Uganda Healthcare Expedition Part V

I’ve been spending this weekend back home in London. Unfortunately, it didn’t start off quite so smoothly…

I developed a bout of conjunctivitis towards the end of the week, and was slowly recovering from that. It was also on the Friday when I headed to London, that I heard about the terrorist incident at Parsons Green earlier that morning. People were naturally more cautious about their travels and that included me. What made things more difficult, was telling my family that I was going to the Uganda-UK convention in central London the next day. They were NOT happy.

While I was brainstorming on the train, and trying to think of what I would like to achieve from the convention, I received a certain-toned phone call from the family, asking about the sort of convention I was attending.

Then that classic saying came along:

“We’ll talk about this when you get home”.

No, not an unfamiliar saying. But if anything, it probably fired up my drive more so. Listening to some of my favourite movie themes (yes, this includes How To Train Your Dragon), I was even more focused in my planning for the convention!

I tried to think why it is that parents don’t want us to do certain things. Do they think differently from us? Do they feel like they are losing us? Are they worried that we could fail? Maybe all those things. Or maybe, we’re supposed to be “settling”.

I don’t think such a thing as “settling” exists. To settle and accept things as they are, almost means giving up on life. I actually think that’s somewhat disrespectful to life itself. To strive, however and whatever you decide to pursue, means to live life to the fullest. If you choose to be of service to others, why shouldn’t you? Anything which increases your options is a good decision. If you do the same actions, you’ll get that same results. If you do different actions, you’ll have a different life.

So I went.

After an early morning wake up (6.45am on a Saturday morning is early for me!), I got ready and headed out. The convention itself was quite easy to get to, only a few stops on the underground and just a couple on the railway. Once I got there I signed in, was given my pass and waited around…unfortunately for a long time! It turned out that not only I had gotten there ridiculously early (I thought 9am was quite decent!), but they were running very late. The hall where the convention was being held at was divided into two parts. The front consisted of the stage, the tables at the front and the stand alone seats at the back. Behind were all the exhibition stands. The people who attended were spread across the two parts, though the exhibition area was naturally much louder! Before you realise people approach you, and you can’t help but network as well-exchanging contact details and dishing out calling cards (I was probably one of the few who DIDN’T have one, I don’t think your NHS smart card quite qualifies!).

Sneaky photo before the crowds came

Before the rest of the people arrived 

The chairman opened up the convention with a saying I thought was clever, in the context of us being allowed to use our phones to take pictures!

“Life worth living is one worth recording”.

The convention commenced with the singing of the Ugandan National Anthem. This was soon followed by various speeches given by many distinguished invited guests-such as the Ugandan High commissioner to the UK, and the Vice President of Uganda, Edward Ssekandi.

Vice President of Uganda Edward Ssekandi giving his speech 

One of the presentations which interested me more so, was delivered to us by Dr Ian Clarke-a physician, philanthropist, entrepreneur and the chairman of the International Medical Group. I found his work inspiring, particularly how he used agriculture from his roots to keep his medical work sustainable. I adored his motto:

“Sustainable Development with Social Impact”

I was very fortunate to have a face to face meeting with him, which was just as well as I missed a part of his presentation (because it was during his presentation that we had to register to meet with a specific speaker…funny that!).

The meeting itself was a delight! I had my notebook with my questions written and my pen at the ready, to write haste his answers and advice. However I soon as I sat down, I didn’t even look at my notebook properly. It didn’t seem all that appropriate. I asked just one question, and the rest of the time we just chatted away, completely informal and relaxed. He was taken aback that I was a doctor, as I think he thought like many others, I was seeking for an investment! It was almost like we were uni friends, getting to know each other and comparing notes about medicine and life. I felt absolutely honoured that we spent the length of time we had talking. To me he was like a celebrity, and it was probably my highlight of the convention!

After leaving the meeting room, I walked through a very crowded hallway where out of nowhere, a calling card flung across, hit my face by accident and landed on the floor. I picked it up and didn’t think much of it when a gentleman said:

“I’m really sorry, did that hit your eye?!”

“No no it didn’t, not to worry”

“Oh then you can have it!”

Suddenly there was a loud uproar of laughter and I couldn’t help but join in. But it wasn’t until I left the hallway, that I realised who the card belonged to-the Ugandan High Commissioner!

After a cup of tea and a croissant for lunch (the queue for lunch was incredibly long and I didn’t have the stomach to wait), I managed to speak with some other people in the crowds, before taking my seat at the table. The lecture after lunch was provided by a Ugandan Physician, which captivated me yet again. She first talked about the Diaspora in Uganda. Ignorant as I am at things, I had to look this up. She then spoke about how the healthcare system there is “corrupt and broken down”, and that a lot of work still needed doing. This was followed with a story, one which almost brought me to tears…

A senior physician at her hospital became unwell and needed a ventilator. Unfortunately the ventilator broke down and he was deteriorating. “Hospital X” where he was staying would not let him go to “Hospital Y” to receive treatment via their working ventilator, until he and his family paid the fees. This was in the hundred thousand region and despite appealing to the administration, they would not let him go. “The fees were coming in but his health was getting worse”.

Once the payment was made to Hospital X, Hospital Y refused to take him in. This was because he now needed to pay for the ambulance, and this was even more expensive (in the millions region). SOMEHOW they managed to get this payment sorted and thankfully, he was transferred across. Maybe it was the way she told us this story (which is far better than how I am saying it here), but this sorry horrified me and I was heartbroken.

After a couple more speeches I decided to call it a day. I had taken more than enough knowledge and insight than I could have hoped for and decided to head back, to spend the rest of the day with the family.

My trinkets from the day ūüôā You could only speak with the guest speakers if you applied for a VIP pass-so worth it! 

Attending this convention only reinforced what I want to do with my life. There are many messages which I took home with me, but one of my favourites still is this one, which was mentioned by the Ugandan physician. It couldn’t be put more simply:

“It was just something different and that’s what I chose to do”

Advertisements

Much Ado About Somethings

Why is blogging good for you? Here are some reasons I found:

  • It reduces stress and blood pressure
  • It improves the immune system (don’t ask me how!), mood and memory

There are few things that I’ve been meaning to write about. They’ve sort of accumulated over the last couple of weeks, but I’ll try my best not to ramble on too much!

I’m starting to look closer at what I eat. I couldn’t help but notice what I found displayed at my new practice. It’s advice advocated by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (The FAO), but I don’t really know what I make of it.

IMG_5305

I agree with some of the portion sizes displayed. But why is the yellow carbohydrate section so big? Shouldn’t the red protein section be a stand out portion too, even more than the carbs? That’s what athletes focus on. I know with most published guidelines you have to tailor them to the individual. As everybody is different, it’s interpretation will also vary. This would be mine.

I showed this above diagram to my boyfriend. He then gave me the idea of creating a list of foods that I could focus my meals on. But the difference is that this list must include food that I actually enjoy eating, not food I should enjoy eating.

img_53432-e1503841017633.jpg

My makeshift list of favourite foods I love to eat. You’ll notice that fish is the only meat I have written. That’s because I’m a pescatarian.¬†

I then tried to think how I could incorporate some of these items into an ideal lunch. One that I can take to work that is filling, and will last until dinner time.

IMG_5408[1]

Oats, chocolate protein powder, milk, yoghurt and banana slices. I later added variations such as honey over the bananas. DELISH!

My food musings was the first thing I wanted to talk about. The second thing was work.

I’ve started running my own surgeries, which include the standard morning and afternoon sessions. I’ve done similar surgeries before at a different practice, but for some reason how I look at it all is changing. I think it maybe because of the experience I am accumulating over time, including the increasing number of patients I see. The partners have even got me running the 6-8 week baby check clinics. I do enjoy this added responsibility, because it adds a bit of variety to the day. I think my maturity is also boosted by the added bonus that I can now drive! A particular happy moment I recall was at the end of a busy Thursday this week. I had my raincoat on, my doctor’s bag in one hand and my car keys in the other. I felt so grown up, as I said goodbye to the receptionists at the end of the day.

img_5482.jpg

My first attempt at reverse parking at work, courtesy of my boyfriend-who taught me how to do it

I’ll admit when I first started working here I was naturally nervous. It had been a while since I was in a general practice setting. I was however, taught another invaluable lesson by my boyfriend…accept that you won’t know everything. It was only once I accepted that, that I found myself letting go of my insecurities. I went with the flow of the surgery and whilst I sought appropriate advice, it went much smoother. Maybe that also applies to life-it can turn out smoother when you learn to let things go.


I thought I’d end this post by uploading a simple photo of how we’re spending our bank holiday weekend…by good eats! Yay! Have a good weekend :))

 

Uganda Healthcare Expedition Part IV

After a fun couple of days of vegetarian home cooking (burgers and lasagne!), I had a few days off work and so set off to London. I was a little lazy at home but at the same time, hung out in the high street and enjoyed the summer sales!

IMG_5139

The view from the top floor of the bus, the best seat in my opinion!

IMG_5148

My sales items, totaling £62.75

It was also a good opportunity to meet up with a family friend, one who I’ve known for almost 25 years.

It was on the day that I met up with her, that I had an appointment with the dental hygienist in the morning. Just a typical appointment which I had booked the day before…or was it?

Everything was going pretty normal. My teeth were being inspected and the dental hygienist was doing a ‘deep clean’ on them, when his phone rang and he answered accordingly.

‘Oh I’m very sorry but I had to take the phone call’

‘That’s ok’ I replied.

‘Yeah it’s from Uganda’

‘Oh really?’

It was at this point that my voice changed to one of excitement. Of course I let him finish off the session, and then we talked about all-things-Uganda. We spoke about my trip there last year, his origins there and what we were both hoping to do. I told him about what I was setting up and interestingly, he told me about his plans to improve the dental hygiene there. We exchanged contact details and I left soon after. The very next day, I received an email from him.

He alerted me of the Uganda-UK Investment Convention which is scheduled for this year. I don’t know if I would have even be aware of it, if it wasn’t for the dental hygienist! Did I sign up for it? Well of course I did. I considered it a sign that he was there! Interestingly, I was contacted by two key organisations soon after-The Ministry of Health in Uganda that day, and the RCOG the next day.

So yes, things are still going. My next steps are:

  • Look into fundraising and obtaining the medical equipment.
  • Once this is done, we can set up the services for the cervical cancer screening programme and look into keeping it sustainable.
  • Make plans to go to Uganda towards the beginning of next year.

I wanted to end this post by sharing a Youtube link, because of the impact it has on me every time I watch it. I find it very inspirational, focusing the importance of creating change and making a difference in people’s lives. This is what I want to do.

Gary Vaynerchuk in Ghana, a country I have been to previously and love dearly. The ending of this vlog almost always gets to me. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did ūüôā

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.

What to wear, what to wear!

Over the past few weeks, I feel like I’ve been making more of an effort to dress up nicer. I thought to myself…why have I become influenced to do so?

I think one reason is that I have a little more time to myself. Somehow I make the time to dress better, though I wouldn’t describe myself as spending hours on it, that ain’t my style. I’ve noticed that on the days I put more effort, they just turn out better. This is because of my thought of that day:

‘Even if I have a bad day today, at least I looked good’

I’ve started to understand a sense¬†of style I’d like to develop. I did some research into outfits, by mainly looking at how other women dress, and seeing if their clothes appeal to me. Then I try to imagine if their style suits me.¬†I admit I don’t buy a lot of clothes often, actually rarely, maybe once in a few months. So when I do go shopping, I try to buy items which could resemble an outfit, and mix and match with some other clothes I have.

IMG_4725

Here’s one example of a style I like. Though I’m 5 ft 2 inches tall, these skinny jeans do make me look taller. I ¬†have also learnt that for shorties like me, boots & a short skirt¬†work well!

So that’s clothes sorted..what’s next?

Let’s go onto make up.

To be honest, I haven’t purchased much make up in the past few weeks, because I’m happy with what I’m using currently. My make up range is rather limited: moisturiser (if you can call that make up), eye liner and lipstick. Eye liner is a must. I rarely leave the house without it on. Because I usually wear glasses, I need something to bring out my eyes more. I’m also lucky to receive nice compliments about my eyes from others (my family always say I get them from my mum), so I do like to flaunt them a little. I went through a ‘lipstick phase’ a few months ago (not weeks), following my love of the American hard rock group Halestorm. I admire the lipstick shades of the lead singer Lzzy Hale, and I think that because she’s so iconic, I was further influenced to purchase some lipsticks of my own. I went for the MAC lipsticks: ‘Russian Rouge’¬†and ‘Mehr’.¬†

IMG_4734

It was this music video, ‘Familiar Taste of Poison’ that got to¬†me. It’s rather ironic how I was influenced to buy the lipsticks, considering the¬†storyline!

Shall we move onto hair?

A couple of things spring to mind. I recently invested in a clipless hair curling wand from Aria Beauty. I’ll be honest, this wasn’t planned. We were walking down the mall in the city centre, when a friendly Romanian lady approached us and asked if I wanted ‘something done’. I didn’t even know what it was at the time, she was talking very fast!

‘Come with me, I’ll do something for free! You won’t regret it, it’s free!’

I figured that whatever product she was selling wasn’t obviously free. She was however providing a free service of some sort. I just looked at my boyfriend who was next to me. She was really nice, and I found it hard to say no. ¬†The curling wand was on discount and, well I’ve never had curly hair before.¬†Her sales tactics worked.

IMG_4735

  End result!

Not only was I loving the new curls, but I now knew how to curl my hair, thanks to the saleswoman. Over the past few weeks, I also fantasised about highlights. These ranged in many colours: from blue (yes blue), to purple, to ‘copper red’. Having spent the past few days in London, I decided to make an appointment with the hair dressers in my home town. Whenever I get a hair cut, I like sort it out at home (even if it rains almost every time!). ¬†Having said that though, ¬†I haven’t had a haircut in almost two years, despite coming back to London several times, terrible!

In addition to getting a basic trim (I wasn’t looking into getting layers like I have done before), we discussed highlights. I learned that in order to get blues and purples, you need to¬†bleach¬†your hair. No, I didn’t know this. I don’t think it’s supposed to be that bad (I need to do more research), but that term just horrified me! We then talked about copper red as an alternative and as a first timer, I nervously accepted this treatment. Despite some variation in my hair colour, it unfortunately didn’t fully stick, just because my hair is apparently too dark for it. The only way to get this colour highlight was to still bleach my hair. I’ll be honest I wasn’t¬†that desperate, so we just stuck to the classic wash, cut and blow dry. No matter, lesson learnt.

Interestingly, it was my boyfriend who mentioned about getting hair extensions. I mean, if I was still interested in getting highlights, why don’t I try this? It’s quick and easy, and you can still keep your natural black hair. Yes I’ll be looking into this.

Last thing I promise! Nails.

Having migrated out of hospital posts, the dress code now tends to be less strict in the community. This gives me the perfect opportunity to have pretty nails! I had a select number of colours. This includes your standard classic red nail polish, your black one, and your gold and silver ones. The top coat nail polish is a must for that glossy shine…and if I’m not mistaken I think I can use my one as a base coat.¬†Though I had a few others, I wanted to expand my range. I looked online and literally google searched ‘pretty nails’, to find a variety of colours and designs.

IMG_4644

Some of the more ‘simpler’ designs, yet very pretty. I take no credit for this google search image!

Following my research, I went to Superdrug and purchased some more nail polish of various colours, including some rather bold choices. This came to about ¬£15 for 6 bottles, roughly equating to ¬£2.50 per bottle. Maybe pricey, but considering that they will last me a long time, and¬†I can now create a variety of designs, I think the price is right. (I also got more points to my Superdrug points card, always a bonus). Though I’m aware of the ‘silver accent nail’ , I hadn’t realised the importance of having white nail polish, which you can use to decorate your already painted nails! Yes this may seem incredibly simple, but it wasn’t something I had thought of, so I also bought some nail designers.

Is this another phase I’m going through? Yeah maybe. I don’t expect to spend hours on my nails but I think once in a while, its nice to pay attention to these.

Well I think I’ve finally come to the end! Do I usually blog about beauty products? Well no, never. This may in fact be my first time. I felt like writing about something a little different this time, even though this is also based on personal experiences. Remember, these changes were over a few weeks, and definitely not one after another.¬†My beliefs have probably changed. I now believe that I should be putting more effort into how I dress. It’s how you present yourself to other people. I was narrow-minded and used to think that it was shallow to want to dress up better. I’ve realised now however, that wanting to look nice is normal.

A little addendum from the middle of June…

I decided to add this here, as I believe it’s one of the few times where I partook in something a little different. I wanted to share this, to remind myself to try and do things I’ve never done before, ¬†no matter how big or small!

I made a very last minute decision to head home to London for that weekend. I knew it was for a short time and hence, didn’t expect to do that much. After a lie in on Saturday, I went to Tooting with my mother to help with some errands. I hadn’t been there in what felt like forever, and as always, I was reminded of my childhood again. This weekend happened to be that of the Eid celebrations. And because of that, there were many, and I mean MANY Mehndi stations along the high street…how could I not have a go?

IMG_4882

Trivial Pursuit

How do you develop culture? How do you become that all-rounded person that knows the correct facts, just at the right time, and just enough to show off a little bit? (Maybe that’s your intention? Well it’s mine too!)

I suppose the first question is, what’s the point of being cultured? Why bother?

I think that being cultured is important, because not only is it a part of today’s society, but it’s nice to be educated about the world and it’s languages. ¬†Though I’m not a historian nor an artist, it’s worth being well read in some history, and sustaining an appreciation of the arts. I also think that being cultured generally makes you a more interesting person!

I did some research, and there are many ways to become a cultured person!

I find that taking trips is one way of improving my knowledge of culture. You may remember a previous post of my trip to the British Museum, one in which I relished the culture. Recently we took a trip to the¬†Yorkshire Sculpture Park,¬†the UK’s leading open-air gallery.¬†It was my first time driving on the motorway (a ’30-minute each-way experience’, one I was both excited and a little nervous about!). The weather was beautiful and there were many sheep in the car park! It was quite possibly the perfect way to spend a spring day out.

Having walked almost 7km across the park and through the forests, I was able to appreciate the sculptures on display and the nature surrounding it. Yes many of the fields were covered by sheep and cows (and their poo!), where we were literally entering some farms to get across places. But that didn’t matter to us, that just made the exploring all the more fun! I think what made it sweeter was that the farm animals were just carrying on with their grazing and snoozing, in the beautiful sunshine.

IMG_4674

I’d like to think that these two are a couple ūüôā

This was a day I definitely appreciated the history, art and culture. We could view works from both British and International artists, such as Henry Moore and ¬†Ai WeiWei respectively. There was so much I didn’t know about art, and so much more I can now appreciate. We ended the visit by heading to the gift shop. Standard. My boyfriend bought the book ‘What’s so great about the Eiffel Tower? 70 questions that will change the way you think about architecture’.¬†I’m looking into ordering the somewhat unconventional book ‘Burn after Writing’, a collection of some gentle probing life questions. The bookshelf had a version for teenagers only. I unfortunately am no longer a teen!

Do you recognise any works from Ai Weiwei? Henry Moore?

The trip inspired me to keep on broadening my culture horizons. Since coming back to London for a few days, for example, I’ve been reading through some of my dad’s UK citizenship books. It looks at British history and culture… it even tests us about William Shakespeare and Harry Potter! I decided that I will continue to take a keen interest on culture, to maybe make me, that all rounded person.

Everybody’s on the Run

I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since I last blogged..how terrible!

Having sat the first GP exam, which was the next item on my checklist…I’ll admit, I’ve been feeling both exhausted and lazy over the past few days. Though I really don’t know how I did, I’m trying to keep the faith and focus on the next tasks I want to achieve. ¬†I’ve also added another thing to my list…I want to run a marathon.

I’m always inspired when live marathons are run on TV, for example the London Marathon and the Great North Run. I thought, why don’t I have a go? I wanted to run a 10K marathon last year, to raise money for the city homeless shelter. Unfortunately I couldn’t apply due to the difficult A&E rota I was in. I don’t have any excuses not to have a go this year and decided to run the same marathon this summer. It’s for a good cause and I was inspired to do this following my previous encounter with a homeless gentleman. Wish me luck!