By K W Warburton, The Reluctant Spoonie
Looking back on the months prior to my first hospitalisation with my POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) symptoms, were there any warning signs that I was developing a long-term illness?
Get my Guide to Living with POTS here
When I first started noticing my POTS symptoms, I was a student at a top university, working long hours predominantly doing physically demanding lab work. In the year prior to this, I was doing much the same. I rarely had time off and had completed an internship over the summer which meant that I’d had no time off in over a year. I put my onset of debilitating fatigue, dizzy spells and loss of appetite down to this.
All students feel tired because student life is busy and exciting. Working part-time alongside my studies and undertaking a demanding science course meant that I was tired most days. Of course, I was able to recover from this quickly with a weekend lie-in and on Monday morning I was ready to tackle my busy schedule again. This had been my life for the three and a half years prior to developing POTS.
I first started experiencing POTS symptoms two weeks before my hospitalisation. The first indicator that something was wrong was that I was unable to get out of bed. This was unusual for me as I was always up at 7 am. I started sleeping until noon and missing all my lectures. At first, I just thought that I had a viral infection and waited for the symptoms to pass. They did not and this brings us to Part 1 of my POTS journey.
In short, there were no early warning signs that I was developing POTS. My POTS was sudden onset. You can read my full POTS story below which was published in five parts.
This series outlines my first five years of living with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) from initial onset to recovery and more! Get my Guide to Living with POTS here which contains tips and tricks for living well with POTS. As well as three personal stories from real people who live with POTS.
Part 1: Maybe It’s Just Stress
I began 2015 with January exams, as I’d done for the past 5/6 years of my life. This time it was different. I felt exceptionally tired which I attributed to doing master’s level study, working on my final dissertation and revising for exams. ProPlus and coffee were my go-to to combat this fatigue. I powered through my exams and dove straight back into my research afterwards without taking a break. Continue Reading
Part 2: Becoming A Spoonie
At the start of my second year with POTS; was worse than the previous year. I was completely bedridden or housebound every day. I only left the house to attend medical appointments. Most of my days were spent switching between my bed and my sofa which was just another bed where I snoozed my day away. I couldn’t read, so I spent my days trying to watch TV, but I often couldn’t follow the most basic of TV shows. Continue Reading
Part 3: A Spoonie Wedding
My third year living with POTS started with a neurology referral and tests for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) due to worsening neurological symptoms (I later found that these symptoms were just a severe side-effect of one of my medications). An hour in an MRI machine is enough for anyone to realise that they are properly sick and their illness is not just ‘in their head’. There would be a 12-month wait for these results. Continue Reading
Part 4: Relief At Last
My 4th year of living with POTS started with a new treatment. I’d requested IV saline as an alternative to my other blood volume medication. In the UK, this is not a common treatment and to my surprise, my doctor approved it. Continue Reading
Part 5: Accepting My New Life
My 5th year living with POTS came with a whole host of new challenges. I assumed that everything would be better now that I was on a treatment that worked. I had my life back on track and I was looking forward to working on my Master’s thesis. Continue Reading