Part 6 brings us to 2016! Thank you to everyone who has been following along as I’ve shared my journey with POTS. If you haven’t already, check out part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5 of my journey with POTS!
I concluded part 5 of my POTS journey by talking about how I moved back into my apartment, how I was developing new symptoms, and was decompressing from PTSD. I concluded sharing my experiences that took place in 2014-2015, and today I’ll be talking about 2016 and 2017.
At the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016, I started volunteering at my Church. The opportunities came up naturally and it was a perfect way to ease back into a job without the added pressure. I volunteered as a small group leader for a course called Alpha and for a young women's ministry called CAYA. In 2016 I was still incredibly symptomatic, my symptoms were fairly unpredictable, and my depression was severe. However, I was determined to have as many positive experiences as my body would let me to counteract this depression. I never experienced depression or anxiety before getting sick (depressive episodes sometimes in response to trauma but that was it). I hated not being able to motivate myself out of a depression. I thought “if my brain wasn’t always like this, then it can go back to the healthy, not-depressed place it was before. This is just a neuropsychological response to trauma and I have to counteract it.” And so I tried.
On the New Year’s weekend of 2016 I went to my dad’s cottage with some friends. They thought it would be fun to do a polar bear swim of our own on the morning of January 1st. The plan was to all wear onesie PJ’s to the beach, do the pillar bear swim, and get back in them. My friend who’s a swimmer decided to jump off the dock instead of run in the water, so the rest of us proceeded to do the same. I was still incredibly deconditioned, but I was too self conscious about my new (thyroid) weight gain (of 50+ lbs), that I didn’t want to wear a bikini, nor did I have one that fit. So I kept my brother’s PJ onesie on when I went in the water and that was a big mistake. First of all, it was bone-chilling cold. Second of all, the water weighed down the thick onesie. Thirdly, I hadn’t yet swam since becoming ill. So when I tried to get my head above the surface, I barely had enough strength to. I had a moment of panic because the onesie was pulling me down with every attempt to get my head above the surface, but thankfully I finally made it, played it cool, and recovered for the rest of the day.
2016 looked a lot like that.
2016 also brought about a lot of physical pain...
Pictured: nerve blocks I got done by my pain management specialist for Occipital Neuralgia.
A lot of tests..