Living in a Bubble Due to Allergic Reactions
Just imagine a life, living in fear of everything due to the fact that it could probably kill you. Allergic reactions are nothing to joke about or ignore. Brynn Duncan tried to keep track of her food allergies but one day, it changed and almost cost her, her life. She’s not sure if it was a bite of ice cream or a bite of a cracker, but something caused her to go into anaphylactic shock.
According to her, it was just an ordinary day for her with her massive allergic reactions. Usually she can tell when a reaction might happen. She explains it as she gets this “overwhelming sense of – they call it impending doom”. Her labradoodle, Moose is also a good warning for an attack. Moose will start licking her hands frantically to warn Brynn.
I’ll feel like I’m being stabbed in the stomach, and then it gets hard to breathe and my throat and tongue start swelling. And we have to treat it really fast.
That one day in March, even multiple EpiPens didn’t slow down the allergic reaction that day. The paramedics arrived to the scene to take Brynn to Greenville Memorial Hospital.
Even though this seems like a scary and troubling life style, Brynn handles it better than most saying " New Day, New crisis". She’s pretty much allergic to life.
Brynn who is twenty-one years old, is back home in South Carolina. She relaxes as her mom changes the access on her chest port.
Melissa Duncan who is a paralegal by day, works to disinfect the area around the tube.
The meds we have to give her to keep her alive, she reacts to, Never in a million years did I think I would be doing this.
Understandable, because this seems pretty rare. Brynn seemed normal enough growing up, it wasn’t until her 16th birthday that Brynn had her first serious allergic reaction. After that, it was just a blur of hospitals and sick days. Of course, at first it was touch and go with a diagnosis and was diagnosed with several things: gatroparesis, POTS aka Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.
Of course Melissa, Barry, and Brynn wasn’t settling for the multiple diagnosis, they wanted answers. So the family started researching things on their own and self diagnosed her as mast cell disease. They found a specialist in their state and waited a long nine months to see him. However, it was worth the wait to hear him agree with their suspicions.
Mast cells regulate your immune system. They’re the ones that release histamine when a bug bites or when you come into contact with an allergen.
Brynn has no idea what could make her mast cells angry on any day. Could be the sun, could be bed bugs, could be fruit…just anything in this world could almost kill her easily.
Life in a Bubble
Although Brynn is obviously a fighter and doing the best that she can, it would be extremely rough to live in a bubble. Brynn had to spend her nineteenth birthday in the hospital. She had to miss a zip lining trip on her 20th birthday as well due to an allergic reaction. What seems normal to us, like a simple stuffed crust pizza, is something Brynn can only dream about eating.
Her parents have spent weeks sleeping in cramped hospital chairs. Her siblings have missed vacations and school ceremonies, they’ve had to learn to inject Brynn with an EpiPen and how to comfort and hold her still when one of her dystonia episodes hit.
There’s a lot of guilt that goes along with having a chronic illness. You feel like a burden. And people can tell you you’re not, but no matter what, in your head, you feel that you are.A lot of people with this disease … do, in a sense, have to live in a bubble, because it’s really difficult to get the symptoms under control, You spend a lot of time alone. And it can be very isolating. But thanks to social media, I haven’t felt alone.
Brynn uses social media as a way to connect with people safely. Even though she has to deal with being sick all of the time, she’s still a twenty-one year old girl. Of course she needs to talk to people and interact with others. I’m sure she needs a little break from her parents now and then.
Brynn is a unique young lady. She has a long battle ahead of her, but with her supportive family and the advancing medicine and her great out look on life, I’m sure she can handle almost anything life throws at her.
Daniel A. Gibalevich
DAG Law Firm