A woman who is ‘allergic to gravity’ spends 23 hours in bed, faints up to 10 times a day and can’t stand up for more than three minutes without passing out.
Lyndsi Johnson, 28, has to sit with her legs crossed to stop her from feeling sick and can only get up to eat or shower. She started suffering from abdominal and back pain in October 2015. Her symptoms had only worsened and within a few years she was projectile vomiting and fainting up to 10 times a day.
After years of going back and forth to the doctors, Johnson was diagnosed with postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS) in February 2022–an abnormal increase in heart rate that occurs after sitting up or standing–which Johnson also refers to as an allergy to gravity.
Now that she is on medication, Jonhson only faints about three times a day but still can’t do a lot for herself and has to rely on her husband, James, 30, who is her caregiver.
Johnson, who used to work as an aviation diesel mechanic for the navy, who comes from the city of Bangor, in Maine, in the U.S., 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 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.”
Johnson first started getting unwell while she was working in the navy overseas. 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 illnesses. 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,” Johnson said. But doctors still couldn’t work out what was wrong, and Johnson continued battling her illness.
She was even hospitalized several times over the past few years, but she was told it was probably her anxiety causing her symptoms. In October 2020, Johnson passed out in an elevator 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.”
Johnson 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,” Johnson said. “I was finally able to speak to another cardiologist who recognized that I might have PoTS.”
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. Johnson is now on beta-blockers 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 do anything for the next three days.”
Despite her illness, Johnson is hoping to move from her apartment 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. 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,” – she added.
“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 from 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,” Johnson said.
Produced in association with SWNS.