“If I could tell my younger self anything, it would be that it does get better. It’s hard, but it will get better.”
This sentiment seems to be what everyone with POTS says. It’s hard, but it will get better. If you’re new to the journey towards a diagnosis of POTS, or postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, then you know that it can feel not only hard, but impossible.
Rebekah Balthaser is a 25-year-old chef who has been living with POTS, or Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. POTS is a condition that causes an increase in heart rate when standing up, which can lead to dizziness, fatigue, and fainting among a whole slew of other medical conditions and symptoms.
It was the dizziness that hit her first.
With my Pots I was having a lot of dizzy spells, fatigue, and tachycardia. I was very fatigued all the time and was having trouble functioning with my daily life. I had to lie down often, otherwise I would pass out. My blood pressure kept dropping very low as well.
She went to see several doctors, but they were unable to diagnose her.
I thought at first my symptoms were tied to my Interstitial Cystitis (a condition that causes a painful bladder and pelvic pain). I was informed by my specialist that it wasn’t and that I needed to go see a different doctor for this.
We thought it was a hormone imbalance or thyroid issues. After multiple doctors, and lots of blood work, exams, and ultrasound imaging it was determined that it was neither of those things.
I had a nurse suggest that it was all in my head.
Defeated, I went to my PCP as a last resort. He was able to run some blood work and perform a poor man’s tilt table test. My heart rate and blood pressure was so bad that he was able to diagnose me right away with POTS.
The doctor told her that there was no cure for POTS, but that there were treatments that could help to manage her symptoms.
It was such a relief to finally have some answers. To have a doctor look at me and say “you’re not crazy, it’s not in your head. You are sick, but we’re going to take care of you.”
Rebekah is now managing her symptoms with a combination of medication, compression garments, salt, and exercise.
Today, I am managing my symptoms, with medication, compression leggings and socks, lots of salt, mobility aids when needed, my Embr wave device to help regulate my temperature, and Normalyte. I usually have 1-2 Normalyte that greatly help my symptoms and keep me from getting dehydrated.
Despite the challenges of living with POTS, Rebekah is determined to live a full and active life. She is still able to work as a chef in a preschool setting, and she enjoys spending time with her family and friends.
I went to culinary school where I received my professional certificate in culinary arts, pastry arts, food service, and nutrition. I love to cook. I often, go on Pinterest for inspiration, but then end up making up my own recipe based off of 4 different recipes. I enjoy mixing different ingredients up and seeing what happens.
My dream job is working with children and food. Because of the nature of my job (a chef at a preschool), I have to work shorter hours and have had accommodations made for me at work. I have a wonderful boss that helps with that and a great team of coworkers as well.
Don't give up. It can be frustrating and discouraging to live with a chronic condition, but it is important to remember that you are not alone. There are people who care about you and want to help.
My biggest supporters are my family and friends. My brother and dad are always quick to encourage me when I’m sad and are always making sure that I have plenty of water and salty snacks on hand no matter where we go.
My mother was awesome too. She passed away this fall after a long battle with breast cancer. She was my biggest cheerleader and advocate for me when I was getting my POTS diagnosis.
I also have the sweetest dog, Coco. She sometimes knows when I need to sit down, before I even do.
I also have a wonderful group of friends that are awesome! They are so understanding and kind. And will message me on my flare days to check up or pop by to watch movies with me.
Find a support system. Talking to other people who understand what you are going through can be very helpful. There are a number of support groups available, both online and in person.
She is also an advocate for people with POTS, and she hopes to raise awareness about the condition.
If I could tell my younger self anything, it would be that it does get better. It’s hard, but it will get better. If someone doesn’t understand, depending on who it is, I try to explain and educate them on POTS and how it affects everything. Some people when I first meet them will ask, due to my medical ID. I sometimes tell them and other times I just tell them that I have some health problems.
Rebekah doesn’t let her health challenges get in the way of enjoying the life she has lived. Here she talks about how her faith has carried her through it all.
I help out at my church teaching Sunday school to preschool age children.
I’m a Christian. My faith in Christ is something that has really kept me going. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 55:22 “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you. He will never let the righteous be shaken.” This verse has helped me out a lot. It has reminded me that God will never leave me when things get hard.
Rebekah is an inspiration to us all. She is a strong and determined young woman who is living a full and active life despite the challenges of living with POTS. If you are living with POTS, remember that you are not alone. There are people who care about you and want to help.
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