I Have Chronic Pain and POTS — Here Are the Organizing Finds That Have Made My Life Easier
In the summer of 2021, my professional organizing business was busier than ever. By then, many of my clients were vaccinated and tired of looking at their clutter. So while I was running around to get their homes in order, I noticed that I was starting to experience shortness of breath, a racing heart rate, and debilitating dizziness.
I attributed my symptoms to simply being burned out or wearing a mask while performing physically demanding work. During a routine physical, my primary doctor suggested I see a cardiologist and so after a few appointments and a tilt table test later, I received a diagnosis of POTS, or Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, a condition in which “an excessively reduced volume of blood returns to the heart after an individual stands up from a lying down position.”
If you or someone you know has POTS, you’re aware of how life-changing it can be. Water, salt, and electrolytes have become my best friends and I’ve learned how to stand up at a much slower pace. I laugh a little when I think back on the times I was hurriedly picking up clothes or shoes at the bottom of my client’s closets and wondering why I felt like I was going to faint at any moment. Or when I saw my life flash before my eyes coming out of the downward dog position in yoga.
Not only did I have to change the way I worked (and worked out), but I also wanted my home to be more POTS-friendly. A few years prior, I was also diagnosed with Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia, which produce chronic pain and migraines, so I had already made a few changes that helped to alleviate it daily.
Here are some of the things I’ve done to help make life a little easier for myself with all three disorders.
- I store my most frequently used things at eye level and make them accessible to reach. Something like this sliding tray that my coffee maker sits on assists in preventing strain on my shoulders and neck.
- For anything that must be placed higher or lower, such as dishwashing supplies under the sink, I prefer pull-out drawer organizers so I can slide them out by the handle and grab what I need without exerting myself or bending down for too long.
- Lazy Susans are another excellent tool that lets you reach for a specific item with ease. I use them in almost every space from the linen closet to the kitchen cabinets. I even use them to store my supplements in the kitchen.
- While I don’t take medicine regularly for my condition, when I need something, I need it quickly so knowing where they are at all times is critical. I keep most of my medicine bottles together in a labeled basket in the linen closet, but leave at least one bottle for pain relief on my nightstand. I also purchased these small zippered pouches and created a “to-go” medicine cabinet that stays in my bag at all times. And, if I switch bags, I just have to pop the pouch into the one I’m using that day.
- From stim machines to heated back massagers, I have all of the pain relief supplies anyone could ever need. Because I mostly use them when I’m relaxing in front of the TV at night, I found an ottoman with storage (mine is discontinued, but there are similar styles such as this one) and stuffed everything inside. Visual clutter is hidden, but the reprieve is still within reach at a moment’s notice.
Overall, I aim to keep my home as minimalistic and organized as possible. It’s never perfect, but the less I own, the less I have to clean up after. Clutter induces stress for me and stress is a significant contributing factor to my flare-ups. Eliminating the unnecessary stuff in my space has improved both my mental and physical health. And, finally, making my everyday things as accessible as possible simplifies my routines and creates a more comfortable living environment.