Friday, 21 February 2014


I will update this soon. I will. I promise. And it's not because I feel like I have to, but because I want to. Lots has happened, not all of it pleasant, and I want to write about it. But I'm at that point of the academic year when exams are looming and if I have a bad day I want to ride it out and then forget about it, because to dwell would be detrimental to my revision. Plus it's never a good idea to blog something written in the heat of the moment.

One thing though, before I go. I was speaking to someone at this year's #BOMTTU who said that my blog was really useful for understanding how patient's feel. I was so touched by that. Thank you x

Saturday, 5 October 2013

What's Happening...

So, 4th year. I don't want to jinx it but I've got a feeling that it's going to be a good one. 

Currently in my second week of my Psych and Neuro placement, although because of introductory lectures and me being ill with the flu and conjunctivitis I've done one day of Psych and absolutely no Neuro. Really hoping that Psych picks up next week - I've been looking forward to it but haven't really enjoyed it yet. Too many...memories, if that's the right word. Still, the doctors are amazing, and I've seen the benefit of a good conversation with someone who actually cares. I've also seen first hand the damaging effect that ATOS can have on vulnerable patients, so there's that. 

Just come off a Surgery placement where, ironically, I did very little surgery. Had some great opportunities (like helping to open up) but I never want to do another DRE for as long as I live. We did one week of ENT. One week. We've never done ENT before, not even in lectures. It was barely touched on in anatomy. We are now expected to know all the ENT we would need should we have an F1 job in the speciality. Scary. 

What's even scarier is that this time next year I'll be applying for F1 posts. 21 months before I (hopefully) graduate. Scary doesn't even begin to cover it. I look at my friend in the year above who I've know since we were 11 and in Year 7 together and she seems to know everything; she's so competent as a doctor. I've got 12 months to get to that point and, frankly, I don't see it happening. But life's a learning curve, isn't it? It'll be fine. 

Elective planning is going well - as long as nothing falls through I should be joining a Medical Humanities research group at Stanford University. I really need some funding though - America is bloody expensive bro! My friend was moaning that she had to pay almost £500 for her elective accommodation. I'll be paying double that at least. But there are lots of funding opportunites out there; just need to apply!

Anyway, I'm off. This was a very boring post. Hope you're all well. 
Lexie x

(All image rights to Google Images. I thank you). 

Friday, 4 October 2013

Keep Trudging On...

I wrote a poem. It is not good, but because I've neglected blogger of late I thought I'd share. 

Just keep trudging on

It’s been three years
Since the day I asked you to label me.
Three years since the relief that I wasn’t imagining what I was feeling.
It was real
And tangible
And medical.
Three years since I sat on the edge of the bed
With a box of z-drugs
(That I now know wouldn’t have made a difference)
But considered making that difference
To my place in the world.
Three years of the worst kind of rollercoaster
And I don’t even like rollercoasters.
Of swings and roundabouts
Trampoline living
And pushing
And crying
And wailing
Of “just keep going
because there’s nothing else we can do”.
I’ve spend nights trying to hide
from the images tattooed on the inside of my eyes.

But things have got better:
I can smile for days at a time.
Be normal,
Be happy,
Love that everything is good
(Whilst fearing that it will come back)
And it does always does come back.

A constant tug of war for my emotional integrity.
I don’t want to fight anymore
But I don’t want to let it win.
That alone is exhausting.


Could be worse, eh?

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

4th year update...

In Birmingham your 4th year starts mid June. I don't know why. But it does mean that I'm part way through my 4th week of the academic year. And so far I have come to a few conclusions:

1. Anaesthetics is fun but way to science-y.
2. Anaesthetists are some of the nicest doctors I've ever met.
3. I will not be pursuing a career in orthopaedics.
4. Increasing my dosage of agomelatin is more hassle than it's worth.
5. Despicable Me 2 is awesome.
6. I don't feel like a student anymore.
7. Electives are far too complicated to organise.

More soon, hopefully.


Saturday, 18 May 2013

A Shakespearean journey of introspection...

What magic is this? A blog post from Lexie Bellafonte? Be still my beating heart! We had perchance thought you had died and gone to heaven, so quiet has your correspondence been of late.

Hello J I shan’t apologise for the Shakespeare. It’s been a very Shakespearean week. I started a post yesterday entitled ‘Simply Ophelia’ about what happened on Monday, but then today happened, so now you have this instead. I pray you, lend me your ears…

Alright, I’ll stop now.

Shakespeare. One of the great loves of my life. Seriously, that dude could write. His plays are as relevant today as they were in the 1600s. And this week has been full of him. Somehow, this week, I’ve managed to go on a journey of the self through Shakespeare. Much like Hamlet, only cheerier and this ending has no death.


On Monday, as part of my Drama and Medicine student project, I played the part of Ophelia. The task was to, as a group, chose a play with a healthcare theme and perform for the class a 15 minute scene/combination of scenes. For some strange reason my group decided to do ‘Hamlet’. Cause modern-day English was too easy for us :p We presented Hamlet’s To Be Or Not To Be soliloquy and his nunnery conversation with Ophelia followed by Ophelia’s mad scenes. And I played Ophelia in her mad scenes.

It was exhilarating. Liberating. I’ve always wanted to play Ophelia and that will probably be the first and last time I’ll ever do so. There’s something very freeing about forgetting what people think and acting crazy.

And at the time, I indentified with her. I was Ophelia. Not because I was playing her and I was trying to get into the role (I’m not that good an actor) but because I felt crazy. I’d had a rubbish weekend, my mental health was all a-kilter and I went into that class ready to cry. And when I played her I channelled all of that crazy – the anger, the grief, the delusion and despair I was feeling – into her character. It was by no means brilliant. Most of the actual acting I borrowed from Ophelias I’ve seen on stage and screen. But it was so easy to act crazy because that’s how I felt.

At the end of each performance we had a discussion and one person asked me how I prepared for the role, what I drew on. I wasn’t about to tell him the truth but I said (and I do believe this) that we all have a bit of crazy in us and I drew on that. We laughed at that because it was funny. And after, as liberating and wonderful as it felt in the moment, I went back to feeling ignored and alone. A bit like Ophelia, I suppose.


After that class I didn’t fancy going home. So I went to Stratford where, coincidentally, they were performing ‘Hamlet’ that night. I went and saw it. It was a wonderful performance. Jonathon Slinger as Hamlet…wow. Pippa Nixon as Ophelia was even better. Afterwards I had that warm glow I get from watching a performance. But, because I am me and was already feeling pretty emotionally unstable, I identified with Hamlet.

We’ve all sympathised with Hamlet at some point in our lives. Sure we may not ponder suicide like he does but we’ve all had a bit of an existential crisis. And I felt like that. Off kilter with the world around me, questioning life and its meaning, even if life had a meaning. Alone amongst friends and family. Existential. I’ve never heard understood his soliloquies as well as I did on Monday night.

Prufrock (from Eliot’s poem)

I went to Stratford again today to see ‘As You Like It’. I was so, so excited. It’s one of my favourite plays and Horatio and Ophelia from Hamlet were Rosalind and Orlando. I’d been waiting for today for ages. And it didn’t disappoint. I’m going to go see it again. It was magical. Truly, wonderfully, properly magnificent. Perfect. I mean, it wasn’t perfect. There were some bits (like with even the best of books) which were left wanting. But I came out feeling that theatre feeling but ten, no, a hundred times more. Calm. Complete. Happy. Content. Whole. Perfect. I skipped along the pavement. I haven’t skipped since primary school.

In the car on the way home I found myself reciting part of Eliot’s poem:

I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool

This poem is one of my favourites. It’s the poem I go to when I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. It’s a bit long but sounds wonderful read out loud, which I do because somehow it calms me. I don’t know why I starting saying it in the car. Probably the Hamlet reference.

I’ve identified with Prufrock before, and for those ten minutes in the car I did again. I’m a little buttoned up like his frock coat, I um and ah and overthink thinks drastically. I’m known to be a little pessimistic. This section sums up one feeling especially – that feeling that you’re not the main person in your life. I’ve been getting that a lot recently. Not important enough to be Hamlet. Not the protagonist in your story. Just an attendant lord. I’ve always thought he refers to Polonius in the poem, who dies in the play. Hamlet kills him, actually. Ironically.

And I’ve been writing recently. I’ve got this idea and I’m hoping to run with it. The point is, the main character gets told, repeatedly, that she is the hero in her own story. You are the protagonist in your life’s book. I have a tendency to not follow my own advice. And because I’d been identifying with so many Shakespearean characters recently I asked myself, whilst driving: if you could be any character in any Shakespearean play, who would you be?

Any character? That’s quite an ask.

Hamlet is a fantastic figure in the history of literature. It can be argued that he is the first character to show introspection. And I’ve identified with him. But would I be him? No. Ignoring the fact that he dies at the end, he spends the whole plays running circles in his own head, asking and reasking the same questions. I do that. But do I want to do that? No.

Ophelia is beautiful but she goes crazy. And dies. Her grief and despair overwhelm her. No.

I love Horatio. I’d forgotten how much until I saw Monday’s performance. He’s learned and cultured and I believe he loves Hamlet with every fibre of his being. I mean, when Hamelt goes to England he doesn’t leave (you have to remember that he came to Elsinore to see his friend). Instead he stays and looks after Ophelia because (I think) he knows how much she means to Hamlet. I’d love to see Horatio played by a female actor. I’d love to be Horatio, but only in the play. Because he lets Hamlet drive his every move. At the end he’s ready to die for his prince in a very Romeo and Juliet way…No.

Romeo and Juliet both need to get a grip. Yes it’s an epic love story, and yes it is lovely, and yes I have been in many a situation where I let one little emotion well up and take me over but GROW UP! You’re teenagers. Try and live a little.

King Lear is horrid. His children are bitches. Macbeth is power hungry, his wife even more so. Othello…needs to know his own mind more. Puck would be cool. I was Puck at school. But no.

Ultimately the choice was between Viola and Rosalind. I’m sure there’s more (Beatrice for example) but in the car I was debating Viola and Rosalind. Both are brave and courageous, both love their friends and family dearly and would do anything for them, both love other people and would do anything for them. Both are wonderful examples of strong, independent women. But truthfully, I’ve always thought Orsino was a bit fickle. I hate how he says Viola can be his mistress at the end. I know mistress means wife but, why doesn’t he say wife? Mistress still has that connotation. I think he loved Cesario, not Viola, but social conventions meant he was pleased when Cesario turned out to be a woman. Viola deserves more than that. However Orlando loves Rosalind. Irrevocable, unconditional love. And that is special. And Rosalind is special.

It’s highly likely that I’m just identifying with whichever character is in the main role when I’m contemplating who I identify with. Or something.

Anyway, if I could be any character in any play, I would be Rosalind. Who is not an attendant lord. She is the master of her own destiny, the hero in her own story, the protagonist of her book. Which I should be. Live is short. It is what you make it. And I would rather be Rosalind than Prufrock or Polonius. Rather be Rosalind than Hamlet. And, somehow, in the space of 6 days I went from being Ophelia to being Rosalind. I can guarantee you that by the end of next week I’ll feel like Hamlet or Ophelia again. But tonight, now, I am Rosalind. I am the protagonist of my own story. And it feels really, really good.


PS I’m looking for a new calm-me-down poem, one with a character more Rosalind than Prufrock. Any suggestions? 

Friday, 12 April 2013

In the inbetween...

Create a world. Get lost in it.

Today I half-dreamt a world where nothing was quite real. No, I lucid dreamed. The best lucid dream I’ve done in a long time. And in this dream, where I couldn't think of a back-story I made it that the parts unknown to me were unknown to the dreamees as well. I manipulated a world which resulted in a character who thinks she knows what’s happening – there is a situation which she’s in and she’s dealing with it – but when she stops and actually thinks about it, she realises that there are gaps where there should be memories. She knows why she is here but not how she got there. There is a view from the window which isn't quite real. And now no one can quite remember how she got there either.

I want to go back there. I want to stay there.

Afterwards I came out of the dream state, ie I woke up and opened my eyes, and was confronted by this world again. Nothing felt real. But then, nothing has felt real for a good few days. Time has been jumping so what feels like a few minutes is actually an hour when you look at the clock. I keep expecting to wake up. I’m pretty sure I’m hallucinating. Real life has begun to feel like a dream.  I’m not sure if this can be classed as a funny turn, or maybe I’m just stressed but I’ve had bad stress before and it’s never been like this. Or maybe it did but I *just* can’t remember. The past has begun to feel like a dream, where you turn towards a memory and it’s gone.

But I’ve never felt like this before. Like I'm in the inbetween. Occasionally, yes. When you come out of a movie or a play or a book and it lingers with you. That’s what it feels like, except it’s my life which is lingering. I can hear it discussing the play before it heads back to the car to drive home. But there is no story to go back to and so I'm left in the inbetween.

It simultaneously terrifies me and excites me. I want to stay there. Here. I want this to be a dream because then today and yesterday will slip to the edges of my mind when I wake up tomorrow. Memories I’ve gathered over the past few weeks will slowly disappear, hide when I try to confront them and leave me with déjà vu five, ten, fifty years from now.

And that’s why it’s terrifying  It’s terrifying because this isn’t a dream. This is real life. But more and more it feels like everything is slipping away and I’m left floating in the inbetween 

Anyways. As this is real life I'm off to bed. Need to be up at 6 so I can spend the day in the medschool revising for Monday's exam. The real world, as dreamlike as it feels, needs to be lived otherwise I'm going to fail out of medical school.  



Wednesday, 10 April 2013

All-nighter interlude in which I really need coffee and should stop typing and go to sleep like a smart person...

Wow my blog's gotten pretty depressing recently, what with all the posts about depression. Hmm...I did think about starting a separate blog just for depression stuff but I never got round to setting it up. Not sure I will either. Unfortunately it's a part of me.

What is with Blogger not recognising blog as a correctly spelt word?? Or Blogger for that matter. Shouldn't it be inherent in it's programming or something??

Anyway. Hello :D Yes it's 3 in the morning. I'm doing an all-nighter. Or trying to. Exam on Friday. OSCE. Given that I've been so ill this year I've missed an awful lot and we've had barely any study leave so basically it's been like fitting a whole year's work into 2 weeks which was actually 1 week because I've been ill again. Did that make sense? I'm horrifically sleep deprived, possibly. 

Hello :) 

I've said that already, haven't I?

There's a strain in Demi Lovato's new song "Heart Attack" which sounds exactly like Greenday's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams". Just thought I'd put that out there. 

Why am I writing this?

Anyway, off to get some cofffeee. 

Love you all. 

Lexie :D