Sunday, November 27, 2011

POTS, Clots, & Closing My Successful Business (Part 1)

I've had a lot of people inquiring about Bella Fora services and asking in general what happened to me (the owner - Claire). That's actually very flattering, I love that I am friends with many of my past clients and have built relationships with them and other vendors in the industry.  In an effort to write everything down cohesively, and out of a bit of selfish I don't want to have to keep typing this-itis, I've decided to share publicly what has been a very tough battle for me (and my family).  Hopefully this may educate people as well about my disease, of which very little is known, and even less is publicized.

I have developed a real affection for fainting goats.  This may seem strange, but you will understand why as you read on. I feel a tremendous connection with them, see a great short video of them in action (or inaction) here.

I have a disorder named POTS - and no - not the smoke-able kind, or kind you cook or plant pretty things in.  It stands for Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, and there is a great description here. It basically means your body doesn't compensate for gravity well, and upon standing (and sometimes sitting up), your heart rate increases by at least 30 beats.  Most people with POTS have lots of other issues as well, all grouped together under the umbrella term of dysautonomia. That heart rate increase - and usually a dramatic change in blood pressure to compensate for the blood not circulating right when changing position - causes dizziness, chest pain, exercise intolerance, fainting, extreme fatigue, and all kinds of other fun stuff.  I started having issues in 2002 while in graduate school, and my stress level was very high.  I have no history of anxiety or depression, and actually kind of thrive on stress, as I'm very Type A.  I did have major spinal surgery in '99, which we believe may have triggered my weird symptoms, as it wreaked havoc on my nervous system, and took a long time to recover from.  But as they say, "that's a whole other story".

My two adorable puppies!
My first munchkin (love!)
After many years of frustration with local doctors not knowing what the heck POTS was, I had resorted to just "dealing with it".  Life was busy; had a child, husband, house to keep up, owned a VERY busy business, two dogs, and maybe time for friends once in a while.  So I learned how to cope- my symptoms were usually fairly mild, with occasional flare ups, or having to recover from lots of hours of work, at first as a teacher (which I had to stop mid-school year due to my disease), and then from big events/holidays with my business.  But it was mostly tolerable.   I had issues at random times, but took it as it came and tried to keep living and doing as much as possible.

Then.....<dun dun duuuuun> I got pregnant.  By the end of Dec 2010 I knew something was wrong.  I was having to pull over while driving and having bouts of extreme dizziness & feeling like I was going to pass out, my heart rate went bonkers, and I felt totally dehydrated.  I actually had to sit in front of my friends house for over 2 hours before I felt well enough to drive at one point (she kept me company- thanks Lindz!).  Then I found out that I was, indeed, knocked up.   This was not planned, and came as a big surprise, as the timing was REALLY husband is a teacher and it put the due date right when school started (most teachers try and time births around summer break), and we were in the middle of opening another, even bigger business.  I was going a million miles an hour, had just added a very successful linen rental portion to Bella Flora, and moved the business into a new showroom. 
Oooooo.....pretty new linens!
More pretty linens and flowers!

Sooooo....about a week after finding out I was pregnant and going to doctor, we decided to wean me off the only medicine I was taking due to the danger to the baby.  I had already had an increase in "I feel funny" symptoms, and had to put the brakes on a bit of my hectic lifestyle.  Then, as if a switch was flipped, I was knocked on my butt.  Literally.  On a Sunday at home, while feeling pretty crappy already, I jumped up to pull my then 2 year old son down from the kitchen counter he had climbed onto, and started blacking out.  My heart rate shot up, so I did the usual - laid down on the couch flat, and did some deep breathing.  My heart continued to race, and my whole body started to shake, and I still felt like I would pass out.  We finally decided after 30 minutes of this to call 911, as I could not get up and figured I may need some IV fluids.

I went to the ER, got some fluids, and they sent me on my way, saying I was dehydrated.  I was home trying to just cope for the next two days, when the vertigo kicked in.  WOW.  I have never experinced extreme vertigo before, and wouldn't wish it on anyone.  Well, that's not true - maybe Hitler, Bin Laden, and this bride that never paid for her damaged chair covers.  It was indescribable, and coupled with my other dizzy lightheaded feelings, weakness, flu like symptoms, and general panic at the fact that I was not able to function with so much going on - or care for my toddler, it was horrible. I called the Obstetrician, and they told me to go to the ER.  So I did.

Same deal - was told I was probably dehydrated, they gave me IV fluids and some meds for vertigo, and put me in a dark room to see if they would work.  No such luck.  I was admitted to the hospital, and this was the real start of the mostly downhill roller coaster ride that was 2011. 


1 comment:

  1. Hi Claire - I think you're so brave posting all this. I also believe that in doing so will serve multiple goods. You'll surely help others in a similar situation as well those who don't have an understanding of exactly what you're going through. The trials we all go through in life serve the purpose of conveying grace (my opinion). Understanding that we all suffer to one extent or another in so many different ways allows us to empathize and draw closer to one another. It also allows us to be grateful for all that we do have. I know it does that for me. So know that I share your pain and I share your joy. I believe your blog will do that for many who read it. Keep your faith and keep following your heart. My prayers and best wishes are with you.
    In light, joy, peace and love - namaste :-)