When Chronic Illness Takes Your Dreams on a Detour


Life is unpredictable. You can be healthy one minute and suddenly sick the next. At least that is what it seems to me. Junior year of college started with a typical case of tendonitis in my arm that never got better despite doing everything correctly. Eventually, my whole body became involved within a month and a few months later is when my journey with chronic illness began.

My dream is to be a music teacher, specifically a band director, with my own private flute studio. I began college as a music education major and my professors worked with me to make sure I made it through the program, but this year, my senior year, I had to make a tough decision. Do I keep going and risk failing student teaching? Or do I change my major and graduate and wait for my health to become stable to go back to get my teaching license?

After talking to many people, I decided on the latter because I felt more at peace going this route instead of enduring the stress and not doing well. See, my chronic illness as of right now is fibromyalgia and I also get occipital neuralgia, but I have been referred to different doctors because there is a suspicion something else is at play here because I am not responding to the treatments given to me. With this, I have the tendency to have bouts of dizziness and weakness that is triggered by standing up too long, but the dizziness is also triggered by loud sounds and environments. I have to sit on a stool with a stand now in choir and when I play my instrument, I have to hope for the best. As of right now, I am not suitable to be student teaching and even if the doctors figure out what is wrong (I hope so), I will probably be trying different treatments so it makes sense to take a detour.

With this detour, it opens new doors for me, but also brings about a slight unease because I have to wait longer to achieve my dreams and can bring about some uncertainty. During this time of figuring out what is happening, I am able to teach privately, which is part of it, but I hope I am able to get back and get my licensure within a year.

Don’t be afraid to take breaks and take different paths. I don’t know where this new path will lead me, but I do know that my dreams will hopefully be accomplished despite my illnesses and that I will be able to encourage others with disabilities to go after their dreams no matter what. Even if it takes longer than the average person.

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