TAMPA (FOX 13) - For 22-year-old Morgan Boykin, becoming Miss Tampa 2016 was a dream come true.
"Oh my goodness, it was indescribable," she gushed.
But along with the start of a fairytale reign was the start of a medical nightmare. She woke up the day before the Miss Tampa scholarship pageant and wasn't sure if she would be able to compete.
"All of a sudden I started vomiting out of nowhere,” she recalled.
Medication temporarily put her back on track. She was an active baton twirler for the University of South Florida and also had begun training in the gym for the upcoming Miss Florida event. She says she was in the best shape of her life, but in July of 2016, her life came to a screeching halt during a workout.
"I passed out twice that day and it gradually got higher. The most I have passed out is about 23 times in a day."
Morgan spent five weeks in the hospital without answers. Doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong with her.
Morgan's mom, Jennifer, was frustrated and began doing her own research online. That led her to a condition called POTS, short for postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. Short circuits in the involuntary nervous system affect heart rate, digestion, blood pressure, and even body temperature.
Morgan could no longer walk or stand. A 15-minute test on an inversion tilt table convinced doctors Jennifer was right. She was officially diagnosed with POTS.
"My heart rate went from 59 beats per minute to a 173, I believe in just a couple of seconds," Morgan said.
Diagnosing POTS was only the beginning. She'd have to travel to Illinois for treatment and endure months of trial and error to find the right medication.
Jennifer now says her daughter is on the right track. "It’s amazing. Morgan went from not being able to sit up, not being able go to the restroom by herself, being in a wheelchair, even three weeks ago not being able to walk from her bedroom to her bathroom. It's a total turn around."
Morgan is now facing life with a new perspective. "You don't think of waking up one day and not being able to walk, and you don't think about not being about to stand up and brush your teeth. We take a lot of things for granted in life and I was one of them."
For more information on Morgan’s condition and others like it, go to https://thedysautonomiaproject.org/