Okay, remission might be too strong a word…but there have been some MAJOR changes in the health department. I’ve been very hesitant to share my progress with people because I worry the moment I utter the words the universe will come smack me down again…”PSYCH, Samantha! Take that!” So I’m putting my brave pants on and I’m going to share an update with all of you. I remember when I was first diagnosed I was overwhelmed with hundreds of blogs that offered very little hope or humor…I’m hoping I can give you a little of both.
If you’ve read my blogs, are a potsie yourself, or are familiar with POTS, you know that (one of) the major challenges people face is exercise intolerance. The absolute inability to work out your own body. This is insanely frustrating for a person with POTS because one of the most important things you can do to help control your symptoms is to exercise. So, to feel better you MUST work out…but one of your symptoms is you CANNOT work out. Hmmm…thanks a lot body…like this syndrome isn’t complicated enough!?!
Now, I’ve started and stopped exercise routines the past, probably a dozen times. I’ve been bound and determined to see it through, and my body just would. not. let. me! So, imagine my surprise when I started working out again in August with a trainer (shout out to Adam!) at the YMCA…and it actually stuck! We started with a weigh-in (YIKES!) and measurements (DOUBLE YIKES!) and very slow but steady workouts. Strength training and some light cardio…that was the name of the game for 2 sessions a week…and slowly I started to feel stronger. I was sleeping better. I was making better food choices. My migraines lessened. I started to feel happier…healhier…more “Samantha like”. Flash forward a month and I signed up to do the Biggest Mover program. This 10-week program pushes you wayyyy past your comfort zone if you let it…and I definitely did! In the program you work out 2 hours a week with a trainer, submit a weekly food and activity log, earn points for going to classes or going to work out on your own, and for stepping up to whatever weekly challenge is laid out for you. I was hooked. I loved racking up the points and noticing my body starting to change. I was beginning to look forward to my alarm ringing at 4:30am for a workout…what the hell was happening to me!?!
Well, I’ll tell you what happened to me. I got stronger. Wayyy stronger. Strong enough to step on a treadmill and run. RUN people!!! This from a girl who was struck down with POTS is a major friggen event!!! It started slow…like 4 minutes only at a light jog sloooowwwww…and then it got longer…and faster…and longer…and faster. As of today, I am comfortably (WHAT?!) running 2.5 miles and I’m feeling incredible. Now, 2.5 miles is not far, I know…I know…but I’m a chick who has never, ever enjoyed running. Ever. And, my body essentially shut down on me in 2014 when I developed POTS, so to hop on a treadmill and run 2.5 miles and ENJOY it, that’s a victory ladies and gentlemen!
Here’s the other victory…and the real reason for this blog! Because of my progress in the gym, I’ve been able to successfully wean off 1 medication, and am almost off another. That’s right…two POTS prescriptions…GONE. How amazing is that?! My body is now effectively pumping blood to all areas of my body. My heart rate is *usually* in the “normal” range. My blood pressure is stabilized. And my migraines are few and far between. The progress I’ve been seeing has brought me (and my cardiologist) to tears on several occasions. Now, do I feel like my “old normal”? No. Do I still have POTS? Yes…and I always will. But, some of my major symptoms are lessening (dare I say, some are in remission??), and I am able to manage my own body without the assistance of medication. Sure, I workout at least 5 days a week, I go to bed at 8pm like an old lady and am very choosy about what I put into my body for food/supplements/drinks etc…but I’m managing…and I’m getting a little bit stronger every day.
So, stay tuned…I’m sure there are more ups and downs on this journey, but right now I’m in a very good place. Let’s see how long we can stay here!
Disclaimer: 1) I weaned off these drugs under the guidance and supervision of my cardiologist…and 2) I am not knocking medication…these drugs saved my life and many potsies need these drugs to live and to function on a daily basis…one day I may need them again…and if that day comes, I’ll be open to it!