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The Invisible Battle

Lauren, age 17, Georgia

In the summer of 2021, I was diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, or POTS, after struggling with symptoms for years. My close family is well aware that I’ve always struggled with feeling faint at times. We always believed it was low blood sugar or over heating, and that seemed logical. Last summer, however, these episodes got worse.

I was talking with my mom in the living room when I stood up. I don’t remember where I was going. The next thing I remember was feeling her hand on my back, saying my name over and over again. I started to cry. I remember feeling so confused and scared. I had never fully lost consciousness like that, and there seemed to be no reason for it.

My summer-troubles didn’t end there, though. I suddenly lost all of my appetite and could hardly stand up without blacking out. I lost almost 30 pounds in one month. I kept seeing my doctor. I knew what POTS was, I suspected I had it, but she didn’t believe me. I was nearly tricked into believing I was crazy and that all of my symptoms were caused by anxiety or that I was exaggerating. It was the worst summer of my life.

Finally, though, the results from my heart monitor came back. Suddenly and magically, her opinion changed. I was sent to a cardiologist to confirm I had POTS. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m so thankful to have a diagnosis. POTS has taken so much from me, mostly time. Time I could be hanging out with friends, time I could be riding my horse, time I should be at marching band practice or dance class. For what seems like forever, POTS has been holding me back. While I still haven’t fully accepted the fact that I don’t quite know when or if my POTS will go away, I’ve tried to keep moving forward.

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