Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Adjusting My Career Aspirations

Dear Readers,

The PHA UK asked me to write a blogpost on how having Pulmonary Hypertension affects my working career, so here is the blogpost. As this was first published on their website, which follows the stories of people with PH, I have reproduced this post with PHA UK's permission.

"I was 17 years old when I was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension. At that stage in my life, I had my further education and career all planned out.

Throughout my childhood, I lived and breathed music. Music was my life. I had learnt to play piano, trumpet and cello and I was heavily involved in all music activities, including being a member of orchestras and travelling across the world. I absolutely loved every minute, but when I received my diagnosis, my whole world suddenly came crashing down.

Of the instruments I played, my favourite was the trumpet. I had chosen my future career around being a professional trumpeter, but that was taken away from me. Due to the high pressures in my lungs and the fast pace of my heartbeat, I wasn’t allowed to play trumpet again. The blowing was too much for my heart and so I had to stop playing. Yes, being told my illness was incurable and life-limiting was overwhelming but being told I couldn’t play trumpet again devastated me the most.

I was very fortunate that despite being in hospital for six months, I came out in time for my A-Level exams and passed them with flying colours. I was determined that I was still going to go to Southampton University and study for a degree in music.

Whilst I was there, I turned to music directing and I got heavily involved with the drama society. I loved being the Music Director of many shows, but I knew deep down, due to the energy it took to put on a show, I wouldn’t be able to do this as a career either.

After three years of coping with ups and downs of juggling PH with university, I graduated with a degree in music. I returned home and decided to open my own music teaching business. Though it wasn’t what I hoped or thought I’d end up doing for my career, I thoroughly enjoyed it and it worked well around my PH and hospital visits.

Having my own business meant I could choose my own hours and work as much or as little as I liked. I also enjoyed living with my parents again and even though I was 21 when I left uni, I still needed their help and support. Living with PH hadn’t got any easier and knowing they were always there, was a great comfort.

I continued teaching piano, cello and trumpet to many children and adults of all ages and abilities. The triumphs of seeing them succeed in music exams was a wonderful feeling and I was so pleased that I had created a successful business.

The start of owning a business isn’t easy and I did everything I could to get my name out there. Looking back to when it all began in 2012, I can’t believe how far I have come. I am super proud of my music teaching business and if it wasn’t for my PH diagnosis, I don’t think I would have even thought of giving it a go. I successfully ran my music teaching business for nine years!

Whilst continuing to teach music, I returned to university in 2014 and studied for a Master’s degree in music therapy. Music has helped me though the ups and downs of living with PH, so I wanted to use my passion for music to help others in need.

When I graduated a couple of years later, I extended my music business and added music therapy. I stopped taking on new students and did some work in schools around Essex, as a music therapist.

Fast forward to the present, and I am working solely as a music therapist. I was very lucky to have been offered a music therapy job in my hometown this year and I still get to choose my own hours and work what I can.

I have been very open about my PH with the company, and I am fortunate to have a very supportive manager. I absolutely love my job and knowing that I am helping others is an amazing feeling. I know I will never be able to have a 9-5 job, but I feel very grateful that I am still able to work, and I will do so, until PH stops me. I have finally found my vocation."

Thank you for reading!

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