Recently, a reader wanted to know how I manage having POTS and riding. The short answer is that right now, I am not riding, but there’s more to it, because it’s not the POTS holding me back at this point. My energy levels are great and rising.
Recently we took a trip to Bloomington, IN and visited Indiana University, where I took some classes in Biology, Chemistry, and Religious Studies. We toured around the campus on foot for a couple of hours, and as long as I was eating frequently, and in large amounts, I was just fine. My kids were amazed at my eating habits – I downed a breakfast sandwich moments before leaving for dinner at a restaurant, where I ate the same amount of food as any other time at a restaurant. In addition, I had eaten breakfast, brunch, and a couple of snacks earlier in the day.
In the previous post, I talk about the Balancing Act. Going down the list builds a foundation of health and energy from which I can begin to come back into metabolic balance. From what I have read, POTS and some other dysautonomia conditions are precipitated by a biological, physical event, such as an impact trauma, virus or other shock to the system.
As certain traumas, or repeated environmental stressors can activate specific genetic expressions, and I started wondering if POTS people are prone to certain genetic expressions given such stressors. My theory: The reason that dysautonomia is so difficult to tease into remission is that there is generally not a way to positively shock the system in such a way as to reverse genetic expression, and therefore, must be teased into a different expression by methodical, practical application of nutrition, exercise, rest, and gradual loading of activities.
With POTS, according to the research I’ve done, underlying potential causes of POTS need to be ruled out as contributing to symptoms. Therefore, I have been undergoing a battery of tests. One test recently came back indicating a need for further diagnostics and development of a treatment plan. I will most likely survive this, but it’s a little scary and could be anywhere from no big deal, to a big deal. (Prayers and good thoughts welcome)
In addition to internal potential causes of POTS, I must keep in mind several pretty serious falls from the horses that have left me with a pronounced hitch in my gait, and back pain that is getting worse. With total health, and comfort in mind, addressing this externally caused structural crookedness is high on my list of priorities before getting back on a horse.
Mainly, that’s just because I’m in quite a bit of pain even when I’m not riding. Working with the chiropractor, and hopefully a physical therapist, I can begin creating muscle and structural balance needed to ride well. I anticipate this process will be well underway by spring, and have appointments made up through November. Also, if one of the falls I had (which directly preceded POTS-like symptoms), caused misalignment of the spine in such as a way to be causing the POTS, or interfering with the remission of POTS, than that must be addressed.
I have thought long and hard about safety issues regarding horses and people with heart arrhythmia, tachycardia, and other biological indicators that might communicate to the horse that something is unsafe, and my tentative conclusion is this – if I’m not fainting around the horses, and my breathing is regular, than tachycardia by itself shouldn’t spark a fear response from a steady horse, and therefore riding ought to be safe enough.
Over the summer I visited Vermont, and I did get to ride a horse!! My riding wasn’t pretty, as lopsided and out of balance as my body is, with a long time since my last ride, that’s not really surprising, but was wonderful to get up there and ride. To move a kind, solid horse through his paces, is a memory to cherish and help point the way to fulfilling the goal.
With POTS, managing symptoms always comes first – energy levels, and time. Second comes inner nurturing, which leads to addressing all physical issues and resolving them. The reward will be that when I ride next, I will be strong enough, balanced enough, and have enough energy to ride.
I am eager to get through the next few months so that my focus can change from “What is going on?” to “Okay, here’s the game plan to get from where I am to where I want to be.” Riding is my carrot to make sure I don’t skip any steps along the way.