Okay so it has been quite a while since I’ve written, but in the time that has passed, I’ve been quite busy. Summer ended and now I’m back at college, living what seems like a whole new life this semester.
Last year, before my POTS took me out of commission, I was involved in my school’s Debate Team, Residence Hall Association (RHA), EMS, school Newspaper, and more. After having to quit everything to focus on my health and feeling better, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do when going back to school. Let’s be real- I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to do anything but my schoolwork when going back, and just to clarify- no matter how badly I felt last Spring and this Summer, not going back to school this Fall was just not an option for me.
As per a recommendation from my cardiologist to continue to exercise a ridiculous amount, I joined the women’s Crew team, as my one extra-curricular this year. I’ve been rowing now since the beginning of September and I’m loving every minute of it, both from a POTS perspective, and just because it’s fun. POTS-wise, I feel better than I have in a long time, and I think that a lot of the reason I do is because I have to work out so much. I have a 2-hour practice every day, and most days, I also go to the gym in the morning for around an hour, just to start my day and feel okay later on. Because of my contract with the team, I am also required to try to get 9.5 hours of sleep, again reinforcing what my cardiologist has been telling me to do all this time.
On top of the rigorous workout schedule, I’ve been meditating every day, which I know sounds like a bunch of hippie hocus-pocus, but hear me out. I didn’t buy into it at first either (as you’ll recall, in one of my previous posts that I was trying out zen buddhism and seeing how it goes). The more I started “meditating,” the more I found that it works for me. What I do isn’t really spiritual as much as it is mental- I am still not convinced that my soul is connected to the Earth or whatever, but meditating, for me, is a good way to refocus during the day and get back on track. It’s a time I can set aside to self-examine and prioritize what I need to do, etc. It’s like mental journaling in a way.
Just this past weekend, I went back to my cardiologist while I was on Fall break. She said “You look great, why are you here?” and told me that since she last saw me in August, I look like a whole new person. I have more color in my face, my blood pressure readings are within a normal range again, and my symptoms when standing aren’t as bad as they used to be. I still get very POTSie when I go from lying down to standing, but now my good days outnumber the bad ones.
The way I look at it is that what I’ve been doing since coming back to school is a form of alternative medicine in a way. I’ve still been doing all I can with Western- medicine, in that I’ve still been keeping up with all my medications, but I’m still at a plateau. Medication can only do so much before it can’t work its magic any more than it already has. This is where the mentality aspect comes into play. Exercise releases endorphins as well as a whole bunch of other happy hormones in the brain, leading to a lifted mood and healing stuff (yes, that’s the official medical term, in case you’re wondering). Meditation deals with factors unrelated to any chemical imbalance, just pure emotional and psychological training. Both of these methods combined, is my version of alternative medicine and it’s going well so far. By no means is it perfect, and I’m still not back to 100%, but I’m at least closer to getting there than I thought I could be.
As always, If there’s anything in here so far that you can identify with, keep reading as I post. If you can’t relate, but want to read more about my journey as I carry on, keep reading. If not, then I hope you learned something about POTS.
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To all my fellow Potsies, good luck out there!