- Associated Press - Sunday, March 9, 2014

GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) - Kim Fischer, 50, didn’t know who she was anymore.

Her whole life she’d been an active, outdoors person. She loved to tend her garden and canned all the vegetables she grew. She took her children fishing, camping and hiking. She threw family parties and took vacations.

And Fischer was smart. She worked for the Campbell County School District for 13 years as the secretary of food service and handled a million dollar budget.

Then her body turned on her.

At first, something just didn’t feel right. Fischer started getting awful headaches and bouts of nausea in the mornings. As the months went by, her symptoms got worse.

She started breaking out in hives from doing everyday things like taking a walk outside, cooking dinner or soaking in a bath.

She started feeling weak and suffered from dizzy spells. She started to forget things. Her body ached.

The only way to feel any relief was to stay inside, in her pajamas, and rest. Her health got so bad that she had to quit her job.

Fischer spent her days at home looking out the window, watching the world go by.

She was trapped by her own body.

- 4 skin, 1 bone marrow biopsies

At first Fischer couldn’t even pronounce the name of the disease. She’d sound it out - Mast-o-cy-to-sis - but hated to even say the word because of what it meant.

The rare disease causes her body to produce too many mast cells. The cells are key in helping the body’s immune system fend off illness, but when the body produces too many mast cells, like in Fischer’s case, it has the opposite effect.

The cells produce too much histamine, and the result is an extremely weakened immune system and allergic reactions to almost anything.

People with mastocytosis suffer from fatigue, hives and swelling, itching, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, fainting, headaches and body aches. The onsets can be mild to severe and can be brought on by almost anything, even stress.

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