How To Eliminate “Sugar” From Your Awareness Plan

Melissa Nearman was a student with big plans and a great work ethic, with her feet firmly planted on the path to achieving her dreams.

After many appointments and tests, doctors diagnosed her with Wolff-Parkinson White Syndrome, which causes the heart to beat rapidly. What they didn’t know was that this was only the beginning.

Melissa continued to suffer.

It was her additional diagnoses of postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and dysautonomia that gave her the answers she needed to understand her symptoms and revise her life plans accordingly.

The thing about dysautonomia is that the average patient waits up to six years for a correct diagnosis because symptoms vary greatly from patient to patient.

In fact, dysautonomia is really a catch-all term for a variety of autonomic disorders. Nearman is unfortunate to have the serious chronic condition, but she is also lucky to have been correctly diagnosed. Now, she can factor in her illness when she makes her plans and has a treatment plan that actually works for her.

With that said, Melissa is back on the path to achieving her life goals, with a clarity of mind that comes only after spending so much time worrying over what her symptoms may mean and the worst possible scenarios.

She understands that there will be days when her diagnoses gets in the way of her life, but, despite that, Melissa has big plans to continue her education and earn her Master’s degree in nursing—and more importantly, raise awareness of autonomic dysautonomia.

By not sugar-coating her illness and speaking out about it now rather than later, Melissa hopes less people will have to wait years in limbo for answers and a treatment plan.


Erica Zahn

Erica Zahn

Erica Zahn is passionate about raising awareness of rare diseases and disorders and helping people connect with the resources that may ease their journey. Erica has been a caregiver, and is a patient, herself, so she completely relates to the rare disease community--on a deeply personal level.

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