It built slowly and gathered strength. It blew into our life slowly at first and then, dramatically, it buried us, snowed-in for days, the drifts were too tall to move. We couldn’t do our normal activities for a time. We canceled swim team. We canceled family gatherings and birthday parties. We made a warm fire and some hot soup. We rested and waited for the storm to pass. We worked hard to dig our way out, but then the winds picked up or new storms blew in, and the outlets shut, blocking us in again. This was a stormy time.
For our whole family, me, my husband, Simone, and her three younger sisters, the seasons – two long winters in a row -- when she was experiencing POTS symptoms were life-changing. We were snowed in all the time, it seemed, not with white fluffy stuff, but with questions. You know what it’s like. The symptoms are baffling. The diagnosis is hard to find. There are worries. You miss school for months. You try to keep hope. You try to find comfort and make fun. You manage to keep up with your studies. A couple of true-blue buddies pull you through. Finally one day, you get great relief when you learn there is a name for your condition and there are other moms and dads and teens who understand you. You dig deep to get through the hard parts and persevere while you wait for the symptoms to lift.
The season of struggle is long, and then for us, in the spring, as the real snow melts, the POTS melts away too. Slowly, Simone re-gains her strength and her appetite, she spends more time outside and in the sun, walks, then bikes, and then in the early summer enjoys being her old healthy and active self. All the family basks in that kind of sunshine.
This past fall, we braced ourselves, anticipating winter. Simone started high school. She was overjoyed. She loved her teachers. She loved her classes. She loved her friends especially. She felt good. Harvest came and went, snow fell, blizzards snowed us in for days at a time. But the POTS did not return this year.
We are enjoying the life of a typical family right now. School every day, homework, holidays, chores, games, quarrels, celebrations, shopping, parties. Now and then we see a shadow of POTS. Simone will feel a lag after a particularly strenuous day, she’ll lose her appetite, or she’ll be fatigued. Nothing more for now.
Struggle is a teacher. My hope is that we will be better people because we have struggled. We can learn strength and perseverance and patience. We can understand others better, and be compassionate and supportive. We can make a point of bringing Sunshine to another person. This is my hope.
You, too, will see Spring one day soon. The snow is going to melt. The sun is going to shine. And you are going to be a very strong individual with unique gifts and vision that will make a real difference.