Standing up to POTS
I’ve created this blog to document my journey of undiagnosed chronic illness and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), from onset to diagnosis to healing, in hopes that it may someday help someone else on a similar journey, who is just as frustrated and confused as I was. I saw no fewer than two dozen doctors over the course of three years who all told me the same thing:
“All your labs are normal. You’re in perfect health. You’re probably just tired and stressed from being a new mom.”
This I heard from females, males, gastroenterologists, ENT’s, neurologists–most times after a frantic attempt to give an 11 second summary of the symptoms I was experiencing, which were
- extreme fatigue
- inability to do my job (I’m a professional classical singer–it takes a lot of stamina)
- swelling and tightness in my thyroid region
- gagging feeling
- abdominal pain
- abdominal swelling
- stomach spasms
- gastrointestinal cramps
- night sweats (I’m talking like waking-up-in-a-puddle drenched)
- shortness of breath
- joint pain
- brain fog–an inability to focus or remember anything
- full body aches, like the flu
- full body hive outbreaks
- sudden onset of sensitivities to many foods, including: poultry, dairy, wheat, bananas, legumes–peanuts, beans, soy, and corn
Does that sound like a normal, tired mom to you?
If you said yes, I’m sincerely sorry, because you were probably convinced by someone that your body was deceiving you. That you weren’t actually that sick. It’s part of aging, part of life, the new normal, and “have you ever thought that it could be psychosomatic?” (There’s nothing more depressing than hearing you’re crazy for feeling this way.)
I was so down and out, I was considering a career change to…well, nothing. I was hoping I could just find a way to do nothing, because I had no energy or mental capacity or hope to do anything. To be completely honest, most days I wanted to die.
I visited the Center for Integrative Medicine, and a functional practitioner told me I was not crazy–that I had a condition called Leaky Gut Syndrome (no POTS diagnosis yet), which is currently unrecognized by modern medicine, and that the only treatment is to eliminate all the “reactive” foods for six months to a year (!), take some supplements, and eat some fermented stuff. Then my gut might repair itself.
I had already made a lot of dietary changes based on process of elimination, but I still despaired after this appointment, because I felt like I had already tried to eliminate so many things. Yet symptoms kept popping up. I resolved to eat more fermented foods and switch to better supplements.
Around the same time I went to that appointment, this gem of a book was published:
This post contains an Amazon affiliate link to this book. Read my Amazon Associates Disclosure on this page for more info.
I ordered it, and–page after page–screamed “That’s it!” to anyone who was listening (no one). The book annoying reads like a sales pitch at times (“Just wait until I reveal the secret formula to you 200 pages later…”), but Dr. Steven Gundry and this best-selling book gave the answers to the questions no one else knew the answer to. I crossed my fingers, said a prayer, and started the diet.
Not long after reading the book, a autonomic neurologist finally diagnosed me with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). The testing cardiologist told me that, though there was no cure, people do get better through graded exercise and salt/hydration therapy. After reading a number of studies and reaching out to people in different POTS networks, I learned that wasn’t necessarily the case. Though people did experience an improvement in symptoms, POTS is nearly always a sign of an underlying disease. That needed to be diagnosed and treated if I had any hope of improving.
I never did get that underlying disease diagnosed. And now it’s too late, because…
After a full year of doing the Plant Paradox diet, my POTS is gone. As in, I no longer experience any symptoms. I have to pinch myself every day to make sure I’m not dreaming and that, yes, I am truly alive. I wake up every day feeling like a normal human being who cleans, runs errands, goes for a jog, and takes an occasional nap.
I will never, ever forget what it felt like to be sick–to feel so hopeless and devastated that I couldn’t imagine a way out. And I’ve decided that, with this blog, I will create one of the greatest online resources for helping people attempt the same diet that saved my life. It’s not a miracle; it’s science–cutting edge science about how the food we eat interacts with the one body we have.
POTS still lingers beneath the surface, waiting for me to revert back to my old ways. But I don’t plan to give it a fighting chance. I will never stop eating The Plant Paradox way, and I encourage anyone still looking for answers to adopt the diet. Should you need help, I’m an email away, and I hope this site can help you in your journey.
1. Sign up for my Weeknight Meal Planner to get free recipes.
2. Read my A to Z Guide to Lectin-Free Cooking.
3. Learn how to re-stock your pantry.
4. Read in depth about the lectin theory and how lectins trigger disease.
5. Learn about pressure cooking.