A Prince for a Princess

Warning: This post may sound sappy.

Over a year ago, I met a guy named Marcus. As I soon as I saw him, I was hooked. I prayed and prayed about it, but the way the situation laid out we could not be together. For 8 months, he became my best friend. Eventually, I talked to him about most everything, and he sought my advice about many topics. There came a point, after a lot of prayer, where I had to tell him how I felt. As it turned out, he felt the same way about me. We prayed together and haven’t turned back since. This past weekend, Marcus asked me to marry him. My answer, obviously, was yes.

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Marcus proposed to me at his aunt’s wedding, so the wedding photographers captured the moment for us.

There are so many things that I love about him (his love for the Lord, his passion for learning, his dimples), but I will say that one of the biggest things I love about him is how he takes care of me. As anyone with POTS (or any chronic medical condition) knows, people freak out when you have medical issues.

While we were still just friends, he saw me pass out. Passing out is scary for many reasons, but when it happens in a big group one of the biggest reasons for me is the vulnerability. I can’t put on a strong façade when I am lying unconscious on the floor. However, Marcus did not run. He did freak out, but out of concern for me, not because he felt uncomfortable. He offered to carry me back to my dorm, but some girls helped me walk back. The next day he checked on me, clearly still worried about how I was doing. But once I said I was fine, he did not keep treating me like I was broken.

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Since being together, he has continued to take care of me. Just weeks into being in a relationship, he sat at my bedside for a couple of days after I had my gallbladder out, just holding my hand and getting me whatever I needed.

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This was after my gallbladder surgery

I would like to say that I never have POTS spells anymore, but that would be a lie. As I type this, I should be in class but could not make it because of my weak body. Anytime I have spells, though, he is at my side taking care of me, even to the point of doing my grocery shopping for me and carrying me to a more comfortable place if I pass out on the floor.

Then, once I am better, he treats me normally (besides making sure I have enough water at all times).

I thank God every day for giving this POTS Princess her Prince Charming.

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I love this one because you can see how purely happy we are. I am so proud to call the man of my dreams my fiancé.
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Roomie Appreciation

Having a good roommate is always an important factor to college life, but especially in the life of someone with POTS. When my POTS is acting up, I can hide out in my room from the rest of the world, but my roommate is still there. She has to be able to deal with my POTS too, and help me if I need it. God has blessed me immensely with my roommate.

My current roommate was not my first roommate, but we did meet move-in day last semester. After both of our first rooming situations were not working out as well as we would have liked, we decided to room together. That was one of the best decisions I have made in college thus far. The first time I had a bad spell in front of her was a few weeks ago. Thankfully I was able to make it to my bed before the shaking got too intense and I passed out. She was sitting on her bed. I could tell she was totally freaked out, but she acted so calm. She asked me if I needed anything and just stayed there in the room with me until she had to go to class. Later we were talking and she said I really scared her. But things went back to normal after that. When she looks at me she doesn’t just she me being sick.

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Roomie and me at Qdoba before Christmas Break

 

As many of you probably know, college can be a very stressful time. There are so many things happening and so much you have to do. It can be very overwhelming, especially for the perfectionist planner that I have a tendency to be. Last weekend roomie and I spent the whole weekend taking a “mental health break”by crafting with paint and canvases. We watched old musicals and Disney movies and just relaxed and had fun together. Then last night I was on the verge of a mental break down, half laughing and half crying while sitting on the floor in front of our door. Instead of telling me to get up or saying I was weird, she just sat down on the floor and hugged me until I was ready to get up.

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Canvases roomie and I made for the room- she made the peach one and I made the navy one.

 

 

I am so thankful to be able to room with someone who can handle me, not just my POTS, but all of my quirks. But more than that I am so thankful to have a best friend like my roomie! Academics are definitely important in college, but friendships and times spent laughing and dancing to High School Musical movies while covered in paint and glitter are what you remember, and what help get you through the intensity of collegiate academics.

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Roomie and me all dressed up 🙂

Avoidance

I have not posted on the blog in a long time. It is not because of a lack of words to say, but the issue of not wanting to accept the words I have to say. When I last posted, I genuinely believed my POTS wasn’t going to be a big problem anymore. I thought that I wouldn’t have to tell people, that I would be able to just be “normal.” That is, until I passed out in front of a lot of people before I was going to assist in leading music for a student-led ministry. It smacked me in the face about the time that the floor did that I couldn’t escape POTS. Instead of accepting that and dealing with it, though, I reverted to the old potsie stand by–avoidance. That mentality of “maybe if I don’t acknowledge it, it will go away.” Anyone that has tried that before knows you can’t keep it up for long, at least without consequences. I started hiding in my room more and being overly paranoid– if I even felt a little off I wouldn’t go do things I wanted to because I was so afraid of passing out in front of people again.

Thankfully I found a group of wonderful girls that encouraged me to be social and get out of my comfort zone. They invested in me-they cared. Some of them knew about my POTS and some did not. Even those that knew, though, didn’t know the full extent. But they saw me for me and help me rediscover the version of myself the POTS paranoia was drowning. This semester I was blessed to officially join their sisterhood- I found where I belong. With their help, and of course a lot of prayer, I have been able to face this semester head on. I am balancing a social life, school work, and  job, but I’m not afraid of it anymore. Spells still happen, that’s something I need to expect could quite possibly last the rest of my life, but I don’t hide from it anymore.

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It is so easy when you have a chronic illness to try to ignore the problem and avoid dealing with it. However, while you’re sickness is a legitimate part of you, there is so much more to you than just your sickness. Don’t do what I did and let it control your whole life- even more than it tries to demand.

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Update: College Life

Hello bloggers! I have not posted in a very long time, and I apologize. It’s not because I was so out of it I couldn’t type, like had been the case. On the contrary, I have been able to be active in life. I went on a pre-orientation trip where I was able to hike and canoe without any issue. Then I moved into my college dorm and have been going to classes for 3 weeks. I haven’t missed a single class, or felt like I was going to pass out once. I’ve even been able to stay up late hanging out with my new friends. God is so good and is so present working in my life. I thank Him for the blessings of health and friends. Oh, and the focus to study to 😉

To all of you girls out there struggling with POTS, I just want to tell you to lean on God. He is the giver of healing and strength. He will help you through all of the dark times, and carry you on to the light. Also, don’t give up on your dreams. It’s so easy to hear the diagnosis and hear that life is over. When you’re so sick, you miss out on plans with friends and it feels like life is going on without you. BUT don’t give up! Keep on fighting because you are stronger than words on a medical sheet.

Much love!

My dorm room on the first day.
My dorm room on the first day.
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My family posing for a pic in front of my dorm before they left.

Blessings

My drama family all together <3
My drama family all together ❤

This past week I performed in my school’s theatre production of “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.” I have been actively involved in the theatre department since my freshmen year, but this show came with more fear than the previous ones. I have always known the possibility of passing out on stage, but never did that seem as big of a possibility as this year, with how bad my POTS was the first semester. However, I that worry just provoked the POTS, so I gave my worried over to God and continually prayed to Him for strength and health. He provided. Not only did I make it through the whole week of rehearsals leading up to the show and all five performances of the show, but I thrived on stage. I didn’t feel like a sick girl, just an actress having a ball with my second family. Plus, today is the first post-show-Monday that I have been able to go to school since my freshman year. Not only did God grant me strength, He lavished it upon me. So, I would like to publicly thank and praise God for His gift of strength and health.  Also, I would like to thank Him for His blessing me with every single person in the cast and crew and director team. They have all had such a positive impact on my life, and made me feel welcomed and loved.

All the time, God is good. God is good, all the time.

Deliciously Ella

On a particularly bad day, I was Googling POTS and things that could help with it. That’s when I came across deliciouslyella.com. Ella Woodward was bedridden and diagnosed with POTS at 19. Eventually she gave up all meat, dairy, sugar, gluten and anything processed to start a whole-foods, plant-based diet. In less than two years, she was able to go off all her medication and actually live her life. On her bog, she shares recipes that are good for you and actually great tasting. She also has an app and a book. Her story was the final straw in me giving up refined sugar (I had already been gluten free for a few years) and limiting additives. It’s encouraging to know that someone else has done this and it helped. Reading her story and her struggle really hit home for me.

Obsessed with this book!
Obsessed with this book!

I have been trying out some of the recipes from her blog and book, and have been absolutely loving them!! I made the Fresh Spring Rolls with Mango Sauce for my whole fam (well, at least I tried, but ended up having to lay on the floor and my mom finished), they couldn’t get enough! Today I decided to try the Raw Brownies.

Ingredients for Raw Brownies
Ingredients for Raw Brownies

They were super easy to make and I have to force myself to stop eating them. Seriously, they taste so good, and it’s even better because I know that I’m not putting bad things in my body. Check out how to make them at http://deliciouslyella.com/  or  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnrJOJnSez4 .

Raw Brownie
Raw Brownie

This lifestyle change is hard, but it’s so worth it. I already have more energy and have had less stomach pain. I want to thank everyone encouraging me in my fight, especially my mom who is making diet changes also to support me and who always helps me to shore when I get in over my head. Plus, a big thanks to Ella Woodward whose words and recipes have encouraged me so much!

Baking in my homemade apron.
Baking in my homemade apron.

Firsts

The teenage years are full of firsts: first day of high school, first date, first kiss, fist dance, etc. The first that stands out most to me is the first time I had to be wheeled to the nurse’s office. It was this year. I was in choir and we had gone from standing to sitting to standing multiple times; plus, it was really loud. My teacher let us finish a few minutes before the bell rang, so I walked over to my stuff. I was feeling light-headed and planned to stop by the nurse’s office to lie down for a few minutes, but when I bent down to pick up my stuff, it got worse and the shaking started. My friends around me started to notice and helped me lie down and put my feet up. My teacher called the office and the nurse came running with the wheelchair. Once I was in the wheelchair, the only way out was right in front of my whole class, who of course were staring.

I hadn’t told many people about my POTS. Until I started this blog, really, I was trying to hide it as much as possible. I was so embarrassed that day, afraid people would think differently of me. I shouldn’t have been, though. Yes, it was bad having a spell in front of people-it’s always hard being weak and vulnerable in public- but I shouldn’t be embarrassed of something that is so much a part of me, and I shouldn’t be worried about what people think. If people get weird because of my sickness, then they’re not the right people to be in my life. Spells will happen, and instead of worrying about what people will think, I need to befriend people who will love me through it.

An example of a friend who loves me through it. My friend made me a "Bag of Sunshine" to cheer me up when I was having a really hard time.
An example of a friend who loves me through it. My friend made me a “Bag of Sunshine” to cheer me up when I was having a really hard time.

Big Win

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.

Having fun with friends at the basketball game.
Having fun with friends at the 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.

Lifestyle Changes

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.

Throwback to a time I was able to stay up late and have fun with my friends.
Throwback to a time I was able to stay up late and have fun with my friends.

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. ❤

Why POTS Princess?

Haley FayePostural 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.