I started suffering from POTS symptoms around the age of 14. I always felt tired, out of breath and seemed extremely unfit when it came to P.E at school. It didn’t take much for me to become extremely tired and frequently had illnesses such as tonsillitis and sore throats. I also became really hot and bothered easily, and had constant clammy hands and feet. I suffered quite badly with my nerves at school too and found I became easily anxious of everyday situations.
As I reached my late teens and had finished school I started to have the occasional black outs, one time leading to a stay in hospital where doctors performed every test possible and sent me away saying it was my anxiety that had caused the black out and set me up a referral to a psychiatrist. I didn’t agree with this as I hadn’t been feeling anxious but after a little persuasion from my family I agreed to see the doctor and see what he said. I continued this cat and mouse game for almost 6 years where I would see the psychiatrist, I would say I was fine and he would arrange to see me again in 6 months. I had counseling, even though I didn’t think that had anything to do with my condition I still went along with it to try and get to the bottom of things.
At age 20 I became pregnant with my daughter and had a really tough pregnancy. I had severe morning sickness and had a couple of stays in hospital for other things. Pregnancy is not easy at the best of times and so I assumed I was feeling so tried because that’s how every other pregnant woman felt. After my baby was born I felt extremely tired, run down and fainted on a couple of occasions. I felt dizzy every day, lost my balance easily and had quite a few falls. I was constantly dripping with sweat from the smallest of tasks and felt so unfit and embarrassed.
Just getting to the top of the stairs could be a real challenge some days. When taking my daughter to the local mother and baby group I would arrive and be absolutely exhausted, hot, bothered and breathless just from getting ready and walking around the corner to the church hall. It made me feel isolated as all the other mothers seemed to manage to get there ok and I would have to sit in a corner, cool down and recover before I could face people. A lot of people, including my doctor said it was just the side affect of having a new born baby and the sleepless nights.
My family were supportive and helpful with the baby, and my husband was brilliant but I got to the point where I was fed up of complaining to them about how rubbish I was feeling and to be honest I think they ran out of things to say to me too. I kept visiting my GP who prescribed iron supplements as I was slightly anemic but I still didn’t think I should be in such a state from a small iron deficiency. When the symptoms were still persisting 18 months later I decided to see my doctor again. I was told I was just a teenage mum struggling to cope with 21st century living! I was mortified by this comment as I thought I was doing a good job at parenting, and I wasn’t even a teenage mum, not that it would have made any difference. I didn’t go back to my GP after that.
I struggled on a little longer and then finally I had a break through when my psychiatrist decided to refer me to a blackouts clinic. Once there I had an EGC, 24hr heart monitor and a tilt table test. I was then finally diagnosed with POTS. It sounds stupid but having a name and a cause for all that had been happening to me for so long was such a huge relief. I had been told for as long as I can remember that it was my anxiety and despite me thinking differently after 8 years I was starting to believe it myself. I am currently trying different medication to try and help with my POTS and now have great support from my family, and the cardiology team I am under.
Life can be hard at times as I still have all the same symptoms and having my 2 year old can be very tiring but with the support of my family and taking life at a sensible pace, things are starting to run a little more smoothly.