A fit Melbourne mum, who used to run 10km every week, now struggles to find the energy to play with her two girls after developing a debilitating condition that causes her to collapse without warning.
Paul Forsyth said his wife Lindsey was “a normal, active mum” until she developed a form of autonomic nervous system dysfunction during her second pregnancy.
With their youngest daughter now two, the 37-year-old Berwick woman’s condition has only worsened.
Her condition, coupled with neurally mediated hypotension, has caused the mum to collapse almost 50 times already this year. With 27 of those episodes in the past six weeks alone, she is dropping at a rate of once every two days.
Lindsey Forsyth began collapsing during her second pregnancy, to Kiera (now 2) left, pictured with big sister Aoife, 5. Source: Paul ForsythFrom doing the local parkrun every Saturday with her husband, Mrs Forsyth is now worn out from the most simple tasks.
“She tried playing with the kids for one minute and she was exhausted,” her husband told Yahoo7.
“She used to be a special needs teacher where she was on her feet all day – going from that to barely being able to function is frustrating.”
Mrs Forsyth’s condition postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is one that is poorly understood, and causes her to faint without warning. While she has tried medications to lessen her symptoms and now has a pacemaker, there is no cure.
More recently Ms Forsyth has needed someone else to help her regain consciousness as she can no longer come to by herself.
She has relied on her daughters Aoife, 5 and Kiera, 2, to help pat her face or push the distress button she carries on her to alert their dad for help. But with Aoife having started primary school this year and her dad working full time, the responsibility is on the toddler to help get her mother breathing again.
Fundraising for a trained service dog
The family is now raising money to have a cardiac alert assistance dog trained to alert Mrs Forsyth of a change in her body temperature before she collapses, and offer assistance if she faints.
“The service dog can be trained to sense a change in blood pressure in the body,” Mr Forsyth told Yahoo7.
The animal will be able to tap the woman’s knee and signal her to sit down before she faints, preventing her from hitting her head if she falls, or needing to be revived.
“It can be trained to press the SOS button and lick her face until she comes to. And it can be trained to provide deep tissue therapy by lying on top of her,” Mr Forsyth added.
The cost of training one of these incredible cardiac alert dogs is $35,000, but with more than $27,000 raised so far through a GoFundMe page, the Forsyths are confident they will be able to add a four-legged addition to the family once it is trained up.
“We’re so overwhelmed and thankful to everyone who has donated,” Mr Forsyth said.
With the couple being Irish and English expats with relatives overseas, Mr Forsyth said it was “heartwarming” the local community has banded together, with school parents offering to mind the children and cooking meals for the family.
In the shorter term, Mrs Forsyth is planning to visit a world-leading specialised POTS treatment centre in Dallas, Texas next month, where she will undergo two weeks of intensive therapy to better manage her symptoms.
“The centre’s whole commitment and treatment regime is dedicated to people like Lindsey who suffer from a malfunction of the autonomic nervous system,” Mr Forsyth said.
“The centre offers a combination of treatments that include biofeedback, exercise and nutrition, treatment of the autonomic nervous system, physiological stress management, and regulation of the heart rate.”
That trip alone will cost the couple at least $15,000 and they will use some of the fundrasied money to cover those expenses.
The Forsyths hope to reach their goal of $50,000 in donations to help cover costs of the US treatment facility and train the service dog that could save the woman’s life. To donate, visit the GoFundMe page.