Facebook | McKenze Messman Fight with Ehlers Danlos, POTS, and Mast Cell Disease

A Bizarre Reaction Left This Teenager Allergic To Almost Everything

ryan.ford 27 Dec 2018

For the most part, the only things I had to worry about in high school was getting to class on time, finishing my homework, and getting enough sleep at night. Well, two out of three wasn't bad. And in retrospect, I can see I had a pretty charmed life.

But nothing puts all that into perspective quite like hearing about someone who had their own ideal childhood/adolescence put on hold for some real, profound problems. Just look at this teenager, who had her life turned upside down out of the blue.

For her freshman year, McKenze Messman should have been worrying about normal, everyday teenager things like studying and performing on the cheerleading squad.

Facebook | McKenze Messman Fight with Ehlers Danlos, POTS, and Mast Cell Disease

Instead, three days into her first semester, had a small allergic reaction that sent her to the nurse's office. To this date, they still don't know exactly what she reacted to — but the small reaction turned severe, and then life-threatening.

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Over the next few weeks, McKenze had seven more life-threatening allergic reactions, including three ambulance rides to the hospital from school in one week.

Facebook | McKenze Messman Fight with Ehlers Danlos, POTS, and Mast Cell Disease

"I was reacting to literally everything from the sun hitting me, to heat, to stress, being too cold, to strong smells, to most all foods, and weather changes," she recalled in a Facebook post.

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Her health mysteriously fell off a cliff, requiring a dramatic change in her habits to avoid further reactions.

Facebook | McKenze Messman Fight with Ehlers Danlos, POTS, and Mast Cell Disease

"Currently, I am down to eating only five different foods. I must be cautious of the vibrations from car rides to and from doctor visits. All in all, you name it.. I will react."

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She took a battery of tests to figure out what was going on, first with her local health team, and then at the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota's Journey Clinic.

Facebook | McKenze Messman Fight with Ehlers Danlos, POTS, and Mast Cell Disease

The experts she saw diagnosed her with a trio of conditions that have ganged up on her in a fierce way: Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a genetic connective tissue disease that affects her joints; Mast Cell Disease, an incurable condition that makes her allergic to just about everything; and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), which causes low blood pressure and an extremely high heart rate.

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McKenze's life of gymnastics, cheerleading, swimming, and going to class was behind her, just like that.

Facebook | McKenze Messman Fight with Ehlers Danlos, POTS, and Mast Cell Disease

It has been replaced by constant pain, fatigue, seizures, fainting, weakness, and an awareness to everything around her. She has more than 100 triggers for reactions that she knows of, so when she's feeling well enough to go out, she typically wears a mask and uses a wheelchair in case she faints or has a seizure.

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To manage her many symptoms, she takes 21 medications every day and takes saline fluids three times a week.

Facebook | McKenze Messman Fight with Ehlers Danlos, POTS, and Mast Cell Disease

Those saline infusions give her energy for about four hours afterwards, she says. Otherwise, she tends to sleep for about 15 hours a day. And, to prevent another anaphylactic reaction to her many allergies, she's on a 24-hour Benadryl regimen.

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McKenze has another constant companion as well: Makki, her 2-year-old goldendoodle service dog.

Facebook | McKenze Messman Fight with Ehlers Danlos, POTS, and Mast Cell Disease

Makki has made a huge difference in McKenze's life. She can sense when McKenze will have a reaction, usually about 20 before it comes on, and let her know by licking her fingers so she can take her medication to prevent the attack.

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Naturally, between the fainting spells, the allergic reactions, and the fatigue, McKenze can't be in class.

Facebook | McKenze Messman Fight with Ehlers Danlos, POTS, and Mast Cell Disease

But she still takes classes online. She can't meet her friends for swimming at the lake, but some days she can hit up the mall. She's still a teenager, too, and loves all things Harry Potter and Twilight, and she still dreams of being a surgeon.

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But she's also had to be fairly upfront with her health struggles because her conditions are largely invisible.

Facebook | McKenze Messman Fight with Ehlers Danlos, POTS, and Mast Cell Disease

And the sheer amount of care she needs, including travel to specialist appointments, equipment, and many, many hospital stays, meant she had little choice but to set up a GoFundMe. McKenze has also been helped out by Chive Charities along the way, and she tries to let people know what it's like to live with her trifecta of conditions with a YouTube channel and a Facebook page.

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Basically, she and her family take things one day at a time, always trying to move forward as best as possible.

Facebook | McKenze Messman Fight with Ehlers Danlos, POTS, and Mast Cell Disease

Remarkably, McKenze recently had her senior year photos done, so her struggles have clearly been successful in that regard. She has learned to live with her trifecta as much as something that might change from day to day allows her to, due largely to the support of her family, friends, and of course Makki. And we can only hope for all the best for her future!

h/t People

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