Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome

I was twelve years old when I got sick. I’m twenty years old and still sick. I have a chronic illness called P.O.T.S (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome.) My life has changed greatly since I was diagnosed. It’s been hard but I’ve become a stronger person because of it.

In the seventh grade I started having intense stomach pain and exhaustion. After seeing multiple doctors, I was diagnosed with P.O.T.S, a type of dysautonomia. I was relieved to finally have a name for how I was feeling, but that relief was quickly replaced with despair. P.O.T.S is a chronic illness and there is no magic pill that will cure me.

After my diagnosis, I tried to continue on with school every day, like everyone else. This resulted in me being exhausted to the point that I’d fall asleep as soon as I would get home from school, and I’d sleep through the night if not woken up. Due to my stomach pain, I was missing multiple days of school at a time. This caused me to fall behind in all my classes. My parents and I tried to work with my middle school, but they didn’t have an accommodations system. On the days that I felt well enough to go to school, I would have multiple projects due and tests to take. As a result, I would go home not just physically exhausted but mentally as well. I spent a couple of months repeating this pattern, and these days are now one big blur to me; I felt isolated from those around me due to my illness. After one exceptionally bad day where I blacked out at school and slept for the rest of the day, my parents decided to pull me out for the rest of the year.

Due to my experience in middle school, my parents and I decided to start high school home bound. I had a teacher come to my house, and I took online classes. I did a lot better in this environment. My high school also had accommodations that helped me a lot. With more confidence following a successful freshman year, I started going to two classes a day, along with taking online classes my sophomore year. I really enjoyed my time in school. It was nice to be around people who were around the same age as me. I really liked my classroom’s energy and all my teachers. In high school, I regained the confidence I had lost in middle school. I now felt that I could excel in things, even if I was still sick.

Getting sick changed the course of my life, not in all bad or good ways. Even now, after eight years, I wake up in pain and struggle to get through the day; simple tasks for others feel near impossible for me. But in many ways, being sick has made me grow as a person. I now appreciate more, listen better, and am an all-around more sympathetic and better person. Now I approach things differently; I know the importance of simple things that I took for granted before. I now thoroughly appreciate everything I have. I am still sick, but I know that there is more to me then just my illness. I no longer get lost in scenarios of “what if…”; instead I’ve taken responsibility for my life and my future, both the good and the bad parts.

I was twelve years old when I got sick, I’m twenty years old now, and not much has changed with my health. I’m still sick, but I’m so much more now. I accept the fact that I may have this illness for the rest of my life, because of my illness, I believe I am now a much stronger, smarter, and more determined woman.