Catching Colds

Hey hey my fellow friends! Today I am sick in bed with a cold and I was just thinking….it has been a while hasn’t it? So I wanted to touch base and say a proper hello! I am a Sophomore in college now (WOW PIE YOU ARE OLD) and I am a graphic design major. I am learning how to make art just with letters but let me tell you, that is no easy feat. My typography teacher(fancy name for art with different types of fonts and letters and words and stuff) well my teacher is super strict! Who knew there were so many rules when it comes to making graphic designs and posters. Let me tell you I am learning a lot but also trying to figure out how to make ugly words pretty.

My health has been really good lately, minus this week….because of my cold (hence the title). I had a pretty difficult semester last year, I had a crazy roommate. But now I am out! I have a new amazing roommate and I am incredibly happy. I am a happy happy little pie. I sometimes get sick when I pile too many things up in my life! Which is why I am sick currently.

This is my personal warning to you…oh wonderful fellow pots peeps, TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY. Simplifying is not a bad thing, it is actually a very good thing because It allows you to build up. Baby steps are what keep you and I healthy. Your body will always tell you when it is ready to take on more, but it may get angry if you take on too many things! Then you will have to cancel everything, and you will be sad and come back to me. As much as I love the idea of you wanting to read Teddy and my blog I would rather you be a happy reader instead of a sad reader.

Some random spammer sent a message to Teddy and I with a generic message saying that our blog has a lot of potential and blah blah blah __________ insert  vague comment here and they said we should be more popular. Which I totally agree but I also thought it was funny since the site it came from was the site of a robot! EWWW.

Have you ever seen Jimmy Fallons EW videos? If you haven’t please change that!

Teddy, my momma, my boyfriend, my roommate, and I all quote these videos non-stop. I can’t go a day without saying the word “EW” in a nasally tone just like Jimmy. So kick back, eat some salty popcorn, and watch EW video after EW video. You will not be sorry! But if you are sorry then I for one am not sorry! Because it is my life goal to show as many people as possible the wonders of EW.

Sorry this post is so random, I just suddenly decided I was too sick to go to my club tennis’ practice but not too sick to write. So my dear readers! I hope you enjoyed this sudden, random, and picture-less post! Until next time!

LOVE,

pie

Desert-ed

This is a long overdue update, but I wanted to tell you that I survived field school : )
This is Teddy by the way, Pie would never be so foolish as to go and live in a place for 5 weeks where there was no wi fi, limited electricity, AC, water pressure, communication with the outside world. She’s just smart that way. Me? I’m not so smart. That being said, I had the time of my life.
I was about 45 minuted away from Winslow, AZ. And let me tell you about Winslow, it’s in the middle of nowhere. They had a Wallmart and a street dedicated to “Sittin’ On the Corner in Winslow Arizona” from that Eagles song. That was literally it. I lived with about 20 people in an old ranch, stayed in a cabin with 7 people in wooden bunks and excavated for 8-11 hours every day. And that was my life. It was weird, because I never thought I’d be well enough to go. Not in a million years. I researched in in Fall semester for a class assignment, applied last minute, and brought a bouquet of flowers to the professor who wrote a good enough letter to get me in. But none of those things were really holding me back, what was holding me back was my health. For the past 3 years I’ve been sitting, waiting, and aching to be somewhere else. This was one of the first times I got to sit, look around, and realize that while yeah, it’s been a long time coming, I was incredibly blessed.
And the weird part? All my limitations just sort of melted away. I walked for miles in the (literally) blistering sun, painstakingly scanning the ground for artifacts, and there was nothing to see but the sky. And lots of monstrously large centipedes. But I was rescued by my professor thank heavens.
(That’s not me in the picture…did you really think I was a man with a white beard? Hmm? Did you?!?!)  It wasn’t just physically exhausting (there were lots of afternoon pass out sessions the first two weeks) but mentally draining. We had lectures every night after dinner, math homework (I came to the ghastly realization that math is actually useful), and paperwork. Our work was being painstakingly documented, every lithic (remnant of a stone tool), or pottery sherd (commonly known as a shard) was crucial to understanding this people we were studying from the 1200s.
I was useful, I was GOOD at what I was doing, and I got to push myself to the brink every day. I had hours of physical labor, and so many nights spent perched on a fence post watching a herd of bison be drenched with color by the sunset.
Writing about it sounds crazy for a POTS kid. I’m not healthy, but I FELT healthy. The miles I walked in shifting sands made my legs really fit. That, combined with my anti embolism stockings and that fact I drowned myself with gatorade meant the blood got to my head most of the time. We passed out every night at 8-9, woke up at 5. I had a regular sleep pattern my body fell into naturally. It was literally tailor fit for me. I swear I didn’t dream it. The funny thing is, I almost felt like I did. I would have continuous de ja vu moments from the years spent dreaming about adventure and my goals. Every walk, every run, was aimed towards this. Literally, that was sometimes the only thing that kept me from sitting on the ground panting. That drive and desire that I was going to beat this, POTS is curable and I wanted to live. And not just live like I had been doing, in stolen moments from my syndrome, but rather brilliantly and endlessly.
No, it wasn’t the pyramids.
But that wall I discovered? Those features that littered the body of my pit? They are more dear to my heart than all the treasures of Giza and Luxor. I’m not sure when it was, maybe week 3? But I woke up. I remember having a lecture in archaeozoology and writing furious notes late at night. I started jotting down notes in the margin of my pages, to memorize the human skeleton (and have dad help me tell apart separate bones), to keep up with my Greek, to study. And I realized I was looking forward to my future. That I craved more knowledge, how I wanted to work for it! That it was well within my grasp. I could do something to obtain it. That I was in the middle of an adventure.
You see, I had always sort of pictured adventure like a train. Something far off, something I couldn’t have right now. Something where everything good happened. Because in all the books I love, murder, mystery, intrigue, it all happens on a train. It’s the crux. I love trains, the first one I went on was an overnight to London from Glasgow and I couldn’t sleep all night I was so excited. That was a segway: but roller coasters, trains, excavations, they were dream stuff for me.
It was weird, incredibly weird, to realize that I was getting something I had worked for. I value working hard higher than winning or obtaining results. Before I was sick, I didn’t. All that mattered to me were the things I could write on paper. You can’t write walking for 5 minutes a day as your exercise on your resume. I read somewhere it takes something like 4 times the amount of energy for a person with POTS to stand as it does for a healthy one. Four. It’s like we’re broken marionettes.
Broken marionettes that are expected to stand.
I was talking about Pie and SATs yesterday, and talking about my experience sometimes working with no foreseeable benefits. She asked what was the point of killing yourself for a D in Biology when you knew you weren’t improving? And I said, Because I had the satisfaction of knowing I tried my hardest. I dunno. It’s the same answer I gave myself when I did 10 min of walking on the elliptical. Or when I did morning stretches and toe lifts that didn’t seem to get any easier. Because you have to ask yourself that every day, every moment. You have to sort of have faith that someday it will get easier. That you’re working for something. Even if you can’t see it just yet.
But I got to see it. And taste it, and I know that it’s real. You’ll get better. You will live your dreams.
And have awkwardly tan knee caps.
Because sometimes, things like anti embolism stockings leave a mark. I like to think they make you incredibly interesting. I think my favorite remark was, “Oh. I thought you were just the kind of person who wore flamboyant, high socks.” When hearing something like that, all you can do is lean back and laugh. Oh, and no those aren’t my legs. They’re someones else’s, but I was so intrigued that knee tans were such a widespread problem I thought I’d insert it. I didn’t exactly imagine I’d have to do make all these weird additions to my dream like 4 bottles of gatorade a day and wearing boys shirts so we wouldn’t desiccate out in the sun. But ah well, what would be the fun in life if we could plan it?
Anyways, I am happy. And I wanted to make sure you knew that you will be too. Pie and I are being drowned by babysitting opportunities and working at the library, so thats why our posts have been infrequent at best. Fear not, several are in the makings.
Be Well!
-Teddy
PS: Also, I found these on the internet awhile ago. But here are some nerdy archaeology memes.
Heehee, Pie has started to call me India Jones
and the last one is strangely accurate:
PPS: I also read a great book called “The Monsters of Templeton” about an archaeology student and a small town. It’s brilliant. Anyone with an ounce of soul and a spot of humor should read it. That is all.

Panic! Without the Disco.

My dear readers, I have to apologize to you.

I have been extraordinarily negligent and simply dropped off the face of the earth. I won’t flatter myself that a simple blog post is necessary to any of our lives, but I always hate when a blog I connect with just withers away and dies. Themissespots is not about to die. I just haven’t made time. This is Teddy by the way.

This semester, I was determined I was going to be well. I took 15 units (which, to a healthy person is but a trifle, but for anyone who has significant hours in the day that their body is unusable, it’s a herculean task). That would probably be enough to fill my time, but I don’t do things by halves. I joined the honors college, became a leader in my campus ministry, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, and suddenly I had a very full social life. I have a group of friends that  I’m very close to, we go on tree climbing expeditions at midnight, we play Ultimate Frisbee (and by play I mean massacre each other), and lounge about for hours. I didn’t think any of this was possible last semester.

I also decided to try and look well by wearing dresses every day, making an effort to get my acne in line, and growing my hair out. I was just tired of being sick. Every part of me really wants to be well. I want to be that competitive and bright woman my body promised to be in high school before I got sick. But you can’t really force these things. As well as I look now, I’ve found there are some parts of me that are going to take a lot longer to heal. And I’m not entirely sure when they’ll go away.

Don’t get me wrong, part of this is a success story. Between going on runs almost every day and by taking Lexapro my quality of life has increased exponentially. My closest friends get confused sometimes when I tell them I’m sick. This is mostly because I’m so aggressive on the frisbee field (Yes, I did just say aggressive and frisbee in the same sentence. There’s rarely a night where one of us doesn’t leave the field bloody and bruised). I haven’t been terribly ill. For once I haven’t had any moments I was worried I would have to leave school. There have been the occasional weeks where I can’t get out of bed. Those days (or weeks) are mostly far and few between. And I am so grateful. Because I know what it is like to feel that way for months, and suddenly a week doesn’t seem that terrible.

There are parts of POTS that are less simple to talk about. I don’t know why that is, why one symptom is more ignoble than another. But it’s the truth. The mental side of it especially. Through late nights and mountains of homework I’ve noticed I’m not who I used to be. I used to be incredibly even keeled and nothing could shake me (well, nothing except Pie when she started bugging me, but thats luckily in the past). Now, I have parts of my mind that just aren’t mine anymore. I have anxiety. My anxiety can be low level, and that will act up for a week or so. Or it can be so intense I just have to curl in a ball and shake. Either way, it’s not something I would wake up my roommate for. I just took it as something I had to deal with. But I don’t talk about it. At least,  not to anyone outside my family or a fellow POTS kid. It’s strange though, because even that’s a bit dicey. Just because you have POTS doesn’t mean you have anxiety. Pie doesn’t have it. We have slightly different symptoms. For example, her immune system is shot and she gets colds all the time. My virus of choice is stomach flu. Go figure. But hey, there’s a reason we liken our symptoms to trading cards. Gotta catch ’em all right? No?

I am not a leading expert in anxiety. It doesn’t affect my quality of life on a daily basis. I spend most of my time ignoring it. But when it hits you full force you can’t ignore it. Plus, it affects everyone very differently. We all have different methods of dealing with it. So, because of this, I asked a few friends to contribute about their experiences with anxiety. They are both very inspirational people and I am so grateful they agreed to share parts of themselves with us.

Hi, I’m Beth, and I have anxiety. It’s strange how much one word can change your life. I have general anxiety disorder and agoraphobia. The general anxiety means that I just worry about every little thing. Things that are no big deal to others are terrifying to me. I have a hard time going to movies. Or going places I’ve never been before. I’m scared of the unknown, of things that will hurt me. The agoraphobia is fear of being somewhere where I can’t get help. I’m afraid to travel for this reason because my brain thinks that when I’m driving between cities, I’ll have a heart attack or stop breathing and I won’t get help in time. At the root of it all my biggest fear is death. Generally when a panic attack strikes my body reacts too. My body temp goes up, I feel clammy and sweaty, I have trouble breathing, and my stomach gets very upset. I try very hard to avoid anxiety causing situations as much as I can because it’s embarrassing to have these reactions I can’t control.

I went on meds for the first time in the fall of 2009. I was on one antidepressant and one suppressant and I took one each day. The suppressant made me so tired, I would take two or three hour naps a day and still be tired. I was missing out on life. I was also going to counseling at the time. The counseling was helping but I was still afraid to go places. I was even afraid to go to counseling. I would literally have panic attacks in the office. I was then switched to a different medicine and I switched doctors as well. As I was taken off the original medicine I was introduced to the new medicine and when I got to a 50/50 mix of the two I would become extremely dizzy. So I stopped taking the medicine altogether. I was okay for a while but then the anxiety started coming back. I was afraid of everything. No where was safe, I’d have days and weeks where I would just feel anxious and not do anything other than pace the house. Now I’m on Paxil CR which is still a little complicated because I have to take half of my dose at least 7-8 hours apart. For whatever reason my stomach hurts really bad whenever I take it. I’m also on Klonipin, and that’s my rescue medicine. So if I don’t want to have a panic attack if I’m going to a movie or somewhere I’ve never been or I’m not comfortable with, I take it. I also use it for when the panic attacks happen but thankfully that hasn’t been as often.
I have been extremely blessed to have a mom and brothers who have been with me though this, and not to mention all of my friends. My friends have been one of the best support systems. They sit and talk with me, pace with me, make me laugh, distract me, make me feel comfortable and at home, change their routines or plans for me. They’ve done so much and I am forever grateful to all of them. My mom has been there with me the entire time, holding my hand, literally and figuratively, praying for me, talking with me, taking me to appointments and reminding me to take my medicine. She’s been my stronghold in all of this. It’s been three years and even though I still have panic attacks, I don’t get them nearly as often and I know how to “get out of them” so to speak. The last one I had was at school, I had just gotten there and I was supposed to go take a test but I was panicking, most likely over not being able to breath/dying, and so I went into the bathroom and called my mom and talked to her for a bit. I also texted some friends, asking them to pray for me, and then I tried to distract myself by playing games on my phone. Since I was in the large stall I also paced a little bit. I’ve found that moving around helps me. It makes me not feel so trapped in my mind. It’s been a really hard journey but I’ve learned how strong I can be, and how amazing my friends and family are. If you’re struggling with anxiety please don’t hesitate to ask anyone for help, it’s out there, and while you might have different reasons for not getting it, you’ll be better if you have even one person to hold onto when the anxiety hits. That’s how I got though it.

-Beth

Emily:

I have a confession to make. When I was asked to contribute to this blog post on anxiety, my immediate reaction was, well, a paralyzing wave of anxiety – immediate self doubt as to whether my debilitating experiences with anxiety could really be helpful to anyone else. But what I have recently become aware of is that though I may feel weak at the moment, weakness does not mean I am unusable. This blog gave me strength and encouragement when I wasn’t sure I could make it through another day. So I will share. I will tell you about the pain. But I will also tell you about the victories, because not only do you need to know, but I also need to remind myself that I am who I am, I am where I am because God made me this way. I am not ruined, only a little broken.


I have felt the grip of anxiety on my mind and body in the most intense and debilitating way. And I’ve had moments where I’ve felt as if it was in complete control leaving me totally at its mercy. Anxiety itself comes in many forms and attacks in various ways, but the common denominator is that it really, truly can affect everyone. A couple years ago I started getting these very intense anxiety attacks in my sleep. I would wake up shaking, heart pounding, muscles tensing, breathing hard. The scariest part about them was that I felt utterly out of control. The feeling of dread and helplessness replaced any rational thoughts I may have had. Needless to say that with these panic attacks, I started sleeping less and less, which just perpetuated the problem. The anxiety started to leak into my everyday life. The basic stresses of life, those that naturally occur from school, work, and a social life, began to cause bouts of anxiety in my waking hours that I didn’t know how to deal with. My heart would beat so fast, my stomach would churn, my chest would tighten, and most often I would cry. This anxiety made me constantly question myself and my decisions. It made me feel weak and like a freak. I felt like my mind was betraying me. I literally felt like I couldn’t handle my life.

As it turned out, I was quite sick. I have a similar illness to that of Teddy and Pie. Even though I had an explanation for why I was so tired, why I couldn’t sleep, why my body was so weak, the anxiety still persisted. My illness seemed to fuel it. I was not able to develop any adequate coping skills either. For a while I relied entirely on medication to keep it in check, and though the meds helped the intense anxiety attacks, I still felt like I was one stressor away from breaking down again. Now, I have absolutely nothing against prescribed meds (Heck, I’m on a whole bunch of them. And many of them help), but after spending far too long letting every anxious whim I encountered rule my life, I’ve realized there are some other ways to cope with the effects.

Now, before I became too sick to be physically active, I found a wonderful release in running. Adding exercise into my daily routine made a big difference for me. It provided me with an exhausting (in a good way) distraction. I would put together a dance worthy playlist on my iPhone and literally run the anxiety out of me. This also worked with walking and the aerobics class I took at my mostly senior citizen gym. For me distraction is my best weapon against anxiety. With being sick and basically homebound these days, I find myself constantly facing anxiety. If I let myself, my mind could easily become paralyzed by the hopelessness that accompanies my fear that I will never get better and will forever be unable to do the things that make me feel good about myself and bring me joy. But that will get me nowhere. I’ve tried it. It’s an endless cycle of despair and self-pity. What I have to do is keep my mind busy, so I do what I can. I watch my favorite movies and TV shows on Netflix. I read whenever I can. I listen to music to sooth my soul. I try to go outside and enjoy the fresh air. And I let other people help me. Cutting yourself off socially will only further your anxiety. Let the people around you who truly care about you be a part of your life. Be honest with them. Not only will you be infinitely less lonely, but you might also find some sympathy and encouragement, which can really give you an extra boost. Finally, please, please, please don’t ever feel like there is something horribly wrong with you or that it’s all in your head! Anxiety is very real and it has snaked its way into my life in a very real way. You are not going crazy nor are you merely weak. What you are is strong for acknowledging it and dealing with it. I am still learning to cope. I still get anxiety attacks, but what I have found is that I am not completely as out of control as I once thought. I am slowly discovering ways to wade through the anxiety and live my life, in whatever capacity I can.

-Emily

As you can see anxiety is a real problem that POTS kids (and other people with chronic illnesses) have to deal with. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and it can be helped. There are ways to feel better. Unfortunately, most of them you can’t do alone. Beth has her mom, Emily has come to the realization she has to rely on friends as well as family. Medications can also help. They don’t help all the time, but some of the time. My heart last year paired with the anxiety attacks to make any little surprise feel like a falling dream. Eventually, we talked to my cardiologist (who kicks butt, besides my dad he’s the first doc I actually ENJOY visiting) and he put me on a drug called Lexapro. Apparently some of the side effects help POTS kids. Who knew? It got my heart racing under control. As long as I minimize the stress the panic attacks are generally manageable. They just aren’t manageable at the moment. I blame this on the fact  that I spent the entire semester not getting enough sleep. Yes, I know! I’m being hypocritical to the nth degree. 5-6 hours of sleep is not enough for a POTS kid. I need 10. I knew that I needed more sleep but I became so caught up with being busy I ignored it. By doing all of these activities I sacrificed my sleep. Anxiety happens. So let this be a lesson to you my dear reader. SLEEP!

What do you do after you’ve failed that first command? You’re stuck with a royal panic attack and whatcha gonna do? Well, everyone has their own method. Mine is almost identical to Emily’s. I try to go on a walk or a run.

Going on a walk or a run isn’t always possible considering the whole POTS condition. Petting my head is a good substitute. No, I’m not a cat. It’s just what people do in my family to show affection. Sometimes physical affection helps more than anything. Sadly, I don’t get my head pet at school. So, a dark room and Netflix instant play are my new best friends. I can’t sleep with panic attacks, I just can’t do it. When I can’t sleep sometimes watching an entertaining episode of something will distract me long enough for my anxiety to run its course. My choices of pleasure are:

1. Dr. Horrible’s Sing A Long Blog

It physically cannot NOT make your day. It’s one of my favorites. It’s by Joss Whedon (who did Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse, the Avengers, see a pattern of awesomeness yet?)

2. Bones

Let’s put it this way, I want to be an archaeologist. She’s a biological anthropologist. The humor is great and the science matches up with the classes I have had thus far. I can’t promise some of the higher tech stuff is accurate, but telling age, gender, ethnic origin, etc. from a corpse at a crime scene is fairly simple. I have been learning to do that. I’m actually taking Forensic Anthropology next semester (so PSYCHED!) My professor is a curator at an anthropology museum so we’ll get to play with the bones and stuff! Anyways, choose a show that is upbeat, interesting, and appeals to your interests. Mine generally have to do with mysteries or fantasy.

3. The Legend of Korra (not on Netflix, but readily available on itunes or the internet)

For anyone who liked Avatar the last Airbender (the TV show, I have heard nothing good about the movie) you’ll like this just as much. It makes me giggle to no end. If you can’t find it, message Pie or I in a comment and we’ll direct you to where we watch it.

Eating small amounts of food helps me, as does tea or a milk and honey mix. Also, ( I cannot stress this enough) if you feel like you  having someone in your life that you can talk to like a family member or roommate, do so. Sometimes getting rid of the trigger is the only way to deal with it. Anxiety can be related to whatever is going on in your life at the moment. But, if you’re dealing with anxiety currently I’m probably not telling you anything new. I sometimes will get stressed out about a relationship, a friendship, or etc, and talking through it with my roommate, mother, or Pie is the only way I can calm down. Otherwise the thoughts will just bash around in your head. Journaling and writing lists can also help me put my thoughts in order. If I can run that day, afterwords I will spend some time at my campus chapel praying. The silence and acknowledging it’s okay things are out of my control, sometimes helps me more than anything. I don’t care if you’re religious or not. Quiet and peaceful places help.

What works for you guys? This is a rather personal issue, so I understand if it’s hard to talk about it. That’s why I asked some of my friends that suffer with anxiety about how they deal with it. I wanted to show you it’s a widespread problem and that you can get better even though it seems hard.

So, I hope that this will be the first of many more posts. I won’t have internet at my field school, but hopefully I can still write. Maybe while I’m on a weekend trip I can shoot a post on stolen wi-fi. I’ll get on Pie too. I know this was a monster post, but it’s a big subject. If you’re having a hard day, I hope this distracted you for a bit : )

Be well!

-Teddy

Blessings

It’s late. I’m tired. But the weirdest thing happened today.

3 of the most attractive people of my acquaintance broke down and told me how insecure they felt about not being beautiful and not feeling loved. Three. And they’re all gorgeous. They weren’t all girls either. I had no intention of talking about anything as personal as our self-image. I don’t think any of us did.

The oddest thing, was that these were three separate one-on-one interactions. It wasn’t even some sort of mass cry of whatever. And I’m left with this really confused feeling about what the heck is wrong with our generation that nearly every single person of my acquaintance feels the same way. I have yet to meet a college kid who thinks they’re perfect just the way they are. Heck, I have yet to meet someone who thinks they’re ok. Usually they secretly feel like something is wrong with them. And that’s fundamentally, indescribably wrong.

The first was an incredibly attractive guy I know. He has girls who literally swoon over him. When he first started talking about how low he was feeling that no one was even remotely interested in him I thought he was kidding. Literally. I think I even started to smile. But I decided to humor him (even the gods have bad days I suppose), looked him in the eyes and told him the truth. That just about every girl in our mutual acquaintance was head over heels for him at some point in the past year alone. He was shocked. And he then proceeded to say that wasn’t something anyone had told him before. The other guy at our table got really sad and said he wished someone would tell him that at some point. Oh my gosh, that makes four people in one day. What is going on.

The second (third now) was a girl I don’t know that well, other than she is beautiful, vivacious, and I was very, very jealous of her as a freshman. When she said she had never been the type of girl to get all the guys… I don’t know. I had no idea other people felt that way. She just never felt beautiful, or had people in her life tell her that. I didn’t get the chance to tell her otherwise, but luckily there were a couple other friends who did it for me. But mostly we just listened. I think sometimes thats more healing than actually giving any advice.

The fourth was a dear, dear friend. And she was the hardest. Because sometimes, when people tell you these pains that are rooted so deep down in their souls, you get afraid nothing you say will make them believe otherwise. Especially if you know them well. So I told her that even though right now she can’t see it, I love and see all the wonderful things about her. That she is kind, and I care about her so much. And that she is absolutely beautiful. But that was almost an afterthought, because I’ve told her that before and I’m not sure if she’ll ever believe it. It just happens to be true. The most unbelievable things generally seem to be.

When people used to tell me these things I would get pissed off. Because I could see the truth so clearly and they had no right to complain to a person so much more repulsive than themselves. But I’ve come to terms with THAT, and realized that kind of perpetuated the problem. So I’ve started to leave out the part about me being ugly-KIDDING. But seriously, I felt the exact same way. And I have no idea why.

I actually don’t feel that way anymore. I can acknowledge than I am not traditionally beautiful, but I like myself. I don’t repulse men, and saying anything else is blatantly ignoring my father and brothers every time they have complimented me while growing up. And they are the dearest men in my life, so if I can’t believe them who can I believe? But that wasn’t enough to change my mind. Something else had to happen first.

This is personal, and isn’t something I’m used to doing. Or talking about really. Which is stupid, because it’s one of the most important things to me, that is, my relationship with God. I’m not trying to preach to you, but I have a habit of being honest. And to leave this out would be lying to you my dear readers.

I never thought of myself as attractive. This is (as shown today) rather common. But when I became sick with POTS I went through the usual transformation. My perfect skin became acne-ridden again and I gained 25 lbs. Which seemed pretty unfair for someone who was on the swim team, a vegetarian, and suddenly very ill. I didn’t do anything to deserve it, but my health (and all the appearances of it) suddenly went away as if on a mere whim. The thing about gaining weight when you have POTS, is that you can’t lose it. Your metabolism literally slows down. Plus, you’re too weak to just “work it off”. Do you know how much of a luxury it is to feel well enough to exercise? Blarg, thats for another ranting post : ) As for the acne, I had had it most of my adolescence, but it had largely vanished by the time I turned 17. I was way too sick to be put on any medicine that might mess with my system, especially since they didn’t know WHAT part of me was making me sick. So aesthetically speaking, I just had to deal with it. Which seemed hideously unfair. When you feel ill, LOOK ill, and even the scale is mocking you it just doesn’t seem fair. So this is why when people complained about their problems I got a little cranky. I’d like to issue an apology now, it was due to circumstances outside of my control.

All through this time I was pissed at God. Royally pissed. He took everything away from me, and then left me to die. Emotionally, physically, mentally, I was fried. You guys know what POTS does to you. No human being should have to go through what we go through with. All those years of praying for Pie to get better, and he had rewarded me by making me just as ill. And taking away everything that had ever made me feel good about myself. My ability to think and perform well academically, my athletic prowess, witty banter, everything. Even my normally calm demeanor was wrecked. Anxiety and depression is pretty common among us, I was no exception.

But something changed. About two years in I began to see the blessings God had put in life that I hadn’t seen at first. Like that because of my diagnosis, Pie got diagnosed. My years of prayer had been answered, just not in the way I wanted. And how instead of going to an Ivy league school, I ended up on the West coast where I am EXACTLY where I was meant to be. It didn’t feed my ego like a ranked school would, but thats definitely a good thing. I thought I was all that and a bag of chips in high school. I don’t think I would have decided to go into anthropology either if I were somewhere else. I’d still be busting my butt on the biology track and hating myself for my own inadequacy instead of rejoicing in my love of learning like I am now. That was definitely a run on sentence. My apologies. So I tentatively began to spend time talking to God again. Actually, that’s a lie. I didn’t do squat. Some of my dearest friends literally ran into me while playing capture the flag and asked me to join their youth group. I did, kind of on spur of the moment. That youth group has been a source of strength and infinite joy for me. Talking together about our problems with God, wrestling with them, and then asking God to help us get to know him better was a really weird journey. And at some point, I realized that my life was so much richer here, sick, than it was when I was well. Because I can see how I am blessed, and how incandescently happy I am in comparison.

So I love my God. I love going outside and knowing I have an intimate, loving relationship with the creator of the universe. And that is possibly the most awkward and nerdiest thing I have ever said on the internet. But I get to know that he doesn’t just have a plan for me, (you thought thats what I was going to say didn’t you, suckers) but is actively using me to love other people. That makes me happy. That is what heals me. That love and profound appreciation for my God who uses a sick kid. I’m frankly useless, so I know all good things that come out of me are not innately my own. It’s hard to explain, but you just have to trust me.

So I am content. I just happen to get my worth from an otherworldly source. I’m not anxious or depressed anymore, mainly because I know I’m not in control. Someone else is, thank God. So the pressure’s off, everything is going to happen exactly as it is meant to.

Don’t get me wrong, some of these people are Christians who definitely love God. There are still hard, lonely days. But they’re easier knowing a better day is planned. Knowing you’re loved passionately by the person who made you.

I am not going to do this on a regular basis. I will still write about disney movies, (I  can’t wait to see Happy Feet 2), awesome books, and dorky cute things like mushrooms (speaking of which, that will probably be my next post). But this was something that had to be said: You are gorgeous, made perfectly, and are here for a reason. You are loved and I can’t wait until the day that you don’t think of yourself with loathing and sadness. Because none of it is what others see. They might not tell you that, because some obvious things get overlooked. I don’t have an easy solution to your sadness today, but I’m hoping I can give you a piece of my hope for you and peace of mind. I’m happy and I have POTS. I never though I’d say that. I can’t wait for the day that you will too.

Be Well,

Teddy

A Potful of College tools

Hey! It’s college season and some of you are headed off. So bully for you! (Erm, this is Teddy by the way…again)

Last year I headed off to school terrified out of my orthostatic wits. It wasn’t for lack of resources or family support, but it was tough. Before I became ill I had high hopes for college. I wanted to go on the East Coast and attend a top tier school. Didn’t happen. I got in, but I ended up being too sick to fly cross country constantly, plus having POTS in an extreme climate is bad news bears. So I went to a place that is pretty consistent weather-wise and we hoped for the best. Something must have worked because I’m going back for my 2nd year.

A few things to keep in mind in mind before you go:

-College is the best thing for your mental health (fun and intellectual stimulation)

-It’s a jet start for your social life

-Don’t Panic (Anyone notice the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference?)

1. You don’t have to graduate in 4 years. Health stuff can screw it up, no matter how hardworking you are. So don’t sweat it.

2. People will be willing to help you. Believe me. You will be ok.

So before you head off to Hogwarts, there are a few things you should arrange first.

1. Contact the Disability service. POTS is a legitimate physical disability (despite how hard we fight against it) and they’re a great resource. A word of caution, give them unquestionable proof from your doctor, and a list of accomodations that you need. Some good ones are making sure the teachers know about what you have (they have to keep it a secret, and treat you just the same) so if you get sick that they can cut you some slack. The Disabilities service can also get you a room on the first floor near the main campus. It will be a lifesend on sick days and when you can’t deal with stairs.

2. Get a single room. NO this won’t inhibit your social life. NO it isn’t isolating you from others. It is NECESSARY. I fought against mine for all it was worth, but it was the main reason I could finish the year. Plus, a month in (when everyone else is sick of their rommates) they’ll flock to your room. My room didn’t have any floor space during exams because my friends would take it over to study.

Ok, now I know you are furtively looking through Target and websites trying to find sheets for an “extra long” bed. Secret? It’s not any longer. Honest. At least at my school. Get the sheets you want, and not the boring cotton ones you find when you’re at your wits end.

I realized there were a bunch of things like that. Things that you don’t know until you have already made the mistakes. So when a dear friend of mine was going off to college this fall, I compiled a list for her. I’ve expanded it for those of us with POTS, so here it is!  I tried to avoid the obvious things. Something tells me you won’t leave home without a toothbrush. So I know I’m giving you a lot of credit here, but I suspect you can live up to it : )

1. Minimum of 5 posters (nothings is sadder than a white wall)
2. Two microwave safe thermoses.
3. Triscuits/Wheat thins (salty snacks galore!)
4. Two sets of headphones (one always breaks a month in)
5. Ear Plugs (or there will be no sleeping until 2 in the morning in the dorms)
6. Puffs Kleenex with Lotion (colds run rampant)
7. a throw blanket (I got mine at pottery barn and I live in it. This is especially important on sick days where your body is cold intolerant)

8. Extra printers ink
9. Blank CDs (the new college currency)
10. Popcorn
11. Ramen (for those days you can’t make it to the cafeteria)
12. Tacky (for hanging up posters, pictures, syllabuses, etc.)
13. Extra body lotion/make up (it gets used up freakishly fast)
14. Dish soap
15. Utensils and a bowl or two

16. Sponges
17. Laundry bag, detergent, dryer sheets
18. A little black dress (something will always come up and you will need it)
19. Nail polish and nail polish remover
20. Granola bars (you will live off these on mornings with early classes)
21. Peanut butter and/or Nutella
22. A Brita or other water filtration device (the sink water usually tastes terrible)
23. Gatorade powder packets/pedialyte powder packets

24. Medical records for the disability office/university infirmary

 25. A couple novels/Sims 3/gameboy games for your bad days

Well, that is my current list. The rest is really up to your current taste. For example, I keep lots of tea, all my Harry Potter books, and plants in my room. Some people do not feel complete without a closet worth of shoes and a wall of pictures. Just bring what you need (and whatever I tell you to 😛 Have faith in master Teddy, I will not lead you astray!)

Most of all, I wish you luck. Going away is especially difficult for us because of all the care we need. You will be faced with tough problems, like how to tell someone you’re sick and if anyone needs to know. I decided to be very open about it, because then people would stop asking me why I avoided stairs, went to bed early, etc. You have a heart problem, end of story. It’s not a big deal. What IS a big deal is that you’re about to go off on an enormous adventure!

But a post would not be complete without something fun. I can think of nothing more so than decorating a dorm room : ) Pie and I spent the summer going to antique stores and craft stores. We cut up a book of new age-y pictures and made a collage. My dear friend at school and I are having a modge podge day soon to decorate our notebooks. (If you don’t know about modge podge, go get some! It flattens paper into collages and makes them stick together with a shiny glow) I brought some glass jars to put loose leaf tea in and lanterns for night lights. It gives my room a really outdoorsy feel. I found a really cool blog about a stay at home mom that makes nature-y crafts that would look AWESOME in a dorm room. I think I’ll try to wax some maple leaves and hang them up.http://www.5orangepotatoes.com/blog/nature-activities/

A dorm room project I just did was to take a bunch of clothespins and hang up pictures of my friends and family. It always gives me a glad feeling to see my favorite people smiling at me. Plus it makes me look like I’m artistic, which I assure you is not the case!

Be well,

Teddy