The Miracle Of Life

“In terms of rape victims who get pregnant from their aggressors, would it be okay for an abortion?”

“What if the baby has a life-threatening condition, should one still continue with the pregnancy and go through the trauma of giving birth, when knowing that the baby has no chance of survival?”

“What if the baby has a serious condition requiring lifelong medical care, leading to the child having a poor quality of life? Should one still continue the pregnancy?”

As a Catholic doctor as well as a woman, I have had difficulties with these questions. I have long pondered, if a patient asked me for an abortion because of these reasons, what would I say? Or perhaps even, what would I do if I was put into that situation?

A few months ago, I was doing my anaesthesia rotation. The next patient to come in for surgery read “abortion,” and it was for a baby just about in the Swedish legal limits for a woman to have full autonomy in having an abortion – 18 weeks. As a medical student, it was my job to receive the patient from the waiting room. After introducing myself to the patient only a few years older than me, we started walking together to the operation room. On the way to the operation room she said: “I can’t wait for this to be over, and for this thing to be out of me.”

I was filled with sadness, for both the mother and the baby. I was sad for the mother for failing to see God’s gift for her, and sad for the baby who was robbed of God’s greatest gift for them, their life. After escorting the patient to the operation room, followed by a quiet prayer to myself for both the mother and the baby, I excused myself from the surgery. At that moment, the teachings and answers provided by the Church regarding my questions on abortion all made sense.

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Right now, I am in the Philippines for my Obstetrics/Gynaecology clinical rotation. Right before leaving, my boyfriend Jonas and I decided to do the First Saturdays Devotion together, as requested by Our Lady of Fatima. On the day I was leaving for the Philippines, we went to mass together on the first Saturday of December, followed by praying the Rosary and afterwards meditating on the mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary for 15 minutes – which are all parts of the things to do during the First Saturdays Devotion. I chose to meditate on the Nativity.

As I began my meditation, I pictured Mary. Already from the moment the Angel Gabriel announced her miraculous conception of Jesus, she decided to accept and trust God’s plan for her. As crazy as it may sound that she became pregnant despite being a virgin. Even St Joseph her spouse was fully supportive, after being spoken to by an angel of God in a dream. Mary and Joseph both trusted God’s plan for them and embraced this blessing fully until the very end. Even when Mary was about to give birth. Even though Mary and Joseph were not welcomed in any home in Bethlehem, they had no fear. In the end, Mary gave birth to the Saviour of the world, in a manger.

Then I pictured Mary with thorns in her heart. Unlike Mary, many women today fear pregnancy, and see it as a “disease” needing prevention and treatment. Unlike Mary, many women today do not love their children, in the same way she did. I could feel Mary’s pain for all the children both born and unborn, who are unloved by their parents especially their mothers. These children are so unloved, that some mothers even decide to kill them before they are born into the beautiful world God created for us. I realized what Mary was telling me. No matter the circumstance, every child conceived is a miracle and is God’s most precious gift to the world, life. And just like her, I will love every child God will bless my husband and I unconditionally.

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I have always said Obstetrics (the medical specialty concerning pregnancy and childbirth) is the happiest specialty. The patients are usually healthy mothers excitedly waiting for the birth of their children. Doing my obstetrics rotation here in the Philippines has been an absolute joy, as it makes me happy being surrounded by expecting mothers, as well as happy mothers with newly born babies. Last week, during the feast day of the Immaculate Conception, I was given the opportunity to deliver my very first baby.

When the baby had just been successfully delivered, I was standing there in silence and awe, looking at the baby in my hands. It felt as if time had stopped, until I heard the doctor say, “You can pass the baby to the midwife now.” I passed the baby to the midwife, who then passed the baby to the mother. After the delivery, I changed out of my scrubs and rushed to mass.

I cannot explain the emotions that ran through me as I was holding that baby. As I held that baby, the miracle of life, I could just feel the immense happiness and love for this child. Just like every one of us, this child was born because of God’s love for us. What a blessing it was to be used as an instrument to deliver life, God’s most precious gift, into our beautiful world.

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Every child is a miracle of life and a gift from God, out of His love for us. Just like the child Jesus, God loves us so much that He sent His only Son into the world to save us from our sins, so that we can join Him again in Heaven. This Christmas, let us thank God for this blessing of salvation, and celebrate our Saviour’s birth. Let us also pray for all the children born and unborn, and their parents. Let us pray for all parents especially mothers, to always love their children unconditionally, in the same way Mary and God love us.

John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten son: that whoever believes in Him may not perish, but may have life everlasting. For God sent not his Son into the world to judge the world: but that the world may be saved by him.

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 ✌️️

TRAVEL VLOG: World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow

Indescribable but definitely unforgettable. Who knew I’d be missing the crammed trains with singing French youth, the long queues to eat and the long walks in the sun/rain with millions of other pilgrims from around the world. Exhausted physically and mentally, but it was worth every moment of it. Yes, I’m definitely still experiencing the “World Youth Day hangover.” I wish you all were with me to share the same experiences I had in Krakow, but I’m hoping that you all can get a glimpse at least through this video 🙂 

See you in Panama in 2019! 😀

Footage, background music and editing by me.

Well look at me – I’m 23!

Life is too short to not celebrate birthdays. Even such a meaningless number like 23. Or well, now I can get inside Ugglan, woo! 😛

 

As I rarely am in Stockholm/Sweden during my birthday as it’s in the summer, I usually celebrate my birthday abroad. However as my sister is turning the big number 25 on the 21st, we decided to celebrate it properly. So I decided to only have a short stay in the Philippines so I can be there for my sister. As I’d be here for my birthday, why not celebrate it?

Last time I celebrated my birthday was when I turned 18 five years ago. It was about time.

I had planned a pub crawl around my favourite themed bars in Stockholm. A friend from St Andrews had come all the way from the UK to visit, and my two little sisters from Linköping had come to celebrate as well so I wanted to make the night out more interesting. Despite having planned everything with a pub crawl app and all, in the end we only managed to go to one bar… the Vampire Lounge. At least we managed to go out anyway – E for effort! We later ended the night at one of my favourite clubs Hornhuset and headed home.

After celebrating my birthday with my close friends, I felt blessed and grateful for the wonderful people I have around me. Friends who have stuck with me through the years and friends who I still maintain close with no matter the distance. I have definitely hit it big these past 23 years. I will cherish these friends I have, and hope to celebrate even more birthdays with them in the future.

Thank you life for being good to me, despite all the ups and downs. You have made one happy girl nevertheless! Until the next birthday ❤

Revision Week vs Tenta-P

I can’t believe it. I just finished my first medical school exams in Sweden. I’M FREE!!! 😀

So I just underwent my first “Tenta-P” (Tenta = exam, P = period) aka revision week followed by exams. I must say, it is very different from my past revision weeks in the UK (at least in St Andrews). Here are a few reasons why.

Revision week – UK; Tenta-P – Sweden

Also, see my previous blog post on Being a medical student in the UK vs Sweden.

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1. Tentagrupp/exam study groups

Revision week: Your exam grade depends on the normal distribution of how the rest of the class does on the same exam. Owing to this competitive nature, preparing for the exams tend to get competitive as well.  You’re on your own, good luck!

Tenta-P: This is probably the best thing about Tenta-P. It’s more social, and you’re not alone. Most join a tentagrupp or an exam study group (including myself) where you meet everyday to go over topics and past exam questions according to your revision week schedule. It’s basically a way to keep yourself (and each other!) motivated and on track, since you know you have to go through the topic before you meet the rest!

community study group group work gif

2. Previous exam questions

Revision week: As previous exam questions tend to get reused, the medical school don’t provide a database with previous exams. Knowing this however, students of previous years collectively made their own “previous exam database.” After one’s exam, one writes all the questions one could remember that came up, to share to the coming students the following year (thug life). This document is constantly growing and is being secretly passed down year after year like an heirloom.

Tenta-P: On our internal school website, we have a database of previous exams (from several years ago up to the one from last semester) available for us to study on, including answers. The questions also have a tendency to be reused, so there were many moments when I was beaming during the exam – that meant I had seen that question before.

simpsons happy paper writing gif

3. I’m still on Facebook

Revision week: Every revision week every semester, I usually deactivate my Facebook to minimise my procrastination and hopefully increase my concentration. My friends were used to this so as revision week approaches, they would normally ask me when I plan to take my Facebook down – and make sure they have my number so I’m reachable.

Tenta-P: I didn’t close down any of my social media accounts, instead I even added another one – Jodel. It proved to be quite a fun method of procrastination.

4. More space to study

Revision week: Back in St Andrews, we only had one central university library for all 9000 students. One could say that it definitely was not big enough to fit us all. Especially during revision week. Once, I walked around the library for over an hour trying to find a space with no luck – I just ended up going home. To be fair though, it was also a form of procrastination since you see everyone there during revision week, as everyone take their exams at the same time. Because of this, an early version of Jodel and Tinder combined begun called Spotted at St Andrews Library, where students could post about their library crush anonymously. Procrastination at its best.

Tenta-P: There are several study spaces across campus and I studied in my campus which is part of the university hospital area. To my surprise, I never had a hard time to find a spot to study, and I still seemed to see my fellow medic friends at the medical school. Where do they come from? Where do everyone else study? Wherever they may be, I’m definitely happy they left me a spot to study at the medical school anyway.

5. I’m actually sleeping

Revision week: At first, I would set some alarms at about 6/7am to make sure I wake up and study. After a while, my body gets used to waking up so early, that I don’t need an alarm clock anymore, regardless of the time I go to bed the day before. My body gets used to the 5h a day sleep routine. However, when it’s an extra harsh study day, I can’t afford 5h of sleep. That’s when the caffeine pills come in. Believe it or not, all-nighters with the right company are actually quite fun!

Tenta-P: I never had an alarm during the entire time and I think I got about 7h sleep each night. I never pulled an all-nighter nor took my typical caffeine pills to help me study. I feel so much healthier – and definitely more well-rested.

6. Packed lunches

Revision week: Bringing food to university isn’t really a thing in the UK – well at least in St Andrews as there are no microwaves in campus. So during study breaks from the library, you go to a fast food place and get take out, or to a nice restaurant to eat. Considering one could get a three-course meal from Jahangir (my favourite Indian place ever) for £5 (at the time about 50kr), it wasn’t really a big deal eating out everyday. Which definitely explains why most of us gain weight during revision week. For example, a friend of mine gained over 3kg from eating take out pizza everyday during revision week. But pizza is bae so it’s okay ❤

Tenta-P: To save time, you prepare your packed lunches for the entire week you will be spending in the library during tenta-P, and keep them in the fridge. Then you bring them one by one, and eat with your fellow medic classmates with their packed lunches at the medical school. You end up eating the same thing everyday but who cares, it’s revision week. And definitely more economical (#studentlife). Thank God for microwaves in campus.

7. One doesn’t study in the evening

Revision week: As previously mentioned, late night studying and all-nighters is a thing back in the UK. I used to do at least one all-nighter every revision week and mastered the 5min nap. Literally, I’d put my head down and my friend would time me, but I would automatically get up after 5min anyway and keep going. Also, it’s so much calmer in the evening hence so much easier to concentrate!

Tenta-P: In general, the medical school clears out around 5/6pm during tenta-P. I tend to study more effectively during the evening, so I usually stay on until nearly midnight. Which is apparently unheard of as most during this time are at home relaxing – or better yet sleeping – after the day’s study schedule. I often wished I was them.

sheldon cooper from big bang theory gif all nighter don't need sleep need answers

8. I’m actually doing other things apart from studying

Revision week: Life is wake up, study, eat while studying, sleep (if you can), study. Breaks every now and then if you deserve it. Repeat.

Tenta-P: So my friend Arianne from St Andrews came to visit over the weekend (yes, the few days before the exam), and I also celebrated a friend’s graduation back home in Stockholm. Arianne was a regular revision week study buddy of mine back in St Andrews, and I must say she was quite surprised by how “normal” I was. Not sleep deprived, not talking medical jargon to myself and lastly, not too stressed to not have a good time out!

9. The fear of failing

Revision week: In the UK, passing is not the difficult part and passing is not enough. You need to get a good grade as well because the better you get, the better it will be for you later. Also, your grade once again depends on the normal distribution of your class’ results. The fear was never about passing, so in a way I never had the anxiety of failing. Rather, the fear was getting a bad grade.

Tenta-P: The day before my exam, I had the biggest pre-exam anxiety ever. So bad I even had to go to church to calm myself down – God was the only one who could help me now. As we don’t receive grades but just a pass or fail on our exams, the fear was on passing as there’s nothing else to aim for unlike before. 65% total minimum was the goal, otherwise you gotta come back in August to do the resits!

spongebob rips in half gif

10. Meh, I’ll just do the resits

Revision week: If you fail an exam, you have one chance of redoing it during the summer. No matter how well you do on the resit, the maximum grade you can get is a pass. Also, it will state on your academic transcript upon graduation that you had to do a resit. If you fail the second time however, you need to repeat the year – touch luck! In other words the mentality is: failure is not an option.

Tenta-P: Once I overcame my pre-exam anxiety of failing, I accepted the fact that I know what I know and I can simply only do my best during the exam. I accepted my highly likely fate of returning for a resit in August. I listened to my friends’ advice who have this embedded within them – doing a resit is not the end of the world. At least the information will be fresh in your mind when the next semester starts! Meh if I fail, whatever there’s always next time 🙂

cat rolling psh whateva whatever i'm out gif

Time for summer vacation. Ehh, Linköping see you during resits in August? 😂

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!

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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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.

Making it in Linköping + #ootd

On Valentine’s day last week, I posted a photo from Gamla Linköping (Linköping Old Town), which caught the attention of the Linköping tourist agency, Visit Linköping.

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But first, where is the water tower?

Naturally, I had to go find the water tower, and as I luckily live with two who have lived in Linköping their whole lives, I had guides!

On Thursday evening, we went on a hunt for a good vantage point, which involved climbing walls of parking lots… and later realising that you could walk around.

Nevertheless, we managed a photo! Or well, somewhat of a photo.

My camera and/or my photography skills are simply not good enough. You can somewhat make out that it’s this photo below and my Instagram username @fileea on the screen right?

Outfit:

Blouse: From an Italian boutique in Linköping, given to me by my landlady
Skirt: From Åhléns own brand I bought ages ago
Bag from London Fog
Boots from Bianco
Jacket from Nautica