Posts Tagged ‘Orthostatic Intolerance’

Katya on Life with P.O.T.S and R.I.S

September 8th, 2014 by Carrie, the Just Mildly Medicated gal

I am always surprised by the connections that I have made through my chronic illness. Katya is one of those connections. I am happy that Katya was willing to share some of her life with *P.O.T.S as many who suffer with the condition are teenage girls. Katya is a 16 year old who has been living life with *dysautonomia for over a year now and I am glad she chose to share some of her story with us during Invisible Illness Awareness Week.


30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know

 1. The illness I live with is:

Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, or POTS.  I also have RIS, Radiologically Isolated Syndrome.

2. I was diagnosed with it in the year:

I was diagnosed with POTS at Mayo Hospital in Rochester, MN in the Summer of 2013.  I was diagnosed with Radiologically Isolated Syndrome in January of this year.

3. But I had symptoms since:

Before I was diagnosed with POTS, I had been having symptoms for at least a year.

4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is:

I had to stop going to school last year because between doctors’ visits and medicine adjustment it became too difficult

5. Most people assume:

I choose to be antisocial when in reality I can’t go out or have people over because I’m feeling ill or am so fatigued I can hardly stand up.

6. The hardest part about mornings are:

Waking up to realize that another day of fatigue and debilitation await me when I step out of bed.

7. My favorite medical TV show is:

House M.D.  No doubt about it.  House all the way!

8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is:

My computer.  My darling little computer has helped me distract myself from the grieving of having a chronic illness.  Between Netflix and Amazon Instant Video I twisted the definition of “being social”.  From Downton Abbey to Real Housewives of Orange County, I created my own world when I couldn’t be part of the real one.

9. The hardest part about nights are:

When I lay my head down and begin to think about how I could have pushed harder or what the day could have been like if I wasn’t ill.

10. Each day I take __ pills & vitamins. (No comments, please)

11. Regarding alternative treatments I:

I haven’t tried any alternative treatments.

12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose:

This is a very tough and emotional question.  At the moment, I choose invisible because I am able to choose who gets to know about my illness and what I am going through.  Invisible illness also limits the amount of pity I would receive from strangers.

13. Regarding working and career:

I’m only 16 and I made most of my spending money through babysitting.  After a couple cases of being on the edge of fainting while trying to watch the children I had to give that up.  I loved the children I use to babysit and no longer get to see them like I use too.

14. People would be surprised to know:

Before I got ill I would run 6 to 10 miles every single day after school.  Running was my passion and my outlet.  I have had trouble finding something to replace it.  I doubt anything ever will.

15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been:

That there is nothing I can do to fix it.  This makes me feel out of control.  It is hard to come to terms with the fact that no matter what you do you can’t change the way you feel.

16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was:

Go to Disney world with my family.  My dad pushed me in the wheelchair the entire time.  We also got bumped up to the front of the line of every rollercoaster.

17. The commercials about my illness: none

18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is:

The simple things.  Taking a hot shower (I have heat intolerance).  Going to the grocery store with my mom.  Driving.  Leisurely strolls.  Going to school.

19. It was really hard to have to give up:

The visions and plans I had for my life.

20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is:

Collecting sock monkeys.  I take at least one of them on my medical adventures and take a picture of them and put it on facebook to tell my story from time to time.

21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would:

Run until I dropped.  I would go to watch my little brother play in his basketball/soccer games (I have missed so many of these).  I would jump up and down and scream and yell without fear of collapsing onto the floor.  I would go shopping with my mom.

22. My illness has taught me:

My illness has shown me how freaking naïve I was before getting ill.  I had no idea what chronically ill even meant.  I could not have even fathomed the pain and suffering that a chronically ill person and their family experience.  I am so blessed and so privileged to be able to relate with such warriors and heroes that are those who battle everyday with chronical illness.

23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is:

“I looked online and read that POTS can be cured by exercising.  Have you tried that?”  My response:  “Oh really, well I looked online and saw a picture of you captioned: Dumba**!”

24. But I love it when people:

Say things like, “I don’t know how you do it.”  or “How are you still going?”  It makes me feel like they’re acknowledging that this is a real, physical illness.

25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is:

2 Corinthians 12:9

‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.’

There is nothing better than to hear that your pain is not in vain.

26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them:

Don’t avoid talking about your illness or brush it off as though it isn’t there.  Attempt to accept your illness.  It is never fully possible to completely accept your illness, it just isn’t.  But the more and more you work at it the happier you will be.  Do not let your illness consume you but remember and realize that your illness is a part of you forever.  Don’t fight this fact.

27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is:

The majority of people who are also ill or going through difficult situations.  I had no idea of the gigantic amounts of information and nitty gritty gossip I could receive by simply opening up to people about my illness and hurts.  As I began to do this people started to tell me all about their current and past troubles.  Opening up to people and listening to them while they open up to you makes for a much stronger and deeper relationship.

28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was:

My mother fills my water bottle, makes me food, and massages my feet.  My mom does this on a daily basis.  I still don’t know how she does it.  Many people have brought me flowers, food, and gifts but there is no one who has comforted me and held my hand like my mother.  She is a blessing.

29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because:

I have an invisible illness and Carrie from Just Mildly Medicated asked if I would do a guest post.  I am so honored to be part of this week because it is easy to get cooped up with my illness and forget the many other people dealing with their own.

30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel:

This gives me hope because if you care enough to read this then maybe others will and this will help spread awareness of POTS and Dysautonomia.

fight pots


Big thanks to Katya for stopping by during Invisible Illness Week!To learn more about Invisible Illness Week click the link ;)

*Dysautonomia- umbrella term used to describe several different medical conditions that cause a malfunction of the Autonomic Nervous System.

*P.O.T.S – a subset of orthostatic intolerance that is associated with the presence of excessive tachycardia on standing.

Injectable Power Port for IV therapy to treat Dysautonomia

June 5th, 2013 by Carrie, the Just Mildly Medicated gal

As much as I hate it when I read a blog post that starts with “So it’s been awhile…” or “Sorry I haven’t posted in a long time…” this is kind of that post.

I’ve been super busy. Okay not really, but I’d say super busy for someone who considers making lunch, checking the mail, and doing the dishes a pretty full day.

Okay kids gather round and I’ll tell you about the first week of having an Injectable Power Port for IV therapy to treat Dysautonomia…

Quick basics for those who are not familiar; a power injectable port is a small medical device that is just beneath the skin usually put in the upper chest, just below the collar bone, mine is on the right side and goes into my jugular vein. Medications can be given and blood can be drawn from the port. Ports are mostly identified with people receiving treatment in the medical area of oncology and hematology.

Dysautonomia patients can often opt for port usage for proactive treatment to combat frequent dehydration and elevate blood volume to hopefully avoid syncope (fainting) and the need for multiple IV treatments post syncope.

Okay, now back to me!

This is an image of the Smart Port power injectable port that is in me
I had no preference in the brand of port and left that to the
surgeon who performed the procedure


(BTW I am a total newbie at this so the terminology is new to me. This is my first few days with the port)

So it started with a call to my Dysautonomia Specialist. I had passed out again and had a hard time coming out of it. It was that syncope that wanted to take you over, you start to come to and sit up slowly and BAM your vision gets blurry and you go right back out. I had no issue getting the IV at the ER but in the past they have said no, or admitted me for observation instead of the IV my body was so thirsty for.

My specialist and I agreed it was time to be proactive with regular IV therapy but I wasn’t sure how I wanted to go about it. There are a few options.

  • You can just have a new IV done each time but my doc wanted the therapy three times a week so that was not a first choice
  • The PICC Line is the next option and has some huge pros. It isn’t a surgical procedure and they can be used for anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months before needing to move location. The cons for the PICC Line were from people who have used them mentioning the inconvenience of having something sticking out from you at all times and you cannot get it wet (increased risk of infection) and the covering for it sometimes let water through.
  • The next option was a power injectable port. It is an out-patient procedure although sedated enough to take the edge off you don’t need to be put under and the port can last for many years. While accessed it does need to be covered but when not accessed the port is under the skin and though it can look like a small dome it is not as noticeable as having something like a PICC Line accessed all the time.

I went for the port which was what my specialist had wanted. Their office called it in and within 2 weeks I was scheduled for my port placement.

The procedure:

I was scared, like really scared. I am someone who would prefer to be knocked out for dental work let alone something being inserted in my neck/chest. When I got to the hospital they put me in my room and did some labs to make sure my clotting was up to par then I waited.

I passed the time reading Game of Thrones until my mind started to wander. Am I sick enough for this? Ugg I hate the train of thought when I admit I am too debilitated by my illness to do normal things, like shopping for clothes or make it from the car to the baseball fields where my sons play but I also know there are people much more debilitated than me. I battle for quality of life other people are battling for life.

Then they came in to wheel my bed off to the OR… ahhhh! I’ve changed my mind, forget it I am going home… Okay I was thinking it but I didn’t say it. They went over the procedure and we got started, well they got started, I just laid there.

If you are considering this procedure, as many Dysautonomia patients are, the worst part is the injection to numb you, it kind of feels like the dentist numbing you only maybe ten times as bad and in your neck (sorry being honest). All and all for a surgical procedure it was not bad. After 3 hours bed rest I was about to start the discharge process. Although I think when I watch movies where someone gets truth serum injected into their neck I might have some PSTD flash backs.

Me during the first 24 hours. A former plastic surgeon did my
port placement, I know you’re jealous ;)

I was so sore the next day I wanted to kick my doctor and every one of my spoonie peeps who said they loved having a port. By day 4 I wasn’t very sore at all, which was good because the nurse came to do my very first IV therapy. Now even with the port you have options as to what needle and how much nursing assistance you’d like and how much you feel you can do on your own.

This day 4 post-op before being accessed, the 22 gauge Huber,
and then accessed for the very first time
Me getting accessed and my first port lesson


I will have therapy M-W-F so I have opted to have a nurse come on Monday to access me (put the needle in and dangly IV connector and cover the area) and stay accessed until Friday. As of now the nurse will come on Friday to remove everything and I will be free of it until she (not being sexist, the company has 3 female nurses so it’s she) comes Monday to access it again. On the in-between days I do need to flush the port with saline and then heparin. I did the flush of the port with the nurse yesterday after my first IV therapy and today, my off day, by myself.

The big questions from fellow Dysautonomia peeps…

I am only doing one bag Tuesday and Thursday of this week, my orders are up to 2 bags 3 times a week, so I am working up to finding my sweet spot right amount. I hoped to feel energetic after the bag was done. I didn’t. I was cold which led me to lay under a blanket on the couch which left me feeling tired. I also felt a bit fuzzy after standing up and moving to a better chair to unhook the IV and do the flushing. I will add that I didn’t sleep the night before.

A few hours later was dinner time. I made dinner, we ate, we (kiddos and I, hubby is out of town) cleared the table, and then I packed lunches for 2 of my 4 kiddos for summer session at school. Afterwards I sat down and realized I hadn’t taken a break leaning over the counter which I normally would have done.

However when I did orthostatic numbers that night I was just as all over the place as a regular good night with readings of my HR being 67 to 92 and BP from 139/80 to 119/75. Again, not “bad” number fluctuations in the world of Dysautonomia just that they are the same in fluctuation as I’d have a good evening before proactive IV therapy.

Next week I’ll do a bag and a half M-W-F and will hopefully have great things to report.

Want to know more about Dysautonomia click here

If you have comments or questions on anything I always read the comments posted. I will answer, even if its “I haven no idea” and reply so you can stop back to see the response or I think you can click something to see responses. I also love you more when you comment… it’s true.

Dysautonomia and salt loading

March 19th, 2013 by Carrie, the Just Mildly Medicated gal

Can I have a side of salt with that?

Most people are trying to eat better; I think its residual New Year’s resolutions coupled with The Biggest Loser. When people try to adhere to a healthier diet a common knowledge is to lower your salt intake. When someone with Dysautonomia tries to adhere to a healthier diet we are told to salt load. After having salt brought up in a Dysautonomia message board conversation and seeing we all had a ton of questions on what salt loading actually meant I decided to ask a few questions and do some research.

Now I am no medical professional, just a gal with a laptop, a list of questions and an amazing Dysautonomia specialist. Please ask these questions to a doctor who understands Dysautonomia and how it applies to you so that you are able to find the answers that apply specifically to you.

Why do we salt load?
We are trying to increase blood volume. With an increased blood volume the goal is to lessen the drop in blood pressure when we stand up. That drop is called Orthostatic Intolerance and is a chronic debilitating condition that is common with many neurological conditions like Parkinson’s and Dysautonomia.  Many of us take Fludrocotisone, a medication for treating salt loss, to help us retain the salt we are consuming. Salt loading is not appropriate for everyone with Dysautonomia.

How much salt is salt loading?
This will depend on your blood pressure and your sodium output. I would say most of my ‘Dysautonomiac’ friends seem to have a goal somewhere around 8 to 9 grams with the higher end being 10 to 15 grams and 6 to 7 grams not being enough to alleviate symptoms for most.
The American Heart Association recommend people not suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure or cardiovascular diseases stay under 3.75 grams of salt per day.

Do I use Sea Salt or Table Salt?
The differences between the two are not as dramatic as I thought. I had assumed sea salt healthier than old school table salt but they have the same nutritional value. It’s the process that is different, and also tastes preference. Unfortunately I prefer sea salt but table salt is what I was advised to use. They both have the same amount of sodium but table salt has iodine.

What about salt tablets?
I choose to salt load straight from the shaker but many people use salt tablets. You can purchase them at pharmacies over the counter or they will order them for you.

Are there side effects from all this salt?
Yes, I personally feel nauseated and thirsty when I salt load, headaches are also an issue. Salt loading should be done slowly over time so your body can adjust.

So now I know the grams recommend for me, how do I read the labels of food so that I know what I am consuming?
Boy was this ever the question of the hour. How many teaspoons of salt a day? How many grams in a teaspoon? Oh wait, who cares everything is listed as sodium on packages… what now?

My goal is 8 to 9 grams on a normal day. So I will use 9 grams as my target number.

1 tsp of salt = 6 grams of salt                  6 grams of salt = 2,300 mg of sodium

1 ½ tsp of salt = 9 grams of salt              9 grams of salt = 3,450 mg of sodium


So now I know how much, how should I get it? 

You obviously don’t want a fast food diet to obtain this level of sodium, that’s not healthy. There are plenty of higher sodium foods that do have other nutritional value. Table salting your foods is the common avenue. Some other food options are soups, soy sauce, pasta sauces and V-8 juices. I then asked my blogger buddy over at Green Mom and Kids (<~link) for some high salt foods and was reminded of salt water crab! Not my personal favorites but cheeses also are high sodium. I know, I am the only girl in the word that hates cheese.

Do you have other salt / sodium information to share, other questions… please comment.