A woman who describes herself as being allergic to gravity has told of her condition which left her fainting up to 10 times a day.
Lyndsi Johnson, 28, a former aviation diesel mechanic for the US navyhas to spend up to 23 hours in bed and is unable to stand up for more than three minutes without losing consciousness.
She is also often forced to sit with her legs crossed to stop her feeling sick and can only get up to eat or shower.
Ms Johnson first began suffering with abdominal and back pain in October 2015. Over the years, her condition worsened to the point that she was projectile vomiting and fainting up to 10 times a day.
She was eventually diagnosed with postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS) in February 2022 – an abnormal increase in heart rate that occurs after sitting up or standing.
Ms Johnson, from Bangor in Maine, US, refers to her condition as an allergy to gravity.
Thanks to her medication, she now faints three times a day, but still cannot do a lot for herself and has to rely on her husband, James, 30, who is her caregiver.
Ms Johnson said: “I’m allergic to gravity – it sounds crazy but it’s true.
“I can’t stand up for longer than three minutes without feeling faint, being sick or passing out. I feel much better if I’m laying down.
“I’m in bed all day – for up to 23 hours a day. I never thought that at 28 that I would have to use a shower chair. I can’t leave my house anymore. There is no cure but I’m so grateful for James and what I do have.”
The illness began while she was working in the navy oversees. Her symptoms continued and she struggled with chronic pain but doctors couldn’t work out what was wrong.
In May 2018 she was medically discharged from the military due to her illness. Six months later she started getting severe abdominal pain and she began projectile vomiting.
“It was so bad I was screaming in pain and the vomiting was The Exorcist style,” Ms Johnson said.
She was even hospitalised several times over the past few years, but she was told it was probably her anxiety causing her symptoms.
In October 2020, Ms Johnson passed out in a lift on her way to a hospital appointment.
“It was really scary,” she said. “My fainting got worse from there. I was passing out everywhere – I would be shopping at the supermarket and I had to sit down because I felt faint or at the gym. I’ve even passed out after my dog has barked.”
Ms Johnson eventually had to stop driving and struggled to even bend over without feeling light-headed.
“I’d throw up so much my heart would start having prolonged QT intervals and I’d be in hospital on cardiac monitoring,” she said.
“I was finally able to speak to another cardiologist who recognised that I might have PoTS.”
Ms Johnson had a tilt test in February 2022 – which measures your heart rate, blood pressure and blood oxygen – and she was officially diagnosed with PoTS.
“I was so thankful to finally know what was wrong with me so I could be treated,” she said.
She is now on betablockers which has reduced her fainting to three times a day and helped with her nausea.
“I still can’t really do anything,” she said. “It’s really debilitating – I can’t do chores and James has to cook, clean and help me shower and wash myself.
“I’ve gone weeks without brushing my teeth because it just makes me feel awful. If I make a meal for James and I, then I’ll be in bed unable to anything for the next three days.”
Despite her illness, Ms Johnson is hoping to move from her flat to a house so she can spend time outside.
“If I’m lying down I feel fine but as soon as I stand up I’m dizzy and faint,” she said. I’ve really had to adapt to this new life and come to terms with it. I use mobility aids and that really helps for me.
“I’m grateful for what I have and I’m still able to study music business which is amazing. The rug has been ripped from under my feet – I’ve gone to super active to having to lay down all day.
“I can’t do a lot of what I used to be able to but I’ve come to terms with that now.”
Additional reporting by SWNS