreet and insular "minorities" from the wrath of individuals like yourself.

    I feel really sorry for you - effectively you would prefer that individuals with nut-allergies remain closeted and hidden from society. Unfortunately for you, if this were to be the happen, you would not be encountering some of the most awesome fun-loving whipsmart folks I know.

    Peanut-allergic folks don't want to inconvenience people - trust me. I'm raising one. I don't like asking people to "make concessions." I don't expect our friends to have nut-free homes when we visit. But a Cubs game is a public accommodation - its available to ALL the public. The Cubs' recent action merely mimics what minor league parks and major league ones (Fenway comes to mind) have been doing for years. And I applaud the Cubs for opening their arms officially to all baseball fans - even ones as bigoted as you.

  • In reply to Dixiecharm:

    I don't know anyone with allergies like that however I do not doubt that it is serious. WHile I think it's great the Cubs are doing that...why should we make changes like that? what about the other people who aren't allergic to peanuts? I am allergic to latex, should I make sex shops ban their condoms just bc I want to take a trip inside? While I am not knocking then seriousness of the issue....if a child is allergic to peanuts, it is the parents responsibility to keep them away from situations where peanuts may be. I am not so sure other peoples lives have to change bc of someone else's medical situation. That being said...they are just peanuts and I won't miss them at the games..mainly bc i don't go to them ;) so I'm very glad that your children are safer. But in the end, it will always be your responsibility to keep them away from the things they are allergic to. Public places should not have to cater to a small group of people.

  • In reply to JMilk:

    There are changes "like that" everywhere. If a product contains latex, it has to say so on the package. Does it terribly inconvenience my life to have to read that warning? No. I'm an adult CO-EXISTING in a society that understand the seriousness impact on a few matters.

    It's one section in one game. Get over it. I can't wait till you have kids.

  • In reply to VelvetMinxx:

    hey velvet. I don't plan on having kids...ever. and if you would have read my comments thoroughly you would have seen that i really don't care either way. i'm super glad the kids can have a safe time and maybe the people obsessed with peanuts can manage a few hours without them.
    all I'm saying is that they did NOT have to do that. there are plenty of other illnesses out there that are not catered to.

  • In reply to VelvetMinxx:

    Dixie & Jenny Milk - um...are you kidding? Capacity at Wrigley Field is just over 41,000. The section (the ONE section) of Wrigley is about 800 seats, if that. That means over 99% of the park lets you eat and drink whatever the hell you want. And even if Wrigley Field was 100 seats, and they made a row of seats peanut-free, would that really change your time at the game for one second? On any other day at Wrigley, which is 80 out of 81 games, you can eat and drink whatever the hell you want 100% of the time. Are you so cruel that it bothers you to sit in the bleachers while a kid across the field is simply trying to enjoy one game? Would you take out handicapped ramps at a concert because most of the other concert-goers aren't handicapped? You are both idiots.

  • In reply to VelvetMinxx:

    People like

  • In reply to Dixiecharm:

    The Cubs' are offering one luxury box on one night to the peanut free people. Anyone can buy a ticket for the box but they can't bring in any peanuts. This doesn't inconvience anyone attending the game.

    It's ultimately about money. Sports and entertainment venues would offer peanut free sections if they're going to make a profit. It's not peanut free, however, if you're sitting accross the ailse from someone eating peanuts.

  • In reply to Dixiecharm:

    also, I don't think it is very educated of YOU to be calling people "idiots" that don't agree with your opinion. if you didn't have a child with a peanut allergy, you may be on the other side of this debate. But you're basically saying people are idiots bc they don't agree with you. welcome to the world...people do disagree on things. in the end, like i said before...since it is your child you have to take care of the peanuts not being around. Just like the child has to learn he/she can't eat them. and once again just so you dont' get too irritated..it IS great the field is banning them for your kid and other kids who are also allergic, but try to be objective about the whole thing...why should people who enjoy a tradition and are NOT allergic to peanuts have to give up something fun and tasty..because of YOUR kid? YOU have to make these concessions, not the rest of the world. but how nice that they are.

  • In reply to JMilk:

    Jenny Milk,
    I'm glad you support the Cubs' decision even if you don't know anyone with severe allergies that would require the box. I don't see, however, how anyone is really making much of a concession for allergic folks. Its one small skybox - big deal. The 1000s of other fans can eat whatever the heck they want - peanuts or not. You say that parents should be watching out for their kids - this is exactly what they did in this instance. They found a safe place for their kids to be kids. Ball parks have been doing this for years - the Cubs just finally caught on. You also talk about being "objective" but seem to not get the #s here. Again, no one is being asked NOT to eat peanuts unless they want to go to this one teeny tiny skybox. And for those peanut-obsessed who absolutely must eat a peanut in that very same skybox on that one rare night in which it was declared nut free - I mean, come on - really? I don't think an objective person could legitimately argue against this one special night.

  • In reply to Dixiecharm:

    and for my FINAL comment ..I am glad that these kids are going to be able to enjoy a baseball game..finally, without having to worry about getting fatally ill. just know that the fix to problems like this will not always be this easy. this is way too much debate about peanuts. perhaps the problem is that the people going to games are too focused on FOOD instead of the game. and here we are back at the root of the problem..obesity.

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