Tap Your Heels Together Three Times

I spent this weekend by undergoing a massive clear up of almost all of my possessions. I sieved through my documents, all sorts of books, shelves, clothes and shoes. Hard to believe it took me almost the whole of Saturday and half of Sunday to do it. However, I knew it was one of those things that I had to force myself to do, for it would never get done otherwise! As I’ll be going back home again soon, I tried to take that as a good opportunity to bring back some clothes, and other stuff I don’t use anymore.

I found it remarkable how simply going through your things can bring back such vivid memories. For example, I brought here with me my twenty-something year old figurines, all intact. I took them to university to remind me of home and to brighten up my room. But for some reason since coming here, I kept them all in a box. This was the weekend I finally took them out to display again.

I kept a lot of my medical books , as I know I will refer to these from time to time. They have university written all over them, including the ups and downs. This was the literature we had to study just to keep our places.

Whilst going through my pyjamas, (I wasn’t kidding when I said I went through everything), I came across a PJ top which I wore almost all the time at uni. It was a blue one with white clouds, all in one piece, yet I stopped wearing it. I tried to think why so, and then I realised it was because the trouser bottoms became unwearable. The elasticity had gone, it’s time had run out. I looked at this top and really debated whether I should keep it with me, or take it back home. I distinctly remembered one of the times when I first met this guy at university, I happened to be wearing this pyjama top. I went over to his room and asked him to leave me alone, because I was getting these prank calls from him at midnight, claiming to be Arnold Schwarzenegger. Now he’s my boyfriend.

Today was the day I started seeing patients on my own at a surgery. Probably more nervous than excited, I thought that one thing I can try and get right is how I dress. Last week I was wearing what I call my ‘granny cardigan’. It made me look old and small. How convenient it was that I went through all my clothes just a couple of days ago! (Maybe on a subconscious level, it was another reason I wanted to review my clothes).

I came across smart-looking items encompassing blouses and skirts and the such, some I hadn’t worn in a long time, some surprisingly still fitting me and some I’d never seen before! I made the effort and I do think it showed. My colleagues took notice that I looked a little different and I think I was treated as such. Maybe this is the world we live in. I even got complimented by a patient who liked my ‘ruby red shoes’. I assure you they’re not quite as glamorous as in The Wizard of Oz, but hey it paid off.

Why on earth am I rambling on about things, possessions? Does it really matter? Well I think that depends on how you look at it. Sometimes they prove to be more than useful, given the right circumstances (such as my example of work above). However, there are times when I don’t just look at my things as mere objects but as collections, specific to memories from my past. You grow yet they’ll always be the same. They always remind you of where you came from and will always bring you back to a certain point in time. What makes them special? Well like anything I suppose, they always have a story behind them.

The Story of the Funky Pigeon

Apparently today is my one year anniversary of blogging…yay!

I therefore thought it would be nice to share with you a story which my mother told me a few days ago. I call it, the story of the funky pigeon.

It was on a Friday when my mother was getting ready to head out to work. She was already running a little bit late, so her natural priority was to leave on time. Whilst making her breakfast, she looked through the kitchen window and noticed that a pigeon had entered the bird house. The problem was that my dad had built it so pigeons couldn’t get in. How it did was anyone’s guess.

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The bird house in the back garden, taken in the recent few days I was back home

My mum thought that the pigeon might leave the bird house on it’s own, and so left it alone. She carried on getting ready when she looked out of the window upstairs, and saw that it was still there. She now started to worry a little, it was almost time for her to leave! She came out into the garden and used a milk carton (don’t ask me why) to try and shoo the pigeon off. Unfortunately it didn’t budge. She thought that might still be hungry, and decided to let it be for a further five minutes, before trying to take the pigeon out of the bird house herself.

Five minutes later my mum came out to the garden where to her horror, she found scattered feathers on the floor. The pigeon was wounded and a black and white cat was circulating the bird house. It was obvious that it wasn’t going to leave anytime soon.

Now my mother panicked. She shooed off the cat, but realised that if she left home with the pigeon inside the bird house, the cat would surely come back for it, for it knew that the pigeon had nowhere to go. It was trapped and injured. So what did my mum do? What any loving mother would do, she took the pigeon into our home.

The problem however was that it was injured and it needed medical attention. Not knowing how to rescue the pigeon safely from the bird house without injuring it further, she did the next best thing…she brought the whole bird house inside our house.

My mum rang the RSPCA and after explaining what had happened, she was informed that it maybe a couple of hours until somebody would come to take the injured pigeon. Now that she was definitely running late for work, she had to get reinforcements. Who better to be available than my dad, who was almost finishing his early shift! She rang him and after he managed to calm her down, she headed off to work. It was not long until my dad came home and awaited for the RSPCA team. Once they arrived they took the pigeon from the bird house safely and transferred it to their facility, to receive the appropriate treatment.

When my mum told me of this story down the phone, I literally couldn’t believe my ears. I imagined that it was something you could base a mini movie on, and had it running in my head! The fact that my mum carried that tall bird house through the back entrance of the house, with a fluttering pigeon inside shocks me even now. It was a simple yet sweet story about caring for another creature and doing what you can to save it. Yes it was a story of my mother and a pigeon she saved. But it is also a story I would be proud to tell my children.

Sweet Child O’ Mine

Over the past year or so, I’ve had my fair share of conversations with taxi drivers. The majority of them tend to start off in the same way…

‘You off to work?’

‘Yeah’.

‘Oh what do you do?’

‘I’m a doctor’.

Yes, at times it can get boring. It’s the same responses and especially when I’m tired, I prefer to keep my answers brief and read a book instead. However over the past couple of weeks, there have been two chat encounters which I wanted to reflect on, both of which have a recurring theme-the drivers were parents, and they wanted their children to be doctors.

The first conversation involved an driver, who told me that his son had graduated from medical school one year ago, and is now working as a doctor. I congratulated him.

‘So you must be very proud of him. How is he finding it so far?’ I asked.

‘Oh he doesn’t like it, he hates being a doctor’.

It turns out that the driver has always dreamed of his son becoming a doctor, so he saved up to put him through medical school. He paid for his accommodation, travel expenses, petrol, everything. His son, however never wanted to become one. He wanted to study economics. And now he hates his dad for his new found career. I was curious and asked the driver what he would like his son to specialise in…

‘Surgery, I want him to be a surgeon’.

The second conversation involved a driver, who inquired about what type of high school I went to, where I studied medicine and what I specialise in. He then went on to speak about his 3 year old daughter. He explained that he wants her to be a doctor, and has made several attempts to get her interested in science.

‘She can tell you all the planets. We also bought her one of those books about the human body…oh what’s it called?’

‘Anatomy?’ I replied

‘Yes, an anatomy book!’.

I then started to think about how I got into medicine. Did my parents want me to become a doctor? Deep down yes. I think the difference though, was that they didn’t pressure me into becoming one. They didn’t force me to attend medical school, nor did they thrust anatomy books upon me as a 3 year old.

I don’t think I had any real external influences to become a doctor. We don’t have any in my family apart from my grandfather, who passed away long before I was born. But a part of me always knew I wanted to be one, and I couldn’t see myself becoming anything else. I think in the end it comes down to the individual, and there is no point in resenting others for a choice they made. If your parents really want you to become something which you don’t believe is you, why would you go down that path? After all it’s your life you’re living, not somebody else’s.

You’ve got a Friend in Me

What’s the first thing you think of when you read this title? The obvious theme I suspect would be friendship.

What else? Randy Newman? Toy Story?

That’s right…the first thing I think of when I listen to this song is Toy Story.

I always loved the Toy Story Franchise, but today was the day I fell in love with it even more so. This was because today, I stumbled upon some hidden truths.

For those of you who love Toy Story as much as I do, and can spare 17 minutes of your time, I urge you to watch this Youtube clip I came across. I wouldn’t post this unless I truly believed it was important…seriously.

I promise YOU WON’T REGRET IT.

Only recently have we come to find out, the secret which was once revealed by Pixar’s Head Writer Joe Ranft to his friend Mike Mozart. 

It’s hard to believe that the same makers of Toy Story 3 probably didn’t even know anything about this hidden gem of a story, otherwise I doubt that it would have been made in quite the same way.

Run the World

After weeks of training and posts of typing, I’m thrilled to say that I have accomplished another task of the year…I did my first ever marathon.

Having raised £150 for the city’s homeless shelter, I was pumped up, excited and rearing to go. I don’t remember receiving so much support, not just from my family and friends but also from those crowds in the street…it’s not something you ever forget!

Instead of writing about my day, I’ve posted photos and attempted to vlog instead. I think this is my first time actually vlogging, so please excuse any imparted cheesiness!

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A sneaky opportunity to take a quick picture, after tightening up my shoelaces

The above two vlogs were taken 8k into the marathon, 2k left to go!

A few photos taken by the marathon professional photographers…surprising because I couldn’t see many cameras! I think it was around this point I was listening to Noel Gallagher’s ‘Everybody’s on the Run’. 

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The other side of the finish line!

I don’t know why I’m constantly blinking here either

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Some fundraisers for the homeless shelter

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A little memento of marathon trinkets

This was a day I truly enjoyed. Having never done a marathon before (let alone trained for one), it was a totally new experience for me. It kept me fit and it was all for a good cause.  Partaking in this was a golden opportunity for me to raise more money than the loose change I give to strangers on the street.

I’m passionate about reducing the levels of homelessness and helping people get back into the community safely. Everybody has a different story to tell and everybody is living a different life. However in this day and age, nobody should be living on the streets. This was a day of real service and one I am very proud off.

Uganda Healthcare Expedition Part III & Other Musings

It feels like the last couple of weeks have been a little ‘strange’ to me, since coming back to Leeds. There have been days where I was so driven to do things, but there have also been days where I haven’t been quite as motivated. For a while, it felt like time was going so slowly and I was feeling rather blah about things…and it’s only been two weeks!

The first weekend I spent since coming back to Leeds may have been a productive one. This is despite having many movies running on at home, probably too many to count. I was able to sit down and literally brain storm ideas on the whiteboard, for the cervical cancer screening programme I am organising in Bwindi-the objectives, statistics, equipment, screening and treatment options, current infrastructure, collaborators, funding organisations, questions to the hospital, the list is endless.

Despite taking a solid weekend, it felt like for the first time, I was able to create a vision in my head of what the programme should encompass. I have already sourced the equipment in Uganda instead of in the UK as I originally planned, and am looking into funding options for these. I have also been in touch with the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Manchester University and important charities who have expertise in this field of medicine. I’ll admit some responses have been slower or less helpful than others, but I do have some direction of focus. If there’s anything that I’ve learnt, it’s that you should keep going until they tell you no.  I’ll give you an example…

In my previous blog post on the expedition, I mentioned that I was in contact with a gynaecology registrar at the hospital. Unfortunately responses from him thinned out, to the point that I directly made contact with the Royal College itself for advice and about a potential staff training course for the healthcare workers. It was useful to know that this is a pilot, in which they require more information from the hospital. At least I knew this now and in my mind, this still wasn’t a no.

The beginning of last week was probably not one of the best ways to start the week off…my uncle passed away.  I received a flood of text messages from my family asking me to ring them back, and this was unusual for them. Though we weren’t very close, I was still upset. He was my uncle, and every time we made trips to Sri Lanka, he was always there.  I took a couple of days off work though weirdly enough, it felt like I wasn’t present most of the week. However we’re managing to carry on. I found it weird how every time my family asked if I was ok, I actually felt worse. I don’t know if that’s normal, maybe I just wanted some space for a bit.

This week almost feels like things are a little bit normal again. I’ve been trying to get on with things-marathon training (which I recommenced today), chasing jobs for the expedition, reading and establishing a routine again. Yes sometimes I like normal. Normal is trying to keep yourself busy and occupied with something, wanting to wake up in the morning to do it. Its important, it helps you get through the not so nice times, and it can help you feel a little less blah about yourself.

Live Your Life

As I head back to Leeds on the train again, I reflect on how I spent the last few days in my home city, London. I use train journeys as a golden opportunity to recollect the good memories we made at home. It’s always something I can come back to.

I hadn’t been at home in just over two months, and hadn’t seen my family since I did my exam. It was nice to actually spend a few days with them, not just a weekend. In addition to getting a hair cut, I took the opportunity to meet my cousins. A couple came over to see us and I met up with a close one in the city.

I always enjoy going to central London, and this trip was no different. I love the fact that it’s literally a 30 minute trip on the Underground to get there. I met my cousin at around 5pm in London Bridge, at a fresh Italian Pasta restaurant called Padella. Despite the early dinner and neither of us being particularly hungry, we somehow managed to consume 3 pasta dishes, a chocolate torte and a bottle of Prosecco between us! I hadn’t seen her since Christmas, so there was a lot of catching up to do.

After having our meal, we walked across the city centre. Starting at Borough Market, we made our way along the River Thames and passed many London landmarks-Shakespeare’s Globe, the Royal National Theatre, London television centre, the London Eye, Sea life London Aquarium, Dungeons and Dragons, skateboarding sites, the list was endless. Streaks of sunlight were seeping through the clouds still, yet nobody was cold. Everybody looked happy and was in a good mood. We said our goodbyes on London Bridge at around 8.30pm and we went home our separate ways. My understanding is that the London terrorist attacks took place two hours later.

The following morning, after waking up to numerous Whatsapp messages to check people were safe, I went to a barbeque my sister was organising for me and my parents. We were joined by one of my old family friends who I hadn’t seen in almost a year, and her American cousin who I briefly met at my sister’s wedding. I won’t lie, I thought I had felt a little awkwardness between us, maybe because I hadn’t seen her in a long time or maybe because they were guests. However I think it settled…my sister showed us wedding videos (some of them I knew I’d seen before) and we chatted again like old times.

After the barbeque, we drove to my friend’s house where she was staying with her parents, whilst she was back in England. Her house always reminded me of happy childhood memories and the days we used to hang out there. Her cousin was a medical student and talked about the medical school system. He also invited me to come to America. Yay! My first American friend! It was even more lovely seeing her parents again. Her father is a retired GP and I had the utmost respect for him. He had a very good work ethic which my mother always talked about when I was younger, and I’d like to think  that he was proud of me. Hilariously he exclaimed, “ahh Chitra, you look like a 10 year old!”, and we had an energetic conversation. We talked about the hospitals I worked in and he was happy that I can do LPs, (lumbar punctures), stating “yes, you’re a doctor”.

I definitely enjoyed my time in London, I always do. I love trying to make time to see old friends and family, because I want to be reminded of my roots when I tend to forget them. This trip back to London will probably stick to me more, because of what happened in London Bridge. Last time I met up with my cousin was around Christmas time last year. We met up later in the evening and I came home later. What if we decided to meet up at a similar time this year? It’s almost terrifying to think that, and I did lay awake that night thinking about what could have happened.

My mum mentioned that I should stop going to central London often (as if I go often!), and brought up many a time, how I encouraged her to take trips there that very evening, before we heard the news. But really, should something like this stop us from carrying on with normal life? According to her, it almost felt like she believed that. Yes maybe I’ll be a little cautious, but I won’t be living in fear. We have a life to live and we should live it.