Sussex medic to do 10k after overcoming rare disorder which made her faint every time she stood up
The joints in her arms, shoulders, hips and knees dislocate at random
Brave Becky Pickup is finally back on her feet – after overcoming a rare condition which made her faint every time she stood up for seven years.
The university student, 22, suffers postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) which affects the body’s ability to adjust to the pull of gravity.
The debilitating condition causes her heart rate to speed up whenever she stands up and she used to pass out up to 10 times a day.
The medical disorder also weakens her connective tissues meaning the joints in her arms, shoulders, hips and knees will dislocate at random.
This can be caused by simple tasks like writing or opening a bottle and whenever it happened Becky would have to pop the joints back into their socket herself.
She struggled to walk as a result of her condition and was confined to a wheelchair for 12 months when the condition was at its worst.
But after medical experts failed to cure her problem she is finally enjoying a normal life after a heart specialist prescribed a revolutionary drug to control her blood flow.
Incredibly, Becky now intends to complete a 10k charity run on May 3 after making a remarkable recovery.
Yesterday Becky, who studies Medical Neuroscience at the University of Sussex, said: “I first showed signs when I was 13.
“I would just black out and have seizures for no apparent reason. My heart would beat really fast when I stood up and I’d lose consciousness.
“I was misdiagnosed for six years. They said it was epilepsy and psychiatric disorders but then they ruled those out. Nobody could work it out.
“Doctors thought I was just clumsy. I was just put down to be a really clumsy child who would trip over her own feet.
“I was only young so I would laugh it off. But my mum and dad were not happy. They were very concerned.
“My school unfortunately did not believe me. They said I was putting it on for attention
“I would black out eight or nine times a day. I would be in hospital every day and when I got admitted, they could find nothing wrong. It was really tough.
“I eventually got diagnosed with POTS in December 2012 at St Mary’s Hospital in London.
“My joints would also dislocate regularly, God knows how often really – it seemed to be all the time, especially my fingers.
“I would probably dislocate my knees every month and my hip every now and then. This was just my doing normal exercise or sport.
“I could be just writing so it does not take much at all for me to dislocate any joints.
“I could just open a bottle, simple everyday things like that can cause it to happen. My fingers are the most vulnerable.
“The dislocations remain the same. It can still happen every day, unlike the blackouts which are far less frequent now.”
POTS is a rare form of dysautonomia – an abnormal functioning of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), which controls many subconscious bodily functions including balance and breathing.
When the average person stands their blood pressure drops slightly but the ANS recognises this and causes their heart rate to momentarily increase.
But POTS patients’ blood pressure plummets when they stand, causing the heart to race.
Blood supply is not able to reach the brain quickly enough, often resulting in dizziness, vision loss and fainting.
The first-year student, who has also been diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a similar condition to POTS in the past two years, still occasionally has blackouts and seizures but her joints have become stronger since her diagnosis.
She has built the strength and confidence to overcome her chronic condition.
Becky, who is the youngest of four children, is determined to complete the Morrisons Great Birmingham 10k on May 3 to raise money and awareness for POTS and EDS.
Becky, from Tamworth, Staffs., added: “I am running so they can invest in research and offer support to sufferers. Research is still limited into them so this should help.
“My training has gone well. I have had to do little bits at a time but I am confident I will achieve it.”