Living With Autoimmune Disorder Made Distance Runner Appreciate College Experience

April 27, 2020 | Athletics, Features, Graduate News, News, UToday, Natural Sciences and Mathematics
By Paul Helgren

Jordan Doore knew something was off.

A distance runner for The University of Toledo track and cross country teams, Doore had battled through numerous injuries throughout her career. But as she was preparing for the 2018 cross country season, she began to notice something was not quite right. She was accustomed to the wear and tear of competitive running, but this was something else.

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“I started to experience some pain and numbness in parts of my body. I didn’t know what was going on,” said Doore, who will graduate May 9 with a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. “Then it got worse. The numbness spread throughout my whole body, and I had no energy. I was constantly on the verge of passing out and was unable to finish workouts. I knew something was really wrong.”

Doore went through a battery of tests and was eventually diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, or POTS, an autoimmune disorder that affects the body’s ability to regulate normal functions, such as blood pressure and heart rate. Symptoms flare up when she simply stands up. There is no known cure, but it can be managed with medication.

“It was a relief to finally get a diagnosis, but at the same time I still felt terrible physically,” Doore said. “Mentally it was tough as well. I deal with a disorder that you can’t see and most people have never heard of.”

Despite this setback, Doore was determined to continue competing. She was back on the track for the 2019 outdoor campaign. She set her personal best with a time of 4:49.44 in the mile at the RedHawk Invitational April 20 and had a solid time of 4:54.33 in the 1500 meters at the 2019 MAC Outdoor Championship Meet May 11. “I wasn’t the most fit, but I was determined to run,” she said.

Jordan Doore running

Jordan Doore, who was diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, or POTS, overcame challenges to continue as a distance runner on the Rocket track and cross country teams. She will graduate May 9 with a bachelor’s degree in environmental sciences.

Her determination has been an inspiration to her teammates, according to Head Coach Andrea Grove-McDonough.

“There were lots of reasons that Jordan could have stopped running. Certainly most people would have called it quits,” said McDonough, who took over as the director of cross country and track and field in July 2019. “But we are so grateful that Jordan continued to be a part of this team. She is a great teammate and a great role model. She comes to practice every day with a great attitude. She always seems to be in a great mood. I have never once heard her complain.”

Of course, life is not exactly easy for Doore. On some level, she deals with challenges nearly every day.

“My daily life can be difficult,” said Doore, who has aspirations to be a coach someday. “The medication helps, and I need to follow a good diet and always stay hydrated. Sometimes there is nothing I can do to combat symptoms, so all I can do is take a nap and sleep it off. I try to listen to my body and do as much as I can when I feel good, and rest when I don’t.”

Not being as active as she wants may be the toughest part for Doore. She is happiest when she is busy. In addition to being an honor roll student and a two-time Academic All-MAC honoree, she served four years on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, including as president this past year. Doore is one of two Rocket student-athletes who serves on the MAC Council of Student Athletes. And she is active in church and volunteer activities.

This past fall, Doore sprained her ankle early in the season, but came back to compete at her last cross country meet at the Eastern Michigan University Open Oct. 26. She rehabbed and came back to compete in the indoor track season. The Akron Invitational Feb. 8 would be her final competition wearing the Midnight Blue and Gold due to the COVID-19 pandemic that wiped out what would have been her last chance to compete in the outdoor track season this spring.

As she approaches graduation and her final days as a Rocket, Doore looks back on a challenging four years with no regrets.

“Nothing has gone as planned for me in my college experience,” she said. “But I’ve definitely learned from it. It’s been a great experience for me at Toledo. I know that something good can come from anything.”

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