Carmina Burana

 

For the past week, I have been part of the most amazing production ever. Namely, Carmina Burana.

My choir Den Akademiska Kören Linnea sang together with our brother choir Linköpings Studentsångare (the official choir of the university) and another all-female choir Da Capo. The orchestra who came and played came all the way from Gotland, as well as the soloists. We all even had a small choreography.

We’ve been working on this production for weeks, even requiring some of us (including myself) to travel in between cities to go to practices. It’s been hard work, tiring practices lasting to the night. But it’s been worth it. Last Thursday the 21st of April, all our preparation was put on the test, and our journey had met its end. And It was amazing.

Last Thursday the 21st of April, we stood on the stage of the Linköping Concert and Conference Hall and sang to a completely sold-out hall. The tickets had been sold out for months.

I’ve sang in a choir for quite some time now but this was definitely something else. And the media seemed to think so too. The local newspaper Corren gave our concert a 4/5 rating in their article, and SVT local for our region Östergötland covered it as well in an interview. Like, what just happened. Omg.

The whole experience has been so humbling and I still can’t get over what just happened. Nevertheless, I’m thankful. I’m so happy I belong in such an amazing choir with such an amazing group of girls. Until our next adventure! 🙂

I have a bike now!

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Meet Hera! 😀

My Linköping student-ness is leveling up.

I came back from Värnamo, Småland on Friday and already the next day I decided to up my Linköping game and get a bike. I was told about the bike sale which was part of the recycling fair on Saturday a few minutes before closing. My friends and I quickly biked over, and I met Hera.

It was love at first sight. But I thought she needed an upgrade so I painted her orange.  Very fluorescent orange. And changed her tires. She’ll be hard to miss for sure!

The painting was a lot more difficult than I thought but I am finally finished. Meet Hera, my new travelling buddy for the years in Linköping to come! 😀

…now I should do more doctor-related stuff.

Primärvård (primary care) placement – done!

 

During one of my first lectures during my first year of medical school, our lecturer asked how many of us in my class wanted to be surgeons. More than half of the room raised their hands up including myself. Afterwards our lecturer asked how many of us wanted to be general practitioners/family practice doctors/distriktsläkare. About five people raised their hands up. I wasn’t one of them.

Why is it that primary care is often perceived as one of the “lower,” “less interesting,” “boring” specialities? Statistically, more than half of all medical students in a class end up in primary care in the end. I guess people eventually realise how great the specialty is, after one overcomes the social stigma of the “super-shiny” status of surgeons and other specialists. And there is a high demand for primary care doctors too of course.

Here are some examples of the privileges of working in primary care:

  1. You do medicine, surgery and other different types of treatment approaches on a daily basis so it’s hard to get bored
  2. Patients come in with literally any symptom possible, and it’s up to you to decide which system they belong to – exciting detective work
  3. You really get to personally know your patients and their families through the years, as families tend to stay within the same practice/clinic/Vårdcentral
  4. It’s easier to plan your time and time-offs as the patients are not acutely ill
  5. NORMAL OFFICE WORKING HOURS – what night shifts?
  6. It’s very well paid, especially in rural areas

I could definitely see myself pursuing primary care in the future with those perks.

I have been in Värnamo for my primary care placement for the past two weeks and absolutely loved it. It’s such a varied specialty with all sorts of patients, you never knew what people would come in with as they walked through the door. And they always have the most amazing stories to tell. Definitely far from boring, which most have an understanding of primary care to be.

This is my fourth primary care placement ever, after three 4-week placements in the UK. Because of this I wasn’t really looking forward to this placement thinking it’s a repetition of the past. But this has been the best placement I have ever had so far.

The people have been most welcoming (like amazingly welcoming, they even hugged my goodbye!), even giving me an office for both weeks to make sure that I felt like a part of the team/family. I was given lots of responsibilities, and they really pushed me to my abilities. Everyone has been super friendly, even have driven me home sometimes and had coffee or fika outside the clinic! I’m sure these experiences I gained here I will have use for throughout my career.

Värnamo, thank you very much for an amazing two-week placement in primary care. My four-week tour around Småland is now over, and I can finally return to Linköping. No more travelling, I can finally settle back in my new home in Linköping until the summer.

See you soon Linköping, I’ve missed you! 🙂

Samuelle Valles name outside office door for patients to come in. Red light showing that I am inside or busy. Upptaget in Swedish. Being a medical student or läkarstudent/läkarkandidat in Linköping is fun!

Closed the door to my office for the last time. See you my-name-by-the-door again soon when I finally can call myself Dr. Sam!

Festivallen 2016

MedSex Levererar festivallen

Festival + kravall = Festivall

What is a “kravall” you may wonder?

Non-student proper definition: a riot
Student (Linköping) definition: PARTY 😀

Last night, I went to my first kravall ever and initiated my medical student party tailcoat or läkarfrack. Festivallen is a party organised by the party committee of the medical school, mainly aimed its students of course. So yeah, basically one could see students from every semester (there are 11 semesters hence 11 classes of over 100-ish students) at the party. At a kravall, you wear your party student “uniform” or ovve which is according to your study program. But since we’re medical students and are “a bit more special”, we wear tailcoats (frack) and not overalls (hence the word ovve) like everyone else. At every kravall you go to you collect a badge which you then put on your ovve, to show everyone all the events you have been to of course. I officially have my first stamp! 😀

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Before leaving to the pre-party and getting it dirty for the first time, Linköping medic represent! 😀

I borrowed my friend’s bike and overcame my fear of biking in a city. We started at a preparty at a friend’s house, where her roomie invited people from her class to – which happens to be my future class starting next semester. My future classmates are super friendly and welcoming, and I’m less scared of changing class once again. They even invited me to their upcoming klassittning (class party). It was nice to meet those I will graduate as a doctor with in two years! 🙂

snapchat party drinks pregame Linköping läkarprogrammet festivallen

Can this snapchat photo be any darker?

We biked to the kravall at the Linköping main campus, Valla (not the hospital campus where we basically live!) where I unfortunately lost one of my bag’s wings on the way. We came in, and as my first ever proper school-wide student party in Linköping ever, I was impressed. Everyone dressed in similar uniforms representing their study programs, and three different rooms with different music. And these rooms were BIG. I’d estimate about 700 students at the party. Amazing.

me writing on the facebook event page for Festivallen regarding my lost wing on my beibaobao bag

It’s the first time I used this bag and it already lost one wing… No one has replied on the Facebook event page regarding if they’ve found the other wing… So so sad 😦

Kårallen Läkarprogrammet campus valla Linköpings universitet student life

My friend and classmate Laura and I at the biggest room of Kårallen! Yes I know this is also yet another super great dark photo.

At the end of the night, Thomas Stenström the artist behind one of my major “missing Sweden super summer feelings” songs called “Slå mig hårt i ansiktet” performed. Breathtaking.

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THOMAS STENSTRÖM ARRGHHAAA

I woke up the next day at my friend’s place with a massive headache but with the realisation that oh my God I had such an amazingly good time last night. So who cares about the hangover. But now it’s time for Värnamo.

It was a good weekend back in Linköping but now my placement continues. Now I’m in Värnamo for primary care for the next two weeks. Wish me luck! 🙂

Dermatology: expectation vs reality

I’m going to admit, dermatology wasn’t one of the placements I was looking forward to. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in this either. Luckily, after two weeks at dermatology, one can say I was very much positively surprised!

Here are some of my expectations from before the placement and my insights of the specialty after my two-week placement.

1. You see acne and eczema everyday

arnold schwarzenegger it's not a toomah gif

On the contrary, most of the times it was a toomah.

During our two weeks there, I saw two acne patients and probably around five eczema patients. Skin cancer patients on the other hand? I definitely lost track. They came by the truckloads. Perhaps the reason why I thought dermatology = eczema and acne is because those are the only two skin problems I ever sought medical help for. Also, I’m brown. So what skin cancer?

2. Apart from acne and eczema, it’s all about too much sun

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So many patients come in with different skin lesions, many explained by too much sun exposure. However, when I was studying about the different diseases we saw at the hospital, I was surprised that it is so much more than that. This really became apparent for me when I was reading about psoriasis. I mean in this case, it is even the opposite.

Psoriasis is a skin condition which has a complex immunological pathogenesis – a lot more than just simple skin damage. It has been shown that sunlight has a therapeutic effect, improving the patients’ disease. Consequently, psoriasis patients in Sweden actually get offered a free three-week “therapeutic” vacation in the south of Europe. Not bad eh?

This is just one of the many skin conditions that is not because of sun damage.

3. There is a cream for everything

shaq holding a lotion bottle gif

Rash? Take this cream. Acne? Take this cream. Palmoplantar pustulosis? Take this cream.

Although there is some truth in this (yes, the main treatments for those conditions I mentioned are creams), it’s only a very, very small part of what dermatologists do to treat patients. Dermatologists also prescribe other forms of medication like injections and tablets, and also perform surgery of course – via liquid nitrogen “freezing” or excision! They also treat their patients in different baths and therapeutic light therapy, which is basically therapeutic solariums. Also, did you know that dermatologists in Sweden are  venerologists (STD-specialists) too? Yup, if there’s some funny business going on down below, you go to a skin doctor.

4. Most dermatologists are women

beyonce who run the world girls

When we came to the clinic during our first day, I was positively surprised that our supervisor was a very friendly and jolly male överläkare or consultant. There were actually a lot more male dermatologists than I thought, because he wasn’t the only one I met at the three hospitals I visited. At our main hospital there were at least three!

5. Most patients are vain

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My thinking before the placement: “Patients who come to dermatology are vain which is why they’re super self-conscious about their skin.” Boy was I wrong.

In cases of acne and eczema, I thought patients come in because they want to make themselves even prettier by treating the disease. I realised that they come in because they want to be pretty. Because they don’t think they are.

There is apparently a link between acne and negative mental well-being, and this I could definitely see from some of the patients I met. Many develop low self-esteem and even a form of dysmorphism, because of their skin problems. Definitely the opposite to what I thought in the beginning.

6. Dermatology is a “clean” specialty

a pig taking a bath being clean gif

What I mean by clean is that there is no need for messy tubes here and there, sputum/faeces/sweat etc. samplings, no need to open patients up etc. The speciality relies mainly on the visual evaluation of a person’s condition. See, clean. Although it might be so most of the time, there are definitely exceptions.

During our first visit to the dermatology ward, we visited a patient with a rare but severe cutaneous vasculitis called pyoderma gangrenosum. If you’re curious, do google it, but be wary of what you will see. I warned you. Keep in mind though, the photos you will find on google are very, very far from what I saw. The patient we saw basically had no flesh all the way down to his tendons, on both feet extending above his ankle. Exactly like how you would see a fixed cadaver model of feet muscles for anatomy. But this time the specimen is alive. That is not what I would”clean” at all, and I don’t even want to start about the smell…

7. Skin lesions will no longer be dots for me after two weeks

Jokes nope, still dots.

elmo shrugging gif

Dermatologists for the day

It’s coming to the end of our dermatology placement here in Jönköping and apparently as always, during this week they give us the opportunity to have our own clinic. It may just be me but I was slightly worried, but excited to have our own patients. I remember enjoying this when I got the opportunity in the UK. But this time it’s dermatology though. Do I know enough about skin?

My first patient came in and luckily he was a jolly man coming to check on a skin lesion on his head. After a few minutes of conversation, our doctor supervisor knocks on the door to take me out of the room for discussion together with my classmate, who also had his own patient. After the discussion, we decided to see my classmate’s patient first and then mine. However when we went to my patient, he was gone!

Great, my first own patient ever in Sweden vanished into thin air. Well that wasn’t a very good start now was it. (We called him later on and found out he didn’t leave because he was unhappy with the care but because he had an appointment to keep.)

Nevertheless, I had to put my worries aside and take my next patient in.

I let in my next patient who was a woman around my age with acne problems. I don’t know if it was because we were of similar age or that I also have had acne problems in the past, but we got along really well! She was telling me of the negative impact her acne has had on her mental well-being, and I definitely could relate. So I decided to give her the same self-care advice I was given which helped me with my acne – “off the record” of course. I told her I will now step out of my “doctor” role and now into my role as a girl helping another girl out.

Unfortunately, as I was giving her my acne care and makeup tips, the doctor came in to bring me out for discussion. Darn, I was in the middle of something I thought.

After discussing my classmate’s and my patients, we decided to see my classmate’s patient before mine once again, mainly because I asked for some time to speak with my patient some more afterwards. Then we came to see my patient.

We discussed at length with my patient regarding the etiology of acne and its treatment, which she greatly appreciated. We also discussed the negative impacts it has for my patient. At the end of the consultation we came to a treatment plan that both she and we were happy with. After this she said:

“At first annoyed that I had to come to the doctors this morning because it’s my birthday today. But now I feel that I’m getting something from you so I’m happy I came. It’s like a present for me, so thank you!”

Touched, we all said goodbye to her. As I said goodbye however I asked if she had more questions for me. She then asked me for more acne care and makeup tips, and I was happy that I could continue where I left off!

I told her the importance of moisturising (which I learnt from my sister), and informed her of the type of make up she should use and not use. I also quickly told her how I usually do my makeup to hide all the spots (perhaps a video tutorial in the future?). She was happy to hear my tips and told me she will buy the products I recommended. I was happy I could talk makeup in a medical setting. Afterwards, we happily said goodbye, and wished each other all the best. I greeted her happy birthday once again, and apologised that I missed that it was her birthday today from the medical journals.

Shame, shame, shame on me. But at least this time, this patient didn’t disappear!

As a doctor, my goal is for my patients to leave the clinic the same way that my second patient left – happy, and with the feeling that we did something that helped them. Even if it is on a day like their birthday. Who knew being a “beauty expert” was part of the job!

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Nässjö and jogging around the beautiful Rocksjön

Just like yesterday, I had to once again travel to a new city, new hospital in Nässjö. Once again, we were positively surprised at the hospitality of the people at the clinic.

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We were welcomed with an Easter buffet breakfast!

We came at about 9.30am, and was told to go upstairs to the kitchen. As we entered, we were greeted by the kind staff who invited us to the table. Apparently, they had set two plates for us at their Easter table since yesterday, anticipating us. Yup, I don’t think we could’ve felt even more welcome.

During the rest of the day, we were able to see the typical cases you’d see at every skin clinic: eczema, psoriasis, skin cancers etc. The staff there guided us to the rooms every time they knew there was an interesting case for us to see. We were going to end our day with scabies – which I read from our Swedish dermatology book is a typical Scandinavian skin infection – but on examination, it later turned out to be dry skin. I guess that’s both good and bad news. Nevertheless, it was yet another enriching day at dermatology!

When I came home, anticipating all the Easter food I’ll be eating in the next few days at home, I thought it would be a good time to go for a jog. It was pretty sunny too anyway. So I decided to run around the lake right in front of where we live called Rocksjön. I don’t know if I ever have had a more scenic run before because boy was it beautiful.

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If you look to the right I took some random running route to finish a 5k, because I noticed that someone was randomly following me… He luckily stopped running after me at some point. The red-ish spot by John Bauer’s park is where I took the photo below!

I have been extremely fortunate to have been placed at such a beautiful place, with such an amazing group of people. I can’t believe my first week at dermatology here in Jönköping is already about to end by tomorrow, time is going so quickly! I’ll make sure to cherish the time I have left next week. But first, here comes a long Easter weekend back home in Stockholm!

Rocksjön is absolutely stunning, a wharf by the lake

Could one really ask for a better evening jog?

My utomlänsplacering turned me into a local jetsetter

This week I started my first “utomlänsplacering” which means a placement outside the county of my medical school. I’m currently placed on a two-week dermatology placement in Jönköping, Småland.

My friends also placed in Jönköping and I left Sunday evening and arrived at our apartments in the hospital grounds, provided by the hospital. We took our keys from the emergency room (“What was the first think you did in Jönköping? Go to the emergency room of course, ha!” -.-) and went to our temporary accommodation for the next two weeks.

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This is the beginning of the Jönköping hospital grounds, isn’t our apartment building beautiful?

I was worried about how the accommodation would be recalling the nightmare of accommodation we received back in the UK (see photo below), but one can say that I was positively surprised to say the least. THE ACCOMMODATION IS AMAZING!

bathroom at medical student accommodation blackburn hospital preston manchester

This is the accommodation bathroom provided for Manchester medical students based at Blackburn hospital… our accommodation now is definitely a step up #nightmare

Apart from the beautiful exterior, our apartments were MASSIVE! Two separate bedrooms for my roomie and I (it’s probably the biggest room I’ve ever lived in that’s not a hotel), a big hallway, a fully equipped kitchen etc. Free wi-fi, clean linen, pillows and towels to take downstairs, access to the free laundry room, a little library and a TV. At least they definitely thought about our comfort as “travellers.” To make things even better, there’s a full shopping centre right across the road from where we live in the hospital grounds.

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I’ve been to Jönköping once before with my choir but I don’t remember much from the city. Therefore, being a true traveller, I was quite excited to explore this new place.

We came to our first day yesterday at the clinic and was warmly met by the staff. We have never been so warmly met before! We received our little introduction booklets, keys and decided our schedule amongst us. We found out that it is obligatory for us to travel to different cities as a part of our placement, and I was the “unfortunate” one who gets to travel to two different cities two days in a row.

welcome note for us medical students at jönköping ryhov hospital!

Look they even made us a little welcome note posted on the board!

So this morning as I’m writing this, I’m sitting on the train which will take me to Värnamo where I will be during the day. The travel there takes 2h, which is basically the same time it took me to go to Jönköping from my medical school Linköping. And it costs 80kr each way (about 8 euros each way – my student wallet is crying). Tomorrow, I will be going to Nässjö, which will luckily take less than 2h to travel to.

Four cities (Linköping, Jönköping, Värnamo, Nässjö) in four consecutive days. I never realised that going to medical school would mean this much travel. I guess we just need to get used to it since in the end, we need to go to where our patients are. And not everyone will be lucky to have all their patients at the same place as oneself. Luckily, I enjoy being a jetsetter anyway.

I really need a driver’s license.

“Vad bra svenska du talar!”

“Vad bra svenska du talar, verkligen!”

Translation: “You speak really good Swedish, really!”

Ever since coming here to Linköping to continue my studies, I seem to get this quite a lot. Once I tell them about my background of course.

After I tell people about moving to Sweden as a 7-year-old from the Philippines and being in medical school for four years in the UK, somehow, people seem to only focus on that. I chose to study in the UK, because I have studied in English ever since moving to Sweden – international schools from elementary to university. However, I did grow up in Sweden in the end. Somehow, the fact that I’ve been raised in Sweden is overshadowed by my immigrant background and international education.

Should I take this as a compliment? That I learnt how to speak good Swedish after living in Sweden for over 10 years? And didn’t forget it whilst abroad?

Or should I feel offended that because I look and am from a different country, I was expected to speak Swedish badly?

Nevertheless, I must understand, I’m a minority. Not everyone have met us modern Swedes with international backgrounds. In that case, I can be an ambassador to show that assimilation into Swedish culture from another background is possible. Maybe next time they meet someone like me, they won’t be as surprised.

Quand on est jeune on est libre

Tracy came over from Stockholm to visit this weekend and here’s a summary of our weekend in bullet-form:

  • Did a Bodypump group session at the gym
  • Pampering session with facials and massage
  • Possibly ate a greater amount of calories that we burnt at an Asian buffet
  • Shopping
  • Filipino super late Valentine’s party – Tracy’s first Filipino party ever
  • Witnessed our beautiful friend Marie’s coronation as Ms TFCCL of 2016
  • Spontaneous dinner at almost midnight
  • Our first night out ever at Harry’s
  • Sunday brunch
  • Gamla Linköping

As you can see, I’m all out. Not like my body isn’t in enough pain since our exercise session. I feel like a senior citizen who can barely walk or sit down. Nevertheless, it was worth it. The best weekend I’ve ever had in Linköping ever!

girlies red lipstick Call me Dr Sam

The girlies and I about to paint the town red with our matching lipsticks 😀

Despite being completely exhausted already at the debut of our weekend because of that insane group exercise session, I don’t get it but, we still managed to do so much anyway. We knew we needed to relax after exercise, so we immediately booked facials and massage straight after – thank you LetsDeal. Starving at the end of our pampering session, we proceeded for lunch buffet at Ginghis, which as many have told me earlier, have really good food. Whilst enduring a mixture of exhaustion and food coma, somehow we still managed to shop, and I still managed to decide and practice the song I would perform later on at the Filipino Valentine’s party. Good thing I did, since it turns out I had already forgotten the lyrics.

 

Since this was my first time experiencing the Filipino community in Linköping, I didn’t really know what to expect. Not gonna lie, I was worried what Tracy would think about my country’s culture after this party. However no matter what would’ve happened, Marie, our favourite contestant at this beauty pageant thing they had during the party made it unforgettable. As she went on stage several times to receive her awards and later to be crowned Ms TFCCL (The Filipino Christian Community in Linköping) 2016, we were her proud stand-in family members supporting her. We all had tears. They grow up so quickly.

 

Afterwards, we had a spontaneous dinner hosted by my amazing landlady Lena-Karin, followed by my first night out in Linköping, which also was Marianne’s first night out ever!  I was so excited to take her out and do her make-up hehe. We went to Harry’s, the place to be in Linköping apparently, and danced with two guys the entire night called David and Petter. We all had so much fun together, and at the end of the night, we just hugged each other goodbye and went our separate ways. If you guys know a David and Petter in Linköping and think it might be them, please tell them we love them. Please rap it too since apparently I was rapping all night and they nicknamed me the hiphoppare or “Hiphopper.” You can say Marianne’s first night out was a great success!

3 am shenanigans Call Me Dr Sam

Post-clubbing shenanigans, continuing the party all the way to bed hehe #tripletrouble

The next day of course, we had to start our day right. So we had an all girls Sunday brunch followed by a trip to Gamla Linköping. We had an hour (we were slow to start our day of course), and only managed to visit two places… but that just means we will be back! We visited the bank like last time I visited on Valentine’s (I just love the bank robbery story of 1854), and the man who works there delivers once again with his great stories. You guys should definitely visit!

 

When we came back from Gamla Linköping, it was then time for Tracy to return to Stockholm, and for us others to go to mass and prepare for the week.

It was an amazing one. Hope you all had a great weekend as well, and have an amazing week! 🙂