Reflections on a train

I am halfway through a train journey back to Leeds, after having just spent the weekend with my family. Because of the time it takes to get to London (up to 2 and a half hours on a good day…try hopping onto a train after an exhausting week of long hours!) and the cost of train tickets, I don’t always get to go home as much as I would like to. However when I do go, I really try to make the most of it. I use the time to be with my parents, relax in the house I grew up in and meet up with a select few friends I try hard to stay in touch with. I also use the time I have at home to refresh my mind and remind myself of my London roots again…for example topping up my Oyster card!

I reflect about the things I have been able to do, what I have achieved so far, and more importantly what more I have to do to achieve my goals. When I come home, it’s so easy to not want to go back to work again. Maybe I can do something similar down here, in the comfort of my own home and family and friends.

So why did I leave? Was it because of an appealing location? Well partly yes. Was it to be with my boyfriend, after working in separate locations for two years? Absolutely yes. But then I remember the real reason why I left. If I stayed, I would be too comfortable. I wouldn’t venture off and do things I would have only dreamed off. And yes if I was at home, I would only dream of the things I want to do. Don’t get more wrong, I did spend one year at home after my foundation training, which I spent to go to Peru, Ecuador and Ghana. So I know you can still travel and do things even if you live at home. But I knew that deep down, I would still get too comfortable. I would take home for granted, and I wouldn’t do more for myself, I wouldn’t challenge myself.

Not all my train journeys have been of reflection. Having been forced by my supervisor to return to work for literally one day during the Christmas holiday, I had the honour of meeting the one and only Jeremy Corbyn, whilst on our way home to celebrate New Years Eve!

As I make my way back to Leeds, I am constantly reminded of the fun I had this weekend with my parents, cousins and friends. I came down especially this time to celebrate Dhane, a Buddhist festival to remember the ones we lost. I’m not the most religious but when I am home, I do try extra hard to pray, make the most of it and make it meaningful. Those days when I was super home sick and I had to leave home, I would confide in my boyfriend that I was missing my family, missing home and whichever location I am in, my opinion of the opposite one goes a little sour. I think one of the wisest things he’s said that day (apart from his many other musings!), was that there was no need to be sad. I literally could go back to London anytime I wanted to, nobody is stopping me but myself. Wherever you are, you can always take home with you, each of these locations is providing me with happiness, joy and love. Then it clicked to me, home is wherever you want it to be.

You have your job, and you have your work

Whilst I am at work, I am getting into the habit of saying to myself, ‘This is my job’. Notice how I say job, not work.

Why not work? Because in my mind this isn’t my work. There are elements of my job which I’d like to put into my work, but they’re not the same. A few weeks ago, my boyfriend provided me with some invaluable insight into what entrepreneur Seth Godin once said in his blog post, where it was actually titled “So busy doing my job, I can’t get any work done”. Here is an excerpt from his blog post I want to share with you…

Your job is an historical artifact. It’s a list of tasks, procedures, alliances, responsibilities, to-dos, meetings (mostly meetings) that were layered in, one at a time, day after day, for years. And your job is a great place to hide. Because, after all, if you’re doing your job, how can you fail? Get in trouble? Make a giant error?

The work, on the other hand, is the thing you do that creates value. This value you create, the thing you do like no one else can do, is the real reason we need you to be here…

When things get busy or stressful (sometimes unnecessarily), I find myself saying ‘This is my job, but I have a plan’. And what is my plan? Well you already know that, my plan is to organise a healthcare expedition to Uganda. This is what keeps me going. I have been in touch with the hospital I want to get involved with and have some ideas which I want to put into practice. That is my work.

Seven days in sunny June

Stemming back from my first post on this blog, I wanted to reflect a little bit about my time in Uganda. In the seven days I spent in this beautiful country, I tried to pack in as many activities as I could, including the most amazing gorilla trekking and game safari experiences I have ever experienced (It’s amazing what you can do in 7 days!). One other activity which I found fascinating involved spending an afternoon at Bwindi Community Hospital, which my guide kindly organised upon my request. I was provided with a tour of the hospital by the communications manager based there, and I was enlightened by the work I witnessed there. I became more passionate about their cause and by spending just one afternoon there, I was inspired to get more involved with this cause, and it looks like I’m not the only one…

Stephen Fry at Bwindi Community Hospital in 2008

A few days ago I got in touch with the communications manager, expressing my gratitude for his time that day, as well as my desire in helping him and the team of doctors who work there. He was delighted to receive my email and has expressed a keen interest for me to take part….I just need to think why I want to do what I want to do…that should inspire me to decide how to do it.

I should be so lucky

Today was my first day on the neurology ward, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. Not so much because of the work load or the number of patients to see, but more because of the patients themselves.  I was asked to see numerous patients in our ward round, and one of them involved a lady with multiple sclerosis, who unfortunately relapsed and required admission. The good news was that she responded well to the steroids and we suspected she maybe able to go home soon….I thought she would be happy.

I introduced myself as one of the doctors in neurology and enquired about how she was doing, any new concerns, examined her, checked her obs etc. She later presented me with a list of questions written on an A5 piece of paper….

‘How long should I keep taking the Amitryptilline?’

‘I’ve become incontinent again and I normally self catheterise, should I consider a suprapubic catheter?’

‘I’ve had MS for 22 years, do you know what type of MS I have?’

I read the list, then I looked at her,  and then I looked at the list again…I didn’t have a clue to any of these answers. She could obviously see my idiotic-looking face, but she smiled. I couldn’t help but be honest with her. I apologised for not knowing a lot of her answers, but I reassured her that I will look into her questions and get back to her, filing her questions in the notes. Seeing that she’d written out so many questions, the GP trainee in me had to ask how she was feeling in herself…

‘I know I have MS, but MS doesn’t have me’

In the 4 years I’ve been a doctor, I’ve never heard a patient say anything so powerful. I don’t know maybe it’s just me, maybe you had to be there to really feel it. She then went on to say.. ‘I’m a fighter’, and she burst into tears.

On any ward, you’re consumed with thoughts of keeping the patients stable, getting all the jobs done, trying not to get bollocked by the consultants…you sometimes forget how the patients must feel with their illnesses. It’s a hundred times harder for them, and how they must feel so alone. This was an example of human interaction, something not always encountered in a hospital. What she said to me brought a tear to my eye and I mean that in the literal sense…I was trying so hard not to cry in front of her. I held her hand but I wanted to give her a hug. I offered her reassurance but I wanted to take her home to her family again.

What I’m trying to say is we’re lucky, we have our health, we have our friends and family around and nobody can stop us from doing what we want to do with our lives. This woman, this beacon of strength and courage, who has emotions just like anybody else, taught me one of the most important lessons of my life…be grateful for what you have and make the most of the life you have, because you still can.

 

 

Welcome

Hi there! I’m Chitra and you’re officially reading my blog 🙂 I decided to take the step and write this blog, as a way of documenting my progress in some of the things I hope to achieve. Having just completed 6 months of A&E in Leeds, I want to now dedicate my time to doing the things I really want to do, something which is life-changing and fulfilling not just for myself, but more importantly for other people around the world.

I received a phone call from my boyfriend a few days ago, he had just finished a night shift and it went a little something like this…

‘I have an epiphany!’

‘What? What is it?’

‘Yep! I know now!’

‘Tell me what is it?!’

‘Why don’t you organise a healthcare expedition to Uganda?’

I pause for a second

‘Huh?’

‘Well why not? Tell me why you can’t do it?

You’re probably thinking why Uganda…well it all stemmed from my time in A&E. It unfortunately was one of those places I didn’t enjoy working in. The hours were long, the environment was hostile and I never had time to do my own thing. One day, I was asked to see a patient in resus, a patient presenting with shortness of breath on a background of COPD. Little did I know that when I walked into resus, it was a simulation exercise, with me managing a patient (played by a dummy) by myself, and a nurse by my side. I was surrounded by other senior doctors and observers, not really saying anything, just watching me go down.

Was I embarrassed? Well having never been in resus before, I’d say so! And that was it….sat in the middle of a circle of registrars and consultants going through this assessment in great detail, constantly saying ‘we’re only trying to help you!’, I graciously accepted their criticism and then thought to myself ‘I’m going to break free, I’m going to Uganda’.