Student defies doctors to graduate
A brave student defied doctors orders to complete her degree despite undergoing emergency surgery during her final year.
Holly Thomson graduated from Edinburgh Napier University last week with a Bachelor of Music honours degree.
A brave Cambuslang student defied doctors orders to complete her degree despite undergoing emergency surgery during her final year.
Holly Thomson, 22, graduated from Edinburgh Napier University last week with a Bachelor of Music honours degree.
A talented flautist, Holly suffers from Crohn’s disease which causes inflammation of the digestive tract.
In October, Holly was suffering from extreme abdominal pain and had to be taken to Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital for the vital operation.
She spent two months recovering and amazed both doctors and tutors by refusing to take a year out and completed her course on time.
“It all happened very quickly,” said Holly. “I had been feeling bad before it, I was being sick all the time and had terrible stomach pains.
“I didn’t realise how serious it was, it all came as a bit of a shock.
“I was pretty much told I had to have the operation. I wanted to complete my course first but the doctors said no. It was pretty serious. The doctors and surgeons at the hospital were great, just brilliant.
“I was in about a week but had to recover at home for quite a few weeks.
“I basically had to do all the work I had missed when I returned after the new year. We talked about taking a year out but I didn’t like the thought of coming back for another year.”
The biggest problem Holly faced was physically playing the instrument she specialises in.
“I had to really push myself to catch up,” she says.
“It was really tough just to play the flute. Getting back into it was difficult because of the breathing and the pain in my stomach.”
A former pupils at James Aiton Primary and Cathkin High, Holly was first diagnosed with Crohn’s five years ago.
Despite attending Napier, Holly decided to stay at home so she could receive support from her family and also remain close to her consultant.
That meant she had to travel every day from her home in Morrison Park, a 100-mile round journey that involved two trains and a bus.
She also had to accommodate regular hospital appointments for treatment – received intravenously over a period of several hours – and a string of unplanned hospital stays to stabilise her condition.
“It was quite a shock [when I was diagnosed]. It’s not something you expect, I hadn’t even heard of Crohn’s before.
“The travelling was difficult when I was unwell but I’ve had a great time at uni.The last four years have been brilliant and the university has been so understanding and supportive.”
Holly currently tutors young flautists in her area and plays in several groups including Flutes Unlimited, a flute choir who rehearse in the south side of Glasgow. She hopes to pursue a career teaching music.
Looking back on her graduation, she said: “It was brilliant. It was great to finally know all the hard work is over.”
Andrea Kuypers, Holly’s flute teacher at Edinburgh Napier, said: “I honestly can’t praise her highly enough for what she has achieved. She is a determined and special individual and is modest and quiet about her illness and achievements.
“Even when in hospital, she has spent every minute she can studying on her laptop, and I can honestly say I have never heard her complain.”
Determined Holly found playing her beloved flute especially difficult