The Day I Woke Up With POTS

When I was 14 or 15 years old, my father was deployed and the family was a little anxious say the least.

That’s why, when I woke up one spring morning incredibly nauseated and about to faint in the shower, my doctor attributed it to stress. I decided to wait it out a couple of days to see if I noticed a change.

Throughout the week, symptoms remained the same. I continued waking up more tired than usual, dry heaving in the toilet, and blacking out– all before school. But by 11 am, I would feel slightly better, less flu-like and more like myself. But my energy was depleted and no amount of my regular bagel and cream cheese would fix it.

I visited more doctors. They noticed really low blood pressure and told me to eat more salt. That didn’t change anything. I was tested for anemia and diabetes countless times. This newfound weakness was a massive shock– I thought high schoolers were supposed to have tons of energy!

For the next 12 years, I felt almost zombie-like and tried to overcompensate for it. I wasn’t sad or depressed, in fact I was considered “jolly” by most people’s standards. Often described as the “Energizer Bunny”, I tried my best to fight through it, thinking that I was just a complainer for even going to the doctor in the first place. I thought,

“Everyone must feel hungover, tired and flu-like all of the time. Just nobody ever says anything.”

Eventually, at the age of 26 I was diagnosed with POTS by a cardiologist. Years of fainting on the bus or train on the way to work, to feeling weak and tired and attributing it to my “old age”, and finally a name to my abnormality. The kicker? I don’t have an effective treatment because one is a steroid which may exacerbate my Lyme disease, and the other gives me an insane side effect of the sensation of skin crawling.

So for now, diet, exercise and stress reduction is the way I’m treating it. But I am secretly waiting for a miracle drug that might help!

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