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.

An inspiration

It’s a funny thing when you’re not busy at your job. Your mind is at rest, it’s free for ideas and it’s open to inspiration. This is what I want for life!

I spent the majority of my week off seeking this inspiration. I have been reading a book by Tracey Kidder called Mountains beyond mountains. It’s a biography about a doctor who has a vision:to solve global health problems-my natural interest!

From Harvard he goes to Haiti, curing infectious diseases in the poor communities. This is where I am up to so far in the book, but from here he makes his way to Peru, Cuba and Russia.

This paragraph caught my eye: 

Yes I could have typed out this paragraph, but I thought it would be more real to have a photograph instead, taken by my phone!

It’s an excerpt of what the famous physician Virchow once said, and I tried to incorporate this into what I want to achieve. I want to be a “natural attorney” of the poor. That’s my inspiration. What’s yours?

Uganda Healthcare Expedition Part I

Question: Why have I decided to create a healthcare expedition?

Answer: Because I believe I can be of more value, to the people who need it.

According to UpToDate’s article on ‘Screening for cervical cancer in resource-limited settings’, cervical cancer is the most common malignancy among women in the developing world, where more than 85% of worldwide cervical cancer deaths occur.

I have been in regular contact with the community hospital in Bwindi, who have expressed wishes for some equipment…including:

-A colposcope-a special magnifying device used to look at the cervix. If part of the organ is found to be abnormal, a medical professional can take a tissue sample and send it for analysis

-and a cryotherapy machine, used to treat the early stages of cancer.

jcct-colposcopy-illustration-11-13cervix4

It would be fantastic to get this equipment for the hospital. It could really save so many lives, what more value can you provide? But I thought to myself, how on earth can I get it? I’m only a GP trainee and I don’t really have any connections with the gynaecology department, or any medical equipment stores. So I decided to take the first step…I needed to make the connections. I went on our hospital trust’s website, searched for the list of consultants, word searched ‘colposcop'(in the hope of finding either colposcopist/colposcopy/colposcope) and a list of 3 colposcopists appeared. I emailed them all, appealing to them for advice and direction, about how to get this equipment.

I didn’t hear anything for almost two weeks. And at the point of almost giving up on them, I came home from work and checked my emails, only this time to find a reply. And then two. And then a chain. My enquiry was passed onto other gynaecology colleagues and the general manager of the gynaecology department, all absolutely pointing me in the right direction(!)

My next steps are:

  1. To get in touch with the medical equipment stores for quotations.
  2. To organise fund-raising for the equipment

It just goes to show, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If people can, they will most probably go out of their way to help you. And if they can’t, what have you got to lose? You did your bit by asking.

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.