• Neurosciences

    POTS patient now working where she was diagnosed

When Jenna Rose started experiencing frequent fainting episodes and other unusual symptoms, she put high school on pause and came to Mayo Clinic seeking answers. Nine years later, Jenna joined Mayo Clinic to help patients like her get on the path to healing.  

Jan. 6, 2015, started like any other day for Jenna Rose, but it ended as anything but ordinary.

A high-school junior at the time, Jenna was in the middle of art class when she fainted suddenly and unexpectedly. The following day, it happened again.

"I continued to have dizziness and syncope, and over the course of the next few weeks, I became extremely fatigued and experienced weakness, headaches, pain and nausea, which made walking, eating and sleeping unpredictable," Jenna says. "I started using a walker and wheelchair."

Less than two months later, she had to drop out of high school.

After she fainted the second time, Jenna's mom — a Mayo nurse — brought her to Mayo Clinic in Arizona, where doctors found an answer for her sudden symptoms — postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, or POTS. The experience put her on a path back to health and inspired a career course that brought her back to the same neurology floor where she was diagnosed.

A teenager with a complex condition: Jenna's POTS diagnosis

At Mayo Clinic, Jenna's primary care physician, Amy Rampley, M.D., conducted an examination and noted significant changes in Jenna's heart rate with positional changes. She then ran labs to check for mononucleosis and other common diagnoses.

Once those were ruled out, Jenna was referred to electrophysiologist Luis Scott, M.D., who did various tests to ensure Jenna's heart and lungs were healthy. Those tests all came back normal.   

Next, Jenna saw neurologist Brent Goodman, M.D., now retired, who made her diagnosis. Jenna had developed postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome — POTS for short — a condition in which the nerves that regulate blood flow are out of balance, so not enough blood goes to the right place at the right time, causing a variety of symptoms like the ones Jenna experienced.

Jenna's care plan focused on symptom management and involved plenty of trial and error.

Trial-and-error approach yields positive results

"By the time I received my POTS diagnosis in the spring of 2015, I had lost a concerning amount of weight and was continuing to decline," Jenna says.

Jenna began therapy and slowly started to put her weight back on.  

In 2017, Jenna completed a three-week pain rehabilitation program and built friendships with others in the chronic illness community.  

In the years that followed, she began biweekly subcutaneous home infusions, which she continues today. She visited Psychology, Psychiatry, Sleep Medicine, Aerospace Medicine and Pharmacogenomics.

She also did a three-month POTS-centered exercise study led by Courtney Wheatley-Guy, Ph.D. It was around that time that she started making strides toward independent mobility.

My care team was and is everything to me. Dr. Goodman treated me with respect and compassion, always.

Jenna Rose

As Jenna recalls how far she has come through the years, she credits her progress to her expert care team, including her doctors, lab technicians, therapists and nurses, and their willingness to try various approaches until they found what worked for her.

"While recovery is a long and winding road, Mayo has helped me progress in many ways," Jenna says.

"My care team was and is everything to me," Jenna says. "Dr. Goodman treated me with respect and compassion, always. His transparency about both the severity of my health and the limitations of medicine was the most helpful and dignified support I ever received — even and especially when I was a teenager."

Finishing school and returning to the activities she loves

A year after dropping out of high school, Jenna returned and earned her high school diploma. After graduation, Jenna attended Paradise Valley Community College and Arizona State University, where she got a bachelor's degree in speech and hearing sciences.

Last year, she went skiing for the first time since she became ill and attended her first concert without a walker. She also started boxing and got back into making art and magazine collages.  

"I am slowly building my life back up into something I am both comfortable with and excited to experience," Jenna says.

Of all the things Jenna has accomplished since her diagnosis, there is one that makes her most proud: Landing a full-time job at Mayo Clinic, on the floor where she received her diagnosis.

Jenna's full circle moment: Working where she was diagnosed

Jenna knew she needed to land a full-time job before she turned 26 to maintain health coverage, so she chose to bring her talents to Mayo Clinic in Arizona.

In 2023, Jenna landed a full-time job as a desk operations specialist on the neurology floor.

"Working on the floor where I was diagnosed and have spent so much time is the most meaningful work I have ever done. I have gone through a lot of the testing and appointments that I am now helping to schedule for others," Jenna says.

"My journey at Mayo did not start by choice," she says, "but it continues very intentionally."