I have received a lot of emails from readers asking me a variety of questions about my personal battle with Dysautonomia. I really would like to answer all of you individually but because my 'good days' are few, I often don't get to answer you in detail the way I would like. Therefore, I thought I would take the time to do a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Series. I hope this will be helpful to those seeking answers about this disease and educational for those of you who would just like to know more about my life with this illness. Once this series is over, I will create a separate page just for these questions and will put a link to them at the top of this page.
Here is part one in the series:
1) WHAT KIND OF DYSAUTONOMIA DO YOU HAVE?
I have been diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) with Reflex Syncope.
2) WHAT EXACTLY IS POTS AND SYNCOPE?
POTS is a disease of the autonomic nervous system that is characterized by the body's inability to make the necessary adjustments to counteract gravity when standing up. Syncope is when you lose consciousness/pass out.
When I stand, the vessels in my legs and abdomen do not constrict properly in order to send blood back to my heart. Therefore, the heart does not have enough oxygenated blood to pump to my brain. This causes a rapid rise in my heart rate and a significant drop in my blood pressure. When the brain does not get enough blood (oxygen), it can not function properly and send appropriate signals. It is at that point that I pass out.
3) DO YOU FAINT/HOW OFTEN DO YOU FAINT?
Yes, unfortunately, as I stated before I do faint. I have syncopal episodes (fainting) pretty frequently. However, over time, I have learned how to recognize the symptoms, so I am better able to recognize when they are coming on and I am sometimes able to get down on the floor to prevent completely passing out and falling. Sometimes though, I don't even realize anything is happening until I wake up on the floor.
4) HAVE YOU HAD SIGNIFICANT INJURIES FROM FALLING?
By the Grace of God, I have not yet had any major injuries. I've had many bumps and bruises and a couple of pretty good lacerations but so far nothing serious.
Stay tuned for Part 2!
Oh, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my amazing dad today! We love you Daddy!