In life we have expectations, goals, and visions! Life sometimes does not end up turning out how we initially “thought” it would though! That doesn’t mean it is any better or worse, it just means it’s different! Though, initially it can certainly seem way worse! I know it did for me at the time.
I never expected to go into healthcare, EVER! “Losing” my music was certainly one of the hardest and most traumatic things I’ve been through! I lost who I was, at least who I thought I was at that time in my life! The fear, anxiety, frustration, depression were all extremely deep and paralyzing! Being faced with what was I going to do with my life was something I NEVER thought would happen!
As I look back on that time period I see so many areas where things could have been different if I had been able to find the right care. But, I also realize it was all part of my journey…injuries and all to get to where I am today! I also realized that in some ways I self sabotaged my career! I had fears and anxieties that I never dealt with/acknowledge that in many aspects caused some of my physical symptoms that I was dealing with. Of course, these were not conscious things but I realize now looking back that they certainly played a role to some degree! This is one thing I always try to touch on with my musicians who are suffering from injuries!
When I decided to go into Occupational Therapy I “knew” I wanted to work with musicians! What I didn’t realize was that it was going to take me years to be able to invest myself 100%. Why? Because I had more healing to do, I had not even scratched the surface when I started OT school! OT just sort of fell in my lap and I was on autopilot, walking down a path I hoped would be right. I was scared to death of being able to get through all those science and math classes and do well in them. They wouldn’t take orchestra for physics…WHAT!! I had no idea what I was truly getting myself into and was so busy with working hard that I did a great job at ignoring the loss of my music! And then I got really sick the summer before my last year of OT school! It was because I stuffed all my emotions down surrounding my music and now being an OT was really going to happen! It was the finality of my music and the beginning of something I never imagined….crap!
As I look back on my journey, I can see how all parts truly were working in my best interest but I certainly was not aware enough then. I still had my music wounds wrapped in gauze with a nice cast placed over them. Anytime I was exposed to music or asked about it it was like someone ripped the bandage off of me and my wounds were just as they had been, completely unhealed!
I was lucky from on OT perspective at the time because there were few OT jobs when I graduated but I immediately got a job working in an orthopedic hand clinic and the best part was the Health Center was starting a musicians clinic and I was going to have an integral role in this clinic. Cognitively I thought this was going to be awesome! But in all honesty, working with musicians back then turned out to be hard, it was like ripping that bandage off a little each time I worked with a musician. Of course I treated them and did my best, but there was always a part of me that was guarded emotionally. I used my skills and knowledge but I obviously had yet to do my own healing to be completely aligned. I was focused on treating trauma injuries of the hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder and worked with musicians along the way, however, the trauma was my “comfort zone”, it was a way to kind of avoid digging in and truly healing the emotional wounds left from not playing anymore. Healing is a process, I had been able to heal most of my physical injuries but the emotional stuff was much harder for me. It was honestly not until the last five years or so that I have felt truly healed and able to invest 100% of myself into working with musicians. Yup…..it took THAT long! BUT, it needed to because now it feels SO aligned to combine my past with my present to create my future! It has also given me greater perspective when it comes to working with musicians and the importance of looking at ALL levels of a person and this is true for musicians with an injury and even those without! Wellness in all areas: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual are key to staying healthy!
Owning my own clinic has afforded me the amazing opportunity to combine my two loves, and yes I do love my career in healthcare despite me never thinking I would end up doing what I do. I am now able to spend the time needed to work with musicians on ALL levels! This was never really possible working for someone else when you had quotas to meet each day! Time was not an option! But now I do, and I have had the honour of working with many musicians that are on their path to professional careers and those that have been playing for decades. The one thing that made me realize I had truly healed was my ability to go to a concert/recital and not cry. Just so you know, it took YEARS for me to be able to go to any performance and not cry and even after getting through a concert without crying I was somewhat guarded! Because of my patients I have listened to countless recitals that have been live streamed and gone to many performances. I can’t tell you how amazing this has been for me, to be able to listen to music again and fully enjoy it. It has brought back a part of me from the past that I buried because it was too painful and now there is no pain, just joy at listening to people make amazing music! It has been liberating to enjoy music again, even though I am not the one playing it! I was even able to listen to a flute recital which was my true test of have I completely healed! AND I LOVED IT!
My music has come full circle and my two passions are forever interlocked!