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It’s hard, it’s rough but it’s soft enough

It’s ripped at every edge but smoothed together

It’s loud and extensive with a silence at its core

It’s sweet with a bite and sour with a glaze

It’ll take up every moment of every day but it’ll pass you in a flash

It’ll be warm as sunshine but still chill your bones

It’ll illuminate everything but still cast a shadow

It makes no sense at all but hits you differently

It’s shattered into a million pieces, yet somehow put together.

Therapeutic Baking

If you’re a med student, you’re expected to bake something for your team on the last week of every rotation. Some take this as a pressure (they don’t know how to bake), some think this is slavery, some think it’s bribery, some don’t bother and end up buying something from a shop. While some, like me, enjoy this quite a bit.

I find baking therapeutic. It’s almost the perfect way to finish any rotation. Spend a night reflecting on the last 6 weeks while melting butter, mixing sugar and flour, savour the smell of vanilla essence in the air as you create something new and beautiful from nothing. Poetic, no? It’s just therapeutic. The sugar smell in the air literally works like an awesome placebo effect. Plus, the boost to your self-esteem when what you bake turns out well, is priceless.

Of course, there’s the occasional mental breakdown and emotional damage when your cake fails to rise or your cookies crack. It’s heartbreaking really. But with practice, these become fewer… mostly.

Anyway! I am baking one week early because my house officer and one of my consultants are leaving this week, so I thought I would thank them early. And indulge in some therapeutic baking. Sounding familiar?

Hehe. My other favourite thing to do these days when baking, is have a narrative in my head in the voice of none other than the lovely Nigella Lawson.

I’m baking her brownies actually.

Nigella Brownie recipe

I chose to bake brownies because, as stated above, “However much people have eaten, there is always, I’ve noticed, room for a brownie”. And nothing holds more true.

She’s quite great with her flour-less recipes and egg-less cakes. Which works out great for me because I’m out of flour today. My goodness, just read that description. I love how every one of Nigella’s recipes have a description that makes me smile and really excited about going ahead with that recipe. That’s how baking, well, cooking should be. It’s an art! As she would say.

So! Let’s get started!

Brownie choc

Of course all great Nigella recipes calls for gorgeous, Gorgeous, Gorgeous Chocolate! The darker the better. Her recipe calls for atleast 70% cocoa.

Mixing things together yields the perfect brownie mix.

Brownie mix

Here, Nigella would say something like: You’ll know the mix is ready, when you can really feel the silky, velvety, gorgeous richness that chocolate brings. There’s something so satisfying about that beautiful gooey texture in your brownie mixture.

Then, in the pan:

Brownie pan

Isn’t it poifect? Nigella suggested walnuts/almonds, but I’ve learnt in hospital that you never offer someone something with nuts in it without checking if they might be allergic.

And then finally, after it’s done cooking and filling my house with that luscious chocololate-y smell, it comes out all pretty looking:

Brownies

Nigella recommends a hot chocolate sauce, which I would love to make, but since these are for others, I chose icing sugar as decoration instead.

Brownie with icing

They are simply, gorgeous. Gorgeous and indulgent. 

That was a really fun evening. And they taste amazing. Why wouldn’t they? Hopefully there’s enough of them left for my team tomorrow.

Psychiatry may not be right for me, but these brownies definitely are!

 

Portfolio And Poetry

All medical students have to write a portfolio every year up to and including their 5th year. It’s a compilation of experiences that demonstrate your learning in 5 domains. Professionalism, ethics and law, health and well-being, cultural competence, and learning and teaching (which no one really gets. Something about doctors also being teachers?). It’s supposed to be an exercise in reflective writing and can be used for future employment if required.

I HATE this exercise.

Not only because it takes so damn long to write the required 2 entries for each topic in a reflective way that truly shows your “growth” over the last 6 months (let’s face it, you have to exaggerate. Because one person can only be so culturally competent). But also because for the last 3 years, I’ve slaved away trying to write this thing and I only ever get “pass” as opposed to the “distinction grade”. And the worst part is, the supposed “feedback” to help me improve for my next portfolio has always been from some lazy person, in the form of “Excellent reflection!”, “Good work!!” or my personal favourite, “I can see you really thought about this”.

……………. Then why the heck didn’t I get distinction?!

But anyway. It doesn’t stop me from spending the amount of time I do every year writing it. In fact this year I seem to be spending more time on each entry. But since this is our last year of doing these portfolio thingies, my friend and I decided to add some poetry into the entries. We heard from others that they are generally well-received. Plus they take much less time.

Now, I’m no poet. I think this is mainly because I’m not very good at conveying a lot of things in a concise manner (you know that from my blog anyway. xD). But I thought I’d give it a go.

This is a topic I am actually quite passionate about. Motivational interviewing. Telling patients simply to change their health behaviours (diet, exercise etc) without really understanding the challenges they face. I’ve mentioned this before on this blog, but I’ve actually seen how useless some people can be at advising patient about supposed “lifestyle changes”. So without further ado, here is a poem about patient perspective on lifestyle advice.

The Doctor says I’m fat
He says I eat too much
He says my blood sugar is too high
He says I need to go on a diet
He just doesn’t understand
I work all night
The grocery shop is half an hour away
And the KFC is just up the road
I know he wants to help
But the Doctor just doesn’t understand

The Doctor says I’m stressed
She says my blood pressure is too high
She says I might have a stroke
She says I need to take time off to relax
She just doesn’t understand
I work 2 jobs on contract
I have 3 kids
I am a single parent
I don’t have time to relax
I know she wants to help
But the Doctor just doesn’t understand

The Doctor says I drink too much
He says my liver is failing
He says if I don’t stop
I’ll die
He just doesn’t understand
My parents used to drink everyday
My mates drink at parties
My partner drinks with me
I don’t know how to stop
I know he wants to help
But the Doctor just doesn’t understand

The Doctor says I’ve been smoking too long
She says my cough isn’t going away
She says if I don’t quit
My cancer will kill me
She just doesn’t understand
I started smoking in school
I tried to quit
But I got horribly sick
People in my family smoke
All my mates smoke
I tried to quit
But it didn’t work
I know she wants to help
But the Doctor just doesn’t understand

The Doctor said I need to change my diet
He said I need to quit
He said I need to relax
He said he knows how difficult it is to change
He said we’d do it together
He said he won’t push me too hard
He said he’s been there
I know he wants to help

The Doctor really understands

Like I said, I’m not a poet. None of that even rhymes. But I think it kinda shows what I feel doctors are doing and what they should be doing. And it’s my first poem so it’s made it to this blog so I can remember it even after it’s marked by these silly portfolio people.

But hey, 1 entry down, 10 to go.

Better get back to it!