THE GROWTH THAT MADE ME CRY.

On a random afternoon in my dad’s office, I picked my hospital case note from the shelf ( NOTE: CASE NOTES ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE TAKEN OUT OF THE HOSPITAL RECORDS BUT MY PARENTS KEEP THEM FOR EASY ACCESSIBILITY). I had asked my mum about the case notes some weeks prior to the day I found them and she said it might have been returned to the records department. I eventually found it in my dad’s office and because I had just completed my first rotation in clinical school, I wanted to see if I could interpret the doctor’s notes.

Sometimes in September 2012, I had a surgery in the area of my first clinical posting so I read through the notes and I understood every single term! I remembered that sometimes ago, about 4 years, I read the notes and wasn’t able to discern any of the pages. Here I was, with a clear understanding of everything. I even remembered that the surgeon showed my parents’ the organ removed (in a sample jar for transport for pathologic examination) while I was in the ward. I saw it, black patches surrounding a red mass, now I know what it was.

IT’S BEEN A YEAR!

2020, the year most of us will never forget! I was on a phone conversation with a friend about three weeks ago and I analysed how the year has been so far for us. This year started off with familiarising, settling into clinical school and getting used to the stressful terrain of med school (White coat ceremony: 8th November, 2019.)

I wouldn’t have believed that the first wave of COVID-19 would overwhelm us by the third month of the year and schools would be shut down. (Picture credit: Pixabay)

I guessed I thought the break would be for two weeks, a month or six weeks but never, ever, would I have thought I would still be at home in the 11th month of the year. I moved from praying that the break would last the fasting month at least, to moving my proposed end of the break to our big Salah celebrations to finally hoping to be out of school for just six months. School still hasn’t resumed and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) hasn’t reached any agreement with the federal government of Nigeria.

In recent times, the “END SARS” protests across the nation have been a major source of national concern as youths, including myself, have been clamouring for the disbandment of the notorious for extorting, terrorising and sometimes murdering innocent citizens. (Protest in Ibadan, Oyo State. Picture credit: Fiyin Atinmo Photography).

Also, the call for the reform of the entire police force is of major importance to us as youths. The turn of events escalated and hoodlums hijacked some protest locations thereby leading to unrest, destruction of properties, kidnap and even murder of innocent lives. The government hasn’t been so responsive and it’s scary living in a nation where safety of our lives and properties aren’t guaranteed. The rate at which mental health concerns have skyrocketed in recent times is enough proof that there is a lot going on.

The essence of this post is to remind is to BREATHE, take it slowly, day at a time. The “ideal world” that we all knew changed since the pandemic started earlier in the year, we were thrown off our plans, our struggle for control and once again, reminded that our life’s design is beyond us. There is no manual to living in these times, no pressure! Grateful for productive days and avoiding feelings of guilt on rest days. I haven’t been able to put out a blog post in the past weeks because it’s not been easy for anyone. Dealing with empathy has become even more important as we continue the struggle and hope for the best. Enjoy every moment that you have, unplug from social media if you have to, reach out to people if you need help and stay safe. WE ARE ALL STRUGGLING!

Please share tips that have helped you with surviving these times, thank you. Do not forget to share , like and subscribe to the mailing list.

RELIGION: SIMPLE DAILY SPIRITUALITY HABITS.

At a time when the world is embracing stillness more than ever before, with flexibility and more time to customise our daily life, there’s enough time for me to get better at spirituality. My religious and spiritual growth means a lot to me and I always strive to get better with my practice of Islam and appearance as a young Muslim woman in the 21st century. In the islamic faith, it is compulsory to pray five times daily at specified times however there are several other acts that help with spirituality. Personally, I try to:

READ THE QURAN DAILY.

The Qur’an is one of the religious books and I try to read at least two pages of the Arabic text daily. It’s quite important to read the translation too as it helps understand the message in the holy book. Reading the Qur’an serves as a personal connection between myself and God as the message therein is God’s revelation. Quran recitation of a great habit for the start of each day.

MORNING AND EVENING ADHKAR

There are specific morning and evening prayers that I recite o an app ” Hisnul Muslim”. I also have the hard copy for recitation on days when I am staying off my phone and gadgets.

ISLAMIC PODCASTS

I have the “pocketcast” app and I enjoy the Muslim Central sessions with Yasmin Mogahed and Mufti Menk. They are two great spiritual speakers I love listening to. Both speakers are relatable and gone simple reminders on preparation for the afterlife.

Q51vs55: “And continue to remind, for surely the reminder profits the believers.”

SOCIAL MEDIA QUOTES

I follow some religious pages on Instagram and Twitter. They post Quran verses, hadiths and reminders from scholars to serve as small reflections in the media space. I repost some of them because I believe that people in my media space can gain and get religious motivation. Sharing useful information is a great act of worship.

REACHING OUT TO PEOPLE

Neighbourliness and kindness to individuals is encouraged in Islam. Sometimes, a phone call, text message or physical visit is the act of kindness that people need. Reaching out to people occasionally while navigating our personal life is one habit I love to encourage. Reach out to friends, acquaintances and connect with people who you haven’t heard from in a while. Be kind in every way you can, even to strangers.

CHARITY

Helping the less privileged financially is an important act of worship. It doesn’t have to be large amounts but giving is s great virtue. Sometimes, it could be small gifts for family members, a chocolate bar, drink or snacks. Feeding the poor and donating to charity groups is a good practice.

Spirituality is a journey of a lifetime and staying grounded in belief is a continuous work in progress. I hope these tips help us in this journey. Please share other important tips that you practice to stay grounded in your faith, thank you.

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MY ADDICTION STORY: 365 cups of coffee a year!

In December 2014, I was in the U.S. for a holiday with my family for about 2 weeks. We checked in a hotel where we had free breakfast daily from a selection of cereals, toasts, eggs, beverages and coffee. It was the highlight for my siblings and I as we had the opportunity to serve ourselves from these varieties. I noticed I always took a cup of coffee alongside any other meal and my mum would ask why I picked coffee over tea. My reply usually, “I just love the taste, tea nauseates me and their coffee here is really nice”.

In retrospect, my addiction must have stemmed from the experience above. Later on, as a first-year medical student, I started using coffee as stimulant because as the “procrastination queen” that I am, I always had to crash read to pass my tests and examinations. I used to drink plain black coffee during exam periods. I thought I just enjoyed it and well, it worked mostly. Then, I started taking some medications for my health in 2017 and one of the side effects I experienced was drowsiness. For about six months, I would sluggishly go to class then sleep all through lectures. My friends felt that coming to school was pointless for me and I didn’t bother explaining to them initially. I was sleeping for an average of 14 hours daily. Medical student!

Towards the end of 2018, things got even tougher and I was losing balance between school and taking care of my mental health. I had a a pool of tests to scale through second year of medical school so at a point, I thought to myself “I like coffee, the drugs make me sleep a lot, I could start drinking coffee to counteract.” Genius! I started drinking coffee on days when I needed to be productive and oh girl, it worked wonders. I told my doctor about this and he had no problem with it since it was in small doses. This was a major step to coffee becoming a part of my routine until I had to prepare for my professional exams, I knew I had so much work to do so I had to study twice as hard, almost quadruple! I unknowingly started caffeine overdose, I took energy drinks, caffeinated drinks and I finished over 3 jars of NESCAFÉ GOLD Arabian coffee granules in about 6 weeks. Girl! I am cringing as I take this account. I finished the exams and switched from plain black coffee to coffee with rich cream occasionally. After a while, I started having terrible migraines.

I have been treating chronic migraine for a while now and my prescribed analgesics always work. This particular episode got worse and I didn’t get relieved even after using analgesics so I had to talk to my doctor. We had an extensive chat where he discussed how coffee withdrawal could have a direct relationship with migraines and mood. In his opinion, the recent episodes had a lot more to do with coffee as I had switched from large doses for months to casual use. My body got addicted and it was suffering from withdrawal so the doctor gave me two options; to stop drinking coffee and suffer withdrawal effects for two weeks or to take coffee consistently, in same quantity and at a scheduled time. He told me about his experience, he stopped drinking coffee for some months and he experienced a drastic drop in productivity, mild depression and migraine. I picked the latter option because I really love coffee and I didn’t want to deal with withdrawal symptoms. Now, my coffee is a big part of my morning routine and I love it. We are happily married! Most of my classmates already know my signature purple mug, I sip my coffee gracefully during our first class daily. On days when we are in clinics or theatre rotation, I drink before I leave my room. I got a personalised mug for my birthday and I look forward to using it when school resumes. You can get a coffee maker or an espresso machine for me the next time you want to get a gift for Salmah!

I hope you enjoyed my coffee addiction story. Do you have any addiction that you enjoy the way I love my coffee? Please share in the comments. Do not forget to share, like and subscribe to the mailing list. Thank you.

MY WORST EAR PIERCING EXPERIENCE!

In 2017, I was in my first year as a medical student and I resided in one of the university’s hall of residence compulsorily accessible to first year students. I am a spontaneous person! ( I didn’t particularly understand this part of myself until a while ago and looking back at some of the decisions I made in the past, it’s the truth). The halls of residence usually have yearly hall week in the second semester with a line up of events. The events include health awareness Day, dinner, cultural night and a beauty pageant. Also, throughout the week, student owned businesses get slots to display their goods and services at the entrance of the hall.

On the fateful day, I had a long day in class so I was really tired but I was interested in the business stands. I walked around with my friends and we got to a stand where some girls were getting new piercings. Then I remembered I had always loved extra ear piercing; I admire people with many ear holes. I just never got them because I couldn’t imagine boring hole in my adult ears.(Picture credit: pixabay)

I found out that there was a specialised machine for the piercing so I guessed it would be less painful. Hurray! I talked to the “lady piercer” and we agreed I could get my piercings in her room the next day since I was really tired and I didn’t want to expose my ear in an open space( religious stance). I got to my room and I told my roommates about my plans and they were excited “for me”. I decided to get 4 extra ear holes, 2 on each ear. I looked forward to the next day, quite happy.

I got to her room at the set time and I suddenly developed cold feet. It took some minutes of cajoling before I finally agreed. The ear lobe was cleaned, the equipment was sterilised and I bought two pairs of needle point earrings from her for the new holes.(Picture credit: Pixels free photos)

After the piercing was done, she advised me to put olive oil on the holes daily and leave the earrings there for at least two weeks.

Then the experience began, the first week after the piercing, I thought the ache was natural and I would be relieved with time. I didn’t use the oil regularly because of the pain. After some days, I noticed that the lobes were swollen and the area got hyperpigmented. By the third week after piercing, pus was dripping from the holes and I had to actively dab it with cotton pads. At this point, I realized I was reacting to the choice of earrings because the same exact ones had irritated the ear holes I got at birth. I didn’t expect the reaction since I had gotten new ear holes. Alas, I was wrong. I eventually took the earrings off and hoped to get new pairs once the holes healed completely.

The healing process took a while and by the time I got new earrings, the holes were blocked already. Because of the pain and stress from this experience, I decided that extra piercings aren’t for me. That process was too ugly but I still admire people with multiple piercings.(Picture credit: Pexels free photos)

However this year, precisely the 7th day of March, I got new piercings and it’s healed well. I am proud of myself for trying again even with the fear. I have four pretty ear holes now and I absolutely love them!

Thank you. Please share your thoughts on this post especially if you have had any weird piercing experience.

THE FIRST SURGERY I OBSERVED: MY EXPERIENCE.

When I was younger, my dad’s digital camera used to terrify me so much because of the album that had patients’ pictures with their organs exposed on the operating table. I later realised that those pictures are important in research and medical examinations. The thought of ever seeing a human cut up on a table discouraged me from Medicine and surgery as a course but I later came back to it, it’s always been my first love (only love initially until I realised that I have other great interests). I also realised that I do not necessarily have to specialise in surgery after training.

On resumption into clinical school, as if to test my fears, I was included in the group posted to the surgical unit and put in the oncological surgery subdivision (even scarier staying around doctors treating cancer patients). We missed our first day in theatre as the group didn’t meet up with some protocol requirements. We later introduced ourselves to the consultant in charge and the residents after which we got our posting schedule for the unit.

On the day I finally got to the theatre suite as a student, I was in awe as I crossed the “red line” (the boundary between the sterile operating suites and the unsterilised part of the theatre complex, non medical personnel are not allowed to cross the red line). ( Picturecredit: pexels)

Even though it wasn’t my first time in a theatre (I had a surgery in 2013), it was exciting wearing scrubs, masks and the sterile hair nets as observers in a surgery. We were put in subgroups to reduce the number of people in the operating suite at a time and provide better viewing for us as students. I was part of the first group of students to enter the suite and I saw the patient under general anesthesia. The consultant scrubbed up in the scrub room and wore his disposable overall over his theatre gown and the surgery began. It was a total mastectomy (removal of the breasts). After sterilising the surgical site, the surgeon used a diarthmy pencil to cut out the edges of the site (in layman’s terms). The surgeon asked us some questions about the procedure and till today, I am grateful to my group members who helped me out as the questions were directed at me. That was all I observed during the surgery but I got to observe full procedures subsequently.

I learnt quite a lot from this experience. I got overwhelmed because of the intricate details that have to be observed during surgeries. I thought about some of the possible complications like reaction to anesthesia, severe blood loss, shock etc. that could occur even in the simplest procedures. I was really grateful to God for saving me through the surgery I had in 2013 and this made me cry. I also realised how hardworking surgeons are and the delicate job that they do, they sure deserve all the accolades. Picture credit: pexels free photos.

The importance of studying diligently as a student was also evident as I do not want to become a doctor that does not have the required medical knowledge or has to depend on colleagues to answer questions.

I hope you enjoyed this piece as I much as I did while writing.

Please share your thoughts, comment, like and subscribe. Thank you.

2020 EID: HOW I SPENT THE SALLAH HOLIDAY.

Muslims globally celebrate two Eid festivals, first one at the end of a month’s fast,the 9th Islamic month. The other one is on the 10th day of the 12th Islamic month in commemoration of the obedience of God’s prophet, Ibraheem and his reward from God. The latter celebration was on the 31st July, 2020 and I enjoyed myself alot. The celebration held for three days and it was fun all through.

Prior to this year’s celebration, I went fabric shopping with my aunt and she made beautiful dresses for us(my mum, sister and me). A “big sister” made some DIY Eid decoration for us and we loved it. I also bought some confectioneries to make Eid treats for my little cousins. My mum employed two caterers to prepare the meals for the festivity and everything was all set.

(Eid decoration and Eid cake)

On Eid day, I did my skincare routine then dressed up to go to the community mosque for the special Eid prayers ( definitely observed COVID-19 guidelines for gatherings). After prayers, I did a simple make up look and took pictures with my siblings. We couldn’t entertain many visitors because of the pandemic but two of my aunties came to celebrate with us and they assisted the caterers. Some cousins also came over. Two butchers came to slaughter our rams( Is it even Eid if you don’t eat meat till your teeth ache?) There were also lots of foods and drinks ranging from Jollof rice, fried rice, ofada rice, pounded yam, efo and egusi soups with variety of drinks too. We gave our neighbors some of the food as a regular Eid tradition. We got “Eid money” from our immediate neighbors and my aunt. I really enjoyed the eating spree( had a taste of all the food options!)

On the second day of the celebration, I travelled to my hometown in Oshogbo, Osun state with my family. We always visit my grandparents and extended family on the second day of Eid. I always enjoy this part because it is an opportunity to get money gifts from family members. There was more meat to eat as we were offered at every destination. I had two wraps of pounded yam with egusi soup in my aunt’s house( my love for you see yam is beyond words). My grandparents gave my siblings and I a lot of money and we were really happy( Is there anyone who isn’t happy when they get free money?). We also visited my uncle whose wife had a baby the night before Eid day. Little babies are always very cute! I have a beautiful cousin. I was really tired at the end of the day because I had to drive around town all day but it was quite interesting and I also loved the feeling I had driving my aunt’s big car like a boss ( that I am).

( My second Eid dress in all its glory)

On the third day, we cleaned our house in preparation for our return to Ibadan. My sister and I wore our second Eid cloth and we took pictures ( of course). I really love the dress. Some other cousins came to visit us and there was food and drinks for everyone. We returned to Ibadan later that evening and that marked the end of a wonderful celebration.

The highlights of Eid for me were wearing my dresses, taking pictures, lots of food to eat, visiting and bonding with family members, receiving money and giving my little cousin their treats. (Eid treat packaged for my cousins by ME).

How was the celebration for you? Which part did you enjoy the most?

Please share your comments and thoughts. Thank you.

TIPS ON STAYING SANE IN THIS PANDEMIC

“Hey Salmah, I think you have a better understanding of mental health, I need to understand how to help a friend who I think might be going through a decline in mental health”.-excerpt of my conversation with a colleague


(Picture credit: pixabay)

It’s been more than four months since the course of our lives has changed globally. Who would have expected that we would have to wear face masks on all social gatherings and interactions at the beginning of the year? These unprecedented times have come with great surprises as a lot of people have lost jobs, lost months of schooling, missed out on so many social gatherings, become addicted to social media, cancelled travel plans, separation from significant other, family and colleagues. Even simple acts like regular hand washing has had great effect on our sanity (I get pissed sometimes on days when I have multiple errands to run and have to wash my hands at each destination).
It’s hard for everyone and maybe twice as hard for people dealing with mental illnesses. (Picture credit: pixabay ).

When a colleague contacted me to inquire about helping people with mental health struggles, I felt it would be beneficial to share tips on the blog. As someone who has had close contact and relationship with mental health professionals whilst also doing a lot of research myself on mental health, I have some hacks that have helped me in this period.
SPIRITUALITY
I try to build a stronger connection with the absolute Being and it has helped me stay grounded even with the struggles. On a typical day, I pray 5 times daily as a Muslim, read at least one page of the Quran, read the translation of a verse on the Muslim pro app on my phone and reflect on it, listen to an Islamic podcast and also find some minutes to talk to God. I find that talking to the One I believe in about all my problems and struggles helps me to calm down, a sort of connection beyond physical.
SOCIAL MEDIA
Sometimes my escape route or leisure spot is social media. I regularly enjoy watching YouTube videos, connecting with strangers on twitter, getting gists and viewing status updates on WhatsApp. Social media can also get overwhelming especially with a lot of sensitive news flying around so I make sure I take media breaks. I take an entire day off my phone every month, it’s very important and helpful. I also filter the news I see on social media, sometimes, I deliberately avoid watching some videos because they might affect my mental health.
AFFIRMATIONS
I designed a glass jar and filled it with notes where I wrote things I loved about myself or positive things I want to come to existence. Every day (not regular about it though), I pick a note and repeat the affirmation to myself in front of my mirror. It helps my esteem a lot
CONNECT WITH LOVED ONES
This has perhaps been the hardest for me as I find that my withdrawal from personal connections has increased daily. I talked to my healthcare professionals about it but I still try to deliberately bond with family especially, have conversations with my mum, play with my siblings, show them interesting stuffs from my social media and prepare new meals I learnt off YouTube for the family. I also try to schedule group video calls with my friends and we gist, laugh and banter. Trying to check on acquaintances occasionally also helps in keeping sane.
GO OUT
Take a drive or a walk while following guidelines, wear your mask, keep a distance and use your alcohol based hand sanitizer. Sometimes staying in enclosed spaces over a long period of time can cause low moods. I like going for grocery shopping at the mall once in a while to keep some sense of relationship with the society.
ENJOY YOURSELF
Buy a chocolate bar for yourself, order some cake or bake, buy pizza or shawarma, have some ice cream. Enjoy! The world is quite intense right now so looking after ourselves is the most important thing. What makes you happy? Dress up, skincare date, cleaning your space or ordering food (what I love!). Just do it, spoil yourself, you deserve a treat and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Enjoy, this life is short.
Is there any tip that has worked well for you in this period to keep sane? Please share in the comments.
Thank you.

INTRODUCTION: My first blog post

           Super excited that I am finally doing this and even happier about the support, love and encouragement. You have no idea how much it means to me that you are reading my blog post. Thank you. It’s only normal to introduce myself so here we go.

           I am Salmah and my name means PEACE so I hope you are at peace, or find peace every time you visit this blog. I am a 20 year old Nigerian Muslim based in Ibadan, southwest Nigeria. I am currently a third year medical student in the University of Ibadan, first child of four; a sister and two brothers. I love my family so much and I cherish the bond that we have. I love my morning coffee, it is everything to me. I strive to be better spiritually and my religious life means a lot to me. I love traveling, I have visited about five countries and I hope to visit many more. I love style, beauty and fashion but I try to keep it modest and simple. My best colour is blue ( I think I am obsessed with the colour).
                I love watching YouTube videos and I have a few YouTubers I admire( maybe we will talk about them in one of the blog posts). I love Oprah Winfrey, I listen to her Supersoul conversations and I enjoy the podcast. I love shopping too, clothes, groceries, home decor and all that. Food is important to me, it’s a key part of my love language. Nice restaurants with sumptuous meals and great ambience are great ways to cool off and reset when I need it. I don’t cook alot, I buy mostly. I love skincare too, it’s a big part of my life, I invest in skincare products and I can’t wait to be able to afford my ideal skincare brands. I am a plant mum, I have two indoor plants at the moment and taking care of them has been fun, I hope to get more plants.
                      I am very passionate about mental health and it’s one of the reasons I decided to start this blog. In 2017, I started a personal journey on identifying my mental health struggles and it’s been an experience, with major “highs” and “lows” and  as I continue to meet people, I realize the importance of mental health and the topic gets even more appealing. I love listening to people, encouraging them and offering as much support as I can. I am the motivational speaker in my group of friends even though I need a lot of motivation myself.My ambition to become a medical doctor means a lot to me, I might delve into other things but medicine is my first love in my quest to help as many people as I can.
                       This blog is going to be about mental health, religion, my journey as a Nigerian medical student and my lifestyle in general. My lifestyle revolves around travelling, shopping experiences, and day to day activities. I hope to tell as many stories as I can, interesting ones, while I also make impact. Thank you for joining me on here.

Please leave a comment or thought on this post. Don’t forget to share too.