March 20, 2016 – Merideth Brooks

My name is Merideth, I’m 17 and I have POTS. POTS is short for Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome and it’s a malfunction of the autonomic nervous system in your brain, one of the leading POTS specialists in the country compares the symptoms to that of congestive heart failure. Your brain has to retrain itself to respond and react to almost all stimuli it interprets. I was diagnosed with POTS almost 4 years ago when I was involved in a cheerleading accident and fell 10 ft head first on a basketball gym floor. Over the past 4 years I have had to step back and learn how to adjust to a new means of living and put a lot of the things most teenagers my age are experiencing on hold. Because of this I’ve formed a tremendous amount of gratitude to everyone at Riley as they make up a majority of my “A team” that make it possible for me to walk today and not rely on a wheelchair, to speak in front of so many people about what it means to really value life, and to just in general be as much of a teenager as I can. They help me to keep my body stable while I tackle POTS, it’s not easy at all to fight something in your own body but they do their best to help and support me throughout my journey and it means the world. I can never put into words how much of a miracle Riley is for not only myself but so many others, to be able to stand among others and share the value of life is something I will always owe back to Riley. Dance Marathon is one of the most amazing things I will ever experience and I will forever get chills every time I attend one. I type this tonight in my own bed instead of a hospital bed and I cannot tell you enough how much that means to myself and my family because it hasn’t always been that way. What you all and so many others do is truly honorable.