Natasha Coates, a UK citizen, has mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS), due to which, she experiences allergy to almost anything! From change in weather to her meals each day. She would be okay with a meal one day and it could be fatal for her the very next day.
The symptoms of allergy include, seizure, difficulty in breathing, numbness in limbs and joints popping out.
The girl is allergic even to her own tears and hair! Her scalp starts to burn when her hair grow. Her tears, when she cries, burns her skin and causes a red rash on her skin. She experiences multiple allergic reactions in a day. These include migraines, itching, swelling and several other reactions due to which she has used almost 250EpiPens and numerous trips to hospital.
Despite the serious condition, she has managed to be the number 1 gymnast in Disability British Championship in UK.
Ms. Coates experiences allergy daily for different reasons. She says, ‘One day I could eat a cheese sandwich and I will be fine. I could eat the exact thing the next day and it could try and kill me. And the day after I could eat it again and it will be fine. I don’t know what I’m going to react to next.’
‘There are so many things I react to; changes in temperature, I react to bath products, beauty products, deodorants, sprays, absolutely everything… different make-ups, just things around the house.’
‘I am allergic to everything.’
Ms. Coates was developed this problem when she was only 18. And it took 2 years to diagnose this.
She says, ‘Towards the end of 2012 I started getting allergic reactions to fruit. My lips would blister a little bit and feel a bit itchy. First it was apples, then strawberries and then it was tomatoes.’
At first, she was told she has oral allergy syndrome. But her complete problem was identified later. She says, ‘But then I was out one day with friends at an event,’ she explained. ‘I hadn’t eaten anything new. I hadn’t drunk anything new and I suddenly felt really unwell. The next thing I know, they are putting an oxygen mask on my face and then I lost consciousness.’
‘I was told I’d had a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction.’
She then found out that she had MCAS which is a result of genetic mutation; causing an excessive number of mast cells in the body of the victim.
In a normal healthy human, mast cells protect the body from disease by releasing substances like histamine and leukotriene. But a patient of MCAS has excessive of this substance in the body and that results in hyper-responsivity which can prove fatal.
According to her, the reactions due to allergy can vary.
Ms. Coates explains her different life from the rest of the teenagers and calls it very unpredictable. She said: ‘I am not able to do most things most 22-year-olds do. I can’t drink alcohol. I can’t even tolerate it on my skin. I can’t go out clubbing just because of the environment with all smoke and food.
‘Mast cell activation syndrome is an incredibly difficult condition to live with. It can be very hard to cope with because I can never know what’s going to happen during the day.
I never know if I am going to make it. If I will be sleeping in my own bed or be in a hospital bed. Or even if I will survive to be honest.’
‘I just kind of have to make the bald girl look work really. I don’t have much choice.’
Natasha’s mother takes great care of her daughter’s condition. She cooks different safe foods daily to minimize the risk of allergy and she also tries to keep the house as clean as possible to reduce the chances of allergy due to pollen and dust.
Mrs. Coates explains: ‘To reduce the chance of Natasha having a reaction I tend to be over-zealous with the cleaning, dusting, wiping surfaces down, making sure people wash their hands when they come to the house.’
‘They can wash their hands when they go if they like as well, just to keep her safe really.’