For people suffering from Orthostatic Intolerance, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia, Mast Cell Activtation or EDS. Follow me as I document my struggle towards better health.

The Art of Being Useful - Life with POTS and OI

I was going to entitle this post "The Art of Being Useless".  I changed it because what I want to explore is overcoming the feelings of "uselessness" one can have in living with a chronic condition.

What makes us feel "useful"?  Perhaps it is one or some of the following:

  • contributing to others
  • getting things done
  • creating something
  • helping others
  • expanding our horizons
Living with postural orthostatic tachycardia or orthostatic intolerance (fully spelled out for the benefit of the search engines)  can be a daily repeat of useless living as described in this excerpt from a 2009 article from the American Heart Journal written by our gang at the Vanderbilt Center: 
Postural tachycardia syndrome (POTS) induces disabling chronic orthostatic intolerance...[and] is characterized by symptoms (including palpitations, lightheadedness, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, blurred vision, and mental clouding) that occur during standing but resolve with sitting or lying down. POTS is associated with a very poor quality of life and significant functional disability... to complete article

POTS and OI can prevent us from working outside of the home or carrying on our normal lives.  It certainly impairs our ability to contribute, help others and get things done in any normal sense.  So how can we turn feelings of "useless" into "useful" given this challenge?

My thoughts are that perhaps we adjust our expectations to the new reality.  I was inspired to read a post on a discussion board for Dysautonomia by "E"(not her real name) who made a really good point...
Rebuilding your life to accommodate your illness will bring you contentment faster than fighting all the time to reclaim the life you used to have. I wanted to be a nurse anesthetist, it was a dream that got me through nursing school and into critical care. I have since had to stop working and create a new plan for my nursing career. So now I am getting my master's degree, one class at a time, in the hope I can teach online when I am finished. It wasn't my orginal plan, but it is a fine plan never the less.
I think "E"(not her real name) is absolutely right.  If life serves up lemons, make lemonade!  Let's do the best with what we have now.  It may be less than we expected to achieve or accomplish or it may be different from what we had hoped.  A glass of homemade lemonade can be delicious! (I'll put a shot of tequila in mine)

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