Zoe, Wiltshire, United Kingdom
When I was 10 years old, I told everyone I wanted to be a lawyer. They laughed, but I stuck with it. Fast forward 8 years, I had gotten into university to study law and start making my dream come true. Prior to starting my course, I had a history of heart conditions and epilepsy, but I managed to do multiple sports including netball, rock climbing and horse riding.
At the very beginning of second semester of my first year, I came home from university and had a nap. I woke up to severe chest pains and after an hour decided to call 111. In the hospital, I was tachycardic, had chest pains and my ECG was abnormal and over an hour from my family. After multiple ECG’s, blood tests and a noisy night, the junior doctor discharged me with an urgent referral to cardiology.
This is where my story gets ‘lucky’ compared to many others - I was seen a week later by a cardiologist who happened to be one of very few POTs specialists in the UK and was therefore put onto the path for diagnosis straight away. By summer I was diagnosed, “Autonomic dysfunction presenting as POTs and a tendency to vasovagal syndrome on a background of joint hypermobility syndrome” and although this was ‘lucky’ in that I was on the track for diagnosis a week after the triggering incident, I now face daily struggles and the fear of not being able to achieve a dream I have had since the age of 10. I have tried two drug treatments, both of which had adverse effects which meant they were not viable options. I am currently waiting for a new specialist and unable to try further treatments.
I am on my final year of my degree and am achieving desired grades, but it has been a struggle. There have been days I’ve been so dizzy I couldn’t lift my head, riddled with fatigue and an out of control heart rate. At my current job I have been reduced to 4-hour shifts, since my symptoms become unmanageable if I work longer than that. Even with reduced hours, there are days where I have to sleep for hours following my shift due to the exhaustion. This is why I fear for my dream to be a lawyer. However every day I fight, I learn to manage and it is my fight that I hope will allow me to achieve those dreams someday.