Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Eid Resolutions

If you know that Ramadan to me is what Christmas time is to most people here ,so you would probably understand why I have this annual ritual of creating a list of resolutions just as its about to end and with the beginning of Eid . It's practically like new year resolutions as I have never had actually given the new year thing any seriousness.
Ok enough talking ! There are so many on that list I thought I share a couple of them with you here :P

  • I watched this video a while back ..And I have decided to give it a try .Almost a week down the line and I m telling you its amazing how being less clingy to my phone , has offered me so far ..Its magical ; smart phone out of your reach for few hours a day, you will be naturally more social   ..Yeah granted given the norms here I came across as a bit strange to a few but people generally appreciate it a lot. This is definitely staying on the list ..Enjoy trying it out ..

  • No mirror challenge ; this one has to be the most difficult ;regardless of how down I think of therapists I decided to follow this advice as things hasn't been exactly quite orthodox for me lately !As this was the least  relaxing month I had since last Ramadan. I thought I might try this ! no kidding when faced with cross roads and asked to be more decisive about quite few things at once, I can't see how this can be within the comfort zone of anyone  .
  • My new make up kit ;yes its water! and some vegetable mask that I have to keep in the fridge!:@ 

Mirrors covered!
Anyways ; NO mirrors for a month .Ladies have you ever tried a no mirror make-up challenge! I m obsessed with mirrors and because I was so stressed and sick most of this month I truly think I look like 20 times my age ( not practically possible but you get my point ) with weird looking rashes and acne and stuff -not impressive- so no mirrors , no chemicals on my skin or in my body , organic all the way through for a month. Its been only 3 days since I started but It feels like ages ! It's ok when you're working but when you're out and about  man mirrors are everywhere ! I peeked through one quickly today o_O but I still think its doable and I m truly excited .I think its helping (maybe not!) I ll definitely keep you posted. 

no cheating

And until next time you keep smiling best friends .

The Last Lunch

Ramadan - Hospital Restaurant ;lunch time ; with le colleague

'I'm really sorry . I can come across as rude sometimes .I guess what I meant is simply that you have left your home country years ago and you are ..well you are basically an Italian now that was where you studied medicine and practised before coming here ..'

'Don't worry I'm only joking ...you're right .I am an Italian .. I'm just saying what had been told to you is not exactly true .'

'But things can change in twenty years,don't you think ? '

'Not that. Christians are the same everywhere...I went to a Catholic high school there and ..'

 Oh dear not another Carl story ! 'Oh really , so were all my aunts not there obviously ..back in Baghdad' I didn't want to argue further .I thought I've already done enough in terms of limiting my chances of getting a good reference from him .So I decided to shut up .
On a separate note, It was very entertaining watching Carl  talk about his teen years. His eyes lit up when he started telling stories about his school .He reminded me abit of my father . Anyways ,few minutes later , I just couldn't curb what was going in my head anymore. But to be honest looking back at that afternoon I probably shouldn't have gone further. It was not the most appropriate discussion for the hospital canteen . But I did !

'So you're telling me that no Christian; absolutely no one, is still doing this back home now or in the past?  '

He stared at me ..looked slightly unsure of what to say next ,maybe a bit confused , possibly surprised I couldn't really decrypt his face ...and just when he was about to say something , I saw (something) from a distance..
Oh what the h#^$?!..I really wanted to hear what Carl had to say 'this time!' .

'Hello hello hello .. ' here he came , the bundle of joy ; Sham , with his fish&chips+CURRY  lunch tray ( yes people you read it right !) I have nothing against him but he tends to appear when he's least wanted.
He put his tray down , grabbed a chair from the table next to ours and sat down.

'Heys, lunch time! ...you know coming down the restaurant when one's fasting isn't  the most brilliant idea'   better be nice I thought plus it's Ramadan spirit !

'Oh you're fasting .Why are you down here then?'  That's Sham for you ! I didn't say that of course  'Well Carl was telling me all about FIFA ,Germany , Argentina and why his team's left the world cup so early ' I said
'Nigeria ?' he inquired
'Cameroon ; alright listen I know you're not fasting but me and my friends  are breaking the fast in Clay Oven tomorrow night would you like to come ?'
'I'm on call '
'Great ' shoot..I said it out loud  !
'I can't believe you said that '
neither was I gosh!
' Carl you have to come '
'I will '
'see you then '
'D remember it's like the world cup'
Because we'd chatted quite a bit .I had no idea what Carl  was referring to by that but yea what the heck ' Sure '

What happened next ?! well, I was too sick to go out that night and I still don't know what Carl wanted to say on that day. I totally believe that Sham has jinxed it all . Hope he won't be reading this !

Happy Eid to all who's celebrating it ! May this earth be guided to be more humane , peaceful and loving . And until next time, you keep smiling best friends :)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

6 key steps for your MRCP PACES success

So I sat PACES (the rather nerve racking practical examination of the examination for Membership of the Royal College of Physicians) earlier this month(2014).With it out of the way , I have finished all the MRCP parts in 10 months and no I'm not that smart but I know quite few doctors who worked much harder than me in their preparation but didn't necessarily clear their MRCP as quickly as they planned.I think the main key is to be PACES-focused(rather than I want to know it all -focused! ) in your revision. For this I made a few notes on my experiences with this nasty exam, I thought I would put them up here in case they were of use to anyone.

A word of caution: these steps solely reflect my experiences and might not necessarily apply to you , it's maybe an idea to read through them and take what you think is useful and leave the rest .. you can always comment below to add what you think might benefit others ..so shall we start ...
Step 1 - Start NOW 
Just because you haven't cleared the other parts ,it doesn't mean you can't start preparing for PACES now . Get a paces book ; Cases for paces and Oxford pocketbook for paces would be perfect for the wards . You know that patient with PSM on CCU that you heard about from the CCU cover ; finish up your break five minutes earlier and go and examine them and present them to a colleague if possible (even if you're planning to take the exam next year) .I tried to learn/refresh (a) paces skill everyday .  
Step 2 - Identify your improvement points 
Get the PACES mark-sheets for different stations (from the MRCP UK website) and familiarise yourself with them early on .Now is not the time for Harrison's and Davidson's.You want a clear and focused study plan for the exam .Identify the points that still need improving in you and tackle them accordingly . You might think that you're slick enough in your examination skills but you kinda need a bit more in your clinical Judgment or the differential diagnosis and so forth.
As for me being an international medical graduate , I was told early on that my main focus should be working on my communication skills and history taking as stations and managing patients concerns and welfare as well as my presentation skills .I started working on those when I was still preparing for my part one.The key is to know that people do fail even in history taking be prepared for all the stations .
Step 3 - Don't prepare for PACES alone !
For PACES you need feedback , apart from the differential diagnoses and theoretical knowledge which you have already covered in part 1 and 2 . You do need some form of feedback to make sure your examination and presentation skills  are as good as good can be .If you can't find anyone , present in front of a camera then replay it and watch yourself .. try to identify ways to make your presentations better.
I didn't prepare with anyone who was planning to sit the exam as I was doing a full time academic placement at the time which meant that non of my colleagues were preparing for it . 
But lots of colleagues have actually helped me prepare in so many ways .Examinations ,history taking scenarios , ethical scenarios and the hours I spent whining about it to them (literally hours) . I have been helped a lot by quite few colleagues at Ealing hospital especially in the last few days before the exam when my nerves started to get the best out of me.I would rather not mention names as surely I won't be able to cover them all here! I don't want to forget my sister here - a final year medical student , the poor thing was my slave .She did countless history and communication scenarios with me (whilst fasting) bless her . 
Step 4 - Take a PACES prep course 
Now some people might think its a waste of money as attending your local teaching, group preparations and good PACES books should suffice but I did go to courses and I think they help .
Well , maybe I'm wrong .In fact according to study published rather recently , there isn't any significant difference between people who attend commercial courses and those who don't in terms of pass rate but here you go . I went to PASSPACES   I think it helped me a lot . I also went to EALING PACES  -you get a discount if you're staff- and both are well established , both are good .It's worth mentioning that I was broke afterwards (for a while) ! just plan your budget alright !Don't say I didn't warn you 
Step 5 - Invest in PACES BOOKS
Not your money but rather your time ! you can get most of them as a pdf copies ( comment below if you would like me to email  any copy-righted material , I don't think I can upload them here! ) or borrow from your hospital library .
here is what I relied on ;
Pastest website ; not exactly a book but it has quite useful tips and videos 
Podcast of common cases  presentations ; a colleague emailed it to me  it was really useful
Ryder book for history and communication stations 
Clinical medicine for MRCP PACES vol 1 for the clinical stations 

Step 6 - Meditate !
You come that far through the blog ;congratulations ! Seriously ..try to relax or at least look relaxed in front of the examiners,stethoscope off your neck ,hands behind your back when presenting ! Its easier said than done though . 
I was absolutely horrendous when I started preparing for it and I m still not the best person to give advice about it .But I was advised to Google mindfulness and practice it , I prayed as well and listened to some final pep talk from friends which did help me a lot . surround your self with some positive energy (don't ask me how !). 
I hope those steps are useful and if you are sitting the exam anytime soon, Good Luck!
and as always best friends until next time , you keep smiling !

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Say Cheeeese !

'Stop it..' 
'Take your hands off your face ..'
'leave me alone I don't want any photos  ..'

This is an all too familiar conversation that I had with anyone who tried having my photographs taken! Its been like this for as long as I can remember ..In fact if it wasn't compulsory at the time , I wouldn't even have any school photos...

My relationship with cameras hadn't been always that bad.I was the first born to my family and the very first grand child .That could probably explain the tens of albums my family still keeps of me... a lot of baby photos (A LOT) ...I mean when you think about it for a bit ; at a time when there were only those Kodak cameras where you actually have to collect the films , process the photos then print them out .It feels like a dinosaur's tale now but that's what used to happen,seems like a lot of hard work to me! Man, they were keen!
Some of those photos were actually very cute ,some were a bit embarrassing ..One thing for sure; more photos were taken of me as a toddler than through my teenage and adult years combined !

I barely had any photos when I was growing up..I really can't remember when it started but at some point,I couldn't look through my pics and absolutely hated the way I look in them.... I still think that I'm not photogenic  but I'm slightly more comfortable with the idea of being in a photo ..Not really that's a lie !

 No seriously , only few years back was when I started to 'voluntarily' appear in photos ..I realised that I was probably asking my brain to remember too much ,unaided!I can totally rely on my memory when it comes to the vibe of places and people but I don't think its fair to hold it accountable to disrupting facts,actual moments , all the faces and the places I didn't want to forget.Its just the way it registers stuff !

Growing up in a city like Baghdad had forced me experience losses of people I care about too early , in utterly unexpected ways . I found out that my iconic memory won't be good enough to remember them for life. I know this will sound very weird but nowadays to resist my first reaction of saying no to a group photo I always ask myself 'Could it be the last time I'm gonna see them?' if the answer is yes even remotely (and it will be if you or them were living in Baghdad) then I gather my energy and smile for the camera :) ..but if there is a even a tiny chance that I'm seeing  you tomorrow then...forget it ..leave me at peace :P  

you keep smiling best friends ! 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Time for a break

Anyone who knows me  knows I enjoy reading ...Recently I've got a kindle 4 which to me meant simply I can carry as many books as I want where I want ..Just the thought of that made feel overwhelmingly joyful ....OK that's a bit crossing the line here but its how I am like!

This is my first kindle and the reason why I didn't think of getting one in the past was my sister's kindle ! She got hers 5 years ago .It was the first generation kindle,a properly retarded gadget so I have never given it a thought until lately...Well that's a lie it was a birthday present but nevertheless once I started playing with it ..I knew it was a thing for me ..

Anyways , this morning I was checking my bank statement .Amazon has charged me abit more than a 100 USD last week .Bewildered about what it was for ; I went in to check my Amazon account and here it is Amazon prime membership ..what ?! why ! I haven't asked for it ..Maybe I did ..I can't remember ..You cant forget something like this though... I mean especially if you have allegedly done it last week..I later realised that I was charged for membership automatically after a free month trial without even being asked first...I was a bit peeved initially to tell you the truth but then I just decided not to make a fuss about it and make full use of  my prime membership which includes drums please  ..... :P

First - 15 000+ free access to block buster movies and popular TV series .. which is awesome news right !? if you're into movies but I am a book person ..never mind I better start watching  movies NOW!

Second -Kindle prime offer.. which is basically a lending scheme for books exclusive for kindle device owners and you could also get a sample to read first  ..OMG that's awesome ..Being a click a way from any book didn't prove to be very healthy for my bank account ..This can potentially save me a lot of money.I was exuberantly happy.. I jumped out of my chair and grabbed my kindle from the table next to my bed ..turned it on and ...guess what ...it's time for a break !

Before and after ! That's not my kindle by the way , mine is much worse ! My camera isn't syncing otherwise I would have uploaded a very nice photo of it!

Third  - Does it even matter ?! 

The interesting thing  it's not even a big deal but as an Arab would tell you it was the 'Straw that broke the camel's back ' 

You stay awesome lovely readers and stay tuned ! I have lots more coming up ..less mundane than this entry I promise :)
Keep smiling :)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Tie it and trust

Nomads were asked to tie their camels up with robs and then trust in God that their animals won't be mugged/lost .They can't just leave them loose trusting that  God would somehow protect them ..do your bit and trust that He'll do his that's what Mohammed of Arabia -saws- said .That's how it works .Its easier said than done though even you believe .Sometimes I can't help but be in utter despair ...So tie it and trust world ..Tie it and trust !

' Stop crying please ,stop it will you ?'
I was sobbing like mad-and still am !-
'You don't know what's best for you..this might be the best thing that ever happened to you . When things doesn't happen the way you want them to happen .....   '
'I don't feel alright mom...I'm tired and sick..I can t even breath   '

'And if you continue to cry like this, you'll be more tired and you'll have a terrible headache. you've got 48 hours now focus on what's urgent..I ll tell you a story....'
She went on and on about some demonstration in a car park  she and my dad had witnessed the other day in Amman , she talked about  how difficult it was to dodge the demonstrators  and how they thought probably it wasn't a good idea after all to settle in Jordan ( a bit too late given the fact that they've bought a place there already!) .

Now what was that got to do with what I was crying my heart out about .No idea !
'Are you better ?' she asked ...  Well I had stopped crying at that point mainly to try and understand why Palestinian refugees would want to create troubles in Jordan, a country that  welcomed them in and made them part of it. This is the only freaking stable country in the region for heaven's sake , leave it alone !
'Yes I think I am '  I was not
'Don't cry for anyone or anything ..ok ? Pray for guidance ' and guess what she just hang up ..Okay well thanks mom I love you too x

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


-----Original Message-----
From: omitted[mailto:]
Sent: 02 July 2014 omitted
To: PasTest Enquiries
Subject: access problem

Dear Pastest IT team ,

I m writing in regards to access problems related to my account .
So It's my day off today .I've decided to spend it revising using pastest website. To  avoid distractions I left my mobile back home and headed to the library to study and here I am in the library unable to
log in (and without my phone to declare my annoyance !).
I have used pastest with my MRCP 1 , 2 and now paces ..its always been the same problem as I only study in libraries and that does mean that I tend to use public computers and apparently you people don't like it !
Please kindly reset my access asap . Please kindly email me back if its
not possible to be done it today .

The story ends happily as it didn't take them long to fix it ! and you know what they say , don't ever sleep if you are angry ; stay up and plan your revenge !
lots of love to you my loyal readers
P.S. if you're reading this , pls don't mind the pic dad ..love you and Ramadan Kareem and oh yea I m not coming this week..Pray for me xx