While most kids his age are going to school, taking part in extra-curricular activities and socializing with friends, thirteen-year-old Bryce Fisher has no choice but to stay home.
It's not because his parents are strict or he doesn't enjoy the company of others, it's because he suffers from a disease so rare that only one in a million people live with it.
A year-and-a-half ago, Bryce was diagnosed with chronic recurrent multifocal osteomyelitis, which causes his immune system to attack his bones, his mother, Carolyn Anderson, told The Independent Enterprise.
Classified as an auto-inflammatory disorder, CRMO's symptoms include "deep aching pain, limping, tenderness over affected areas and often fevers," according to Autoinflammatory Alliance. The condition can also have negative effects on the skin, triggering complications like "psoriasis, acne, or pustules on the hands and feet."
Perhaps the most dangerous effect of the disease is the fact that it compromises the immune system, which means that the patient's body is unable to fight against pathogens that cause illness. This is why Bryce cannot mingle with anyone outside of his house.
“He is lonely,” Carolyn told the publication. “He feels isolated.”
Carolyn also opened up about the difficult road to Bryce's diagnosis and his prognosis.
Bryce's mother explained that her son first started showing signs that something was seriously wrong when he crushed a vertebrae while jumping on a trampoline.
They couldn't initially figure out how he could've sustained such a serious injury, but after a process of elimination, including running tests for cancer, doctors were able to finally diagnose him with CRMO. By that point, two more vertebrae started to collapse.
He's been experiencing flare-ups ever since but unfortunately, it's something he will have to live with because as Carolyn put it, "it's a lifelong disease."
Now, the family, including Bryce's father and three siblings, have to be very careful around the seventh grader. His condition could worsen and lead to other serious complications like Crohn's, asthma, and arthritis. Even brushing his teeth is a task that has to be carried out with extra care.
Carolyn said that while most patients end up in wheelchairs, Bryce has so far been lucky enough to be able to very slowly walk on his own with a limp.
Their community, including Bryce's friends and teachers have been doing their best from afar to help him keep up with his school work, but at this time missing classes is the least of his worries.
The teen is under a lot of pain, and to avoid the different medications from interfering with each other, the amount of painkillers he can consume is limited. The little bit he takes somewhat helps, but “there is not much else he can take," his mother said.
At the moment, he is receiving treatment at Seattle Children's Hospital and at a facility in Boise, but since both are far from home, his family has set up a YouCaring page to raise funds for his travel and medical expenses.
We hope Bryce's treatments will help him reintegrate into society soon enough so he could once again go back to being a normal teenager.