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“You’ll have to work 10x as hard as the other kids just to keep up. The best idea would probably be to just to stop wakeboarding all together because it’ll just be too hard and dangerous for you.” The original phrase from my cardiologist that fueled the fire inside the 12 year-old athlete I was right after I had gotten diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, also known as POTS. I made a promise to myself, from that day on, I would push myself as hard and as far as I could in this sport, and in life in general, and to prove nothing was going to stop me from doing what I loved.
POTS is a rare form of dysautonomia where a person’s blood pressure bottoms out for no reason and can’t get back to the vital areas in their body in time, causing the person’s heart to race too fast and then pass out randomly. POTS commonly referred to as an “invisible illness” because the symptoms are often hard for others to see. Constant dehydration, constant dizziness, chronic fatigue, chronic migraines, weakness/loss of feeling in limbs, muscle spasms, confusion, light headedness, and anxiety are just a handful of common symptoms people with POTS deal with day to day. There is no known cure for POTS, but I have found a way where I forget about all of it…and that’s when I strap my bindings on and glide across the water.
As soon as I hit that wake it allows me to be free and feel like the person I’ve always wanted to be, strong and independent. Knowing I’m beating the odds of POTS little by little every time I ride is literally one of the best feelings in the world to me. That doctors’ phrase still runs through my head to this day, but it just makes me want to ride even harder and show that I will never give up no matter what’s thrown my way. Shredding to me means proving to yourself you
are more capable of doing something even more amazing than you think.