All ABOUT EMMA
How did horseback riding help you overcome Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)?
I love horseback riding, and have been riding my entire life. Horseback riding, is the perfect way to strengthen my legs and get blood pumping. POTS causes pooling of blood in the legs, which leads to fainting. Building up the strength in my legs helped my circulation so much that my episodes almost stopped completely. It feels amazing to be healthy and riding, again.
How does horseback riding make you feel?
I am so passionate about riding. I love being out there with my pony, riding free and wild on the trails.
Who’s your pony!?
My pony’s name is Aubrey, she is grey with brown dots all over.
When were you diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome?
I have been fainting since my early teens and it was very difficult to get a proper diagnosis. I remember going to the emergency-room after having an episode, and the doctors were unable to figure out what was happening to my body.
One med-student had the audacity to suggest that I was using drugs or faking, because he was stupefied. Then, the actual doctor came in and asked me to stand up. The machines went crazy; beeping. My heart-rate increased by 50 bpm and my blood pressure dropped so low that I fainted, just by standing up.
That med-student felt terrible, especially after the doctor had a talk with him about how to talk to teenage girls. I actually ran into him three years later when I was in the emergency-room for an injury, he said that I completely changed the way he looks at patients.
How did POTS change your life?
Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia changed my life immensely. There was a point that I could not stand without fainting. Being on sports-teams stopped being an option for me.
I went on home-bound tutoring, because I was just too sick to be in regular classes. Having to find a new normal was really difficult.
How did you feel after your body started healing?
I literally cannot believe how sick this syndrome made me, and I am so grateful to be healthy again. When life first started to turn around, I felt shocked. It was shocking to feel healthy waking up in the morning because my symptoms overtook me for years. I just started to feel better progressively over time.
Have you ever been riding your horse and then fainted?
Once, while horseback riding. My trainer was talking to my mom at the top of the arena. I rode towards them, because all of the sudden I started blacking-out during my event.
It was so embarrassing, I really did not want to stop riding. Leaning forward, I threw the reins on my trainer. Everyone was so nervous. Thankfully, I was able to jump off the horse and lay down, safely.
What helps your symptoms?
I drink about 100 ounces of water every day and eat plenty of salty snacks.
I put salt on everything, it keeps my blood-pressure from dropping on me. Pretzels, crackers, sea salt on chocolate.
I took Midodrine to raise my blood-pressure for a while, and that significantly helped.
How is college going!?
College is a dream come true. I am working towards an Agricultural Business Degree.
Do you have advice for anyone struggling with POTS?
Yes. It is so important to wake up every day and do the best you possibly can. Setting obtainable goals is the key to finding your new normal.
Photography, courtesy of Emma Foster.
That Pretty Runner