Part 1 – Where are all the sick people?
One of the more interesting mental journeys I took during my POTS saga was wondering how I could have developed such a rare condition. POTS was not even on my radar for a possible condition I could have, and I didn’t know what it was until
months into my symptoms. I also did not learn about POTS from any doctor or specialist, but rather from insane amounts of Googling. It just didn’t make sense to me. HOW COULD I HAVE SOMETHING THAT NO ONE ELSE HAS????
I eventually discovered that despite how healthy everyone else appeared, having POTS was not that rare at all. I joined a Facebook group of over 5,000 people with this condition (about 300 of them being right here in Washington).
I soon began to realize that the reason POTS seemed so rare (as well many other chronic health conditions) is because people that have it don’t participate in recreational/social activities and we never see them. 99% of my non-work life was spent inside my apartment. I didn’t have the strength, energy, or capabilities of pushing myself to do anything. I essentially disappeared from existence for a year and half.
Having experienced this first hand, I can attest to both the physical and mental deterioration that happens to a person when they are left alone with no social interaction for months and months. It is a vicious, VICIOUS cycle. Your health doesn’t allow you to go out and do fun things and this leads to depression. And then depression leads to increased health issues and lack of motivation to get tasks done. This in turn leads to further depression and so on and so forth.
The main message of this story is that people with chronic health conditions NEED friends. One of the hardest challenges to overcome with a chronic illness is FOMO (Fear of missing out). I spent many evenings living vicariously through my friends Instagram and Snapchat posts, when all I wanted more than anything in the world was to be able to join them. This can be a real tough situation. On one hand you don’t want your family and friends missing out on their life because of what you are going through. But on the other side, you crave some attention from your old social circle.
I was once the guy sitting at home so many nights wishing I could have just one night of health back. Now that I have been given this second chance at my life, I have the ability to reach out to those in need. That is why I would like to make a case that the responsibility of maintaining a healthy relationship with a friend or family member that is chronically ill, lies in the hands of the healthy party.
It was hard being the sick guy. Sometimes, for just a few moments at a time, all of my stresses and problems I was facing were taken off my chest by something as simple as a check in text from a good pal. A surprise visit every now and then would literally give me the motivation to push through my recovery program. A phone call from a family member made me feel included and like everything was going to be ok. These sort of “interventions” are so incredibly important to a person as they battle whatever issues they are facing on a daily basis.
That being said, there is a certain amount of effort that is required from the sick side to reach out for help. Admittedly, I struggled with this for a good portion of my POTS journey. I did a really poor job of reaching out to my friends and letting them know how bad I was doing. Eventually Rachel convinced me to message some of my closest friends and open up about how depressed I was. This turned out to be a very wise move and helped me to stop feeling so alone.
We are taught as we are growing up that the world does not in fact revolve around us. We are forced to come to the realization that we are just a small, tiny part of this world and that we will leave just as quickly as we showed up. But this doesn’t change how important life (or outlook on life) is to a person and to God. Something unfortunate can happen to one’s mind when they are chronically sick. You begin to forget how important you really are in the eyes of God. Your world becomes darker and darker and you start to believe that you friends are better off without you.
I finish part 1 this week with a request. If you know someone who is struggling with a chronic illness, or condition, or maybe even just going through a tough time, shoot them a text. Give them a call. Hell, get crazy and go visit them. What doesn’t seem like that big of deal to you can mean EVERYTHING to a friend in need. My cousin Sam (I like to drop names. It’s my blog live with it), called to check in on me a couple of times during my darkest nights. He will never truly know how much he helped me (even if you are reading this you still will never completely understand cuzzo).
Part 2 – Half Marathon
Big news in the life of Dude with POTS! I am training to do a half marathon with my dad. We read a book together a few weeks ago and it ended with us needing to pick a physical challenge for the two of us to participate in together. The father and son in the book we read chose to do a multi-day hike in the Grand Canyon, but we settled on something a little less “Grand”. We are going to run 13 miles because apparently that is what some humans do for fun. Race date is October 20th which gives me plenty of time.
I am about 4 weeks into my training, which is about 4 weeks longer than I have ever trained for running in my life. *This isn’t entirely true. I did cross country when I was a freshman and sophomore in high school. But I was terrible. I can honestly say my greatest strength as a cross country runner was my ability to never get tired of eating McDonald’s after every race. The proof is in the….eh…Big Mac?*
Anyways, I am slowly increasing the distance I am running. However, I do not feel like I am getting any better at running. Here is an actual conversation Rachel and I had the other night after she happened to drive by me out for a run near our house.
Rachel – “I’m so proud of you for running hunny. Although I will say, you have really bad running form.”
Me – “Um…Thanks? What do you mean I have bad form?”
Rachel – “Well I mean you just look like you are being tortured out there.”
Me – “That makes sense. That is EXACTLY how I feel when I am running”.
So to recap… I feel like crap when I run AND I look like crap when I run. I also should mention that I am rather slow. But then again so is my dad, so we should make a good pair. Pre-race sign up research included seeing how long the courses stay open after other racers finish ha ha.
In all honesty though I am pretty excited about this little challenge we have given ourselves. Having POTS does not make running easy, but not having POTS also doesn’t make running easy . It is incredible how quickly a person can go from being an athlete in college (I got some offers guys), to “I should probably take the stairs instead of the elevator. Definitely maybe will start that tomorrow”. All jokes aside, the struggle to maintain a healthy weight is a real pain. This half marathon has motivated me to try and get back into decent shape so that I can continue giving my brother the business at one on one hoops.
I don’t think my dad and I need any prayers for our race. We will either complete it or we won’t. He has ran a few before and I am in my athletic prime (I’m a 26 year old male who plays pickup basketball from time to time). We got this.
To read more posts from Jarod visit his blog at: https://dudewithpots.blog/