Audrey is a beautiful young woman, but is also a fierce and strong spirit. It was such a joy to spend time with her, and after the session I received an email from Angi, Audrey’s mom, and it made me even more excited for Audrey and how the Lord is going to use her next!!!
“…As I scroll through the gorgeous pictures you have taken over the years, I keep thinking that you work with so many young women at major milestones in their lives; family pictures, senior portraits, weddings, pregnancies and newborn pictures. I can’t shake the thought that it might be helpful to someone at some point to share this information with you. Audrey has a medical condition that can impact women at those milestone moments in their lives and it is a condition that is not well-known even by doctors. Many young women end up suffering longer than necessary because they are unable to find the right diagnosis. Unfortunately, that was Audrey’s journey and our hope and prayer since then has been to help spread awareness as much as we can. It is not a rare condition, it is just so unknown and underdiagnosed that awareness is crucial. So, if you don’t mind, Audrey and I thought we’d share a little bit about this condition with you….
Audrey has a form of Dysautonomia, a dysfunction of the Autonomic Nervous System. It is called P.O.T.S. (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome). Basically, everything that your Autonomic Nervous System regulates shuts down or does not function properly. One of the major issues is that when they sit up or stand up, their blood will not flow upwards to the brain as it should. Therefore, their blood starts pooling in their legs and then they can become lightheaded and can often pass out or faint….They also have major issues with temperature regulation so extreme heat is especially difficult. Basically, all POTS patients struggle more in the heat with lightheadedness, fatigue and sometimes pain. There are many other symptoms but these are the hallmark ones.
Audrey’s symptoms started at the age of 14 and one of the initial diagnoses was Fibromyalgia because of the widespread body pain. (POTS patients are often misdiagnosed with Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.) However, Audrey went downhill from there, to the point of being in a wheelchair for a year, unable to sit up or stand up without needing to pass out. She endured countless doctors, tests, treatments and meds until finally, thankfully, finding the correct diagnosis. After working with a wonderful Neurologist at Mayo Clinic, and visiting a POTS Treatment Center in Dallas, she was finally able to start working towards a healthier life. Although it is a lifelong condition, she is able to do all the things necessary to give her a much better quality of life. Unfortunately, she missed a great deal of school and was not able to return. But we were grateful for an online school program (Arizona Connections Academy) who worked with her. The fact that she is graduating on time with scholarship worthy grades is a huge praise!
….While you were taking those last few pictures as she stood on the top of the hill when the sun peeked out again, my heart was overflowing with joyful gratitude of how far she has come! It is such a praise that she is graduating on time, out of a wheelchair, rarely in pain, and rarely fainting. … Beyond grateful!!”