23 Aug 2017

what's in my bag #21: work!

Throughout my clinical years at medical school, I've decreased how much I carry around with me. Most of my clothes now have pockets which mean I can fit the bare essentials.


This is pretty much what I carry around with me most days (sometimes in a cross body bag if I can be bothered):

- An A6 Pantone notebook
One thing we're continuously told is that the learning never stops and this is true; hence the presence of this notebook.

- Cards in a Kate Spade holder
Because some days, you just wanted something different and easy for lunch/a snack.

- ID!

- My trusty Lamy Safari in Petrol Blue

- A stethoscope

- A snack (usually some bland crackers for when my blood sugar feels low!)
I try not to snack if I can help it but maybe once or twice a week, when the tank is empty or near empty, it gets eaten.

- Eye drops 
Staring at the computer doing discharge summaries can be harsh on the eyes!


Sometimes, I like to have a bottle of water on me too and will carry this in a bag (along with the bits shown above). It can be so easy to not drink enough during the day so I've been trying really hard to look after myself just as much as I look after the patients.

20 Aug 2017

my week #279

After coming off a mammoth week, I had this week off in return. I spent it catching up with friends, doing some life admin and just relaxing! It's been nice and in a weird way, I'm looking forward to going back to ward work this week.


On Thursday, I met up with a good friend at Dominique Ansel's bakery in Victoria, London. We chose three pastries to share and they were delicious (though pretty pricey!). We opted for the DKA, the Lime Me Up Tart and the Paris-London pastry because the Cronut was sold out by the time we got there. Good company with good food is always a winning combination :)

16 Aug 2017

my summer holiday in canada: vancouver highlights

Last month, I went to Vancouver for a week's holiday. I booked it back in February using some air miles and it was a graduation present to myself for finishing medical school after goodness knows how many years of having this dream. (Though I know that the hard work only begins now...!)

I packed my Instax camera but kept forgetting I had it with me (doh) so only took a few pictures. Here are a selection of them: from the day I left home, to the neighbourhood I was staying in to some amazing views (and botched selfies) on Grouse Mountain.


Tourist Hotspots


My sister leant me her 'Top 10' guidebook and I used it with a pinch of salt. When I went to Stockholm last year, I used it to the T and regretted not doing some random exploring instead. Instead, I only allocated a few days to the guidebook. On one of these days, I went to the Waterfront where Canada Place (the photo above) is. You could see over to North Vancouver from there and little did I know I was also looking at Grouse Mountain - a trip planned for another day.

After wondering around Waterfront for a while, I headed up Granville Road and towards Robson Street where the major shops are. After a spot of food, more walking was done and towards Gastown I went!

Gastown


Gastown was streaming with tourists and tourist shops. It was a pretty part of Vancouver but I was on the hunt for more hidden gems in the city so it felt pretty underwhelming to me. I'm glad I took the time to visit this part of Vancouver though. 

Stanley Park

I have a few friends from Vancouver and they all said the same thing: Stanley Park is a must-do. A detour was taken into the Aquarium where the dolphins, otters, penguins and sea lions were the highlights! 

The park itself is extremely tranquil. Opting to walk the sea wall, the views were incredible. None of the photos I took did the views justice so there are none in this post unfortunately. 

Because walking the park wasn't a long enough distance, I then walked to English Bay Beach. 

Granville Island


As I was staying in Cambie (a suburb south of the city centre), I opted to take the Sky Train to Yaletown and then walk the bridge over to Granville Island - with regret setting in about halfway along said bridge! It was super windy and super high, and as someone with a fear of heights, I spent the whole walk repeating 'don't look down' in my head to myself.

It was worth it though. Graville Island was, again, another tourist hotspot but it was big enough for it to not feel too busy (aside from the public market). There was also a lovely smell of fresh sea air; very different to the London air I'm used to.

I took the bus back to Downtown after though - walking along that bridge once was enough!

Richmond

Richmond is where all the East Asian foods and stores are and I'm not going to lie - it felt like I was in Hong Kong. Cantonese was the main language here, though most shop assistants were bilingual. The best part of Richmond? The many food outlets. My friend, who is a huge foodie, recommended countless places and none of them disappointed.

Grouse Mountain


Before I landed in Vancouver, my main goal was to see some grizzly bears. Whistler is the recommended place for nature but the foodie friend mentioned previously said Grouse Mountain is smaller but just as good in the summer.

I spent a good ninety minutes stalking these two grizzly bears (Grinder and Coola) and got a few cute shots, including the one above where Grinder is looking straight at me. (Grinder is the smaller one.) I did catch Coola having a little bathe in the pond too!


The views were incredible from Grouse Mountain - the Sky Ride up was a tense one but so worth it! I even managed to look down which made my heart pound a bit faster but with it only being a few minutes ride, I decided to take that risk of raising my heart rate ;) 

The view you see above is looking south, over the city centre and beyond. 

But the holy grail picture is the next one...


A photo with the lumberjacks! There is a thrice daily lumberjack show where two guys compete against each other. There was a fair bit of adult humour and quite a lot of kids in the audience which meant some of the jokes didn't get the recognition they deserved. One of my friends, who had visited Vancouver a few weeks' prior on holiday, told me that I really must get a photo with the lumberjacks so I did! 


All in all, the week in Vancouver was more than enough time to see everything, from the hidden spots to the tourist friendly locations. Other places I visited were the University of British Columbia campus, Yaletown and Queen Elizabeth Park. It was nice to get away from London and the hectic nature of my life here but at the same time, I was also happy to come home. Solo traveling is nice but there's nothing quite like being back with friends and family. 

14 Aug 2017

my week #278

This post is a bit late this week as I was on a mammoth 68 hour week! Anyway, I came off nights this morning and now get a week off for my efforts which is nice.

It's been a tough week as I've been asleep when my friends and family are awake and vice versa. And being the only doctor on dedicated ward cover at night is pretty scary! I'm well supported though as my seniors keep reassuring me that I can ask all the questions I want.


How has your week been?

9 Aug 2017

two books: a little princess by frances hodgson burnett and the problem with forever by jennifer l. armentrout

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

As mentioned in last month's review of Goodnight Mister Tom, one of my goals this year is to read three classic novels and here is number two: A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Last year, I read The Secret Garden for the first time (I know, I know, I'm having a second childhood with all these books!) and loved it so it made sense to pick this one up.

The edition I own is the Rifle Paper Co edition and the cover design was totally what made me buy it. The inside is just as beautiful with illustrations dotted throughout the book.


A Little Princess is about a young girl called Sara who grew up in India while it was still a British colony. She is sent to a boarding school in England and although she is used to a life of luxury, is actually very down to earth. However, one day, tragedy strikes and she ends being a poor orphan due to the unfortunate and premature passing of her father. We follow Sara as she is forced to work for free under the Mistress of the boarding school.

What really made this book for me were the illustrations and the cover. The plot was okay though I didn't really warm to any of the characters so the only thing that got me through were the beautiful drawings that would appear once or twice in each chapter. Overall, A Little Princess gets 7/10 from me.


The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout 


I'm going to begin with this: I rarely cry when reading. Even when the plot is designed to try and make the reader shed a few tears, my tear ducts still hold strong. The Problem with Forever is one of the exceptions to that rule (throughout the years, I'm pretty sure this is only the second or third book to make me actually bawl like a baby).

The book centres on two teenagers: Rider and Mallory (or Mouse as she is sometimes called by Rider). They are foster kids who have been through a whole load of terror earlier in their childhood. Separated for the last four years after they were 'rescued' from a home of horror, Mallory now lives with new foster parents; both doctors. She decides to brave public school for the first time after being home-schooled and that's where she meets Rider again.

Cue all the feels.

It is clear the love and affection these two teenagers have for each other. I mean, they already had one things in common: arguably the worst part of their respective lives.

As we find out more about how both of them have coped (or not) in the previous four years, we are also led along a path of heartbreak in the present too. Not only for them but for the other characters too. Jennifer Armentrout also does an excellent job of writing about Mallory's anxiety in a realistic manner and in no way glamourises it.

This is one of the best teen/young adult novels I've ever read and I would not hesitate to recommend it if you like something that isn't your teenage romance novel. The last quarter of the book had me in tears! If I could rate this book more than 10/10, I would but for now, it will have to make do with full marks.

6 Aug 2017

my week #277

So, I've somehow survived my first week! There have been more good moments than bad ones so I'm counting this week as a success. I'm really enjoying the added responsibility compared to when I was a medical student. Being a foundation year 1 doctor is just about being organised and well... You guys know how I feel about that! (I do love a to-do list!)

I now go onto a seven day week which entails 68 hours of work (minimum) so wish me luck! I get a week off after though; a week I'm filling with friends and family.


How has your week been?

2 Aug 2017

beginning a new chapter of my life: goodbye medschool, hello foundation years

Just a mere four years ago, I was preparing for a new degree: Medicine. I still remember my first day at medical school like it was yesterday; from the moment I woke up to the moment my head hit the pillow later that night. And now, I've somehow made it and become a doctor. How time flies? It's scary, yet exhilarating. Nerve-wracking, yet filled with excitement.

Throughout my first two and a half years at medical school, I never thought I'd ever feel ready to be a doctor. Now, with every signature comes responsibility; with every action I do, there has to be justification and with every patient who I care for as part of a team, they'll always remember me as their doctor even if I don't remember them as easily. This is scary. But by the time my penultimate year was halfway through, I began to feel less apprehensive and more appreciative of what a privilege it is to be in this profession. And by the time I came to do my assistantship placements in final year, I felt ready. Even if this is a pretty dark time to start work for the National Health Service (NHS) here in the UK and I touched upon it back in January 2016 here...

A little part of me is sad to no longer be able to say 'I'm only a student' but considering I'm now 26 years old, it's about time I grew up! Over the last four years, boy, have I done a lot of growing. My views on the world have changed considerably, my outlook in life is very different (much more optimistic and less apprehensive of new opportunities) and my self-confidence has increased (though that part of me still has a bit of growing left to do).

These next two years will also fly by; a lot of my seniors reassure (or scare?) me about this. And with them, I intend to grab every opportunity that comes my way; just like I did at medical school. 

For me, I learnt these five things over the last four years that will stay with me forever:

1. Grab every opportunity that comes your way. You may never get that chance again.

2. Say yes to everything (within reason). As a student, if I was asked to insert a cannula/catheter, etc, I never once said no. 

3. Remember to rest. I'm a workaholic by nature and need to feel productive. But I've learned to rein this in from time to time. 

4. You'll never know everything and that's ok... As long as you can admit this and still possess the desire to want to learn more and question everything. 

5. Even in the worst of times, it will be better soon. 

Life is undoubtedly going to get a lot busier for me but I still intend to keep this blog going :)

Above: some Instax films taken when I did a day as a tourist in London; post-finals, pre-foundation programme!