29-year-old Johanna Watkins suffers from an extremely rare condition which makes allergic to literally hundreds of things, including the scent of her husband. For the past year, she has been living alone in a specially-built “safe zone” of her house, and claims that every times she leaves this space her body “goes into attack” mode.
Johanna met her husband Scott five years ago, at Hope Academy, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she worked as a first grade teacher Scott as a second grade teacher. They got married in 2013 and started making plans about their life together, but just two years into their marriage, the allergies that Johanna had suffered from all her life started getting considerably worse. At first they though it was just food allergies, and changed their diet, but that didn’t help. In 2015, she was diagnosed with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS), a rare genetic disorder that causes her body to develop life-threatening anaphylactic reactions to virtually everything.
MCAS causes mast cells, which release chemicals that tell our immune system how to react to various stimuli, to build up and go haywire. Basically Johanna’s mast cells release the wrong chemicals, to the wrong place, at the wrong time. The cells react to all sorts of triggers, releasing chemicals that overwhelm the body, leading to anaphylaxis. Unfortunately, the condition was discovered just nine years ago, so little is known about it.