A few years ago as a Read Mountain Middle Schooler, David Shayne Jennison acted in youth ensemble plays at Attic Productions. He left because of illness. So what happened to Shayne Jennison, who will be 15 in July? Shayne would be a 9th grader at Lord Botetourt this year. He suffers from a chronic condition called POTS and it is holding him captive in a lovely home over in Cloverdale. The acronym stands for an ominous sounding “Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome.” There is no known cure, but there is hope. About 500,000 Americans suffer from the disease. It was first diagnosed as a medical condition in the US in 1998.
A popular young man with a wonderful sense of humor disappeared and only a few have kept up with him. Shayne is a home bound student here in Botetourt County taught by LBHS teacher Robert Haynie, who with family permission, simply stated, “Shayne is a very sick young man.”
Basically, Shayne lives mostly in an horizontal position in the vertical world of humanity.
His mother Patricia “Banner” Jennison said the disease struck through constant nausea that began during his middle school years and soon became debilitating. After he was determined an undefined cause, she ventured as a referral to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center where Dr. John Fortunato, a pediatric gastric specialist, put him on the tilt table. This made him very ill but is the best way to diagnose POTS.
Dr. Fortunato, who spoke with the Botetourt View for a long time about POTS, said “The table determines if it is a condition of autonomia, which means a dysfunction in the central nervous system and organs, like the heart particularly when going from a supine position to standing. POTS affects the patient’s blood pressure and heart rate. There are a number of symptoms including the nausea, dizziness and a host of others like headaches. Shayne became very ill on the table– a classic sign of POTS.” Read here for more on POTS.
Fortunato is hopeful he can help Shayne, and next month will present a paper on the autonomic effects of POTS to the “Clinical Autonomic Journal.” He has also recruited the cardiovascular clinic at Wake Forest to see what they can do to help POTS patients. Basically, Banner said, “It’s like his body and heart are not in synch.”
As for Shayne, he said, “I want to get information out there and I would not want anyone else to get this. It is painful and we somehow need to find a way to handle it. In general, people need to know what is going on.” No matter the POTS, he seemed happy and has a great sense of humor. And, he does have hope that he will be back in the daily world as a participant.
He spends most of his time in his room. He makes movies for YouTube and Facebook and he plays XBOX Live. His computer is his portal to the world. He is studying Japanese on the Internet and he is very concerned about that country right now. He one day hopes to be well enough to go to a college or university in Japan. Sometimes on the rare day when he feels really well, a friend comes over.
Mostly Shayne Jennison lives within the confines of home with Banner and their dog, “Penny,” making the best of a bad health situation.