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 ✌️️

Hafa adai from orthopedics in Guam, USA!

“Tito (uncle), that man has a limp on his left foot, what do you think is the possible cause?”

And so starts our lecture over lunch at the Hilton hotel, about different causes of asymmetrical limb lengths, ending with the classification of the different types of scoliosis and how to treat it.

Right now, I’m in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on a tropical island called Guam, which is a territory of the United States. (I know you were wondering where Guam is). I’m here for a three-week external orthopaedic placement with my granduncle-in-law, who is the local orthopedic surgeon in the region. I’m currently staying with him and my grandaunt (my grandmother’s youngest sister) at their house and am following my granduncle whenever he goes to work. It’s basically a mixture of vacation with work which I like to call, workcation. There is no better kind.

Since I was younger, I’ve grown up knowing of the many great things my granduncle has achieved throughout his career. I cannot even begin to describe how honoured and fortunate I feel to now be a part of it as his pupil. The generations of doctors in my medical family are now meeting. From breakfast lectures and handouts to clinic and surgeries, and finally ending the day with yet another dinner lecture. Everyday here in Guam has been countless learning opportunities in orthopaedics, and no time has gone to waste. Even the short car drives.

So you may be asking, how am I liking it so far? Well, I’m loving every bit of it, and somehow studying actually became fun now. I’m getting more and more tanned, bigger (no student diet here no) but definitely learning. I often reflect on how I ended up to be so fortunate with such amazing opportunities in life, but all I can do is be grateful.

This week I will be with Dr. Landström (yes, he is Swedish – what are the chances!) the local hand surgeon of the island, to have a greater diversity of cases within orthopaedics. Hand surgery cases that is. Tomorrow, I’ll be seeing my first hand surgery with him, and I better be on top with my anatomy. Like my granduncle, he is a very well-respected and experienced doctor too, who even has worked in Afghanistan. So to be on his good side, I better get back to studying, my break is over.

Hafa adai (the local greeting here which is pronounced half-a-day) from Guam! I promise to be back to write more about medicine and life here on the island. Until next time! 🙂

On being a young researcher

Since the age of 16, I have known my way around a research lab and understand research jargon. I have familiarised myself with the research life, where everything you do is highly dependent on your cells (your babies) and the experiments you do with them. You never leave your experiment without a timer and when it rings, RUN. Otherwise that experiment you’ve paid thousands for and have been working on for the entire week would’ve been all for nothing. Or when you successfully get your results and realise that you’ve contaminated the sample?… There can be no greater research pain. It’s happened to all of us, and I know that you who are reading this who have done research before can relate.

Call me doctor Sam first lab internship as a 16-year old at Stockholm University

Self-proclaimed nerd since 2010, at my first lab internship as a 16-year old at Stockholm University

However there is one thing that has been harder to get used to. In every research group I have been in, I have always been the youngest.

As a high school student and later medical student in my early years, it was hard for me to enter a group of people who were in average normally 10 years older. All incredibly intelligent, talented and experienced, not only in what they were working with but in life too. They were in much different stages in their lives than I was. Married with their own families, sometimes with children my age. They had their lives established already with fancy titles beside their names…. and I was always just Sam.

 

I often felt lonely. How could I relate to these people? These people who are all so amazing, how could I match with them? I always looked up to them, and was often intimidated. Would I even be able to say anything smart and mature for them to see me as a peer? I didn’t want to risk it, so most of the time I just sat quietly and did my work until the day was over. Until now.

Since February, I have belonged to a research group in Linköping University working on colorectal cancer. Two days ago, I have finally signed my contract as a Research Engineer for the university. In my research group, I’m the only one without a Dr. title in front of my name – where all are medical doctors with years of experience (doctors/surgeons with MDPhDs mainly) except for my project partner who’s a postdoc from medical sciences, which is why they paired me with him. Two days ago, I found out that he has photographic (eidetic) memory.

 

Yes, I have asked myself several times – what am I doing here. If there is one group that I should feel most intimidated by, it would be this one. But rather, I could have never asked for a better group to work in. Despite being the least qualified in the group, somehow, I still feel that I belong. It was only in this group where I realised that if amazing, talented colleagues of mine see me as a peer and believe that I can contribute and belong to the group, I should believe so too.

Being surrounded by intelligent people on an everyday basis is definitely a humbling experience. Like before, I still often feel small, but now instead of questioning my own abilities, I ask my colleagues about theirs. I am given the unique opportunity to learn from the best, for me to improve my own abilities. I get inspired to dare to dream for my own ambitions, from those who already are exceeding theirs.

I have been blessed with amazing colleagues who I am looking forward to working with for the year(s) to come. They taught me that having big crazy dreams is good, because they do too. So together we dream and work for something as crazy as even finding the cure for cancer. Who knows, maybe someday we will!

dinner in 1853 eating italian food like pizza in linköping with my research lab colleagues

Introducing my research group from our dinner at 1853 in Linköping! Dr. everyone but me 😀 

I’m on vacation!

minion vacation by the beach gif

Dear all,

I am now on VACATION! For the next two months, expect many vacation photos and lots of travel stories. My medical posts will be very close to nonexistent until August, and I apologise for this! Nevertheless, I am now about to board my final flight of the day. After a 10h stopover in Hong Kong, I’m about to board my flight to Manila!

For the first time ever, I’ve decided to travel solo around the Philippines, and finally see the sights I’ve grown up hearing about. Considering the amount of travel I’ve done in the past (taught English in Romania, hitchhiked across Europe in a unicorn onesie, been to a total of 46 countries and counting etc…), it’s really a shame that I haven’t seen my own homeland. I’m nearing the end of my medical degree, I’m single and I’m about to turn 23. If I don’t do it now, when would I ever do it? So here’s to my first solo vacation to my homeland the Philippines!

I will be visiting several islands and areas in the Philippines. Despite the monsoon season, I promise pretty photos!

After the Philippines, I’ll be travelling to Iceland with my family, and then finally to World Youth Day in Poland. Watch out for those posts after my solo three-week vacation (#samcation) in the Philippines.

Well, here I go. Wish me luck! Here’s to a well-deserved vacation!!

How about you, what are you up to this summer? 🙂

Thank God May is over – tenta-p!

May has been such a crazy month. Let me summarise my month in bullet points:

  • I got operated on at the end of April/beginning of May
  • I underwent post-op hell
  • I moved three times with my newly operated arm
  • My phone got stolen

Oh and of course, I’m a medical student + researcher on top of that. Now May is coming to an end which means soon summer vacation, but before that even sooner, EXAMS.

Normally during what I used to call revision week in the UK but here tenta-p, I would turn off all social medias (especially Facebook), pull all-nighters with the help of caffeine pills and stop eating. However it seems like it’s not the case here in Sweden. My friends even had plans to do things during the exam period. Much healthier I’d say.

Nevertheless, I have my game face on. I’m gonna study everything I need to know, and I’m gonna pass these exams. Until then, wish me luck guys!

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.

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! 🙂