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Finally, after about eight months of pain and frustration, I was diagnosed with gastroparesis. Fortunately, I have a mild case that can be controlled through lifestyle changes. I returned to law school the next year and managed to graduate and pass the California bar examination.
|"POTS is what I have, not what I am." - Lindsay Junck
Lindsay Junck is a 33 year old attorney from California. She enjoys playing RockBand and rooting for the San Diego Padres Baseball team when she isn't kicking butt in court. Here is her story:
In the summer of 2004, after I had completed my first year of law school, I did a six-week study abroad program in Prague, Czech Republic. During the program I became sick. I thought it was just a cold, but since have been told that it was probably a virus. It cleared up in a few days and I was able to enjoy the rest of my time in Prague. About a month after I returned to the United States, I became ill with severe stomach pain. I couldn't keep food down and dwindled from a healthy weight of 132 lbs. to a frail 108 lbs. I saw many doctors and underwent a plethora of tests, but no one could figure out what was wrong. I had to withdraw from law school, as I was unable to attend classes.
Fast forward to May 17, 2009, when I was spending time with friends at an outdoor festival. I began to feel sick and next thing I knew I had fainted on the street. I was taken to the Emergency Room and released with a diagnosis of "dehydration". However, in the days, weeks (and now years) that followed, I just didn't feel right. I was dizzy, my heart raced, I had difficulty with balance and suffered from extreme fatigue. I was sent from specialist to specialist who conducted test after test. I was given a diagnosis of iron deficiency anemia, but didn't feel any better a year later when my ferritin iron level returned to normal.
A cardiologist to whom I was referred suspected orthostatic intolerance and ordered a tilt table test in February 2011. The test results led to a diagnosis of Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia syndrome (POTS). Immediately after the test, the cardiologist came in the exam room, told me I had POTS, that I should drink a lot of water, and that I would never be able to have kids. No other instructions, no follow up appointment. (Editor's Note: This doctor gave Lindsay bad information. Plenty of women with POTS have had successful pregnancies. For more information, see our < ........add internal link..... >POTS and Pregnancy page).
Fortunately, through the DINET website (www.dinet.org) I was able to meet other POTS patients in my area who recommended a great cardiologist familiar with POTS, Dr. Thomas Ahern. Dr. Ahern has helped me to feel better, but I still experience symptoms constantly. It is difficult for me to work, but I am single and do not have an alternative source of income. My employer does not provide health insurance, so I pay high monthly premiums for private insurance, as my pre-existing condition makes me expensive to insure. At this point, I have only been diagnosed with POTS, but more tests may be forthcoming.
I worry about whether it will ever be physically possible for me to stand across from the man of my dreams and say "I do", whether I will ever be able to have children, whether I will ever be a productive member of society, or just a drain on its resources. I'm learning to accept my POTS diagnosis, to declare that POTS is what I have, not what I am, but everyday is a challenge. However, having POTS has introduced me to a wonderful community of amazing people I never knew existed: the POTS community. By sharing our experiences, insights, hope and laughter, we are overcoming our challenges together.