Ordinary Women, �tra�dinary �ves • Kelly Freeman • In September of 2011, following a root canal, Kelly Freeman began experiencing tingling, numbness, faintness, heart palpitations and seizure-like episodes that landed her in the hospital. After the doctor ran several tests, all with normal results, he explained that she was just having panic attacks, wrote a prescription for Xanax and recommended counseling. Everyone expected she would recover and return to her normal life of meetings, emails, conference calls at the office, more emails and prepping documents at home, carpooling the kids, preparing nutritious meals, making trips to the store. But God had a different plan for Kelly. She continued to experience symptoms of fatigue and faintness. She also became hypersensitive to light, touch, sound, motion and activity. “During that first week, I tried to go to Target with my husband to pick up a few needed items. After getting out of the car, the wind on my face was like a million pin pricks. I held his hand and kept my head down because my brain couldn’t process all the stimulation of moving cars, people, colors, sights and sounds. Within a few minutes, I became so weak and exhausted that I asked my husband to take me back to the car. I realized this was not normal. I had to do something.” After changing doctors, Kelly began intensive research about her symptoms and engaged in discussion with her new medical team. In November of 2011, Kelly was diagnosed with two types of dysautonomia, a disorder of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS): Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) and Neurally Mediated Syncope (NMS). Although the first half of the battle was finding a diagnosis, the second half of the battle was not as easy: finding a remedy. One problem for those suffering with dysautonomia is finding a doctor who understands dysautonomia and what causes it. And, although there is a possibility that patients suffering with dysautonomia could go into remission, there is no cure. “I spend many days in my PJs in bed feeling much like I’ve come down with a bad case of the flu,” Kelly says. “Sometimes I wonder if my friends, colleagues and family 90 MTL Magazine / www.mtlmagazine.com think I’m just lazy, but honestly I don’t worry too much about that. I simply don’t have the energy to worry. “Thanksgiving and prayer are the antidote to worry. I get to do a lot of things that my normal life didn’t allow me to do. Today I’m thankful for being able to see, for being able to walk, for being able to hear, for being able to have a oneon-one conversation with my son. I have been so blessed to appreciate the many things I used to take for granted.” In October of 2014, Kelly launched The Dysautonomia Project with the help of about 200 volunteer physicians, patients and community leaders from more than a dozen states. The Dysautonomia Project is a not-for-profit organization aimed at speeding the time to diagnosis and treat dysautonomia at the community level. In addition to speaking to many groups and writing dozens of articles, Kelly has co-authored a brand new book, The Dysautonomia Project, with Dr. David Goldstein of NIH, a world-renowned specialist in autonomic medicine and Dr. Randy Thompson of Pensacola, who developed POTS 18 years ago and is a specialist in dysautonomia. The book will help physicians and lay people to better understand dysautonomia. “I wouldn’t wish this journey of suffering on anyone, and some days I can’t believe how painful and hard it is,” she admits. “But I am blessed beyond measure with perfect peace and the love of Christ through family and friends who have come alongside me. I cling to His plan for my life and the amazing grace of Jesus which I do not deserve.” For more information, visit www.thedysautonomiaproject.org.