For the past year, a Minnesota woman has lived in the confines of her bedroom, away from her husband, because the plastic-wrapped room is the safest place for her to be.
After receiving a large number of misdiagnoses, Johanna Watkins, 29, was diagnosed with mast cell activation syndrome (mcas) about nine years ago, 9 Fox reported. The body of the mast cells are meant to release chemicals that dictate immune responses, but Watkins’ let the wrong chemicals at the wrong place at the wrong time.
“We are just entering a new era here, where doctors only have to know that there is a new kid on the inflammatory block, so to speak,” Dr. Lawrence Afrin, a professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota Department of Hematology, Oncology and Transplantation, who has been diagnosed Watkins, told Fox 9. “So when they see a patient who has several inflammatory issues, they have a hard time putting the whole package together and have a hard time finding an effective therapy.”
A 15 percent of the general population could have mcas, but most people are not diagnosed and instead told they have multiple inflammatory disorders, such as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and chronic fatigue.
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While most patients will respond to a cocktail of medication, Watkins’ case is so severe that she has not responded to a treatment. Johanna and her husband, Scott Watkins, drew with Dan, and Lucy Olson, who invited them to stay with their four children. Johanna only leaves her bedroom for the control room and the planned visit doctor. Scott must stay in a downstairs room and wear a mask when he sees her.
“I can’t get too close,” Scott told the news service. “I can’t hug her safely. I can’t hug her without hurting her.”
The space outside her room has an immediate effect on the Johanna, 9, Fox reported.
“As soon as the door opens, I can feel it. My body goes into full attack mode,” Johanna told the news station. “It feels like my body is waging war on itself. My throat automatically tightens. It just feels like Darth vader doing a chokehold.”
The Olson family has adapted to their lifestyle for the couple, including the discontinuation of the cooking in their own kitchen, Johanna was sensitive to smells. Five of their neighbors and gave the hosts few keys, so that they can use in their kitchens.
Scott, in the second class of the teacher, the renovation of a house with an apartment on the upper floor, so that Johanna can live comfortably down. He hopes to move in in December. He also started a GoFundMe campaign to help raise funds for a safe living environment for his wife.
“Every time I come back from those events, I feel grateful— very very grateful for the help of everyone around me,” Johanna said, “and the fact that I made it, and I’m back, and I got another day.”