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Elective in Cambodia- The Bad Beginning

The first sign of things going wrong began the day before I set off. Whilst packing my bags under Abs’ (my mother’s) supervision, she asked me what my baggage allowance was, as she couldn’t see it on my boarding pass- the only thing there was my cabin bag allowance.

Yupp. I had forgotten to add luggage when I booked my ticket.

I thought I was being SO clever by booking with cheap airlines, but it turns out that they don’t automatically add luggage. Because you have to pay extra for that. Because this is how cheap airlines make their money. DOH.

I then tried to add it online, but turns out you can’t do that less than 36 hours before your flight. And this was when I began to panic.

Luckily, Abs is a seasoned pro when it comes to flying (on reflection I really should have let her book my flights for me), so she got on the phone with the airline and pleaded my case with some strong arguments, and offered to pay, ofcourse, because this is what cheap airlines want.

Anyway, about two hours later, I had a 20kg allowance added to my booking, and also had to pay a ridiculous amount but let’s not go into that. Shoutout to Abs and Starbucks Gal for keeping me calm and coming to the rescue. I am a fish smh.

So 8am the next day, after a tearful goodbye with The Keen One a.k.a Kenny and Abs at Stansted, I set off for Cambodia!

I thought it would be a smooth journey, but oh boy was I wrong.

Long story short: My first flight from London to Milan got delayed in London, so I ended up missing my connecting flights to Bangkok and Phnom Penh.

If I thought I’d experienced panic with the whole baggage trouble, that was nothing compared to the near panic attack/tearful mess/stressed out state I was in when I got to Milan and was told that I had missed my connection.

My phone battery was dying, the staff were being very unhelpful and unsympathetic, and it was my first time flying alone and I really had no idea what to do. Luckily I was able to connect to airport WiFi, so I called Abs immediately and explained what had happened.

Longer story short: My mother is incredible and I will forever be in awe of her ability to make things better. Not only did she get me to calm down, even though she later told me that she was panicking herself but didn’t show it, she called various airlines and fought my case until they sorted out the mess they had made.

I was put on another flight for free, but it wouldn’t be leaving till the next day, so Abs sorted out a hotel for me to stay in Milan for the night, with pickup from the airport so I wouldn’t have to worry about making my way there.

After some much needed sleep, I was picked up from the hotel the next morning, and my journey to Cambodia (take two) began.

Milan —> Istanbul —> 10 HOUR LAY OVER IN ISTANBUL (#longforman) —> Bangkok —> Phnom Penh.

This all took nearly 2 days in total, and I arrived in Cambodia a day later than I was supposed to, but boy was I glad when I did!

Moral of this tale? Don’t be such a cheapskate next time. I owe Abs a massive hug when I get back home- she is super woman and I am really blessed to have such an awesome, no nonsense mother.

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Turning 23 and Feeling… Meh

I turned 23 on the 14th of June, and seeing how that was nearly a month ago, you can probably guess that I wasn’t as excited for my birthday this year.

Now anyone who knows me well will probably be thinking, “Whaaaaat??”, because Tai and Kenny Day has been a big deal for as long as I can remember. Maybe it was because of how annoyed I got last year, and the fact that I got so upset that I actually cried, which has never happened before, or maybe even because 23 is such an odd, meh age, but I decided that Tai and Kenny Day this year would be a lowkey affair.

Luckily I had the afternoon off from placement, so I was able to meet The Keen One a.k.a. Kenny in London. We have never spent a birthday apart, so ofcourse this year was no different. I had the absolute joy of meeting her work pals, who threw us a surprise parTAY on their office rooftop, so cute! There were party hats and cake and champagne and it was all pretty great.

Birthday lol

ROOFTOP CAKE

Rooftop pals

The celebrations didn’t end there – Ken booked us a private dining experience at a Thai restaurant in the city, so that was super yummy. It was also really nice to catch up with her uni friends, as it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen a lot of them. Starbucks Gal and Rosie the Chicken were there too, but special mention has to go to Mahan, Shak and Lorraine for coming all the way to London for the evening. I was so so touched when they said they were up for coming, because I’d resigned myself to the fact that a lot of my friends would be too stressed with revision to celebrate with me. Understandable, yes, but it still made me quite sad that most of them said no, so it meant so much to me that they were there.

23

So, who is 23 year old Tai? That is a good question.

The fact that all some people is the super organised, very particular-about-things side of me is sad because I think there is so much more to me than that. Well, I really hope so anyway.

So I guess 23 year old Tai is still figuring things out, and my biggest challenge at the moment is giving more of my time to friends who appreciate and would make as much time/effort for me. Because in the wise words of my favourite ginger pal, who I will henceforth refer to as Pippi Longstocking, time is a finite resource, and you shouldn’t try and be something to everyone; don’t spread yourself too thin. Deep stuff.

In other news, today makes it exactly five years since I started this blog, so happy blogaversary to me! Wow, time flies.

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That Time I Met Benjamin Zephaniah (And Other Adventures)

As an early birthday present, my Moroccan friend got us tickets to a Benjamin Zephaniah show, and it was amaaaaaaazing! He performed some poems from his vast anthology – highlights for me were Library-Ology and Talking Turkeys, which were quite funny, but The Death of Joy Gardner was the poem that moved me the most, as her story is a very sad one that really got to me. So read up about her when you get a chance, because I definitely learnt a lot from doing so.

He finished with Who’s Who, which was short and to the point, in response to a very brave 9 year old who put his hand to ask Benjamin what his favourite poem he’d written was. Super cute!

It was such a great, unexpected present, and I was so grateful, even though I’m still not very good at knowing what to say when people do nice things for me, but I really appreciated it. I had such a lovely time because daaaaang, Benjamin Zephaniah is WOKE.

Benjamin Zephaniah

In other news, I did Pimp My Barrow for the first time this year, and it was SO MUCH FUN. Pimp My Barrow is my uni’s annual fundraising event for The Big C (a local cancer charity), and it involves fancy dress and a wheelbarrow pub crawl around the city, and pretty much a big parTAY on campus.

I’ve never done it before, so this year I was determined to get involved! The Keen One a.k.a. Kenny came down with Starbucks Girl, and with Samirah and AD (my not-so-little brother), we went for a Black Panther Party theme:

PMB40

Shout out to AD for pretty much making the wheelbarrow singlehandedly, and he did it in one day too! Such an artist wow. His camera was also the MVP as well haha, portrait mode really is the one!

PMB35

PMB22

WAKANDA FOREVER.

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My First Night Shift: 14 Hours In The Delivery Suite

I’ve always been a night owl. If I didn’t have early lectures to wake up for, I would much rather do work into the late hours of morning and then sleep in till late, as I’m definitely more of a night person. So despite warnings from people that I would have to nap at some point during the shift, I was pretty certain that I would get through it.

My expectations for the shift? Lots and lots of babies.

Reality? One emergency C-section and awkwardly watching my assigned patient struggling with the joys of labour. Her contractions started around 5pm and by 7AM she still hadn’t delivered. Seeing how she changed from being really friendly and welcoming, to screaming at her husband and crying for her mum, then mellowing out when the epidural started having an effect, was really quite something.

Labour is a long, messy, and surprisingly smelly affair – there was definitely some defecation with the pushes, so it’s not as pretty as it looks on TV, folks. The emergency C-section I saw wasn’t hers, as a patient had been brought in with reduced foetal movements, so it was by the chance that I was able to go into theatre.


As a C-section baby myself, I was quite interested in seeing how the procedure happens, and yet again I ended up being quite surprised. The only word I can think of to describe it is, well… brutal; they made an incision in the abdomen and literally ripped it open to get the baby out. It was horrific and it all happened so quickly, like less than 5 minutes from incision to removal!

The baby wasn’t crying or breathing, so the call was made to NICU, and I’ve never seen so many people rush into theatre so quickly, it was intense. Amazingly, the baby started crying just as they arrived, and there was a collective sigh of relief. I didn’t realise that I had stopped breathing myself, and I got teary when the little guy started crying. He lived, yay!!!

The rest of the night wasn’t so exciting – my patient was getting quite tired with the lack of progress from her pushes, bless her, so by the end of my shift she was being taken into theatre. I didn’t get to see what happened afterwards, but hopefully it all turned out okay.

Shout out to Mahan for the many laughs throughout the night- it would have been more boring without him keeping me entertained with various updates and our numerous dance breaks in the canteen. Night shifts are definitely more fun with friends, everyone.

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Challenge of the Month: Going Vegan

I’ve definitely neglected blogging for too long – life has been a bit hectic over the last couple of weeks, and as always, I struggle to blog when I feel like there’s too much going on in my head. I’m feeling better though, so quick updates: I’m walking with less difficulty now; longer distances and less pain, yay! I still have a bit of a limp though, but Achilles physiotherapy is going well, so thanking God for progress! I’ve also started obstetrics and gynaecology, which has been pretty interesting so far, but more to come on that…

ANYWAY, how was going vegan? Very hard.

Anyone who knows me well will know that I eat a lot of meat, and since I went vegetarian for a bit back in foundation year, I thought veganism was the next step. After a day or two, I realised that so many things I eat have dairy products in them??? This was definitely a whole new level compared to just not eating meat because DANG.

I snack a lot on biscuits, cereal bars and chocolate when I’m bored, so I found that I really struggled in between meals. I’m not even really much of a snacker, but overall I found that I had to eat bigger portions of food to be satisfied, and now that I’m back to my previous diet, I’m still craving pastries like I did when I was vegan. I think something about not being able to have them has made me appreciate them more? Maybe.

I definitely have a lot more respect for my vegan pals, because it definitely isn’t easy. I tried chickpeas and vegan burgers and sausages for the first time, and they were much nicer than I’d previously assumed. Going vegan taught me to be more adventurous with food, so I’m alllll about the pulses (hummus? YES) and beans now. It’s better for the health and environment too, so I’ve introduced meat free days into my diet.

Here is some of the food I had during my vegan days:

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A Much Needed Update: Placements and Snow Days

It’s been way too long since I last posted- placement and OSCE prep took up most of my time, then I came home for the Easter break and catching up on sleep became my main priority.

Anyway, how did the rest of placement go?

My week with oncology was more emotionally draining than I thought it would be- lowest point was actually getting teary in a very long breast cancer clinic, because a lot of the women had just been recently diagnosed. So their worry for not only themselves, but how it would impact their spouses and children really got to me. It was such a mum reaction that reminded me so much of my own mother, that I called her straight after the clinic to tell her to please check her breasts regularly for changes. Breast cancer really ain’t no joke.

As part of oncology, I also got to spend time with palliative care teams, which again was pretty sad, but I learnt a lot from the team about the importance of sensitivity when it comes to DNACPR (Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) conversations, as well as how the goal of care is make sure patients are as comfortable as possible when it comes to end of life.

The remaining three weeks of placement were spent back in psychiatry with the mental health liaison team, and going back to suicide risk assessments was very tough. The most difficult patients I spoke to were the teenagers with eating disorders, who had been brought in to hospital for feeding because they had refused to eat. It really broke my heart to hear the stories of how their issues with food began; kids can be so so mean to each other, and what the patients had gone through with their peers was just awful.

I was also really surprised by how easily the patients had accessed pro-anorexia websites and Instagram pages, as some of them mentioned how they had been encouraged by strangers online to skip meals and stop eating. So scary! The patients I spoke to were eventually referred to specialist centres for their eating disorders, as they had continued to refuse food in the hospital, so there was nothing further that could be done for them. So sad 😦

The only slightly positive thing I took from my brief time in child and adolescent psychiatry was that I definitely want to work with children and young people in the future – to be able to make even the slightest difference in the lives of such patients would be quite something.

The rest of my time in psych pretty much blurred into one, to be honest. I saw schizophrenic patients, patients admitted after overdoses, and a lot of patients with depression. I know now that psychiatry definitely isn’t for me, because I really struggled with how draining it is, and I have so much respect for health care professionals involved with mental health, as their strength and resilience is inspiring.

On a lighter note, we had not one, not two, but THREE snow days due to the ‘Beast From The East,’ so placement was cancelled for those days, yay! Unfortunately, due to still recovering from my achilles rupture, I had to stay indoors to avoid slipping on the ice, but my housemates were super cute and built a snowman with me so that I wouldn’t feel too left out:

(Yes, they’re quite pathetic looking snowmen but I’d never made one before so humour me please).

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Module 11 Placement: Week 1 (Psychiatry)

“Suicide is not about wanting to die, it’s about not wanting to live.”

Psychiatry is tough. Very sad and very intense- on arrival on my first day at the hospital with Mental Health Liaison, I didn’t even get a chance to take my coat off before we were told that we had to go do a suicide risk assessment on a patient that had been referred to the team. Yikes.

We’ve only practised on actors, so to be told to do a proper assessment on an actual patient was quite the challenge. I’m  not going to say it went okay, because confirming for yourself that yes, someone does want to kill themselves is never okay, but we were direct with our questions, and documented our findings in the notes, so we did it to best of our ability.

The remainder of our first week was pretty much more of the same- get there in the morning, given new patient to go see (usually referred to psych with low mood), assess their mental state, and present findings to the team. By lunch time we would be quite drained, so we were allowed to call it a day by about 2 in the afternoon, so that was good.

This week I saw a patient with schizophrenia for the first time, and what an experience it was. As we were talking to her, she seemed quite distracted and kept looking to the side, and it was only midway through the consultation that it dawned on me that it was the voices she was hearing that were distracting her. So it was really interesting to see how auditory hallucinations actually present in real life.

On a positive note, I’m walking without crutches now! Physiotherapy is tough but it’s going well, and it’s so great to be on two feet again, especially when my lasting memory placement at this hospital last term is the exhaustion from hobbling around the paediatric department… ahh, what a journey it’s been. Thanking God for progress, determined to be able to walk without a limp with time!
(If you, or anyone you know, needs help, has been feeling very low, or just wants someone to talk to, call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 (UK). Please don’t suffer in silence; there are options, you are not alone.)