Olivia Tracey, 25, has a rare genetic condition which means her body has trouble adjusting to gravity – leaving her struggling to even stand up.
The only way to relieve the symptoms of Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) is to lie down.
Desperate for independence, Olivia is now raising money to buy a wheelchair so she can leave her house alone and eventually go to university.
POTS can be a life altering condition, where simply standing up can be a challenge because the body is unable to adjust to gravity.
Typical symptoms include headaches, fatigue, nausea, fainting and dizziness. There is no cure for the disease, although some medications can help the side effects.
She also has another rare condition called EDS (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome) which effects joints.
Sufferers have an increased range of joint movement, stretchy skin and fragile skin that breaks or bruises easily and Olivia’s joints frequently dislocate while she is moving.
The combined effects of the illnesses make life very difficult for Olivia, and while she lives on her own in Cheltenham, Glos., she is wholly reliant on other people for everyday outings.
POTS is often made worse by a traumatic event, and in Olivia’s case she caught pneumonia at the age of 14.
She said: “I used to get headaches and pain before I was 14, but then I got pneumonia and got to a point where I didn’t recover any further.
“The symptoms got worse over the next couple of years. It was very difficult at first, because it took a while to be diagnosed.
“It was difficult not knowing what was wrong, but at least now we know what it is and how to deal with it.”
It is hard to know how common the illness is because it is frequently misdiagnosed as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) or anxiety.
Music lover Olivia won a scholarship at Winchester University when she was 18, but her illness meant she was unable to go.
“I absolutely loved music and theatre at school. I play the piano, the cello and I sing.
” I was actually offered a scholarship to go to Winchester University when I was 18, but sadly I was too unwell to go. It would have been lovely.”
She added: “I’d like to study part-time to either the University of Gloucestershire or maybe Bristol. You can’t just let your life go on pause.
“If I had a wheelchair, it would mean I could actually leave the house on my own. I have been housebound for quite a while, so the chair would help massively.
“I’m so excited for it because I have been waiting for a long time.”
Olivia has been fundraising since August. She said: “Because of the effects of the illnesses, I decided I need a chair to get around independently.
“I wholly rely on other people to take me out, and I can’t do things like go to the local shop or go out for a dog walk.
“The main features are that I have chronic pain all the time. I have loose joints which can dislocate, making walking and using my arms difficult.”
Olivia uses a frame to get around the house, with carers visiting her each day to help her with various tasks.
But she said that her family have been extremely supportive, including her 27-year-old brother Lawrence, who works as a personal trainer, and her parents Claire and Martin.
Olivia has currently raised £3,000, a chunk of which was raised when her mother put on a ballet class in exchange for donations.
She said: “People have been very generous, I was quite overwhelmed. I find it amazing that people who don’t even know me have donated. It gives you faith in humanity.”
Olivia still needs to raise another £2,000 in order to get her wheelchair. If you would like to donate, visit her page at https://www.gofundme.com/oliviawheelchair.