When I first got sick, I lost everything: my income, my degree course and my social life. I struggled to stand up for more than two minutes and I was unable to leave the house by myself. I could not think or speak coherently. I couldn’t even read a book. I slept most of my days away. It was 2015, I was 22 and I was told that I was a medical mystery.
In 2018, three years after the initial onset of my illness, I started a new treatment for my Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). The results were almost instant. I could stand up again. I could go outside without having to plan every detail of my outing. I could read without becoming exhausted after just one page. I could do gentle exercises without pushing myself into a flare. I was symptom-free for the most part; something that I had been dreaming of for years.
I didn’t want to waste any time. I re-applied to university, I booked my honeymoon and I started making plans again. Due to the severity of my illness, I never thought that I would be able to do any of these things. I thought that I would be bedridden or housebound for the rest of my life with no job or career to speak of. I felt old before my time.
This month, I travelled to Iceland and walked 6 miles one day with no ill-effects. I used to be able to walk 12 miles in one day and I’m sure that in time I will get myself back to that level of fitness again. I am also starting my Master’s degree this month, something I never thought that I would be able to do. I am excited to be focusing on my career again after leaving it behind for so long. With each passing day, I feel more like myself again. I am able to make plans with friends and take up hobbies again that I gave up when I first got sick.
I am grateful that I was allowed to trail a new treatment and I am now asymptomatic with regards to my POTS. I am aware that very few people who live with chronic illness will get this chance. Right now, I am 25 and I feel like I am 25. My illness is no longer holding me back and I am getting a second chance at life.