Mid-Block Update…and Hello Spring!

Spring is finally here and it’s been a fantastic weekend enjoying the outdoors and spending time with the family. This afternoon, the kids and I spent about 2 hours outside attempting to tidy up the lawn now that most of the snow has melted. The miracle of Spring never fails to amaze me as I witness new bright green buds bursting their way through the ground with utmost determination. It is so refreshing! I also love hearing the sound of the Canadian Geese making their much welcomed return back home.

I am about half-way through the next block of medical school. This block is aptly titled “Defense” as we are learning all about the Immune system. I have to say that this has been one of the most enjoyable blocks of medical school so far. It is complex but simultaneously fascinating. There has also been a significant emphasis on differential diagnosis in this block where we act as medical detectives trying to decipher what could be the diagnosis of a patient’s symptoms. I’ll be wrapping up my Longitudinal Family Medicine Experience next week and I can’t believe I have had the opportunity to see over 100 patients over the past few months of medical school. I have learned so much and benefited greatly from a positive learning environment.

As the weather continues to warm up and we move into a new season, I am so thankful for my family, the people around me, the strength that God gives me daily and the wonderful opportunity to be studying medicine.

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This was the last big snowfall of the season (view from my daughter’s bedroom)
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The kids are super excited that Spring is finally here! We can finally go on the deck!

 

Glorious Sunset

One of the things I love most about where we live is getting to experience beautiful sunsets, particularly after fresh snow has fallen and the pink-purple rays of the sun cast a magnificent contrast to the gleaming white flakes of snow. I took these pictures from our dining room last night as my family and I settled down to eat supper, thankful that we live in a safe and beautiful neighborhood where my children are thriving.

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A Reason To Smile

Yesterday, after a particularly busy day, I embarked on my long drive home. One of my favorite parts of the trip is the moment when I cross one of the bridges connecting the island of Montreal with the mainland. I always take a sneak peek to my right where I can see luscious green rolling hills, wavy water and specks of white sails belonging to the numerous boats making their way leisurely through the water.

It is at that moment that I take a deep breath and smile as I anticipate seeing the smiling faces of my children waiting for me at home. Often, my husband and kids will call me on my drive home simply to say that they are looking forward to seeing me soon and that they love me. Those moments always give me extra strength and remind me of how much I have to be grateful for.

When mummy pulls into the driveway, after a busy day at medical school, I see excited young faces at the window, I hear the door bursting open and two little beings yelling with joy as they run into my arms shouting “Mummy you’re home”.

My mind flashes back to when I was five years old, and I used to rush into my late father’s arms when he would come home from a long work day at the hospital. I remember him swirling me around and around, him biting back his fatigue so he could spend some special moments with me.

Thirty years later, I am in a similar position with my children and I absolutely love the fact that I get to come home to them and that their excitement and joy remind me of how much I am loved and appreciated.

My husband and children give me a reason to smile everyday!

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Each Day is a Gift

One week left to medical school! I cannot believe how fast the summer has gone by! I have really enjoyed spending time with my family and watching the kids grow. Some of the things that I was reminded of this summer was how important it is to appreciate each day and to let those you love know how much you care about them. Each day is truly a gift!

I have found that taking stock of each day and meditating on what I have to be grateful for helps to temper the worries and frustrations of day-to-day life. Three things I read or heard this past week also gave me pause for thought:

  1. Let those you come into contact with feel that they are important and worth something: In the book God’s Hotel by Victoria Sweet, a California-based physician tells her story of practicing medicine. One of the hospitalized patients was a woman who was on her death-bed. When Dr. Sweet asked what else could be done for her, the patient simply asked for something different to eat at her mealtimes and to have new eyeglasses since her current ones were broken. I can imagine that the physician was taken aback by this simple request that meant so much. Sometimes we may feel that we cannot make a difference but there is always an opportunity to show appreciation even if it means asking a simple question or demonstrating a caring gesture.
  2. Forgive from the heart: In Matthew 18 of the Bible, Jesus depicts a vivid parable of a servant who owes a large debt to his master and another servant who owes a smaller debt to his fellow servant. The  master forgives the debt but the servant shows no mercy towards his fellow servant. Jesus explains the consequences of an unforgiving attitude and implores his listeners to forgive from the heart. Jesus’ choice of words touched me because ‘forgiveness from the heart’ to me implies a deep, complete and unshakable forgiveness.
  3. Prioritize your life: I had an inspiring chat with my oldest brother who is a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon based in Kenya. As I spoke with him about how he manages balancing his career with family, his words of wisdom rang true: prioritize your life. For him that meant 1) God 2) Spouse 3) Children 4) Career. Of course there are plenty of other things that make up our lives such as our social life and hobbies but often our family life and work are the most difficult to balance. Priorities mean different things to different people but having an idea of what comes first and what we are not willing to compromise on can guide us when trying to navigate the busy waters of life.
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 So grateful for my precious family! Each day is a gift!

Getting Closer to the Start of Medical School!

As the start of medical school approaches, I can feel the excitement continuing to rise! This is going to be such an amazing journey! I know it will be very challenging and will stretch me in many ways. I am going to give it my very best effort, knowing that my family, friends and God’s strength will help to sustain me through the upcoming long journey!

Since my last medical school update, we have managed to get a lot done:

  • Take Basic Life Support class (CPR and AED): Done! Very useful course that I think everyone should learn!
  • Update immunizations: mostly completed. Pending 2 reports following a chicken-pox titre test and chest X-Ray. Two more tetanus shots will be done in August and February.
  • Financing my medical education: meet with the bank (done, credit-line approved!), apply for government financial aid (done, waiting for my application to be processed) and scholarships (done, and I’m happy to announce that I received a scholarship that will go towards part of my first year of tuition!)
  • Look for a second-hand car to commute 5o minutes downtown: done! We got a fuel-efficient 2012 Toyota Yaris with only 13,000 kms on it for less than half the price of a new car!
  • Register for classes: Registration opened yesterday! It’s so thrilling to see what courses I will be starting off with (trying not to be fazed that the number of courses and credits are almost double what I did per semester during my undergraduate degree. I have been told medical school is like trying to drink water from a fire hydrant!!)

So all in all, things are falling into place and I feel truly grateful to God for this amazing opportunity to study medicine and hopefully make a difference in the lives of my future patients!

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Registering for my medical school courses Fall 2016!!

 

The Privilege of Being a Mother

Today I feel amazingly privileged to be a mother. To see my children laugh and smile, to feel the soft touch of their hands on my cheeks, to feel their tight hugs and sloppy kisses, to witness their abundant curiosity, to watch them grow, learn how to swim or ride a bicycle, to see their independence, to be the one who comforts them when they cry or are hurting. To hear them say over and over again, “mummy, I want you” and “mummy, I love you forever and always”.

Motherhood is one of the most difficult endeavors I have embarked on. There have been many moments of tears and self-doubt, wondering how I can bear the responsibility of raising and guiding two very unique human beings. Yet, there have been so many moments of joy, happiness, gratitude, amazement, and an overwhelming love in our household that I hold simply as a miracle of life.

To my dear children and to my ever supportive, loving husband, you are precious gifts to me and I am so blessed to have you in my life.

Mummy loves you “forever and always”.

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My dearest children
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I love being a mummy!

Living a Life of Purpose and Vision

I read an inspiring blog post last week on the importance of the vision we have for our lives. What really motivated me about this post was the challenge to focus on and apply your vision on a daily basis.

Most of us have goals in mind. Some of them may require months if not years of effort to achieve. But what do we do in the mean time? How do we tackle life on a day-to-day basis? Our vision is not just limited to that goal we want to achieve at some point in the future. It is a daily experience that can help us to keep our focus and to live more fulfilled, purposeful lives.

This post asks us to consider three words that describe your vision. I had a hard time narrowing it down to just three words so I decided to come up with 3 concepts that encompass my vision for how I want to live my daily life. Try this exercise for yourself and see what words you come up with, particularly if you are grappling with a lack of direction or purpose at this present moment:

  1. Positive Attitude and Gratitude: On a daily basis, I am aiming to focus on the positive side of my circumstances and to reflect on a few things that I am grateful for. Today, it was simply the beautiful, crisp, fresh snow that I woke up to in the morning. It was breathtaking.  As I folded my children’s laundry, I looked at my son’s bright red Cars T-shirt and my daughter’s favorite rabbit shirt and contemplated the gift of having two beautiful children in my life.
  2. Excellence, Discipline and Perseverance: In my current stage of life, my main focus is child-rearing and family life. Having had a professional career prior to this, there are days when dishes and laundry can seem mundane. Does it really matter if I try to keep the kitchen tidy? Who’s going to notice anyway? I’m realizing though that it’s not so much about the tidiness level as to the heart behind it and the effort put in. If I keep in the habit of giving every task I undertake my very best (no matter how menial it may seem), I am training myself to give my best in all areas of my life, including my future goals. This requires discipline and perseverance. There are days it is difficult and I fall short. But I have to get back up and try my best, no matter what the task is.
  3. God and Faith: I grew up in a Christian environment and culture in Africa so faith is an important part of who I am. I find that daily devotions and quiet time to sing, pray, read and reflect are nourishing to my soul and remind me that I am not facing life on my own strength but with One who is greater than I am.

I found this exercise in defining ‘daily vision’ quite enlightening because it helped me to identify a general approach to life which can be applied to any future goal, be it living a more healthy lifestyle, starting a new project or simply dealing with the daily stresses and hassles of life.

Once you have identified your vision, the next exercise is to think about how people feel when they spend time with you. What impact do you want to have on their lives? I will share what I personally came up with in a subsequent post. Thank you for reading and I hope you are that much closer to thinking about how you want to experience your daily life!

(Thank you to Dax Murphy for his motivational post that inspired me to write this!)