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

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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, ย 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.ย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

Piping Hot

So it hadn’t been the greatest start to the week. Not particularly because of what happened, but rather that it opened up to some unfortunate realisations.

It all started on the Monday morning. I woke up and did my usual routine. It was when I walked into the living room, that I stumbled upon a freakin’ leaking ceiling!

We switched off the heater and hot water supply, and called our handyman. The problem was that we didn’t know exactly what time he was coming, so realised that someone would either need to wait until he came (in the morning) or come home in the evening. Having rung up work to let them know of the situation, I was advised to come in and carry on as best I can, and then leave if I have to. I thought that was reasonable, and didn’t expect much more.

I carried on with work as normal, with the exception of awful dread that our roof could collapse at any moment. Having spoken to our handyman, I managed to get an estimate of roughly what time he would come. Though it was an awkward time (half way during my afternoon surgery) it wasn’t anything I could change. I updated work but I could tell they were annoyed. I felt completely helpless.

It was around this point that I started to feel the pressure (more so). It was when I was asked to go home, let the handyman in, and then actually come back to work. I think for a brief few seconds I was confused. But at the same time I didn’t want to make matters worse…so I agreed. 

I thought that maybe it was normal to let a stranger into the house and I was just being paranoid…but then again maybe not! Numerous people were entering my room just, many a time saying:

“So you’re coming back right?”

I just nodded.

My time was coming up and having updated my colleagues, I left work and came home to let the handyman in. It was about half an hour when I returned to work, and my colleagues had seen a couple of my patients.

I had two left to see. This was all I had to do, and then I could come home for good and see what was actually happening at home.

It was almost coming up to closing time when I was finishing off with the last patient. There was a knock on my door, followed by another one soon after. I was told that we had to leave. Once the patient left I was gathering my things, when I was approached by a colleague…

“So why were you running late today?”

I wanted to explode. I was fuming inside. Are you for real?!!!

I didn’t want to shout back but I didn’t want to be a pushover either. I found my voice coming and my tone changing, to one of utter disgust…

Do you not know what happened? I left??

Oh yeah I know but….

But ….? You don’t know what happened. (One needed admitting).

And then they were quiet. 

I realised there was no point in wasting my energy in defence. It would never be understood. I don’t quite know what they were saying towards the end, as I was too angry to care and just wanted call it quits. Once I got home my mind was a bit more at peace.

After the handyman left, I sat on the landing floor leaning against the wall, staring at our boiler. I reflected on everything that happened that day. In the end it was just a leaking pipe which caused some damage to the ceiling. That was it. So why did I let it affect me? 

I was not expecting pity or anything like that. But I realised that in the end, all I hoped for was some level of reasonability. I did everything I was told, yet the icing on the cake was still that awful remark. It’s these situations which show you what people are really like. I think that’s what I was most disappointed with. 

In the end though, I decided to rise above it, move on and pretend it never happened. Tomorrow was another day…

Song Of The Month

I thought long and hard about my song of the month, especially as it was the first one of the year ๐Ÿ™‚

I found myself reflecting from the events of this week, both at home and at work. Coming back into the work environment did expose my vulnerability quite early on. However, having confided in the right people, I was reminded that it was ok.

I have also been following clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson, based at the University of Toronto. Having recently watched some of his YouTube videos, I came across this quotation from him which I wanted to share. I think it’s one which can apply to anybody, if they choose accept it.

“To love someone is to simultaneously accept their vulnerability, as a valid part of their being. Without this, there is no possibility of individual existence.”

Though I am not a Slipknot fan nor a total Stone Sour fan, this song by Corey Taylor has to be my favourite song right now. It’s touching and beautiful- and as always, I hope you enjoy this song as much as I do ๐Ÿ™‚

Business Pleasureย 

As I relax on the couch watching The Simpsons, I reflect on the past few days and more importantly, try to recuperate from the night before. I should probably begin with how the day started…

The morning wasn’t too stressful (compared to the afternoon at least). This was probably because there were no babies for baby clinic, which meant that I could catch up with my paper work. Due to the very chilly weather outside these days, I’ve now stopped opening my window like I used to, just to let some fresh air in. I thought that as my room so happens to be at the end of the corridor, I can keep my door wedged open (usually after the end of a session), while I work. A little sad maybe, but sometimes it’s kinda nice just to hear the voices of colleagues around. It can get a little lonely at times, more so when you’re not feeling so great in yourself.

It just so happened that while I was doing my work, I had the door open as usual when all of a sudden, a baby wondered into my room.

He was a gorgeous little Afro Carribean baby, probably one and half years old as a guesstimate. He walked right into the middle of the room, looked at me, gave me the biggest grin you’d ever seen… and  collapsed to the floor all comfy-like. He had no intention of getting up.

I looked at him completely stunned. I didn’t know what to do! I walked to the door and looked down the corridor, hoping I’d see his mother. It was empty. I then sat back on my chair trying to think…how do I get him back up and out, without making him cry? Not having children put me at a huge disadvantage. All I had under my belt were my baby charms, those I had picked up and started to use in day to day practice. These aren’t foolproof. 

“Where’s your mummy?!”

Was what I asked the baby…hoping to try and sweet talk him. I knew full well that he wouldn’t understand a word I was saying. He just looked at me and kept on smiling. He REALLY didn’t want to leave.

I joined him on the floor, thinking that maybe if I sat next to him, I could try and form a little kinship and win him over. His mother hadn’t come my way yet, so I realised that I’d have to lead him out instead. I held out my hand, in the hopes that he’d hold onto it…

It was a miracle! He thankfully took my hand and picked himself up from the floor. I watched him get up and was feeling really chuffed! We wondered down the corridor together, receiving many looks and laughs from patients and receptionists alike, when we saw the mother at the end of the corridor. Her frightened-looking face immediately turned into one of utter relief. I suppose it was a baby session after all! 

This encounter was definetly something I’d never experienced before. It was later followed by another event that day, and another new experience…the work-do Christmas party. 

I was really apprehensive about this. There have only been a few occasions in my training, where I’ve met with senior work colleagues outside the work place. I’ve been at this surgery for almost four months now, and this was my first time socialising with the team. I was worried that I’d make a fool of myself somehow…and I’ve done that many a time already!

Nonetheless I was grateful for the invite. I decided in the end to put all my nerves aside, let go and go with the flow. Maybe I wasn’t the only one who felt this way? 

I arrived at the hotel an hour later than advertised. This was upon the advice of some of the nurses, although after what looked like a terribly busy afternoon for me, I really didn’t want to rush things. I was dying for a cup of tea and a sit down, so that was my priority when I got home! When I got to the hotel, people from the surgery were still following in after me, so my timing was ok in the end! 

The room we were directed to was huge, filled with many round tables. Two were assigned to our surgery. It was almost like a conference, except there were disco lights and a dance floor at the front! Again, I was updated by the nurses that this was to be expected, but I hadn’t really imagined it so. 

The conversation was good. I was mainly talking to the other new trainees at the surgery, downing my glasses of wine. In the end I had three glasses, and I was feeling the effect of it. I was telling stories of how I’d met Jeremy Corbyn or my motive for eating less and exercising…stuff I’ve never really divulged to the people I work with before! 

I looked around at my other colleagues and wondered what sorts of things they were talking about. They must have known eachother for years, like 20 I think. I mean seriously a long time. To them, I’ll always be just “another trainee”, who will make an appearance in their lifetimes, later to leave and be replaced by another. It is what it is.

By about 10.30-11pm people were already leaving. I suspected it was because they had family commitments, or maybe they were exhausted, I certainly was! All of my work colleagues and seniors, including my mentor went home. In the end it was just me and another trainee, who were the last ones sitting.  I told myself that if I was going to go to the party, I would stay at least beyond midnight. That would be a proper night out for me. 

After all, how often do I get to do this? Rarely if so. When I do go out, I try and make the night memorable as best can be. It’s a night on the town, and nights out make me feel young at heart.

I’ll Be There For You

As part of our training, we are taught that patients often have an agenda when they come to see their doctor. What that basically means is that the reason they say they have attended, isn’t the real reason why they’re there. They’ve come to talk about something else.

In addition to managing the patient’s symptoms and diagnosis, we learn to pick up cues in a patient’s dialogue and offer the listening ear. I learnt this week that you can sometimes pick up an agenda without any cues.

This was a week where I found myself being a part of some eye-opening relationships-both with patients and colleagues alike. In one morning session, I saw two patients in consecutive order, who were both having relationship problems. This included one lady in her 20s who was going through a divorce. Apart from treating her ailment, I didn’t feel like I did anything else. Interestingly however, she ended our consultation by saying:

‘I’m sorry I had to offload on you like that’.

Later on this week, a gentleman came to see me because his wife was worried that he was getting tired more easily. It’s an interesting pattern I’ve seen a few times, when patients will only attend the surgery if a loved one asks them to. He thought he was tired because of his medications, though he had been on these for quite some time.ย  On delving deeper, he eventually admitted that he was stressed with things at home. He was a full time carer for his mother and this would cause anybody stress and fatigue. It was only when he admitted this that he became teary, and I couldn’t help but feel sad.

The last patient who I want to shed a little light on today (there’s obviously more!) is an elderly lady I’ve been following up on for her diabetes. After discussing future treatment, she went on to tell me about her faith in God, how we are all connected, and how she always does her part to keep healthy. This last little bit is something called ‘shared management’. Doctors love this, becaue it encourages patients to take responsibility for their own health.

This lady then shared a story with me (which out of respect I won’t share here, as beautiful to me as it is). Maybe it was the way she told it to me, but it really got to me. It got to me so much that I tried to hold back my emotions. Usually I can do this. However this was the occasion I would do something I’ve never done before-cry in front of the patient. I tried to hastily wipe away my tears through my cardigan sleeve, but it was too late. I thought to myself…great. She has a cry baby for a doctor.

The patient had seen me weep and her smile turned to laughter. My tears later turned into laughter too, but an ugly site I’m sure! I didn’t know what to think of my reaction, so I confided in my mentor about it. We had a lovely heart to heart, which made me feel tonnes better about things.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s the importance of being kind to people. Its a key skill Dale Carnagie talks about in ‘How to win friends and influence people’ and I try to always keep it with me. But I think this comes at a level. Particurlarly when seeing patients, I’ve read how doctors fall into the trap of getting ‘too involved’ in their patient care, to the point that it starts to affect them, and how they are around others. I don’t think that’s very healthy either, and I think it’s all about balance. One day I’ll learn how to do it.

In times like these I learn to find pleasures in simple things. I start to get more appreciative of the times around me. On the Friday evening after work this week, I popped into the supermarket and purchased a range of goodies for Halloween. This was my first time going trick-or-treating shopping ๐Ÿ™‚ We never have sweets when children knock on the door so we thought we’d actually try this year!

IMG_6122

I was drawn by the ‘2 for the price of 1’ offer and didn’t really think about how I was going to give the clusters and brownies…wrap in cling film maybe? I decided that whatever I have left over I’ll leave it in the staffroom at work ๐Ÿ™‚

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!