About Chitra's Blog

- Doctor - Global health enthusiast - Studio Ghibli fanatic

The Little People

Since coming back to work, I feel like I’ve been getting more frustrated with things, situations if you will. I think it all kicked off the day after I came back. I was pretty home sick with missing my baby nephew (and still am) and getting back into the work force was no treat. As everyone’s deadline for finishing off assessments was coming up, it didn’t surprise me how angry I was at the outcome a trainer gave me for one assessment. I didn’t know where it came from or the reasoning behind it, but being my nice little self I didn’t retaliate. I just did something way more productive instead-stayed in a bad mood all day.

I came home and it was still bothering me, and then it dawned upon me. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in this job, it was that it’s ok to be nice, but it’s not ok to be a pushover. So I wrote back, explaining why I wasn’t happy with my grade. I didn’t expect anything from it, but I just couldn’t keep quiet.

The next day I clearly bit off more than I could chew. Not only had I arranged my meeting with my main supervisor, but I also decided to do a compulsory out of hours shift that evening, which finished quite late. Coming home I was naturally exhausted, but I felt that I couldn’t take any time off-it was my fault I had arranged things in the last minute. But it was the next day that I was really hit hard.

After somebody declined to do an assessment with me, despite initially agreeing to do so, I was distraught.  Petty really, it was something so simple. But I realised that if you’re overworked and underappreciated, it can take just one little thing to tip the balance. It really upset me how there were just two of us that day including myself, who’d worked the evening before… yet I was previously declined time off.  I also did another late shift that day…like I said, I bit off more than I could chew.

I thought things were looking up by the end of the week. I suddenly received apologies that day for getting incorrect outcomes on assessments. I mean, I had to stand up for myself, otherwise who else will? It was at that time, when I thought that I may have finally earned a degree of respect. I didn’t think it was too much to ask for.

However, I realised that no matter how long you work in a place, some things just don’t change, and I think that got to me today. Things will be thrown at you, really some time- consuming things you don’t always have time for, but the man power is there so it’s used up. I hate being used. You know the system isn’t right, but you can’t change anything. You’re a junior doctor. It is how it is.

Yes this post is a bit of a rant, but I thought I needed to write it all down pen to paper to try and figure out exactly why I was feeling this way. I learnt that you can have certain expectations of people, and one of them is expecting them to care. Only then can things maybe change. However this isn’t always the case. It may have taken me some time to realise but now I know, even after all this time. I have to constantly keep telling myself that as Seth Godin has said, ‘no one’s coming’. Now I don’t expect anything.

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Baby on Board

These past few days back at home have been simply delightful-because not only did I get to see my family, but I had the pleasure of meeting my baby nephew for the first time! 

The day I arrived in London was the first time I met him. I didn’t really do too much as soon as I got home-it was more about grocery shopping with my dad, unpacking the suitcase and relaxing from the journey. However later that afternoon when my sister was a little more free (as can be) and my brother-in-law returned from work, we headed over and I gleaned over the little bundle of joy for the first time-he was just over two weeks old! I’m not all for putting up baby pictures on the Internet, but seeing as this photo shows the first time I ever met my only nephew, I couldn’t help it :p My sister may not be the best photographer (see how bits of our heads are missing?) but it’s still as special to me 🙂

The rest of the bank holiday weekend was filled with good eats and baby feels, whether it was hitting the high street and IKEA with my parents (standard) or hanging out at my sisters on baby duty (there were many :D). It was a very productive and happy few days, and I’m so chuffed that I’m now officially an aunty. Have a good bank holiday weekend! 

As usual, a little snapshot of the things I purchased this weekend. Every time I see a nice photo frame I like, I buy it. It’s not too fancy but it grabbed my attention compared to some of the others…I may even put the above photo in it. PS guess which item came from IKEA? :p

The Difference

As I head back on the train to London to meet my baby nephew for the first time, I continue to reflect on the events of the week thus far. I was almost about to not post this entry, as I understand that what I’m about to say maybe controversial. But I realised that a blog is about expressing yourself, sharing and exchanging your thoughts with others (even at the risk of disagreement). Otherwise, why bother?

This week was basically what I call a catch  up week-completing the assignments, doing the extra “out of hours” shifts and getting my teaching presentation ready for my peers.

Usually on the day of our teaching, we gather around and talk about any topics of interest and things the others may have recently encountered.

Our group leader had asked us: 

“What do people think about prescribing OTC meds?” (Over the counter)

No one said anything for a good few seconds, though there were a few exchanged glances across the room. I never usually say anything in these sessions. If I can help it, I try not to make a fuss. But when I do feel strongly about something, I don’t keep quiet. So I said…

“If they can afford cigarettes then they can afford paracetamol”

I realise this was a rather controversial thing to say. But I believed it to be true. I could see that the others were surprised with what I said, but I did see some nods around the room. This was followed by the leader of the group, who went on to say:

“You’re not going to survive for long where you’re at”.

The only thing I could come back with was that I had made it through 9 months at my post, and I only had 3 more to go. The others had later laughed along with what I said, realising that there maybe some truth to it.

They then went on to talk about the marshmallow experiment. This is something we’re all familiar with, but I have extracted an excerpt from Wikipedia which gives a nice summary about what it actually is:

The Stanford marshmallow experiment was a series of studies on delayed gratification in the late 1960s and early 1970s led by psychologist Walter Mischel, then a professor at Stanford University. In these studies, a child was offered a choice between one small reward provided immediately or two small rewards if they waited for a short period, approximately 15 minutes, during which the tester left the room and then returned. (The reward was sometimes a marshmallow, but often a cookie or a pretzel.) In follow-up studies, the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment, body mass index (BMI), and other life measures.”

Our group leader told us the story, to justify why she disagreed with me, but I didn’t see how exactly. To me, it only reinforced self discipline. She said that “we shouldn’t be judgemental” about some of the choices people make. People from such deprived areas “would rather pick up the cigarettes today and die tomorrow, because that’s the only choice they have”. I was confused-where exactly were we? Iraq? Congo? Maybe they needed to read “Viktor Frankl’s Man Search for Meaning”.

I wanted to say something but I realised that would be me making a fuss, worse that I’d already created. Everybody has a choice, it’s called taking responsibility. It shouldn’t matter where your from. You have the power to make your life incredible and worthwhile. More than half the world’s innovators came from deprived backgrounds, living on the streets or sleeping in their cars.  

I just couldn’t help but realise that it’s so easy to describe people as victims, rather than admitting unwise choices which could be detrimental.

Working for the Weekend

How did you spend your bank holiday weekend this month? I actually had quite an enjoyable one (for once not work related!), so I thought it might just be nice to talk about it here!

Whilst I was studying, one of the programmes that would run on TV was the Channel 4 programme “Four in a Bed”. I never really got into it before until this time, and we’d joke about that one day, we’ll go to a bed and breakfast and check that it was spotlessly clean!

After the good news of the week, we thought about how we could celebrate. And then it occurred to me…why don’t we step it up a notch? Why don’t we go to a hotel? Not for a conference or for a night’s stay before the day of an exam, but purely because for the hell of it.

Yes it was happy days!

We booked a Saturday night’s stay at the beautiful Hyatt hotel. I’d only stayed there for a night as part of a conference about two years ago.  I purposely chose to go there because there was a gorgeous spa and unfortunately there were no free slots the last time I went. I planned our spa treatments the night before we left and I was psyched.

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The serene entrance to the spa 🙂

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This was such a whole new experience for me, that I was sad enough to take a photo!

I got the ESPA Salt and Oil Scrub, followed by the joint Swedish massage. Following this, I got the bog standard thing most ladies do, but which I’ve only ever had done once in my life-a professional manicure!

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Remember ‘the bend…and snap!’?! No we didn’t do that, but it was nice just to gossip with the masseuse about some of her clients!

Pretty nails!

All in all it was a wonderful weekend, which included a lot of pampering, TV and good eats!! But once we got back on the Sunday evening, we didn’t want to end things there.

We decided to enjoy the Monday by doing something a little more local and humble-go to the park. Instead of doing our bits at home, we realised that we could do all these things in the beautiful outdoors. So we grabbed a rug and headed for the outdoors to read, write and sip on ice cold coffees!! I hadn’t taken too many pictures of the park, but heck it was so beautiful and everyone was in such a good mood, that I squeezed in a couple of shots just to capture the moments.

We didn’t take the photo to market Ray-Bans…it was just really sunny!

Until the next bank holiday weekend!

Can’t Knock Me Down

I’m back! And I’m so glad to be here. These past couple of months have been some of the most stressful, busiest and miserable, that I hadn’t dedicated as much time to writing as I’d like to.

Since the events surrounding my exam, it felt like for a while I couldn’t come back from it. After about a couple of weeks of feeling rotten and self pity, I realised that I had to get back on track if I had any chance of passing the exam next time.

The hardest thing for me was critiquing myself. Not only this but I also had to work on my confidence… this was seriously knocked off (more so). I tried to think about how should I go about this and then did what most people do when they’re stuck-go on YouTube.

I remember literally youtubing “how to be confident TED lecture” hoping there was something there I could learn from…and low and behold there was!

This video became part of my morning routine every day for two months. I had to keep reminding myself of this gold dust knowledge and whenever my confidence was affected at work (which did happen)…I’d keep this on.

I’d get emails from the deanery which almost felt like they were sending their condolences for my failure. It was heart breaking and non of which instilled any confidence in me. There was some talk about the deanery getting more involved to help me pass, as they’ve done with other trainees, but this never happened. I wasn’t expecting any miracles from them, infact the opposite…and this was nicely demonstrated by a harsh email I was cc’d in from the deanery.

Ironically on the day I got this email, I was introduced to the works of author and entrepreneur Seth Godin and what he said really struck a cord with me…

Don’t wait to be rescued, no one’s coming. 

I realised I was playing the victim. I was called “fragile” and though that might have been true, I hated being called that. That wasn’t the me I knew from university and that wasn’t going to be the me now either. I had to be the hero of my own story, I had to be a survivor.

I read the book the above YouTube video was based on. I also bought the wristband which the video talks about and wore it to work every single day (and still do). If I felt rubbish and lost focus, I looked at my band “my self affirmation” as Dr Joseph calls it and kept going. I persisted at work and studied at home. I almost isolated myself from the others, keeping myself to myself and my head down.

Over the past few weeks my trainer had dropped me for another trainee to help his needs. I tried not to let it bother me too much. Plus, I had better things to focus on. To a certain extent, it may have worked out for me.

It was this alternative trainer I was assigned to that introduced me into the world of “Mindfulness” i.e how to be in the moment and not lose focus.

I was introduced to this video three days before the day of my exam. It could have well saved me. I did this meditation on the morning of my exam and it made me look at the whole experience completely differently-instead of getting nervous I was calm. Instead of worrying what could happen I was quite excited about what could potentially happen instead. I pictured myself passing the exam and being a winner (like Arnie or Tony Robbins), not worrying about any consequences. I reframed the situation entirely.

Thankfully all these tips paid off and I passed my exam. So yes this week has been a good one, after so many awful ones. But I didn’t write this to brag. Far from it. It was to collate everything I learnt over the past couple of months and to share with you things which you may wish to benefit from too…especially if you’ve ever been knocked down.

Just some songs which I think people can relate too…I’ve been a little out of date with my songs of the month, so I’ve made up for it with two of my faves instead

Flambé time

Just to take a little twist on things for a bit, I decided to write about a dish we tried at home, towards the end of last year. Its one by the legendary Julia Child called Crepes Suzette…definitely worth trying. In the kitchen was me, my boyfriend and Mrs Whiskers.IMG_20171125_155357

 ‘What are we making today?’

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‘I’ll just make myself comfy over here’

You’ll need the following ingredients for 12 crepes:

For the batter:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs

For the orange butter:

  • The zest of two oranges
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons orange liqueur (we used Grand Marnier)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice

For the Flambé:

  • 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange liqueur
  • 1/4 cup cognac (we used Courvoisier)

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‘Well this looks rather interesting!’

Whilst the butter is melting, mix the flour, water and milk with a whisk. Once melted, add the butter to the mixture, followed by a pinch of salt and three whole large eggs. Mix well.

It should look a little something like this. Allow this to rest so the flour absorbs the moisture. We kept it in the fridge for at least 10 minutes.

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Brush a thin layer of sunflower oil onto your non stick pan.

Then begin making your crepes! It’s really up to you how thick or thin you want them to be, but it helps to swirl the pan to keep the crepes even throughout. Wait for about a minute until the bottom is just brown and then flip it over, to brown the other side for roughly 30 seconds.

Once you’ve made the crepes keep them to one side. Its now time to make the orange butter…

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Add the zest of two oranges to 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. Blitz for one minute. Once done, add 1/2 pound of unsalted butter and continue blitzing.

I like fancy bottles 🙂 Add three tablespoons of the orange liqueur followed by 1/2 cup of orange juice to the mixture. And yes…just keep blitzing.

And that’s your orange butter done! Now we’re coming onto the final stage…The Flambé!

Add your orange butter to a hot pan and allow it to boil down, almost caramalising it into a syrup. This should take about 5 minutes.

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Next, bathe and baste your crepes in the orange butter. You should be able to fit about 12 in the same pan by folding them into triangles (i.e. half then half again). JC calls them ‘wedges’. Sprinkle on one tablespoon of sugar, followed by a 1/4 cup of more orange liqueur…followed by a 1/4 cup of cognac!

We’re up to the final cooking stage now! Be very careful to light the cognac…I clearly wasn’t brave enough to do this.

 

Almost done I promise! I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say that no dessert would be complete without its cocktail.  This is called ‘Midnight in Paris’.

Add 25ml of the cognac (I wasn’t kidding when I said I liked fancy bottles) to ginger beer (however much you want really).  Add an orange piece and that’s it!

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A refreshing assortment of drinks 🙂

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Et voila! As always, I hope you enjoy making this delicious dish, as much as you will enjoy eating it 🙂

The World Ain’t All Sunshine and Rainbows

This is quite a hard post for me to write. But I figured that if I did, I could overcome what has been an awful past few days- and just maybe put things into perspective.

The reason why I hadn’t blogged for quite some time was that I was hitting the books hard with a membership exam coming up. Books, study, practice and the like… Unfortunately it hadn’t paid off this time, and I failed.

Utterly gutted by a few marks off I was devastated and still am. The results came out on the Monday evening and once I found out,  I was terrified to go into work the next day. I wondered what people thought of me. Word had got around but everybody was very supportive. Having said that, as soon as someone came up to me to give me a rub in the back, arm around the shoulder or a holding of the hand, I’d wait until they left the room, only to burst into tears. I’d let down everybody’s expectations and in the one few times I tried to believe in myself, my faith was shattered.

Yes this may sound like an overexaggeration of things, but it’s just how I’ve felt and I know it’ll hopefully pass. I know I’ve done harder exams during medical school under much different circumstances-I was 18, I was in another country and I was at the risk of being kicked out (there were 90 medical students in the first year, 23 of us graduated). My family needed to remind me of this, and that it really isn’t the end of the world.

My boyfriend mentioned ‘We said that one day we’ll look back at medical school and laugh about it. One day we’ll look back at this exam and also laugh about this’. Are there times when I don’t do anything and my mind wonders back to this failure? Sure. But maybe everybody does that.

The thought of what others think about me runs in my mind still (so says the person who’s blogging about her failure). Helpful quotes have however, tried to keep me going.

Do your best, forget the rest –Tony Horton

Don’t care what the others (trainees) think, just give the world the finger-My trainer

This is a skill I still need to work on, not giving a da** of what the others think.

I don’t know why else I decided to share this really. It was probably just to put it all down in writing, and one day be a distant memory. Plus, I’m kinda used to blogging about the not so great side of life too…remember the burglary?

Every morning this week I’ve woken up with the thought-‘I failed’. Now that I’ll have to get back to it again, when my heart sinks (which I’m sure it will do many a time)…I will try and remember this:

I love Rocky 🙂