Ever since I was diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), I have experienced an array of emotions: fear, contentment, embarrassment, disappointment…and certainly happiness. However, it is not often that I feel proud of myself.
There just aren’t many opportunities for pride. My limited hours at work and my cognitive and memory issues aren’t exactly winning me any “lawyer of the year” awards. Other than to head to my office and the occasional tedious store stop, I do not leave home often. I rarely rescue babies and puppies from burning buildings, and the extent of my bravery involves using a public restroom. Sometimes it feels like I’m just skating along on an endless plateau – no valleys, but no hills – just maintaining the status quo. I operate within my comfort zone, because beyond the borders of the zone lie setbacks. And impediments. And zombies.
I’m pleased that I made it through the wedding without too much difficulty, but that’s really just a combination of luck and a low symptomatic day. If I was proud of that, then logically it would follow that I should be disappointed in myself that I vomited and almost passed out at the DMV last week. But, I’m not. Kind of embarrassed that I had an audience, certainly, and happy I didn’t get any in my hair, but not disappointed.
As you know, shortly after the wedding I had a flare up and became quite symptomatic. My energy levels and my ability to stand for more than just a few minutes plummeted. Knowing that exercise can help manage symptoms, I started riding my recumbent bike or doing yoga, or both, everyday. Every. Day. It started with only being able to ride 5 minutes before I’d have to get off and lie down next to the bike. Now, I can ride for quite a bit longer (and lie down next to the bike). It has involved a lot of blood, sweat and tears, although the tears were from laughter of watching some Parks and Rec episodes on Netflix while I rode, and the blood was because I bit my lip after falling on my face while doing yoga.
I realize riding a stationary bicycle daily for a few minutes might not seem like a big deal. After all, there are people out there who run miles, swim laps, climb mountains everyday. Yet I am very proud of what I have accomplished in the past two months. Sure, I’m still more symptomatic than usual, but it isn’t about the results. Fuck the results. It’s about working hard for something. It’s about doing something that makes us feel good about ourselves, since those of us with chronic illnesses are accustomed to feeling bad. It’s about looking ridiculous while you do it.
So, go on friends, tell me something you’re proud of.
“Your dysfunctions are your superpowers – be proud of them.” – Mark Abadi
Smell ya later.