Many times I have tried to make it through high schools basketball games, and many times I have failed. Between the heat, noise, and activity, my body usually gives up and I end up being “helped” (practically carried) out in front of everyone. Last night was different. I was actually able to handle school all day, go out to dinner with some friends, and then watch the whole basketball game.
Sitting at dinner, I wasn’t just a girl with a weird diet; I was a girl chatting and laughing with my friends. Then at the game, my brain wasn’t fogging up my ability to watch; I was able to keep up and cheer on my school’s team. I even got to catch up with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. Not only did my school win, I won. It can get so depressing when my friends can go out and have fun together, but I’m stuck at home watching the world pass me by. Those times when I can just forget about my sickness and be young mean everything. I thank God for my little miracles; they give me renewed strength to reclaim my life.
Most teenagers stay up late pigging out on junk food and watching scary movies. Not me. I am in bed by 10 pm every night, with few exceptions, and wake up at 6 am almost every morning. A disruption in my sleep schedule leads to feeling bad for as much a few days after. I have said goodbye to junk food. Now I am gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and limiting preservatives and additives. POTS affects the whole autonomic nervous system, which, among other things, controls digestion. Many people with POTS have found eating healthy (especially without gluten and refined sugar) helps them. I have more energy since I switched up my diet. Another thing the autonomic nervous system controls are your fight-or-flight reflexes. Scary movie, or anything intense that gets my adrenaline flowing and my body ready to react, send me spiraling down soon after.
All of this being said, there are many times in life that I’m faced with hard decisions facing my health. Can I go spend the night with my friends even though we will be up late? Can I go see the new Hunger Games movie in the theater, even though it is really intense? Sometimes I decide it’s worth it. I’m still a teenage girl. I need a social life. I need to go out and have fun with my friends. But sometimes the answer is no. Sometimes it’s just not worth the feeling after.
Then, there’s the third option: Sometimes I don’t make plans because I’m afraid of having to cancel them. These spells can hit at any time, no matter what plans I have. I’m having to learn to be flexible, which those of you that know me (and have seen the planner I carry around with me everywhere) know is difficult for me. The people around me have to be flexible, too, which I feel bad about. I know I can’t control this and it’s not my fault, but when plans have to be canceled on account of me…it’s hard. So here’s an apology to everyone I have canceled on. And here’s a thank you to everyone who has shown me love and has bared with me throughout all of this. I couldn’t do it alone. ❤
Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). I was finally diagnosed in 2014 at age 17, but have suffered the symptoms on and off my whole life. It causes me to pass out, sweat, get pale, have dizzy spells, chest pain, brain fog, shaking spells, anxiety, nausea, and other various symptoms. To put it plainly, it sucks. A lot of people have found a blog helps them cope. They can publish their ideas and struggles. Recently I have received a lot of questions and stares, so I am posting this blog to let people inside my head a bit. However, this isn’t a “my life sucks feel sorry for me” blog. Since I was born, my Papa has called me Princess, and it’s a term I have embraced and strived for. POTS affects every aspect of my life, but I am determined to not let it keep me down. I didn’t name this blog “POTS Princess” just because it’s alliterative (though the English nerd in me does love that), it is a symbol of not letting my identity be completely controlled by my sickness. I am all the things I have always been (crazy, classy, artsy, etc), I just also have POTS. So, don’t look at me like I’m broken or ask me how I’m doing 24/7 (though I do greatly appreciate the compassion I’ve been shown and asking me how I’m feeling is fine if it’s not the only thing you’re asking), just look at me like I’m Haley.