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Using Food as Medicine: Living with an Invisible Illness

 

Before I was diagnosed with a condition called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), I was living life to the fullest- going for ballet classes, exercising, traveling and working. But it was as if, someone flipped a switch one day and I was no longer the same person.

The condition affected the workings of my autonomic nervous system; I couldn’t control my heart rate and blood pressure properly, as well as struggling with digestive issues, chronic fatigue and infections amongst other symptoms. When trying to stand or walk, I’d experience extreme dizziness and tachycardia (or rapid heart rate) and would faint.

I was bed bound and little actions like trying to brush my teeth or cook a meal would make me lightheaded and I’d have to lie down.

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I was prescribed a cocktail of medication, but unfortunately they had limited success in managing the condition and after about a few months I hit rock bottom, both physically, emotionally and mentally.

I had to quit my job and began laying at home.  When I was not sleeping 18 hours days, I started using my background in genetics and nutrition to manage the condition. I started using food as a medicine.

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Keeping a food diary and learning how to preapre easy meals ( a hard task when you can’t stay awake or stand up for long), was a journey in itself. But a fufufilling one that I feel has given me a space to encourage others with similar conditions to be their best advocate.

Because it’s an invisible disorder—in other words, I don’t appear sick—life with POTS can be difficult to navigate. Looking at me today, I think it will be hard for anyone to imagine that “Sandra- the-girl-who-never-sits-still-and-who-goes-on all-these-cool-adventures” has chronic illness- but on some days, life is a b*tch.

I don’t take anything for granted. And this is part of my story…