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A Message For Juliet

Apart from my family, there are a small number of people that I talk about all the time. As in so much that The Keen One a.k.a. Kenny frequently tells me that I’m repeating myself because she’s heard that story before. It’s only natural to want to talk about the people that you care about, and Juliet, a.k.a. Pippi Longstocking, is one of them.

In honour of her 24th birthday, I would like to use this opportunity to tell you about a few of the reasons that make her so great.

  • She is very kindJuliet genuinely cares about the world and people, and is so passionate about causes close to her heart.
  • She is a great listener- Talking about race issues with white people can get frustrating because of how defensive some people become, but not Juliet. She always listens and speaks out; she just gets it, you know? 
  • She makes the best cookies- I thought I didn’t like Terry’s chocolate orange but then she made me cookies with them and my mind was blown.
  • She motivates me to work harder – Pretty self explanatory tbh. I never felt intimidated or embarrassed revising with her because she was always so patient and understanding.
  • She is a beautiful person, both inside and out- And always so humble too. I tell her all the time how loved and admired she is because it’s true, and she has many fans.

I’ll miss living with her as I go into final year this month and she’s intercalating, but I pray that as she goes into her 24th year of life, that God will continue to be with her and use her to bless others- she has most definitely been a blessing to me. So happy birthday, Juliet! May you continue to be fine and really blow my mind.

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Elective in Cambodia – Paediatrics And The Not-So-Smooth Ending

I’ve been back home for nearly two weeks now, and I’ve been mostly sleeping and reading and watching TV, but I thought it was about time I concluded my recounting of my elective journey.

So the final two weeks of my time in Cambodia were spent at the National Paediatric Hospital in Phnom Penh, and it was quite different from the Friendship hospital. During our induction tour, we learnt that they receive a lot of funding from NGOs and international charities, which helped explain how much more modern and up to date the equipment they had was.

We also got told that all treatment at the hospital was free, which was also funded by the generous grants the hospital receives.  One sad thing we learnt from the tour though, was that the number of doctors in Cambodia went from about 4000 to just over 100 during the Khmer Rouge regime, which is just heartbreaking.

My first week at the Paediatric hospital was spent in General Medicine, where I saw a lot of dengue fever. So. Much. Dengue. Fever. I was quite lucky again to be with a team of doctors who spoke great English and were keen to get me involved. My days started with a ward round with the doctor, and she assigned me patients to take histories from and examine, before reporting back to her with a differential diagnosis, suggested investigations, and proposed management.

I was sent off to see these patients with medical students who acted as translators for me, and I really appreciated this because it made history taking much easier. The children and their parents were all so fascinated by and distracted by my hair, even though I tried to hide it with surgical caps. So my history taking and examinations had quite an audience, as they just HAD to take photos of me to show to their families.

My second week was spent in the surgical department, and it confirmed for me that I am definitely not interested in surgery in the future, as not even paeds could make it more exciting for me. Lowest point was suddenly crying during an achilles tenotomy and casting for clubfoot, because it reminded me of own casting and how sad I was that day. Ahh, I really need to get better at dealing with that, but it’ll take time I guess.

Overall I enjoyed my time at the paediatric hospital, and it was really great for me to do a paediatric placement on two feet, as my paeds placement in the UK last year was spent on crutches. How time flies!

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And just like that, my time in Cambodia was at an end. It had been a rollercoaster of an experience, but one thing I’ll take away from my time there is the importance of not underestimating how significant a language barrier can be. I was really humbled by how accommodating the doctors and midwives were, as they took time out of their busy days and 24 hour shifts to explain things and translate patient histories. If I’m to be honest, I was more in the way than I was helpful, so I really appreciated the chance to be part of the team.

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I also really enjoyed staying in the Work the World house in Phnom Penh – the food was delicious, the staff were helpful and friendly, and it was great getting to know other students from around the world; I now have friends from Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands, so looking forward to going to visit them at some point 🙂

Anyways, as for the not-so-smooth ending, OFCOURSE my journey home wasn’t without difficulty. Just my luck, eh? Long story short: I was supposed to be flying from Cambodia –> Kuala Lumpur –> London, but my lay over in Kuala Lumpur was extended, resulting in me having a 19 HOUR WAIT. To make things worse, the airline couldn’t find the hotel reservation they had promised, so yet again I had been screwed over.

But yet again, Abs a.k.a my mother came to the rescue, and after about an hour of phone calls back and forth between the help desk in Kuala Lumpur, and the airline back in the UK, she got them to give me a room in a 5 star hotel, with dinner and breakfast provided, as well as transport there and back from the airport. My mother is an absolute BOSS and I can’t say it enough, but I would be so so lost without her.

So yeah, that concludes my elective journey! Thanks for coming along on this cray cray adventure with me, it really has been quite something. Looking forward to relaxing at home over the next couple of weeks before heading back to university for FINAL YEAR ahhhhhhhh.

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Elective in Cambodia – Weekend Trip To Siem Reap

One of the main things I was super keen to visit during my time here was Angkor Wat. So last weekend, we travelled down to Siem Reap to tick it off the bucket list.

Phnom Penh to Siem Reap is about a 5 hour bus journey, and the ticket was about $12 so it wasn’t bad at all. We took a ‘VIP’ bus that had air con and WiFi- it was so cold on the bus that I had to put a jumper on! We had 3 rest stops along the way, which my tiny bladder appreciated a lot.

We arrived at Siem Reap around half 9 in the evening, and after exploring Pub Street for a bit (and getting some free drinks from promoters waHEY), we checked into our hostel.

It was my first time in an hostel so my expectations were pretty low, but the One Stop Hostel in Siem Reap is so nice! We shared a room with 4 other girls so it wasn’t too bad, the hostel itself was quite clean, food was a bargain and yummy, and the staff were really attentive and lovely.

Our temple tour kicked off at half 4 the next morning, so we were quite bleary eyed and sleep deprived when the bus came to pick us up. The sunrise tour included 4 temples and transport between temples, and at $18 each, it wasn’t too expensive. The Angkor Wat ticket was quite pricy though ($37), so that was probably the most expensive thing we paid for all weekend.

We shared the bus with 6 other people (three Americans, a South African and two Australians), so we all bonded a lot throughout the day. Our tour guide, Mr T, was very knowledgeable and funny, so he kept us well informed and laughing throughout the long day.

Angkor Wat Temple

Bayon Temple

Ta Prohm (a.k.a Tomb Raider Temple)

Banteay Srei

All the walking and climbing was quite a lot for my still recovering Achilles, so it was pretty swollen and sore when we got back to the hostel. I had some ibuprofen, did my exercises, and rested it for a while, so the swelling went down by the evening, just in time for our return to Pub Street!

We met up with our new American pals, as well as one of our friends from back home, and we went bar hopping. The goal was to get as many free drinks as possible from promoters, and it was a success!

Finished the night with massages and they were amaaaaazing. I had a neck, head, shoulder and back massage, and I came out feeling so so relaxed. The massage was so good that we went back again the next morning, before we headed back to Phnom Penh. At just $2 for 30 minutes, it was such a bargain.

Overall it was a super fun weekend in Siem Reap, so I would definitely recommend going if you’re ever in Cambodia 🙂

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Elective in Cambodia- Finding Out Exam Results

Waiting for end of year exam results is always nerve wracking, and this year, it was made even tougher by the six hour time difference between here and home.

After I finished placement on Tuesday, I pretty much stayed in my room obsessively checking my emails for the results to be sent. I napped and watched shows on Netflix to distract myself, but then around 6pm Cambodia time, the email finally came through.

So, the verdict?

Hello, my name is Taiwo and I AM A FINAL YEAR MEDICAL STUDENT.

Final Year!

I’m going to be a doctor (by God’s grace) in just over six months, and I still can’t get my head around it. This definitely would not have been possible without God, because getting through this year has been a miracle.

As followers of this blog will know, I ruptured my Achilles tendon at the start of the year, so being unable to walk was a real struggle, and I had quite a depressive period because of it.

But I made it through and here I am. God is good and I’m so grateful for His never-ending favour.

I AM A FINAL YEAR MEDICAL STUDENT. Hallelujah!

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Elective in Cambodia- The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

I’ve put off writing this post because the visit to the museum really moved me, but I think it’s important to write about my experience; one thing that was emphasised during the tour was to let people know of the atrocities we learnt about.

For anyone who doesn’t know, one of the repercussions of the Vietnamese War in the 1960s was the formation of a guerilla group called Khmer Rouge. They gained territory in the countryside during the years of civil war in Cambodia, and in 1975, they took control of Phnom Penh.

Between 1975 and 1979, they forced all Cambodians to live in labour camps making rice, and conditions in these camps were inhumane- families separated, 18 hour work days, one watery meal a day, and severe punishments for anyone who broke the many rules they imposed.

Millions of Cambodians suffered and were killed as a result of disease, starvation or execution. People who were deemed as ‘new people’ due to either living in the cities, being educated, or having professional jobs (doctors, nurses, teachers, lawyers etc), received harsher treatment, as they were believed to be tainted, in comparison to the ‘old people’, who were those that lived simpler lives in the villages, and had received less Western influence.

The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum was an old secondary school that was used as an interrogation and execution centre during the Khmer Rouge regime. During our visit, we were able to walk through the rooms, learn about the torture techniques that were used, and there were various pictures and stories of prisoners and the conditions that they lived in.

I found it very difficult – the pictures were really graphic and the stories were heartbreaking. How can human beings be so cruel? It was a harrowing experience.

One prisoner’s story that remained with me was that of Kerry Hamill, a New Zealand tourist whose boat accidentally strayed into Cambodian waters while on a trip from Singapore to Bangkok in 1978. He was then taken to Tuol Sleng (a.k.a S21 prison), where he was accused of being a spy, tortured, and then killed. He was 28 years old.

It was quite an emotional, heavy day, but I’m glad I went, because I learnt a lot. The impact of the Khmer Rouge regime is still very much present in Cambodian life today, because most people here have at least one family member or know of someone that died.

As the country continues to heal, it’s important that people visit places like the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, because hopefully atrocities like these will stop happening if we keep remembering, and don’t allow history to repeat itself.

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Elective in Cambodia- Second Week of Placement

This week brought an end to my time in the maternity department, and it was also my last week at the Khmer Soviet Friendship Hospital.

I had the opportunity to get more involved in drug ward rounds (IV infusions and IM injections), and I attempted more cannulations, with a bit more success this time, yay!

The highlight of my week was definitely the morning I spent doing baby baths. The midwives showed me how to do it, and then I had a go myself. So. Many. Babies. And they just kept coming! The patients were super keen to have me bathe their babies, as black people are rare here, so seeing them rush to give their babies to me was quite something.

I was very sad to leave the midwives and the maternity team. My final day with them was Wednesday, and I was reluctant to leave because they’d made me feel so welcome and part of the team.

There were selfies and group photos galore, and it was all super cute. I invited them to our house barbecue on Thursday, as we’re encouraged to invite staff from the hospital, so I was really glad that they came!

They’ve all added me on Facebook, so I know that this isn’t really goodbye- more of a ‘See You Later’ ❤ .

My two days in the gynaecology department were much quieter in comparison- very similar to placement back home where I was mainly ignored on ward rounds/got in the way, so I guess not much difference there!

Whilst observing a lymphocele drainage after a mastectomy, the doctor explained to me that normally the patients would be given local anaesthetic, and that there would be a drape over the breast getting drained. However due to limited resources, they have to ration who gets these, and only save them for ‘big’ procedures.

Again, this drummed into me how much we take our resources back home for granted, and how great the healthcare professionals here are at making the most of what they have. I mean, using vinegar in place of acetic acid in colposcopy? It does the job I guess!

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Elective in Cambodia- Exploring Phnom Penh

I’ve been here for about two weeks now, and since I’m only required to be at placement from 8am till 12 everyday, I’ve had a lot of free time to go sight seeing around the city.

My first full day after arriving involved a city orientation, where I had my first tuk tuk ride, and I got told about the safest way to ensure your things don’t get stolen- keep them close to you and bags between your legs!

We had lunch at one of the best Thai restaurants in the city, the Khmer Surin, and ofcourse my #TaieatsThai series had to make a cameo. I had the chicken amok, which wasn’t as spicy as they said it was, but I asked for a bowl of chillies with it and that did the trick.

After lunch, I was taken to the medical supplies shop to buy essentials like scrubs, theatre gloves and masks, as well as a white coat. We then visited the Central Market where I was able to change money and buy some #freshgarms, a.k.a. lighter, looser clothes.

Last Saturday was our first full touristy day- we went to the Russian Market first to buy a bum bag, an essential, very useful must buy,

And then Samirah and I headed into the city and our sight seeing began.

The Wat Langka Temple:

The Independence Monument:

The Cambodia Vietnam Friendship Monument:

Statue of King Father Norodum:

We visited the Eclipse rooftop bar in the evening, and I tackled my fear of heights to make it all the way to the 23rd floor, which was super worth it for amaaaaazing views of the city.

On Sunday we found a church! We visited the International Christian Fellowship in Phnom Penh, which is an English speaking, VERY English church, with a mixed congregation of British and Cambodian people. It was a really lovely service, so I think we’re definitely going back.

What else have I been up to? Had a traditional full body Khmer massage on Monday, and I came out feeling like a brand new person. It was so so relaxing- took out knots I didn’t even know I had, and it was the most relaxing hour I’ve had in a while.

Also visited the Royal Palace this week, and it definitely gives Buckingham Palace a run for its money because it really is quite something! It was $10 extra for a tour guide, but I didn’t feel like paying that, so I decided to be our group’s tour guide. I whipped out my phone and read out facts from Wikipedia and the palace’s official website, because I am a cheapskate.

This week brought an end to my time in the maternity department at the Khmer Soviet Friendship hospital, but I’ll go into more detail about that in another post. We still have a lot of things to tick off our ‘To Visit in Phnom Penh’ list, so we should be getting round to those over the next week!