POTS Won’t Keep Player Off the Pitch

RESEARCH UPDATE (5)

At 14 years old, Frankie Moore was in the best shape of her life and had begun playing soccer on a highly competitive Elite Club National League team. Soon after earning a spot on the team, Frankie experienced a sudden onslaught of strange, debilitating symptoms. She suffered extreme exercise intolerance when playing soccer for her new team. She complained of stomach and joint pain and was having trouble swallowing. She was suddenly so weak and dizzy that she couldn’t even climb a flight of stairs.

After four months of doctor visits and evaluations, Frankie was diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS).  By the time of her diagnosis, Frankie’s inability to keep up with her training schedule and perform on the soccer field as she had done previously resulted in her removal from the elite team, knocking her down a level in the sport. This was devastating to Frankie and as her symptoms persisted, her routine and the life she had before changed dramatically. She lost weight, missed school and many mornings was unable to get out of bed. It seemed highly unlikely that she would ever step foot on a soccer field again.

Still, Frankie was determined and set her mind to doing everything she could to get back to the level of play she had worked so hard to achieve.  Of course, she had many days full of discouragement, questioning “Why did this happen to me?” In fact, on many of those rough days she would try to convince herself that she didn’t really care all that much about soccer. Getting back to the level at which she had played seemed impossible.

What Frankie eventually realized was that she was fortunate in many ways. Her case of POTS was not nearly as severe as it could be. She understood that some POTS patients simply would never be able to get their bodies to cooperate with what their minds and their will wanted them to do. She knew that many kids suffered so greatly that they couldn’t even lift their heads.

With that in mind, she resolved that she could not take anything for granted. She knew she had to give it a shot to prove to herself and to encourage other patients that, depending on the severity of their individual conditions, there just might be light at the end of the tunnel.

For Frankie, luckily, there was hope that she could return to an active life. She had to push herself harder than she ever had and became committed to embracing a rigid schedule of medication and nutrition. Most difficult of all, due to the fact that her stamina and strength had been virtually depleted, Frankie devoted herself to working out more than ever.

FullSizeRender Today, at 17 years old, while Frankie still experiences symptoms of POTS, they are milder than before. She takes none of this for granted, knowing that many POTS patients aren’t as lucky. She has made her way back to performing at the level she did before her diagnosis and has regained her spot on that elite travel soccer team, Bethesda Impact ECNL.  In addition, Frankie is a key player on her high school Varsity team, the aforementioned Freedom Eagles, who fought their hearts out against a formidable foe on Monday night.

The two teams battled for 80 minutes on the pitch with the scoreboard showing 0-0 for the majority of the game.  With only 10 minutes left, the one and only goal of the game was scored. As the fans held their collective breath, time ran out and the final score showed 1-0.

That one goal? It came at the hands, or the foot, if you will, of a girl who only three short years ago wondered if she’d ever play soccer again. Frankie Moore sent the ball into the net and along with her team, she celebrated upsetting the two- time state champion to the surprise of everyone in attendance.

Well, except maybe for Frankie, who knows that in her case, a commitment to not taking anything for granted, a dedication to her medical treatment, and a focus on hard work can result in victories that are greater than the brightest lights that any scoreboard could ever display.

Guest blogger Jennifer Skinner is a mom of three baseball-playing boys, a writer, and friend of the Moore family. Her writing on parenting, sports, faith and finding extraordinary blessings in an ordinary day can be found on her blog, The View from Behind Home Plate.

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