Notes on gratitude

Not so long ago I was a medical student sitting in grand round (for those of you who don’t know it’s where doctors discuss interesting cases or present research for discussion). I’m gonna be honest with you. I was there for the free food, but every week it would actually be quite interesting and I would pick up a bit of medical knowledge along with a sandwhich. Happy Salma.

As with any hospital lots of doctors means lots of bleeps and there would always be an F1 (first years of being a doctor in the UK) being bleeped. And I would always be so jealous. “Look at that F1, they’re so important. They have to go and save lives. I want that!”


As a F1 now the idea that I would ever be jealous of a bleep seems ludicrous. Jelous of someones bag yes. Bleep no. I have been know to talk to my bleep.

“Why do you hate me?”

“Why won’t you leave me alone”

“Why don’t you let me eat?”

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 00.38.44.png
Thou shalt not forget the pain of hospital in the day and revision at night when you want to go out


And it’s often not about saving lives- it can be, but not always. My favourite bleep, which my colleague got a night shift was because a patient wasn’t happy with the quality of the mattress. At 4am. I laughed so hard that I was crying when I heard this.

Now that I’m the F1 I can see the bad stuff that I was ignorant to before. Stuff that I kind of had an idea of but not really. And it has made me really moany. At least on the inside. I’m always messaging my sister or sending her a sarcastic selfies with the hashtag #lovinglife.

It’s like I got a badge with the title Dr, had some tough days at work and then got amnesia about how hard I worked to get here.

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 00.42.48
thou shalt not forget the pain of exams


Today I did a ward round on my own. It’s not rocket science but since moving from Surgery to Medicine it was the first time. And I did it. I made diagnoses and started management plans. When a patient got sick I managed it.

I was pushing the blood trolly back to the clean utility and for the first time in F1 it struck me that I was actually doing it. I was being a doctor. I was doing that thing that I worked so hard for and wanted so badly. I got it. And here I was wasting so much time and energy complaining about some of the bad stuff.

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 00.48.35
thou shalt not forget the loco of finals

A conversation with my fave person, my mum gave me a bit more perspective. At the end of the conversation she said “beta (daughter) eat good, exercise, pray everyday and be grateful for what you have”.This woman is full of this type of chat, she is the best. Anyway, it really struck a cord with me. Especailly the part about being grateful.

Here I am with exactly what I wanted and I complain about it.

It’s almost like a habit. And such a terrible one.

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 19.32.23
thou shalt not moan about hospital face…


I have decided to write a journal of 3 things I am grateful for everyday and it’s harder than you might think. As I spend so much time at work, it will also include stuff at work or will have to. I will have to dig deep at times.

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 19.56.49
…because there is always time off

Today it was the pharmacist who got me a hot chocolate (thanks Maria), my mums pep talk and my friends dad offering to make me food.

Life can be busy and it can be hard to see the wood from the trees. But every so often it’s good to take a step back and count how much you do have instead of complaining about what is wrong.

It’s the only way to have more! And doing the other thing of constantly winging isn’t the way to go.Trust me, I have been there. You will bore yourself after a while.

Thanks for reading, Salma xxxxx








Allah tha shukur

A coconut is the only thing my Mum would let me buy for her with my first wages because “Allah tha shukur beta, I have everything”
If there is one thing that my Mum repeats more than any other it is Allah tha shukur*. For any good news. And even for bad news. The good news seems obvious. But even the bad news?

If for example, I tell my Mum I have failed a driving test, she would say never mind and then would probably say Allah tha shukur for all the exams that I have passed until that point and then tell me to pray and be grateful for the good things in my life.  (Reactions like this are why this woman is the best person I know).

Learning to be grateful is a skill. It can be learnt. And it is something that I am always trying to work on. My life (like most people) isn’t perfect and I don’t pretend that it is. But there is always good in it (like most people). You just need to wake up to it.

There are always things to complain about and in a career like medicine when you are always looking to the next thing to achieve you can lose the appreciation for what you already have.

My Mum still tells  me(yesterdays conversation) “Salma, Allah tha shukur that you got a place at Medical School. There are people who wanted it just as much as you and you got in.”

This is a reminder that I am grateful for.

So, the next time you find yourself complaining about all the things in your life, take a second and look at all the good things you have. Try and be grateful for them. Waiting until someone threatens to take them away from you isn’t the only time you should try to do this.

*Thanks be to Allah. (I am Muslim and we call God Allah)

Waiting for the perfect timing

After my friend finished uni, I went to visit her and she spent the day showing me around the city she had called home for 3 years. It was a glorious day. Sunny skies, cycling, and more food than you can shake a stick at.

“Time to start living my life” she proclaimed.

She had plans. That holiday trip she had always wanted to take. That hairstyle she had always wanted to try out. Quality time with her friends.

Fast forward a few weeks. She landed a job in the city, started revision for exams and that blissful day and those plans were put on the back burner.

She started working on a new plan. The “tick-box life plan” (official name, just coined by yours truly). When the boxes were ticked, she could enjoy life. You can see the flaw.

2015-01-18 13.32.18

For the planners amongst you (hello most of my friends) this list will look pretty familiar. Now, I can’t say I have an issue with planning per se. But it does become a bit of an issue when it interferes with your happiness in the present.

If you are always looking to the next thing that you feel you should be doing you might be missing out on what’s actually happening in your life at the moment. And this time is NEVER COMING BACK.

I think I spent at least 3 years at Medical School being “too busy” to play netball. Or too busy to go and visit my friend. Or too busy to go out. I was so transfixed on “get your degree” that I forgot to live at the same time. So it was really no surprise that I was quite burnt out and not enjoying Medicine at the end of year 3.

Taking a year out from Medicine to Intercalate gave me time I needed to get a bit of perspective and shake myself to say “wake up woman, life is happening now and you’re missing everything”.

So yes. Plan my friends. But don’t forget to enjoy the ride. Whatever you are doing or whatever stage you are at in life. Life IS busy. You will ALWAYS be busy. There isn’t a RIGHT TIME to go and visit that aunty you have been meaning to see. Just GO and do it. I’m not suggesting that you be reckless. If you have an exam on Monday the weekend before probably isn’t the best time to go and do that… BUT you MUST GO because that perfect time doesn’t exist. And ticking all the boxes in the world won’t give you that time either. It’s an illusion. My friends who get married or land that dream job don’t suddenly become fulfilled in life and do all those things they have always wanted to do.

I’m off to book a rock climbing session because, the cliché, there is no time like the present is a cliché for a reason.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend xxx

Enjoying an hour off revision because there is only a massive slide on Park Street once
Enjoying an hour off revision because there is only a massive slide on Park Street once

PS-If you have no idea what I’m talking about then have a look at this

Are you happy?

A simple question. But often avoided. Try not to overlook it.

I met someone new a few days ago and she was talking about her daughter. “She got a first but is earning peanuts now”.

“Is she happy I asked?”

“Yes” she replied.

The yes was immediate but the look on her face told me that she had never thought about it like that when to me that would be the first point of observation.

If you are happy. Great. Continue my friend.

If you aren’t try and figure out why.

I took a whole year away from medicine to figure it out and I’m a different person now and so glad that I did.

There can be a lot of noise in life but try and listen to the things that are going well for you and take yourself away from things that aren’t. To not is an injustice to yourself. There is far too much good in the world to be living like that.

Oh and ps, being fine doesn’t count. I was fine for a long time. Who wants to be fine?! No no. We can do better.

Have a great day xxx

Finding my happy in Kenya
Finding my happy in Kenya