Pandemic Pianos: A musical gift for NHS hospitals

Hello! My name is Alexandra Adams and I am fundraising to get as many pianos into our NHS hospitals as possible, after the life-changing gift of music helped me through my own 14-month hospital stay.

From June 2020 to August 2021 I was bedbound in hospital, as I underwent multiple surgeries and procedures, and contracted sepsis seven times. I also contracted COVID-19 in December 2020, along with pulmonary embolisms and DVTs, the traumas and ordeals of which I experienced affecting my mental health immensely. Since then, I have been diagnosed with some lifelong conditions, including Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, which causes pain, fatigue, and dislocating joints, sometimes multiple times a day. I now rely on portable oxygen 24 hours a day for respiratory muscle weakness, a drainage bag, and use mobility aids; sometimes my wheelchair, sometimes my crutches, to get around, whilst I continue working on rebuilding my strength.

Throughout these 14 months in hospital, it was on the longest, hardest days that my mental health struggled the most. However, I was incredibly lucky that two of the specialist hospitals I spent time in had pianos for its patients and staff. In a time that I couldn’t see relatives, due to COVID-19 restrictions, or go outside, the hospital piano became my sanctuary, and, although I have never been taught how to play piano, I began to teach myself, composing therapeutic tunes to help pass the time and provide distraction from the pain and upset.

The hospital piano hasn’t just benefited me, but also many others too; patients and staff alike. Often, other patients and hospital staff will come and listen to the piano being played, or have a play themselves. To see the joy and respite it gives so many people makes music, in my opinion, the perfect medicine.

Many people know me instead as being the UK’s first deafblind person training to be a Doctor. Whilst I am still journeying through medical school, I have had to swap my role of working in the NHS to being ‘on the other side of the bed’, as a patient, for the time being. This has been particularly hard during COVID-19 times, because I often feel guilty that I am unable to contribute my help and resources alongside my incredible NHS colleagues. Despite this, I want to be able to do my bit, and give back, by returning the love and support our wonderful NHS has given me over these few years, and I endeavour to do this through the gift of music.

As part of my fundraising goals, I am embarking on a personal challenge, by walking the entire length of Wales’ coastal path virtually, over the next 12 months. In this time, I aim to cover the full 870 miles, via a combination of wheelchair, crutches, and eventually even aid-free! This, of course, would not be possible without lots of hard work and the input of the NHS’ amazing team of physiotherapists!

I will be posting regular updates on my progress and mileage on social media (links below to follow!), via interactive maps and a mileage calculator, and in time, hope to start purchasing and installing pianos in hospitals nationwide, so that everyone can enjoy, seek comfort in, and heal, with the medicine of music, through these uncertain and challenging times. In the meantime, if you think your local hospital and/or workplace would benefit from having its own piano for its staff and patients too, please do get in touch!

Thank you for reading!

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Alexandra Adams

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