The husband of a Minnesota woman who is allergic to everything, including her spouse, spent a year renovating their new home to create a safe space for her, but the smell of the new bathroom’s pipes and stress of the move have left her too sick to even stand.
For the past year, Johanna Watkins, 29, had been living in friend’s master bedroom, which was wrapped in plastic with the windows sealed, Fox 9 reported. Her husband, Scott, was staying in a room downstairs and would only see his wife when transporting her to doctors’ appointments or emergency room visits. She is also allergic to her parents, and it appears that her three siblings are the only people who do not trigger any allergic reactions, Fox 9 reported.
Watkins was misdiagnosed 30 times before doctors determined in 2015 that she has mast cell activation syndrome, which causes cells to release the wrong chemicals in the immune system to the wrong place at the wrong time, Fox 9 reported. After being diagnosed, Watkins’ body continued to develop new allergies, which can cause her to faint or even suffer anaphylaxis. At one point, her symptoms became so intense that the family Watkins was staying with realized they could no longer cook in their own kitchen.
Scott, an elementary school teacher, has transformed their new home in south Minneapolis into a safe space for his wife, with new paints, new floors and new furniture that is heated to mask any scents that could make her sick. He built her bedroom to include a positive-pressure system to keep the air fragrance-and allergen-free, Fox 9 reported. However, despite Scott’s efforts to make minimal contact with his wife during the Feb. 3 move, the intensity of the day and scent of the new pipes almost resulted in a trip to the emergency room.
A post on the couple’s Caring Bridge by Scott said Watkins passed out as soon as she entered her new space because of the smell.
“Johanna is too sick to see Dr. Afrin right now, so we cancelled our appointment which had been scheduled for tomorrow,” Scott wrote in a Feb. 7 post. “I think if we were to try and get her there we might as well just bring her to the ER, where there aren’t many things doctors can do to help anyway. Please pray for future medicine decisions. These choices are complicated and fraught with risks.”
Scott said his wife is slowly building a tolerance to the new house, but that that the air filtration has to be intensified and it has more windows than her previous space, which could trigger a reaction. For now he has covered the windows on the first floor where she is staying, while he lives upstairs.
“This has been a strange four days,” Scott wrote in the post. “For me it’s been filled with thankfulness and stress and sadness and suffering and attempts at hope.”