When Meds Wear Off

To manage my POTS I take a beta blocker, which slows down my hear rate, and a vasovagal constrictor, which raises my blood pressure. For those of you that might know someone with POTS, and want to know what it feels like when their meds (medication) wear off, I will try and describe what it is like for me.

I take both my meds every four hours, and I can easily tell when they are wearing off.

The first thing I notice usually is that my whole body feels heavy. It’s like someone cased my hands and legs in cement.

Then the joints in my hands hurt and become stiff. When I look at my hands I can easily see the popping veins. That normally the first sign that the meds have worn off.

My vision becomes blurry. Not to the point where I am unable to see or read, but it takes more effort to look at something. Almost like I have to focus longer to be able to see things.

Then I get dizzy, and I have to walk faster from seat to seat. I have to plan my how I am going to get from one place to another, because I am unable to walk very far without falling or passing out.

Lastly I will get a headache after about a half hour of the meds wearing off. It usually starts behind my eyes and becomes an intense pressure behind the front of my skull. If it persists I lose the ability to focus on anything for a long period of time, it becomes painful to open my eyes, and my sensitivity to stimuli skyrockets.

These are all the things that I know will happen every time, but of course with dysautonomia, anything can really happen. I could have chest pain, and pass out, without having blurry vision. It is all about getting to know your body.

I usually set an alarm for when I have to take my meds, and always make sure to have extra with me.

Last year I forgot my meds when I was in class and they wore off when I was in the middle of a two hour class. By the time the class ended I could barely stand, because I had over-exerted myself in class. I was looking at a fifteen minute walk back to my dorm, so I called my boyfriend and told him what happened. He already knew about my POTS and that I usually never ask for any type of help, a flaw I have been working to correct.

He walked to the building I was in and walked with me back to my dorm. We took frequent brakes and he had his arm around my waist the whole time, just in case I fell. Now I always keep an extra dose in my backpack, and most of my friends have some extra doses with them.

You learn how to adapt, and prevent being in pain. I try very hard to prevent the feeling of the meds wearing off, but sometimes I let a half hour laps just to be like “Yup, I still have it. Dang.”

 

~Maddie

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Headache Days 8/30/2016

On Monday I woke up with a pretty bad headache. It wasn’t the worst one I’ve had and it didn’t cause me to be unable to keep food down, so I wasn’t going to skip class.

I knew I would probably have a headache because on Sunday I stayed up until 11 PM and was off my meds for the last two hours. That was not a smart decision on my part, but I was having fun with my friends. We were just sitting around playing video games, so I didn’t feel bad at the time, but like everything else it takes a tole on my body.

On Monday’s I have class from 9 to 11 in the mornings and then work from 4 to 7 in the evenings. Once I woke up and realized that the headache wasn’t going away, I drank and much water as I could and took two salt pills. People with POTS will commonly up their salt intake to counteract the drop in their blood pressure when they change positions. I knew that doing this wouldn’t make the headache go away, but I was trying to keep it from getting worse.

After my classes I ate as much as I could and then took a nap until work. After work I came back and went straight to bed again.

I had planned on showering and going to the gym, but my head would pound every time I sat up, so I picked my battles and decided to bag the gym and shower.

I finally chose my health over what I wanted to get done! Progress!

After resting for the majority of yesterday, I woke up today without a headache. I still try and take the day after bad headache days pretty slow, but I have a long day today so I guess we will see if it comes back. For now all I can do is chug water.

I was able to go to all of my classes, and made it through work without any major disasters. For me, that is a productive day.

 

~Maddie

Dealing With a Tight Chest Due to POTS

For those of you without POTS, when I say tight chest it feels like someone is squeezing you around your chest, restricting how much you can physically move your rib cage.

When this first happens it can be very scary. The most important thing to remember is not to panic. This may not be normal for everyone else, but if you have POTS, this is normal for you.

Sitting is best, even if you have to sit on the ground. Sit with your back straight, and take as deep of breaths as you can. Slowly. In for as long as you can, and then our slowly.

For me this allows my lungs to relax and my rib cage to open.

Once I do this for a few minutes, the pain goes away and I am able to breath normally again. I sit with my back straight for another minute or two, allowing the muscles to stay relaxed. I have found that if I move right when the pain goes away it will return, and I have to do the whole process over again.

If you have to do this in public, most likely people will look at you funny because there is no way for them to see what is going on. Try and do your best to push them out of your mind and focus on yourself. You are the one that needs to get better, and breathing is important.

Don’t panic. This will become normal. You can deal with it.

 

~Maddie

Tough Days 8/27/2016

The last couple of days have been hard. I wasn’t able to work out on Thursday due to fatigue and joint pain. When I did work out on Friday I wasn’t able to lift as much weights as I would like, and I wasn’t able do it for as long as I normally do. All due to stomach cramps and chest pain. It’s always something. But, at least I was able to go!

I was able to go to all of my classes this week as well, and haven’t missed a homework assignment. My bullet journal has really helped keep my on top of what I have to do. I write the assignments for each class in a different color. That way it is more colorful, and I have less writing to do.

I have had stomach pain for the past few days, but I just try to make sure that I eat at least something for every meal. Today I have had a pain in my left calf. I have tried stretching and massaging, but it just keeps coming back. It’s just POTS way of letting you know that its there.

Took it pretty slow today. Just reading and playing video games with friends. Tomorrow I will try to make a dent in the home work I have for the upcoming week. I always try to be at least an assignment ahead in all of my classes, just in case I get sick and have to take a day off I won’t fall too far behind.

Today wasn’t so fun with being stuck inside on a nice day, but at least I made a dent in my book, and got to spend time with friends! Trying to keep positive!

 

~Maddie

Starting Classes…Again 8/24/2016

School started last Monday, scary. It has been good to get back to doing productive things. It feels good to be productive. And I only have to go up two flights of stairs for all of my classes! That is awesome!

Haven’t had any trouble getting to my classes, though today I was sitting in my social psychology class and it was like someone put their hands around my throat. It was hard to breath and I had about twenty minutes of shallow breathing, and trying not to puke. Managed to take notes though! The skills that POTS gives you.

Our house got a big TV for free and two of my friends brought down their game stations and we put them together so that we can play more multi-player games. So far every night we have all sat in the living room watching and playing video games. I have never been obsessed with them, but it has been a fun pastime!

Lately I have been struggling with having people understand that I really am sick, or they don’t think I am as sick as I really am. When I say something about being sick or a consequence that it causes most people assume that I am exaggerating, or if I worked hard enough I could overcome it. I just have to get to the point where I don’t care about what other people think. I’ll get there eventually.

For the people that do get it it is nice for them to be like “How do you even function?” I ask myself that a lot. I guess I just know what I have to get done and will do whatever it takes to get it done. I may do it a little differently, but it will get done!

Surround yourself with people who get it, but will push you.

 

~Maddie

The Depression Mindset

People seek out what is the most comfortable for them. When you have depression that is what becomes your comfort zone. I consider myself in the “recovery” stage of my journey with depression, but sometimes I find myself feeling uncomfortable when I am happy.

When I am genuinely happy, it can be uncomfortable, or confusing. With depression you spend so much time not being happy, that when it happens without you doing anything, it can catch you off guard. You spend years learning how to cope with the sadness that is thick, and overwhelming, that once you break through it you don’t know how to handle the happiness.

I have often found myself watching sad movies or videos, listening to sad music, or reading sad books all in an attempt to make myself sad. I can handle being sad. I know how to be sad. I have to learn how to be happy again.

I don’t mean that I have to learn how to MAKE myself happy, I mean that I havedepression-warning-sign-rev to relearn how to live with the feeling of being happy. It feels weird to me, uncomfortable, wrong, and that is the scary part.

I WANT to be happy, I don’t want to be sad, and I enjoy being happy. The feeling of happiness simply feels uncomfortable and wrong. It’s like putting on clothing that irritates your skin, you spend all of your time thinking about how uncomfortable the clothing is rather than thinking about how good you feel in it when you look in the mirror.

More, and more I find myself wishing I had some sort of coping mechanism for when I feel uncomfortable being happy. I am aware that making myself sad is not a healthy coping mechanism. Recently, when I have felt like that, I have been reminding myself of how bad I felt when my depression was at its worst. That way I appreciate being able to feel happy more than I worry about how uncomfortable it makes me.

I am still working through how I handle my emotions. It is still a daily battle to develop healthy coping mechanisms, and catch myself before I can use unhealthy ones.

All you can do is keep working.

 

~Maddie

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