Swan Lake & Peanut Butter: When the Ballet Isn’t Safe

SwanLake2I’m so, so thankful I didn’t end up in the ER yesterday!

The original plan was to watch a friend of mine who I’ve known since I was about five-years-old marry the love of her life.  But due to the potluck nature of the reception and too much of a risk of having a run-in with peanuts or mushrooms (didn’t want to be the party guest who left in an ambulance), I had to settle for sending them happy thoughts and congratulations from elsewhere.  The tagged pics on Facebook are beginning to make their way into my feed, and the new Mr. and Mrs. look happy and adorable.

Plan B: a girls’ date to the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s production of Swan Lake.  While the main reason I wanted to go to the ballet was because I’d never seen Swan Lake performed, it seemed like a safe option for me due to the no-eating-anytime-anywhere-during-the-performance rule.  Unfortunately, the older gentleman sitting directly behind me thought this rule didn’t apply to him as he uncouthly cracked open is Tupperware and chowed down on his PB and J as the orchestra began to play the music for the second act.

I darted around in my seat to confront the offender.  “Is that PEANUTBUTTER?  I’m allergic!”

He began to close the lid while looking puzzled, but by then it was too late.  I tore out of the theater as I felt my throat beginning to close up, Mom and Shannon following close behind.  We wouldn’t be seeing Swan Lake, after all.

I took a Benadryl (the liquid kind, kicks in faster if you put them under your tough) as Mom, Shannon, and several of the employees stood with me in the lobby.  Waiting.  Waiting.  Waiting.  First one didn’t work; means it’s a serious allergy.  Second pill didn’t work; anaphylactic shock is of real concern.  Third one, taking its time; now we’re in crisis mode, and it means using the Epi-Pen followed by a call to 911 and a ride in an ambulance are the next step if things don’t improve.  And quickly.

Shannon later told me that she was so scared all she could pray was, “HELP!”

Finally, the third Benadryl hit with full force—my throat relaxed, I stopped gagging, and I felt like I was about to fall asleep standing up.  To everyone’s relief, we were able to go home instead of visiting with the doctor in the ER.  A major bummer that I still haven’t seen Swan Lake (only made it through the first act), but I felt so thankful to be going home.  Thankful to be alive.

Skipped out on the wedding to avoid peanuts but the day still ended up involving a major allergic reaction.  Drat.  Makes me feel scared to go anywhere.

As for the gentleman who couldn’t wait to eat his sandwich, I wish I could explain to him how even though some of those seemingly arbitrary rules like don’t eat in the ballet, opera, or library might seem dumb and optional, it’s those very rules that make them safe for people with food allergies.  I have to choose my outing based not where I’d most like to go but on where there won’t be food.  Food-free locations are the only places I can safely go.  So, please, just wait to eat your sandwich next time.  Cracking it open can not only ruin someone’s trip to the ballet and put their very life in danger, but when people don’t follow rules about food I can feel my world, where I can safely go, tightening in on me.  My options becoming more and more limited because you can’t wait a few minutes to eat.


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