Up in the Air

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Aruba was amazing. Getting there was awful.

** Disclaimer: This experience is mine and mine alone. The following story is based on true events that may or may not be true of other Potsies. I do not claim to speak for anybody else.**

So let’s recap my posts thus-far. What is POTS? POTS is the body’s inability to regulate changes in blood pressure and pulse due to a malfunction of the autonomic nervous system. What is turbulence on an airplane? Pressure change.

Putting two and two together, what happens when you put a Potsie on a turbulent airplane? Said Potsie does not become nervous on the plane because said Potsie has flown many times before. This being said, the Potsie has not flown since her POTS has come out of its shell, so to speak. So, combining a person with very little ability to regulate pressure in her own body, and significant pressure changes around her, this Potsie’s body will have a VERY difficult time remaining upright.

If you couldn’t tell from my ranting, that Potsie would be me.

I recently went to Aruba with my family and it was a wonderful time! Ask me about it if you want details of the trip! What I want to discuss now, though, are my thoughts on flying with POTS.

I’ve never flown with POTS before, so this was a new adventure.

Flying down to the island was relatively okay. I only blacked out and lost my vision a little bit during takeoff and landing, resulting in me crying twice and struggling to stay conscious. That was a walk in the park compared to the return trip.
IMG_3803I started out the trip by having anxiety issues at the airport. That’s when the POTS started to go downhill. So we got a wheelchair and whizzed through security. Great. We waited at the gate for about four hours, during which time I donned my compression garments. Waist- high tights and full-length sleeves. (Keep in mind, this was Aruba…… hot to begin with, made hotter by my new fashion statement.) We got on the plane, which I was dreading to begin with, after flying down and blacking out on takeoff and landing, and I sat down in my seat. I immediately started crying…. We hadn’t even moved yet.

We took off…. I blacked out again. I was still wearing all of my compression gear, chugging my NormaLyte, and squeezing every muscle of my body, fighting to stay conscious.IMG_3807

We got into the air and the turbulence started. As I stated before, turbulence is a change in air pressure. I’m sorry to burst everyone’s bubble, but those airline cabins are not as pressurized as you might think….. I. Felt. Everything. Every little bump sent me spinning. And chugging. And swelling. And struggling. And crying. And fighting to stay upright.

This went on for the entire flight. I was fighting my body for five hours straight. It was all- out war.

Anyway, all of this is just to say that when flying as a Potsie, you should be prepared to tackle your POTS head-on. I didn’t know what to expect from flying and now I know that I love traveling, but flying is not something I’d like to do very often in the future.

Email me at potsienb@gmail.com and tell me about your travel experiences! I’d love to hear how you all manage while everything is “up in the air!”

Life after DysConf- Another hospital visit, but not what you think

I think it’s pretty clear that I haven’t written in a while, and here’s why:

So I got home from DysConf, and really should have finished up my conference blog posts, but, to be totally honest, I got lazy. No excuses- I just didn’t write much.

Then things got interesting. I headed out for a run, as I had done nearly every day this summer. It was after dinner and just beginning to get dark out. Let’s call it “dusk.” It was still light out when I left to go running, but I decided to throw on my super-cute reflective-yellow vest, just in case, which turned out to be a good idea because I ended up deciding mid-run to keep going, making it an awesome 5-miler. I had been doing well with running lately, so why not? Sure, it was a little dark, but I had my phone with me, which includes in it a handy-dandy flashlight.

It would be fine, right?

WRONG.

I was viciously attacked by a rogue sidewalk. I tripped over seemingly nothing, sending myself flying forward, trying to brace for the impact against the ground with my arms. Luckily, I didn’t smash my face into the pavement, but I did bend the fingers on my right hand way too far backwards.

As some of you know, I’m an EMT, so I went all “first-aid” on myself, thinking, “I know I’m injured. Where am I injured?” I slowly pieced together that no major damage had been done to any vital parts of my body, and that I couldn’t move my right hand. Okay- I can work with that.

I picked my phone up off the ground to call my parents to come get me from the nearest corner, as I stood up. Bad idea. I blacked out and sat back down. I’d like to be able to claim POTS on that one, but I think it was more anxiety exacerbating my POTS symptoms than anything- I was worried that I had broken my hand…. and also probably a bit worried to tell my dad I had cracked my phone… again.

I called home, asking my parents to come get me, while laying on the sidewalk, and slowly peeled myself off the ground before they showed up. I said very calmly to my mother, “I fell, and I need an x-ray. I think I broke my hand.” After a little while of sitting at home watching “House Hunters,” and holding ice on my hand and wrist, it started swelling, rather than feeling better. Awesome.

IMG_2980I went to the hospital.

I was right.

Long story short- we went at 10pm and got home around 2 am, with my hand in a splint and Codeine in my system. I was told that I had broken two fingers and my wrist, and had torn a whole bunch of ligaments in my hand.

I went to the Orthopedic two days later. As it turns out, I had only broken one finger (my first broken bone ever), but yes, I did tear a lot of ligament fibers. He said to picture it like a rope- I tore a lot of little strands, but the rope itself was still intact, so that was good news, I guess.

I was in a splint for a few weeks, unable to write, and barely able to type, which made trying to do well at my new job even more of a challenge than it had been before. Hence, not posting here for a while. Now my hand is splint-free, and generally doing well.

(PS- note the compression socks I’m wearing. Stylish, no?)

So yeah, that’s my story of why I haven’t posted in a while- I was doing so well with running and getting in a good workout every day that I got careless and tripped. Simple as that. I kind of wish I could claim POTS, in some twisted way, just to have a better story than “Yeah, I’m just a spazz,” but no such luck. So now I’m good to go, and will hopefully write more. Hopefully…..

As always, feel free to email me!—– potsienb@gmail.com

Potsie Strong.

So today has been one of those days… You know, the ones where you wake up feeling pretty good, so you start your day on a high note. You go run some errands, come back home, and suddenly think to yourself, “okay I feel weird now.” Then you get potsie… dizzy, light-headed, tunnel vision, the whole bit.

Then you go for a run.

While I was running to try to make myself feel better, I got to thinking- isn’t it weird that when I feel totally horrible, I go exercise? Most people wouldn’t do that. They’d call in sick or lay down or take more medication and hope it gets better. But I go run… or row… or squat… or push ups….

So that train of thought led me to the concept of strength. Potsie people are incredibly strong. I mean how many people can you think of that would still stand up when they’re light-headed? What crazy person would go exercise through dizziness?

Potsie people have to. We have to be strong in our weakest moments, just to keep up with reality. It’s truly astounding how we continue to do it, even when we feel so weak. We continue to fight.

People have told me I’m strong and determined and resilient, but I think today during my run it really sunk in how not many other people could do what we do every day. This holds true even for those potsies that struggle just to get from the couch to the bathroom and back (I’ve been there, too). Even something as seemingly simple as that can take so much energy sometimes, and it takes a phenomenal person to continue to do that day after day. It takes an inconceivable amount of strength to be a functioning human being.

So enough of my rambling. Here are the take-away points:

Potsie people are amazing. We are determined, resilient, strong, and stubborn. It takes a lot of energy to keep up with daily life, and it takes an incredible person to be able to live with POTS.

PS- Here’s a playlist I think you’ll all enjoy. They’re the songs I currently listen to, to feel like a kick-butt person.

Fight Song– Rachel Platten

Invincible– Kelly Clarkson

Work this body– Walk the Moon

Worth it– Fifth Harmony

Masterpiece– Jessie J

Let it go– Frozen

Thoughts? Comments? Share with me!!

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.

Please message me!- potsienb@gmail.com

To all my fellow Potsies, good luck out there!