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Where before I’d revealed my POTS to potential partners with trepidation, after college I started finding a way to bring it into the conversation just to see how they’d react.

Most of the time, whether I mentioned it online or in person, it was essentially that they’d disappear.

They prescribed me new medications and sent me to a cardiac clinic, where I exercised on a recumbent bike to build my physical tolerance.

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Kaylyn needed to see firsthand what it’s like to date someone with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS).

Dizziness, nausea, chronic fatigue, fainting, brain fog, and pain are just a few of the possible symptoms. I’ve been accused of being drunk or high when really I’m grappling with POTS symptoms.

Kaylyn knew about my illness, but she hadn’t yet seen it. And if I hadn’t changed my dating standards after realizing I was chronically ill, it could have taken so much longer to find someone like her. Diagnosed when I was 19 after a series of unexplained fainting episodes, I was referred to a cardiologist.

I wasn’t sure how she’d react and was scared she’d be like past women I’d dated: awkward, unsympathetic, and, ultimately, gone. On our date, Kaylyn quickly noticed I wasn’t well despite my attempts to hide it. POTS is a disorder that causes my heartbeat to increase 30 beats or more per minute or exceed 120 beats per minute within 10 minutes of standing, causing my blood pressure to drop. Currently there’s no known cure for POTS, but it can be treated.

On a Friday night last summer, I stood in front of my bathroom mirror attempting to put on makeup.

My hands were shaking as I gripped the counter, and black spots weaved in and out of my vision.

It was affirming in ways I can’t begin to describe.

I discovered I was sick around the same time I let myself accept that I wasn’t straight.

People hear the words “chronic illness” and often run as fast and as far as they can.

It stung each time someone stopped talking to me after finding out I was sick. If I feel unwell, I might have to cancel plans at the last minute.

I was getting ready for my fourth date with Kaylyn, and my stomach was in knots.

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