How I work full-time with POTS & what it's really like
I was diagnosed with POTS in January of 2017, and by May of 2017, I was able to start working full time after I graduated college. I work in sales for a software company in Provo, UT.
Working has been a big struggle for me, but it has also been a blessing. I am able to support myself, and that definitely makes me feel accomplished. But working full time with many health issues is quite draining, and it takes a toll on me.
Sometimes, I feel like all I do is go to work, come home, make dinner, and then crash. Unfortunately, work isn’t like school when you can have unlimited sick days. Almost everyday I feel like I want to leave work because of how sick I feel, but I push through it, because I don’t want to give up.
I put together some tips for those of you that work with POTS or that are considering starting working:
1. Make sure your employer is aware of your situation
This is something that I need to be better at. If you’re like me, you feel uncomfortable talking about your health challenges. I don’t like the attention, the pity, or the special treatment that comes with talking about them, especially with people I’m not close to. It makes me feel awkward (I guess it probably shouldn’t).
If your employer is aware of your situation from the start, they will be more likely to be as accommodating as possible. Just let them know what to do in the event that you faint or get very dizzy while in the office. Make sure they understand that you will do all you can to perform your best, but sometimes your condition could get in the way.
2. Find a job where you DON’T have to be on your feet much
I am very glad that I have a job where I can sit on the couch with my feet up all day. Because I am not walking around much, my dizziness levels tend to be lower while I’m at work. I don’t know if I could make it if my job involved lots of standing and walking.
If you DO have a job that is more active, maybe consider compression stockings. I have read about nurses and teachers that have POTS, and are able to continue working because of compression stockings. I know that these don’t work for everyone with POTS, but why not at least give them a chance?
3. Find a job where you can work from home
This is something I wish I had. My job doesn’t have much flexibility with working from home, and some days I could really benefit from it. Being able to work from your bed or the couch at home would be a huge perk for a POTS patient.
I know there are lots of online jobs out there, and I’m sure there is something that you could find to fit you.
4. Work part-time
If you haven’t worked in a while, and aren’t ready to fully commit to working full time just yet, consider working part time. This will give you an idea as to how your body handles working, and it will still give you plenty of time to rest. If things go well, you can always transition into full time work later.
I have heard of several people with POTS that work part time, and actually start feeling a bit better. Resting all the time is generally not recommended for those with POTS, as it worsens the condition. The more you try to be up and active, the better you may feel. That being said, there definitely are exceptions here. Not everyone with POTS is able to work, and that’s totally okay.
5. Always have your medication/extra water with you
When I'm at work, I always make sure I have all my prescriptions and medicines I might need with me. I drink plenty of water all day long to stay extra hydrated. I also try to eat extra salty foods and take salt pills. These things help get me through really tough work days.
6. Challenge yourself, but do what's best for your health
Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself, and do things that are difficult for you. For me, the most rewarding times since I’ve been diagnosed have definitely involved me stretching my limits (and maybe even overdoing it a bit).
Always listen to your body, though, and don’t ever do something that might be dangerous or unsafe.
I completely understand if you feel it’s too difficult or you’re too ill to work. I have considered taking a leave from work several times, but have not yet. I am inspired by so many others out there that have POTS and are continuing to work even though it’s not easy.
I’d love to hear more stories of those that are able to work that have POTS, as well as any tips that you might have to add. Please comment below.