My 2017 Year of Travel

This year, I must admit, I travelled more than I ever have before. Most probably because it’s also my final year in medical school ever = final year of freedom from real responsibilities. I even reached my 50th country! Without further ado, here’s my 2017 Year of Travel.

Previous Year of Travel posts: My 2015 year of travel and My 2016 year of travel

All photos are from my Instagram.

1.  Began the New Year in the Big Apple

https://www.instagram.com/p/BPfCB83gnT1/?taken-by=samvsworld

2. Attended my very first Indian wedding in Leicester, UK

https://www.instagram.com/p/BPxCyl0gLdH/?taken-by=samvsworld

3. Seeing good old friends in London a month later

https://www.instagram.com/p/BRLseNdFkTL/?taken-by=samvsworld

4. Watching beautiful sunsets in Boracay, Philippines

https://www.instagram.com/p/BRzm33wl1PE/?taken-by=samvsworld

5. Interned as Dr. Sam in Philippine General Hospital, realising how grateful I am to live in a country like Sweden

https://www.instagram.com/p/BST8jMylOj2/?taken-by=samvsworld

6. Represented my choir and sang with hundreds of other choir singers around the Nordic region in Oulu, Finland

https://www.instagram.com/p/BTwhdTpF3Yp/?taken-by=samvsworld

7. Passed by Tallinn, Estonia for a weekend

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVRvk0FBKl9/?taken-by=samvsworld

8. Learnt how to scuba dive in Subic, Philippines

https://www.instagram.com/p/BV2AfINhbs7/?taken-by=samvsworld

9. Rode a kalesa in Vigan, Philippines

https://www.instagram.com/p/BWkW8tABKJL/?taken-by=samvsworld

10. Discovered beautiful natural springs in Bicol, Philippines

https://www.instagram.com/p/BWzIG_2BI6N/?taken-by=samvsworld

11. Made a quick trip to Hong Kong Disneyland

https://www.instagram.com/p/BXII6O1BSh3/?taken-by=samvsworld

12. Visited paradise in Pangasinan, Philippines

https://www.instagram.com/p/BXrHtKghWuU/?taken-by=samvsworld

13. A quick stop over in my paradise home in Subic for a few days

https://www.instagram.com/p/BafrhmVBf9I/?taken-by=samvsworld

14. After a quick stop over in Subic, I got to sit in the cockpit of an airplane for the first time ever!

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bag9B2iBMKk/?taken-by=samvsworld

15. Escaped winter and interned at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia for four weeks

https://www.instagram.com/p/BbpJcLoB5_Y/?taken-by=samvsworld

16. Got to finally dive the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns, Australia

https://www.instagram.com/p/BbMF_NpB3Kn/?taken-by=samvsworld

17. Made a quick stop over and explored Singapore for a few hours

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bby__TmhyfD/?taken-by=samvsworld

18. Returned to Philippine General Hospital for my final rotation and delivered my first baby!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BccCX8Shm4r/?taken-by=samvsworld

19. Finally got to see the beautiful Hundred Islands in Pangasinan Philippines with Jonas straight from the airport

https://www.instagram.com/p/BdPd8UTB-Ob/?taken-by=samvsworld

20. Happily ending this year and starting the next, with this guy by my side in the country of my birth ❤

https://www.instagram.com/p/BdRNoJOhgR1/?taken-by=samvsworld

PHEW! That was a long list. Definitely the longest ever. It was a good year of travel, and we’ll see where 2018 will bring us! However as now that I will start working, probably not to very far away places. But my wandering soul will forever remain.

Happy new year everyone! 😀 ❤

No man is an island (Psychiatry in Växjö)

I’m now on my final week in psychiatry in Växjö, and so far it’s been amazing. This week is a bit special though, as now I’m in Children’s Psychiatry. Otherwise during the past three weeks I’ve been in Adult Psychiatry, rotating within Emergency Psychiatry, Psychosis, Geriatric Psychiatry, General Psychiatry and lastly what I call the Psychiatric Jail. I’ve seen a great array of cases, and I think if there’s something I’ll bring from my placement, that would be that no man is an island.

Psychiatry is all about relationships. Well, for the main part anyway except for perhaps the cases of schizophrenia, autism etc. Otherwise, it’s all about relationships.

Relationships with your family, with your partner and of course with yourself.

When I was in the Emergency Psychiatry clinic on Valentine’s day, we all of a sudden saw a rise of emergency bookings compared to the day before. 10 patients vs the 2 yesterday on a Monday. It’s just a regular Tuesday I thought, but nope. It’s Valentine’s Day. The next day, only one patient came to the clinic.

Patients came in with depression which started from their divorce and/or patients coming in with suicidal thoughts from failed relationships. I thought to myself, this must be because of the holiday. If you’re surrounded by things that will constantly remind you about love, loved ones and relationships, if you don’t feel loved, it’s not too surprising if you would do something crazy on Valentine’s day.

As humans, we have a strong sense of belonging. Sure, being strong and independent is a quality to be desired and to strive for, but being independent doesn’t mean one is alone. Being independent means you are in control of yourself and your surroundings. With surroundings, I don’t only mean the things around us, but also with whom we live our lives with. Because it is through these people we feel like we belong and we gain purpose. It is through these people we find a home. And a home is a place where we feel loved.

When I meet these patients in the clinic, it saddens me that they are deprived of a home where they feel like they belong, a place where they receive love. If these basic needs were met, I believe a majority of these patients wouldn’t be here in the first place. If they have a place where they feel love, it will be easier for them to have love within them for themselves. And with self-love comes our power as human beings. Without power, what are we then?

It’s true what they say, love makes the world go around. Love is the answer. I believe this is more true than ever in psychiatry. Sure, as doctors we can give medication to try and help their situations, but if they don’t have that love within, medication is only a band-aid. If they haven’t nurtured a love within, with the help of others’ love for them, then they definitely need it now. In the end, no man is an island.

…But then again, what the heck what do I know, I’m only a student ✌️️

Sometimes (original) – Valentines 2017

Aaaaaaand it’s that time of the year again. Valentine’s day – or more like Single Awareness Day (SAD) in my case. As per tradition, I write a song every Valentine’s reflecting my current relationship status. Basically, it’s to show where I am in terms of my love life to those who ask lol.

Now that I’m nearing the end of my medical studies, and I guess now that I’m coming to that age as well, being asked why I’m still single is something that comes more frequently than I’d like to admit.

Here are some examples of things I hear:

“Sam, you should prioritise your love life too!”

“Have you found anyone yet? Remember ___? He’s single and I think you guys would be great for each other!”

“You have an important duty to spread your genes to the world.”

Well sure, there may be some truth in all those statements… but why the rush? As a response to all those asking me why I’m still single, here’s a song I wrote called “Sometimes,” which sheds a light on my current stance in this topic.

Hope you all had a better Valentine’s Day that I did – note to self, Valentine’s day is probably one of the worst days to work at an emergency psychiatric clinic. But someone’s got to right?

Hope you all felt the love on Valentine’s Day! ❤

My previous Valentine’s Day songs:

2016: Single Awareness Day, Again
2015: Valentine
2014: Single Awareness Day
2013: You 
2012: A song for you – my Valentine’s day songwriting tradition was born!

Sometimes (original) by Sam Valles – Valentine’s Day 2017

Chords:
Verses: E A C#m A B
Bridge: A E C#m A B
Chorus: E A C#m B

Lyrics:
Verse 1:
I like to think sometimes, sometimes
I like to hope sometimes, sometimes
That someday, sometime, I’ll know, I’ll be ready

I like to pray sometimes, sometimes
I like to dream sometimes, sometimes
That someone, somewhere, out there, is waiting for me

Bridge 1:
But no matter where I go and no matter where I stay
I say, no no, not today
And no matter who I meet, and no matter who I know
I say no no, even if I like him so

Chorus 1:
I guess I’m vulnerable, fighting to flee
From these feelings surrounding me
But deep inside I hope, I’ll see
That someone, somewhere, someday, will set me free

Verse 2:
I like to sing sometimes, sometimes
I like to say sometimes, sometimes
That no matter wherever, whenever, I’m better off free

But then I think sometimes, sometimes
It must be nice sometimes, sometimes
That someone, somewhere, out there, is there for me

Bridge 2:
But no matter what I do there’s a message in my head
That says, no no, don’t be mislead
And no matter what they say I will always run away
Because I’m scared, will I let them in someday

Chorus 2:
I guess I’m vulnerable admittingly
Scared of giving a piece of me
But deep inside I hope I’ll meet
That someone somewhere who’ll make me believe

But yes I’m vulnerable, but that’s not me
I believe that feelings don’t make me weak
I’m just waiting to be ready
To give me to someone who cares for me

Outro (like verse):
I like to think sometimes, sometimes
I like to dream sometimes, sometimes
That someday, someone, out there, will love me for me

 

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

5 lessons I learnt from failure

For my entire life, I have never failed an exam. Study or no study, somehow, I’ve been lucky with exams. I have always taken pride in my ability to have a perfect pass record and my high marks. Failure, has never been an option neither a possibility for me. Then I came to Linköping and I failed my first exam ever. Twice.

I was devastated. For a long time, I questioned my abilities. How have I managed so far when I can’t even pass an exam, even after redoing it? I was discouraged, and all of a sudden, my belief in my natural superpower of doing well in exams was gone. Countless tears were shed and I was crushed inside. Then I thought, perhaps I made the worst mistake of my life by transferring to medical school in Sweden. I doubted myself and my decision.

I felt like a failure. I felt unworthy of staying in medical school in Linköping if I couldn’t even pass this exam after another try. Nevertheless, I persevered. I listened to my friends who told me that it’s okay to fail, and it’s understandable. You’ve never studied in Swedish and this is your first time taking an exam in Linköping and in Swedish they said. I held on to that thought for the entire of last semester, with the fear of being put on academic probation in the back of my head. I retook the exam once again in January, and I passed. Third time’s a charm.

Failing, was definitely a tough experience to go through, but I believe that it is a valuable experience to have. After all, we learn from our mistakes right? Failure is the best teacher.

 

5 LESSONS FAILURE TAUGHT ME

1. Failure doesn’t define you, but rather what you do about it afterwards

I had this idea that by failing, I will always be marked as a failure. Something that will continue to haunt me for the rest of my life. I was wrong. After failing, no one seems to remember that I failed, but only remember the fact that I passed. Looking at successful people in the world, like Bill Gates and Michael Jordan. Are they remembered for dropping out of college or not making it to their basketball team? Nope, they are only remembered for what they had achieved afterwards.

smooth save gymnastics girl on bar

2. Failure is simply an opportunity for growth

After finding out that I had failed, I repeated to myself of how I knew nothing. I beat myself about it, telling myself how stupid I was that nothing had gone in my head during my entire time studying. When I got to see my score, I found out that I was only 3 points away from passing. The second time, 4 points away (wrong way I know).

Failing doesn’t mean that one isn’t capable of succeeding, but rather one isn’t there just yet. 3 points away to be precise in my case. In this case, one is given the opportunity to continue developing using the lessons learnt from one’s failure, so that one in the end one can reach one’s goal in the best way possible.

you can dust it off and try again aliyah gif

3. If your friends and family believe in you, so should you

When I had failed, my friends and family kept telling me nonchalantly, oh don’t worry you’ll make it next time. I kept saying I would do my best, but I already had failed twice so my statistics looked grim. How come my friends and family trusted my abilities so much but I didn’t? Once passing, I was over the moon, and then they told me that they told me so.

If I had believed in what my friends and family said, I would’ve saved myself all the mental anguish and anxieties from the fear of failing yet again. There really is a strength in faith, especially faith in oneself. If they didn’t believe in me, who knows if I would’ve passed if I didn’t even believe that I would. The first step in doing something is believing one can accomplish it right?

child saying you have got to believe in yourself gif giphy

4. Not reaching one’s own expectations doesn’t make one a failure

I expected myself to have gone through medical school without failing a single exam, and on the time I expected myself to finish. I was supposed to be a graduated doctor by 23, with a perfect academic record. I’m graduating at 24, in Sweden, with a few failed exams here and there. Does that make me a worse doctor? Does that make me a failure? Nope, in the end I will still become a doctor, which is my goal in the first place. With a lot more experience than I had expected to graduate with.

arrested development i don't know what I expected

5. Failing is not the end of the world

You failed, so what. Life goes on. In the words of my favourite prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

In other words, better luck next time!

i'm rooting for you patrick star spongebob gif

The concept of health insurance in the US

I’m now back in Sweden after an amazing three weeks in Guam and currently am suffering from a severe Guam hangover. From sunny tropical weather to darkness and snow on my face for the next couple of months, yes there is a difference. Ah well, at least winter is kinda pretty and Christmas is just around the corner.

During my time working as “Dr. Sam” at the clinics and hospitals in Guam, I got to experience what is really alien to most of us here in Europe, which is the novelty of health insurance.

It’s true. All treatments are based on the insurance of the individual.

Let me explain it a bit more. Before going to a doctor, to be sure that the insurance will cover it, you need to apply for what you will be going to the doctor for. Because of this, some people are forced to wait, which sometimes leads to the worsening of their condition. Sometimes, it gets too late. This is mainly the case of patients who cannot pay for it first, or those who don’t want to risk the ability of not getting reimbursed by their insurance.

Secondly, there are different types of insurances. Depending on the type of insurance you have, doctors will treat you differently. Most health insurances are costly and privately owned, but some patients get free health insurance from the government as they are earning below a certain amount. Because of this, some greedy doctors (I’ve heard) do not prioritise these patients, as they barely will get money from them from their health insurance. In contrast to the patients with expensive health insurances, they will profit a lot from them.

To those who do not receive free health insurance and cannot afford the privately owned one, they’re in trouble. Going to a doctor then becomes very expensive, and a trip to the emergency room alone would cost several thousands of dollars. I wish I was exaggerating. Even the medicines are expensive.

For example, during my time in the US I managed to get an external otitis, aka swimmer’s ear. For this I needed anti-bacterial ear drops for. I got a prescription from my uncle, went to a pharmacy, and got my ear drops for $57.60. This is about 550kr. In comparison, I had a surgery in my arm in Stockholm in May, and that cost 350kr. Crazy isn’t it. I guess in this way, in one way or another, it is good to be home.

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5 uniquely British medical practices

I’ll be blunt and admit that I don’t really have a lot of exciting things to tell from the hospital after my placements. I think my placement in medical emergency is a tough one to beat. However recently, I’ve been remembering all these medical practices that was everyday for me in the UK, which now actually seems completely alien to me. I’m converting. There’s a lot that comes to mind, but for starters, here’s a list of five uniquely British medical practices.

1. Clinical wear is basically formal wear

For doctors, clinical wear entails shirt/trousers (NOT JEANS) for men and shirt/blouse/skirt/trousers (again NOT JEANS) for women. Nice flat dress shoes for both genders. Yes, this practice is extremely questionable hygiene-wise, as you come to work with the same clothes you will be wearing the whole day at the hospital, but there is some reasoning behind this.

The medical practice in the UK wanted to take a step away from the hierarchical system by abolishing the white coat and scrubs for doctors. There shouldn’t be anything to distinguish a doctor from a patient appearance-wise, as in the end they’re both people. This is so that there will be no “us and them” mentality between the doctors and the patients, and hopefully, doctors become more approachable during patient contact. It’s a nice thought I guess, and perhaps the prevalence of “white coat syndrome” has diminished over the years. However hygiene-wise once again, questionable.

homer gif giphy saying why so formal lenny you're my go to guy

2. Only black or white shoes are allowed to be worn in the hospital

The professional clinical look in British standards is to be somewhat uniform. Black or white shoes are to be worn as they are more professional. No bright colourful sneakers were allowed. However, I was always jealous of my sister and the bright colourful sneakers she wore around the hospitals in Sweden. So I never listened and decided to rebel and wear my bright orange sneakers. Did I get looks? Yes. Did I get scolded? Sometimes. But boy did I get compliments from patients – “I like your bright orange sneakers, you’re hard to miss in this hospital!” At least I was remembered for my fashion sense.

3. Some doctors wear bow ties or tucked-in ties

As an attempt to improve hospital hygiene, it was implemented that anything hanging around one’s neck is not allowed to be worn in the hospital. Including neck ties. This angered many doctors, as they viewed it to be a crucial part of their professional clinical wear. Therefore they came up with a compromise. Some switched to wearing bow ties, whereas others decided to keep wearing neck ties but started tucking the end of their neck ties inside their shirt. Works I guess.

bow tie from sing movie

4. British hospitals only use black pens

If you look around a British hospital, you will only find black pens and no other colour. I recall being scolded when in the hospital once for taking notes with a blue pen. They told me – how would colour blind people be able to read what I’m writing? I assured them that the notes were only for me to see, and afterwards I had to promise to never use my blue pen again. Since that day, I only brought black pens to the hospital. Yes, it is a rule in British hospitals that you are only allowed to use black pens so that everyone can read what you write, including those who are colour blind.

blue colour blind pen screaming gif giphy

5. You address surgeons as Mr/Mrs/Ms and DEFINITELY not Dr.

“Dr. McCloy… Oh sorry, I mean Mr. McCloy!”

I bet it’s probably only in the UK where some doctors would take offense if you call them Dr. Why you might wonder, which is a pretty good question. As told perfectly in this article, during the origins of surgery around the 18th century, surgeons back then did not possess any formal qualifications let alone a medical degree to be able to hold the title Dr. They were sometimes compared to butchers, and doctors were definitely more superior. However as times have changed, the status of surgeons have risen and thus have become so proud to distinguish themselves from doctors. Today in British hospitals, being called Mr or Mrs/Ms is a badge of honour and could only mean one thing – and that is that you’re a surgeon.
they call me mr tibbs gif giphy

Firestone by Kygo (cover)

This weekend I had to quickly go home to Stockholm to pick up a few things. Not very eventful really, but I did manage to get some time with the piano! I haven’t been doing a lot of music lately, and I still have to upload the song I recently wrote but as you guys might understand, moving to a new medical school takes up a lot of time and energy!

In terms of that, everything seems to be going quite well so far. First week done! But I think I need to wait another few days or weeks to really settle in and really get the feel of the place. I’ll write all about it soon, I promise!

But for now, here’s a piano cover of Firestone by Kygo, and I really apologise for the mistakes in the middle hehe. Hope you all had an amazing weekend!