June 22, 2018. That day will always be an defining one for me. On that day, I was diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, or POTS for short.
For years I have experienced tremors, anxiety, rapid heart beat, lightheadedness, and extreme exhaustion. While none of this was fun, I always contributed it to my mental health and focused on that. I never thought of it as physical.
That is until my blood pressure became a critical issue. It had been high for years, but to a certain degree anxiety can explain that. It wasn’t until my diastolic pressure was consistently above 100 that I started to consider that maybe something else was at play.
I went to a pediatric nephrologist, who simply dismissed me by saying, “I know how sick looks, you don’t look sick.” A year later, when I began seeing a new general practitioner she noticed my blood pressure and started me on a medication for it. I came in every few months to check in, but it was clear the medication wasn’t making a difference.
She then referred me to an adult nephrologist, who ordered a series of tests including a tilt table test. This is considered the gold standard of tests for POTS, so although I’m not a fan of hospitals or IVs I was looking forward to it. Looking forward to getting answers. But apparently a lot of times they aren’t performed correctly, and in my case it came back as inconclusive. I came close to having answers. But yet again, we were left with no diagnosis.
So I was referred to a third nephrologist. And guys, the third time really is the charm! Within minutes of meeting me, the doctor was able to look me in the eyes and give me a diagnosis. Furthermore he was able to explain the illness to my mother and I.
Here is my very elementary explanation… POTS causes blood to pool in your legs. Because of this, your heart struggles to pump enough blood elsewhere, including your head. When standing, this is exacerbated. Many times this causes people to feel dizzy, or pass out. It also causes tachycardia, which is a fast heart rate, and in my case hypertension.
I am living with POTS. I have a chronic illness. POTS is a form of dysautonomia that affects millions, and I encourage everyone to learn more about it. (I have placed a link below.) I was lucky enough to learn my diagnosis in under 2 years, while the average time it takes to be diagnosed with POTS is 6 years. This is an invisible illness, but it is an illness. 25% of people with POTS aren’t able to work because of the severity of it. So I encourage everyone to be informed, and remember you never know what someone else is going through.
I have gone to therapy for years, and I absolutely love my therapist. (I am also completely unashamed of this fact.) I trust his knowledge and training completely. But over the years he has shared his passion for alternative medicine, which although I don’t fully believe in I find interesting and respect.
Recently I’ve been focusing on being more confident in my own voice. I have always been an introvert at heart. Although when I find something I’m passionate about, I usually am able to find my voice. When you get to know me, sometime you wish that I would talk a little less. Still, there are many times when I know that I have a lot to say, yet I’m not quite able to say it. Especially in situations where the topic is serious, or the conversation is with a stranger.
In addition to talking about this extensively with me, my therapist threw a Sodalite stone at me the other day. At first I was like what the fuck! Why did you just throw a rock at me?! However he quickly chimed in on how I was being to quiet and he knew I was holding back. (Which I definitely was in that situation.) I was still confused at why that was somehow reason to throw a rock at me.
But oh how I learned. Sodalite is known as the Poet’s Stone for its ability to help you express all you want to say in the best way possible. It is said to symbolize knowledge and communication, and can act as a bridge to help you understand your thoughts and feelings. Which all sounds amazing, although for me it also sounds a little far fetched.
Either way, it was a fun excuse to add a piece of jewelry to my collection and is a daily reminder for me to speak up. Even if it isn’t the stone, my own association between the stone and my voice will allow it to be powerful for me. My friend found a beautiful (and affordable) sodalite bracelet from Alex and Ani, that we both now wear everyday as a reminder to use our voice.
Welcome to -Emma! No matter how you stumbled upon this page, I’m glad you’re here! This blog is going to be full of random posts that somehow relate to me, and my life. A person is made up of so many different things. When I think of myself I can say that I’m a daughter, a sister, a friend, an introvert, a student, an aspiring yogi. I am also so many other things that don’t come to mind right now, but also that I haven’t yet discovered. This blog doesn’t have a sole focus, as nobody is just one thing. And I can assure you that it will be far from perfect, but I’m excited to explore this outlet and hopefully have some fun along the way. And in the words of Tim Urban, there will be new posts every sometimes.