“Get off my boat. Please.” A tale of lost friends.

In your 20’s, at uni, you are surrounded by friends. There is always someone to go shopping with or to that exhibition. But at some point you realise that you have accumulated people in your life who don’t add anything. If you think of life as a river and your life as the boat, without realising it, people hop onto your boat. People who aren’t going to help you paddle when things get tough. When you have to deal with not getting that promotion you worked really hard for or the illness of a family member, whatever. If they aren’t helping, you don’t need that in your life. Hear me when I tell you these people need to go. You do not need dead weight.

You might not be able to identify these people straight away, but a crisis is usually the way I get that clarity in my life. Who is there for you when things go wrong? It may be surprising, but I’d rather find out now than later.

Those people to have fun with are something else. They are people to have fun with. And we all need those. But this isn’t an investment. These people won’t show up for you when things go wrong and to think otherwise is foolish in my opinion. But those friends who do show up for you are diamonds, and should be treated as such. Some of my friends I have known since I was 4 years old (hi Kourtni). Those friends who would hop on a bus to see your Mum in hospital are the ones who will paddle with you. Wouldn’t you rather spend more time with them than waste time running time for people who will never show up for you like that.

Time is a gift and you can choose to invest it in those friends, or run after people who will never paddle for you.

Just a thought.

Until the next post! xx

The start of a beautiful thing
The start of a beautiful thing
Thanks for posting this Chrissie! Kourtni sitting at the front with another good egg, Rosa.
Thanks for posting this Chrissie! Kourtni sitting in the front with another good egg, Rosa (to her left)
GCSE “revision” in Victoria Park
My surprise part before heading to uni.
My surprise party before heading to uni.
Celebrating Kourtni graduating



How to stay focused

No matter what is going on in my life. Exam season or no exam season. A busy day or a lazy day, the underlying mission of my day is always “how can I be better”.

I extend this to every aspect of my life and this mission to be better could range from learning a better way to look after my skin to a better technique to perform a clinical procedure. Whatever.

If I see someone doing something well I always think, how can I do that? How can I better myself? It’s not a competitive thing with that person, it’s purely me wanted to improve myself.

My friend once commented that it must be quite tiring being me, and I do understand her point, because always  trying to be the best in every aspect could be tiring. But it’s only tiring if you don’t accept that you will fail. Because no one is perfect.

I fail to be the best me all the time. If you have seen me around exam season you can vouch for the less than best Salma coming out. Less Carrie Bradshaw and more Coco, the homeless sister they never let on screen. But even getting half way there, ok, a quarter of the way, is better than where I started off. Which suits me just fine. And I’m not afraid to fail.

Obviously my motivation fluctuates. And on those days that I feel like I need an extra boost I will actively work on re-focusing on what is important to me and getting my life together or “fixing-up” as I call it.

I thought I would share what I do help keep myself focused as it might help on of you. I would love to hear what you do.

1- Look at “Project 2015”.

2015-06-10 21.23.48

At the start of this year I sat down with a folder, some A4 dividers, A4 lined paper and a pen and tried to divide up every aspect of my life.

My first page instead of “resolutions” has “Main aims” that I want achieve by the end of the year. Some are very specific and some of more general. I would love to share them but I think I already share a lot of myself on this blog and would prefer to keep this to myself.

An example could be:

Buy a car

Run a 10 K

Since this is on my first page, I see it every time I look at my folder and it’s a good little push to fix up if I’m way of target! Things might change and that’s fine, but it’s always good to re-evaluate.

Next I divided every section of my life up. I have a section for everything that is important for me. Over 20 dividers…what can I say, I care about a lot!

An example of sections I have are:


Relationships- to make sure that I give my friends and family enough time. I made a list of all the people I want to spend time with to make sure that it is never too long before I see someone. I am generally quite good at keeping in contact but it is useful to have a list.

Religion- things I want to do more often, or learn about

CAPS – a logbook we had to fill out at Med School…

Usually looking at this folder is enough to help me get back on track. It helps that I have already spent the time dividing up my life (or trying to).

Obviously, these dividers don’t solve all of life’s problems but it helps having them in small chunks!

This is the first year that I have ever done this but it has really helped so far. I use to envy super organised people and it has been a real effort for me to try and be more organised but it is worth the effort.

2- If I’m really stuck I will listen to a great TED talk.

I tend to listen to the same talks again because there is a message that I feel I need to get.

One of the best TED talks I have ever watched is “Why 30 is not the new 20” by the brilliant Meg Jay: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhhgI4tSMwc

It is terrifying and but also very motivating for me. Guaranteed that at the end of the talk I will want to go for a run or eat some goji berries and do some yoga. Ok I exaggerated, but you know what I mean. It gives me a clarity of thought that can get lost in the general noise of life.

If that hasn’t helped (and that would be very unusual for me) I will watch some Oprah Super Soul Sunday.

Just as a little disclaimer, this might sound like a lot of organisation but my life isn’t a cardboard cut out of perfection! It is messy just like everyone else’s, but I just wanted to highlight some of the useful things that I do in my life that help me out. I think if you have something to work towards, it makes getting what you want a lot easier.

Until the next post!

Salma xx

A tale of egos and instagram

Recently I had a little break from social media. Well Instagram and Facebook and anyway.

I was using them too much and I concluded that it wasn’t very healthy. I noticed that apart from the obvious unnecessary time consumption they were also making me quite vain. Or were bringing out the vain side of me. I’m still not quite sure if Instagram made me like that or I was already like that.The 21st century chicken and egg conundrum perhaps! A break away, too many “babe, you ok” WhatsApp messages later, I was back, but this time I had changed. I am trying (the operative word being trying) to use social media more responsibly from now on because for something that is just a ‘bit of fun’, the negative impact to someone else and indeed to ourselves can be very real.

Our lives on social medical can become so fake that we now have to attach hashtags to show when something is real. You know the #nofilter or #nomakeup or #noediting. #Justsayin. There is nothing wrong with showing your best self, or best parts of your life, but something about the fakeness of it all irks me and no more so than when I feel like I am being a victim or perpetrator of it. Both of which I am gulity of. We all show our great meal, but not the pile of dishes we have to wash up. It’s a small example, but this sort of selective sharing, because let’s be honest, we are all hiding more than dirty dishes, must be having some sort of negative impact.

Hence my new resolve to only show that which serves some sort of purpose. For example, sharing a picture of me looking great will only inflate my ego (which I don’t want to do) or make someone else feel bad on some level because they may not be looking great at that moment (again I don’t want to do this). Like when you pick up Vogue on a Sunday when you’re looking a bit rough. Bad idea. But sharing a post about £1 lip sticks (you’re welcome ladies) might actually help someone. And that is something that I want to do. You might will definitely catch me slipping, or selfying (is this a word, and if it is, oh dear) but hopefully not for too long!

Have you ever thought about how you use social media?

Me walking away from social media into the land where apparently a hairbrush didn't exist. Frightening stuff.
Me walking away from social media into the land where apparently a hairbrush didn’t exist. Frightening stuff.

Inspirational People part 5

Today’s blog post has a slightly different feel to it.

There are a lot of things about being a Medical Student that aren’t talked about and repeating a year at Medical School is one of them. For every “passed my exams” Facebook status, every year there are a people who have to deal with having to re-take the year. For whatever reason.

This post below was written by someone I know who has been there and come out the other end. I hope it can help someone.

I have put in the inspiration people section because seeing someone deal with something like this and come out of it the other end is inspirational to me.

Have I seen you before?

Repeating a year can be frightening, embarrassing and frustrating or it can give you a second chance – a chance to take things slowly and start again. Press the refresh button and rewind. When you enter E29 or Lecture theatre 1.4, half the year have no idea of your back story and the other half may have vague recollections of you from their original year. Both sets of groups will be making assumptions about you and questions will arise, but remember it is not their information. It is yours.

You can go through the year in two ways: 1) Tell people you are repeating if they ask or 2) Don’t tell them anything.

Accepting that I had to repeat the year was most helpful in tackling the way I would handle the year again. Having the perspective of what the year entails and the knowing the terror of exams was key in forming a timeline in my head. Use this to your advantage to keep on top.

Another important thing to remember is that you are not alone. There will be other people in your shoes. Support one another.

I went through 4.5 (second 4th year) telling people I was repeating as I had met somebody who had done the same in my first fourth year. I thought that showed a lot of courage and honesty and I respected the way they handled it. However the first person on my placement that I told would never let this fact go. They took it upon themselves to inform the rest of the group or act as a constant reminder at any chance they got.

Keep in touch with your friends from whatever year. They are sanity. Don’t cut yourself off no matter how embarrassed or disheartened you may feel. Make new friends as well. When your old friends are gone after their graduation, knowing you still have people around for your final year will be a comfort.

Turn to things which de-stress you. Whether this is friends, family, books, music or religion. You will need something to take your head off of medicine. Don’t assume that you need to be studying 24-7 to pass after failing. You just need to find a balance.

Having your notes from the previous year is helpful, but don’t rely on them alone. Make new notes or add to your existing ones. Go to the lectures you feel are appropriate, especially ones that you knew made no sense the first time around. Have a timetable or plan from day 1. Stick to it as much as you can but remember to relax as well. You don’t want to burn out.

When revising try and understand things rather than memorise. Having revised them the year before, the topics will make more sense and may take less time to get through them. Keep revising until you are satisfied and start early. Do everything before you did the year before.

At the end of the day, believe in yourself. Ignore what others may assume or even say. You may have failed once, but looking at what you failed and why will be more productive then blaming the system. Learn from the previous year and make changes.

The mantra that worked for me was written on a post-it note by one of my friends:

Step 1: Accept

Step 2: Challenge

Step 3: Persevere

Step 4: Be unafraid

You will get through.

Aawaz would like to thank the writer of this post for such honest and helpful insights.

Checklist: stethoscope, badge, pen torch, kindness.

“Please. Stop. You’re intimidating me and I can’t think.”
“Oh. Really? Am I?”
There was no sarcasm. This was a genuine question. She had no idea.
“Yes you are”. I mustered. “You’re a consultant and I’m just a medical student. You need to give me a second to think”.
It was about 3pm in the afternoon and I had cracked.
Let me give you a bit of background.
I was doing anaesthetics and this particular Monday morning I was up at 6.30am to drive to placement in time for the 8.30am start.
There was an admin issue and so I ended getting to the anaesthetic room a few minutes late and missed the first intubation. But to the anaesthetist, I was late. And that wasn’t acceptable.
The surgery was long and I had missed all the airway management so I watched the surgery instead. An hour in I mustered up the courage to ask for a patient to see pre-op, intra operatively and post op for a presentation had the next day.
“Oh, you can do my pre-op assessment clinic for me”.
I panicked but the anaesthetist was brilliant and explained everything that I had to ask really well. But I was still terrified. And because I terrified. I was slow. Obviously things were checked again but I wanted to make sure that I personally didn’t miss anything.
What I did end up missing was my lunch but such is the way some times.
After doing the clinic it was time for the afternoon list. I presented each patient in turn and did everything. Every drug, every cannula, every fluid bag. At the same time I was being grilled with question.
Having missed lunch, being petrified of this doctor and not knowing the answer to all of her questions I cracked. By this point I was doing well not to have fainted. So I said it how it was.
“Please. Stop. You’re intimidating me and I can’t think.”
This might sounds like the last thing on earth a medical student should ever say to a consultant. But it was the truth. It could no longer hear her questions. They were too quick for my glucose deprived brain and I had burnt out.
I told her that I hadn’t had anything to eat and she had no idea how long the clinic took me. I was sent away to have something to eat, (a rather sad looking sandwich) and when I came back there was a much warmer reception.
At the end of the day she told me “well Salma, you might not like me but at least you learnt a lot” and I agreed. You don’t need your teacher to be your best friend but you don’t need a bully either.
I think it’s difficult for some people to remember how their position can impact another. If you are a 4th year medical student you will be intimidating to a first year. Empathy is key here.
One of my favourite doctors, a consultant ENT surgeon confessed to me, “Salma, I still feel like a 10 year old boy and yet these people look up to me”.
There are 2 lessons here. 1- Stick up for yourself.  2- As your progress as a medical student and then doctor, empathy is key. Try not to lose sight of what you were like on your first day of a new placement. No one starts off as a rock star. So be kind.