BY NICOLAS FERNANDES
Meet the student who is allergic to almost everything and can have seizures from just the smell of food, soap or laundry detergent.
Cheyanne Perry, 21, of South Carolina, USA, is battling the tormenting symptoms of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Gastroparesis.
The symptoms of her chronic illnesses started worsening in her teens, forcing her to be homeschooled at 13 and connected to a feeding tube three years later.
Due to the worsening of her symptoms, Cheyanne hasn’t eaten a single piece of food in three years and currently takes all of her college classes online.
To prevent her life-threatening symptoms, her family and fiancé Silvino Suarez cook in the second kitchen they built in the garage, use unscented shampoos, soaps and detergents and refrain from wearing perfumes.
As part of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, the student also battles muscle weakness and the dislocation of several joints a day.
She has to stay in the house most days and wears a protective face mask whenever she goes outside to reduce the risk of allergic reactions.
Cheyanne, who studies psychology, said: “I’m allergic to basically everything. That’s the joke I usually make.
“I can have reactions to perfumes, smoke from the fireplace, the temperature and even the scent of the shampoo someone recently used.
“The most difficult part has been the inability to be around most people.
“I am grateful that my parents and fiancé were willing to change their entire lifestyle for me.
“I got a full scholarship to college, but couldn’t go because my symptoms got so bad.
“I am taking all my college classes online and hope to become a psychologist in the future.
“None of us were expecting the severity of it to be like this, but everyone has been very helpful.”
Cheyanne currently dislocates two to three joints a day, but she used to dislocate dozens in a 24-hour period before learning how to be extra cautious.
She recalls times in the past in which her fingers would pop out of their socket just from picking up her backpack.
Cheyanne said: “That symptom is not as bad anymore, partly because I know how to be cautious and partly because I stay home a lot.
“I used to dislocate so many of my joints just from doing everyday things.”
While the conditions have limited her to what she can do, they have also inspired her to become a psychologist for others in similar situation.
When seeking therapy during her rough times with the illness, Cheyanne noticed there were very few counselors who had gone through the same things.
Now she plans to one day offer therapy for patients struggling with chronic illnesses.
Cheyanne said: “When I was looking for someone to talk to about what I was going through, I noticed that none of the psychologists had actually dealt with a chronic illness.
“That’s when I realized that someone like me who has been through it is much needed.
“When you are struggling with something this severe, you should have a professional to speak to who understands exactly how you are feeling.”
Since Cheyanne’s symptoms can worsen at any moment, she cannot predict the state of her health in the future.
However, she likes to maintain a positive attitude and has a lot of hope that things will improve.
She said: “It’s really difficult with these illnesses. I can feel better for months at a time and then unexpectedly wind up in the hospital again.
“No matter what happens, I always have hope that things will get better for me.”