Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Food Allergies and a Visit to Sea World

We live in a fun city that has lots of entertainment and dining options.  Unfortunately, we don't take advantage of many of them.  Very few places are safe and many things are not worth the risk.  However, we have found one place that we visit frequently - Sea World.

How do we safely visit Sea World with our food allergies?

It all began with a phone call to the corporate office of Sea World.  I explained our food allergies as well as the contact allergies and my concerns of cross contamination.  They provided a letter that stated our medical condition and gave us permission to bring our own food into the park.  Now I enter Sea World with our little soft-sided cooler with allergy-free food and we don't have to worry about trying to find something safe to eat inside the park.  In fact, we don't even go near any of their restaurants.  We stick to the shows and the rides.

So, we can get into Sea World with our allergy free food.  But what does a visit look like from my perspective?

Here are the details from our last trip.......

I spent an hour preparing and packing food for our trip.  I divided everything into smaller containers (because they don't allow large containers) and I made sure I had more than we would need.  Then I filled water bottles for each person and started loading the car.

We arrived at Sea World with a double stroller, a soft cooler, our Epi bags, and an armful of waterbottles and towels.  It felt a lot like moving.

Then we had to go through the always fun (and super cheerful) security check.  Did you notice the sarcasm?  The guard took his little silver stick and began to dig through my cooler.  Then he started pulling everything out and saying, "Nope you can't have this.  No, you can't have that."  I started to explain to him about the letter when he interrupted me and told me I had to have a "card."  What on earth?  He told me I had to go to guest services.

I was completely annoyed so I got back in a different line with another guard.  I told him about the letter and showed it to him.  He waved me right on through.  Unbelievable!!!

We were finally inside the park.  As we walked through the crowds I kept Bee right next to me, holding on to the stroller with one hand.  This is the conversation I had in my head as we walked to our first show.

Ohhh, ice cream, ice cream.  Move left!  Yikes!  Yikes!!

No, no, no!  Nachos.  Nachos coming.  They look drippy.  Careful, careful!

That guy is eating turkey leg.  Ok, safe.  Very gross.  But safe. 

What is this coming?  What is that boy holding?  It's a bag.  It's chips.  It's Nacho Doritos!  Oh, panic, panic, panic.  Move over.  

Cups, cups, cups.  Those people have cups with spoons.  What's in the cups?  Ice cream?  Ice cream?  Nope, just frozen lemonade.  Deep breath.  Deep breath.

This is what goes through my head as we walk around the park.  I notice what every single person is eating.  Sometimes I throw my body between Bee and the person walking by if I see ice cream or something with cheese on it in their hands.  I have mini panic attacks and silently scream in my head as I count the unsafe foods that pass us.

Show time is not much more relaxing.  I sit with Bee either right next to me or right in my lap.  I watch everyone who sits around us.  When I see that they have snacks I watch until I can determine what they are eating.  If it's unsafe I have all the kids shift around so I can keep Bee away from those foods.

Neurotic?  Probably.  But we've stayed safe at every visit and I know every. single. food that you could possibly purchase at Sea World.  However, my kids can't hear my crazy internal conversations and panic moments, so they have an absolutely wonderful time.  And for a few hours I feel slightly normal as I wander through the crowds and enjoy the shows.  We look like any other family - well maybe except for the part where I fling myself in front of people as a human shield to keep ice cream away from Bee.  We're almost normal..........


Anonymous said...

I always think that "almost normal" really is just fine. My daughter is allergic to all fish and shellfish. My brother and his family live at the beach, literally. I have also learned how to make it seem normal for the kids without them hearing my inner screams, although they do sometimes hear real screams when they decide to play with crab claws. :-) Never a dull moment!

Lexi Henegar said...

No it's never dull is it? I try to only panic inwardly while encouraging my kids to enjoy life within the limitations of our allergies.

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