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STARS Patient Information

Talya’s story

My name is Talya Hambling, I am 17 years old and I am chronically ill. I have official diagnoses of POTS, EDS (and hyper-mobility) and gut dysmotility, all of which affect me daily and hugely impact my life. 

As a child I was very active, participating in horseriding, trampoline gymnastics and swimming; I was considered overall to be very healthy. However, from the age of about seven I started to get frequent stomach aches and bouts of nausea, in addition to joint pain. My first dislocations were my hips, and I remember crying during swimming lessons after doing breaststroke because they had popped out, and no one could understand what I was talking about. I was given simple pain medications and dismissed by the GP. 

I would continue to complain about the sickness to teachers and my parents, but they too dismissed it and put it down to school stress. It was years before anyone believed me enough to refer me to a specialist, who finally brought me some relief; telling me I had Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, which had been causing my pain and sickness. It was a huge weight off my shoulders, to know there was a name to this, and it wasn’t all in my head. People would finally start believing me!

However, at the age of 12 I started to get some new baffling symptoms. I would blackout randomly and have distressing palpitations and hot flushes. It took some time, but a family friend who happened to be a doctor suggested POTS (Postural tachycardia syndrome). Following a tilt table test, I was diagnosed when I was 14. It was still tough to get doctors to listen to me and offer any practical advice, and it still is today. I do feel I have been a bit of a guinea pig, having trialled multiple different drugs, some of which left me with horrible side effects (extremely depressed, worse nausea and the like.) 

Three years later and I am still suffering on a daily basis; the list of symptoms I encounter goes on and on (some of which are blackouts, nausea, migraines, chronic fatigue, tremors and dizziness); and I’m on more medication than a 17 year old should be – (a good day is only 9 pills; a bad day could be more than double that). It can take me weeks and weeks to recover from the common cold, which has meant that I need to be extra mindful of my hygiene in public spaces. 

I have had to give up sports, and alter my routine – for example I am no longer able to stand up in the shower, and often find myself having to lie down in very public areas (most recently the middle of a cereal aisle in the supermarket!) just to feel normal again! I should be learning to drive, as I am 17, but have had to skip past that milestone due to PoTS. My gap year plans also fell through since the institute I was hoping to study at told me I would be asked to leave if my illnesses affected my learning in any way.

Luckily one good (and very furry) thing came out of it – I got a puppy! As an animal lover, I was always eager to get a dog so, hopefully, Coby the Goldendoodle will become more than just a pet for me. I hope to be able to sign him up for medical detection classes, and get him registered as my service dog. Time will tell, but right now he is a very positive influence on my life.

I have come up with multiple coping mechanisms, including practising yoga, changing my diet (I found that going gluten and lactose free helps relieve stomach swelling), and taking naps throughout the day, but the pain still gets through to me, and it is difficult to always remain positive. I do try my best though, and I have found that helping and talking to others in similar situations really makes me feel good. 

I have come up with multiple coping mechanisms, including practising yoga, changing my diet (I found that going gluten and lactose free helps relieve stomach swelling), and taking naps throughout the day, but the pain still gets through to me, and it is difficult to always remain positive. I do try my best though, and I have found that helping and talking to others in similar situations really makes me feel good. 

I will end my story with a saying that I am particularly fond of, and I think it applies especially to anyone out there battling chronic illness like myself. ‘’I will make you happy’ said life. ‘but first I will make you strong’’.


Get in touch for more help and information

+44 (0) 1789 867 503info@stars.org.uk

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