My name is Merideth, I’m nineteen years old, a College Student, a First Responder, and I have POTS.
Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome is a form of Dysautonomia and is a malfunction in the Autonomic Nervous System. 1 in 100 people will be diagnosed with a form of Dysautonomia in their lifetime. While POTS is most commonly observed in adolescent females undergoing puberty, it does not discriminate and has been diagnosed in patients with backgrounds all across the board. A diagnosis of POTS occurs when a patient meets the strict diagnostic criteria of abnormal functions, such as a rapid increase in Heart Rate over 30 bpm upon changing positions, medically known as Orthostatic Hypotension. (When this occurs the blood pools in the legs, making it more difficult to get to the brain, causing the patient to feel faint, or dizzy, and often pass out.) To date there is only one truly effective way to diagnose POTS, and that is through a Tilt Table Test. There currently is no cure for POTS, and there is no specific drug targeted directly towards it’s cause. While there is little research on POTS there are a handful of different hypothesis as to why one develops the disorder. Because POTS is so different in each patient, and has a vast variety of symptoms, it is hard to create one distinct treatment plan, however there are a small handful of different medications that have been found effective to manage patients symptoms, and keep them under control.
This is my story:
In December of 2012 I was in a cheerleading accident and fell ten feet head first. I was diagnosed with a concussion that lasted two months, and four months later I was diagnosed with POTS. POTS is not a rare disorder, however it is rarely diagnosed because of such lack of knowledge and education available on it. After six months of countless medical professionals that were unable to find anything wrong with my failing body I was officially diagnosed in August of 2013. After being put on a strict treatment regimen involving over ten different medications I was able to be weaned down to around six. I still rely heavily off of my medications to function on a daily basis. I graduated from high school in May of 2016 after having spent my entire sophomore year in a wheelchair, and the first half being home bound. In the summer of 2016 I became EMT certified and I currently work full time as an EMT, alongside being a college student.
In my free time I continue to advocate for Dysautonomia research, and to date have raised a collective of over $1,500 towards research through the creation of three non-profit projects. As well as raising awareness and research, I have partnered with multiple different organizations geared towards education on Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI’s) and their prevention. When I am not in school or working, I speak across the state of Indiana at high school’s and colleges on behalf of Riley Hospital for Children.
This blog, which began as a place to talk about what I’ve gone through and to update close friends and family, has turned into a celebration as well as an understanding of what it is like to live life in a chronically ill body, in a world that wasn’t designed for one. Today with the help and support of numerous family members, healthcare professionals, friends, and complete strangers I am able to find myself back on my feet as I begin to navigate a life geared towards healing and recovery. I owe numerous thanks to Riley Hospital for Children and The Cleveland Clinic for making it possible for me to be where I am today.
Continue looking forward and be the absolute best you. For your weaknesses shall make you strong, and your accomplishments make you even greater.