You may have realized by now that I am quite keen to raise awareness for MRKH in whatever way possible whether blogging, video for Fighters lead by my friend Fran, walking 100km from London to Brighton or arguing with Dr Sarah Jarvis on Twitter for her misrepresentation of MRKH in a recent interview. I have put myself out there purposefully because I am comfortable with my condition and because I want to share my experiences not only to raise awareness but to help support others.
However, I never imagined at any point in my life I would be standing at a lectern in church, not reading from the bible but talking to an audience about MRKH, Saturday saw that happen.
For those that don’t know, I play the flute. I used to be reasonably good but I admit after I finished my A-Levels (one of which was music) and went to Uni I largely gave up. Some 10 or so years later one Christmas, as my mother had decided she wanted to learn to play the piano (Grade 5 now – smashed it mum!), she got me and my brother to bring our instruments (he plays the saxophone) down so we could have a bit of a jam. It wasn’t all that successful in reality however it was good fun playing again even if for a short time, very short, as in it was literally just that day. I promised my mum I would get back into it and then life got in the way.
For those that also don’t know I used to sing in a church choir, as did my brother. A few years after ‘Musical Christmas with the Bishops’ I was then invited to sing at a charity concert at the church I used to go to in memory of a family friend who had lost her battle with cancer with a whole heap of our old chorister friends. To be honest my heart sank, my singing is not as good as the others and so I thought ‘I know, I’ll play the flute’. I don’t know at the time what part of me thought that was a good idea but it gave me a focus and an excuse to pick up the flute again. I enjoyed it so much I had a couple of lessons again but then my teacher had to stop due to health issues and the flute was once again back in the cupboard.
Earlier this year we decided to do another charity concert at the church, I wanted to be involved but get so nervous performing so I was in two minds, plus I had no idea what to play I had played the one thing I could play well the last time. Bugger. I remember talking to one of my friends about it and he suggested I should see if there were any local groups I could join to help with the confidence and getting back into playing then I could see about getting another teacher. So I did and it’s been bloody brilliant!
When it came to deciding this year’s charity Rachel, who was organizing the concert, contacted everyone and suggested aside from the local cancer charity we raised funds for (Hospice in the Weald) we could also raise money for MRKH Connect. I was really touched by the suggestion and for the overwhelming support of the other performers to split the funds in this way.
To me this meant the pressure was on, I had to of course be there but I also wanted to be good as I could be as the event now had extra importance to me personally. So I decided to play one of my A-Level recital pieces (Grade 8) but to make it more complicated, I do love a challenge after all, I chose a piece that was unaccompanied. To my nonmusical friends that may not seem like a big deal but playing or singing unaccompanied means that you don’t have an easy way to hide things if they go wrong!
As the event drew near I was asked if I wouldn’t mind saying a few words about MRKH and MRKH Connect to the audience. Of course I said yes but whilst I am very comfortable talking about it, it’s very easy to say what I want on the blog but it’s harder to find the right words when you are saying it out loud and there is no delete key!
I have had the chance to speak about MRKH in open forums twice in the last week, once for a video interview for National Fertility Awareness week (more on that in a later blog) and once for this concert. So I should have been pretty well versed but like a blog a video is easy(ish) there were only two people in the room (the interviewer and the videographer) this was an audience of actual people ranging from small children to those much much older some of whom knew me and knew about MRKH and some that didn’t so finding the right way to say things was a challenge.
Saturday came and in an evening dress (/bridesmaid dress from 6 years ago, thank you Jenny) which this time I made sure I would be able to breathe properly in (corset dresses and flute playing is too much of a challenge even for me!) I stood in front of the audience and played 3 movements from a Bach Partita. The first of which, was of course the hardest, my hands were shaking so much I don’t quite know how I didn’t drop the flute but I got through it and then managed to persuade myself to calm down to play the other two with relatively minor finger fumblings. It comes to something after so many years of playing and then not, and then playing again, that I physically had to write the fingerings for some notes out onto the music so I didn’t forget them.
The second half I was called up to say a few words about MRKH Connect, in my head it should have been a seamless description of the charity, what they do and what MRKH is and why it had a personal attachment to me. In reality it probably came out a little fumbly but I was careful with my wording, conscious of little children in the audience, so I did avoid the use of words like ‘vagina’ and ‘womb’ on this occasion focusing more on the vital support both online and to provide sponsorship for women to attend support groups which the charity provides to women who can’t carry their own child.
I guess the point of this blog is that raising awareness doesn’t have to always be a media driven exercise, albeit the outreach of those is far greater. It can also be on your own terms and something very personal to you, like this was. It was really great to have the opportunity to stand up there and talk in that forum about it and I am very grateful to Rachel and the others, who knew nothing about this condition until I started my blog, for thinking of MRKH.
That in itself shows the power of what the blog has achieved this year
The concert raised £420.44 in the end with 50% going to MRKH Connect which is fantastic so Thank you again Rachel, Katerina, Ellie, Sarah, Sian, Helen, Mike, Sue, Dave (and his amazing shoes) and of course everyone who supported the event.
*Banner image taken from http://emodiva990.deviantart.com/favourites/56796853/Musical-Notes