I’m trying to ‘reset’ my life and get into my dream university after a period of long term illness, which is now under control.
In 2009, when I was about to start college, I began getting weird symptoms. I was overheating, fainting frequently and becoming extremely fatigued, which was unusual for a 6am-starter-straight-a student.
I’ve had Type 1 diabetes since I was 4 and the doctors immediately started investigating for an endocrine disorder. I finished my 4 A Levels in 2011, all at grade A, but I still didn’t know what was wrong with me and just functioning normally in daily life was getting harder and harder.
I began university in 2011, on a course that wasn’t what I wanted to do (I couldn’t take the necessary A Levels I needed at college because my school had been in special measures and I was a ‘risk student’ for them to take on), but by the end of the first term I was in hospital. I had to take a partial year out as I was too unwell to return.
From January-September 2012, endless tests were run and they kept coming back with nothing. All the while my symptoms were getting worse and it was beginning to affect my previously well controlled diabetes. I went back to university to start again in September 2012 - still no wiser as to what was wrong.
Once again, I ended up back in hospital. Daily life was now impossible. I had to come out of university completely as I was too ill to attend.
I stepped up my research in January 2013 when it was clear the doctors were at a loss and I was going to have to help myself. I found a doctor who specialised in the area of my symptoms, but unfortunately there was a years wait to see him on the NHS so, in desperation, I had paid to see him privately.
Within minutes, he’d diagnosed me with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) which is a subtle autonomic abnormality that causes low blood pressure (which explained the frequent fainting) and inappropriate sinus tachycardia (which explained the overheating and fatigue).
After more expensive tests, in July 2013, I took a turn for the worst. As a result of a particularly hot week, I was admitted to intensive care with Diabetic Ketoacidosis. The POTS had ‘flared up’ and caused a knock-on effect to the diabetes. Being told you may not make it through the night was sobering experience as a 20 year old.
After recovering from this, I began a clinical trial (there is no licensed treatment for POTS) in October 2013. I had been working part time to support treatment costs, which with the symptoms I have is very difficult.
Now, the trial seems to be working and prognosis looks good. Following the ‘wake-up call’ of intensive care, I decided that life was too short to settle for something that I didn’t want and to take the missing A Level to get onto my dream degree programme at UCL.
However, this is proving very expensive. I have been working 32hours a week, whilst studying, to support myself as I live alone in London. But tuition costs of £65/hour, the costs of medical appointments beginning at £220/hour (as there’s still a years wait on the NHS), and a £1000 in exam fees alone are difficult to come by.
What I want to do is build a better, now healthy, life for myself. If you donate, thank you. You have no idea what it means to me to even maybe have the chance to study the course I need to, to get a healthy, and ultimately begin my dream degree program in September 2014.