A job - thanks to Emma@Work
Through Emma@Work, a non-profit temp agency for young people with a chronic illness, I managed to get a job at Rabobank Foundation. I'm really pleased about that, because otherwise I might still have been unemployed. Finding a job isn't easy when you've got a long-term illness or a handicap.
If my health had been better, I would have liked to start my own business. And I would, of course, have completed my studies. Unfortunately, that wasn't possible. I had completed a course of vocational training for the tourism sector at technical college, but during my first year at Uni, studying Trade Management Asia, I found out that I had pulmonary hypertension.
Pulmonary hypertension is a rare, progressive disorder of the blood vessels in the lungs. The blood pressure in and around the lungs is too high, making physical exercise difficult. Climbing stairs, playing sport and lifting heavy weights is very tiring and takes a lot of energy. I have symptoms like fatigue, lack of energy, tightness of the chest and I am short of breath.
I have to take a lot of medicine to keep the symptoms under control. No-one knows what caused my illness, so I don't know how rapidly my health will deteriorate. I think that will also depend on my own attitude. At the moment, everything is reasonably stable and I really can't complain. But that is often because I always keep smiling, just as I did before.
Who is Ashley?
I am 24 years of age and live at home in Amsterdam with my mother and my brother. If I didn't have this illness, I would be leading quite a different life. Then I would be nearly finished at University. I would also still be able to take part in sporting activities. I can still manage a lot of the other things I used to do, but I have to take it easy. Having an illness like this is no fun, especially when you know what it's like to be healthy. Some days I get angry and sad, those are my "dip days". I am beginning to accept it, but it's not easy and I have to come to terms with it step by step.
If I can just demonstrate my talents, I believe that I would have the same chances as healthy people. Apart from my illness I am just an ordinary person and I take a full part in society. I don't want to be labelled as useless just because I'm not entirely healthy. I may not be able to do some things any more, or not as well as I used to, but I can still make a contribution.
Through Emma@Work, I got a job as hostess at the Floriade. I was welcoming Rabobank Foundation's guests from the Sunflower Foundation [Zonnebloem]. Now I'm doing clerical work for Rabobank Foundation. I would like to say the following to any other young person with a disability: Try to keep being as upbeat as possible. Everyone has their bad days, of course, but a positive person makes a better impression which lingers longer.
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