Sunday, 11 November 2012

Keeping secrets from myself...

There's something...actually, there are two things which I'm keeping from Twitter and from you. And for a blog that was meant to be an outlet for everything I couldn't say out loud, that's pretty bad, isn't it? Nobody knows. I tell Twitter everything. It's literally like I tweet my thoughts. And I tell my closest friends (almost) everything, because they are more than sisters to me. And I tell my mum (almost almost) everything because I hate lying to her. And I haven't told anyone this. 


Maybe I need to stop hiding away parts of myself and just be open. Not to gain sympathy. Not to make a scene. But because by admitting things to other people I am fully admitting those things to myself, and that should help me to work through it. When it stays in my head it's just another thought. Another thread of a memory that I can't follow through to the end. 


I don't know what to do anymore. 

I don't know. 

Everyone feels like you...

'Try this. Take a minute, take a day, take a week and be scared. Then stop. And don't let it in anymore' -- Michael Aranda

Watch this. Pretend that he isn't talking to someone called Charlie, but he's talking to you. And maybe watch Charlie's video as well. 

The point I'm trying to make is...everyone feels scared. 


Sunday, 28 October 2012

It scares me so much...

#nowplaying Breathe 2am ~ Anna Nalick

I'm laying myself bare here. Because I think about this a lot. And I was hoping that writing it down might help.That's what this blog was meant for, wasn't it? I didn't need to press "Publish" but I have. Don't ask me why. Here is me...

It’s hard being a Muslim and being me. Which is silly, because I am a Muslim and I am me. But even though they’re the same thing they feel so, so separate. 

I…I’m meant to have an arranged marriage. My mum wants me to have an arranged marriage. Not a ‘here’s some guy, marry him or else’ marriage. More of an ‘I’ve heard of this really nice young man, let’s go meet him and if you like him you can marry him’.

But that scares me. It scares me so much. I know I’ll get to know him but the thought of giving myself over wholly and completely over to someone who, let’s face it, I’ll not properly know, frightens me. Giving myself over and committing myself to a lifetime with this person. Giving my…my very essence to someone I don’t even know.

And some of them work. Some arranged marriages are great. And some of them, like my parents, are more than train wrecks.

I don’t even want to get married because I’m scared it’ll end. Part of me believes in happily ever after but part of me believes the only reality is that it never lasts, because love never lasts.

So I told my mum that I would never have an arranged marriage. I told her that I would find my own man, and she’s ok with that, as long as he converts to Islam.

No one is going to convert to Islam for me.

A boy I know actually said that no man would do that. Not the “for me” bit but the “convert” bit. The rest was implied even if he didn’t mean it.

No one has ever even shown an interest in me. No one has ever even asked me out on a date.

And if they did they wouldn’t want all my crazy.

I just want someone to make me feel safe. To love me.

The future shouldn’t be scary. It shouldn’t hurt. How can something that hasn’t happened cause pain? But it does. It hurts so much. 

Monday, 24 September 2012

Just be grateful...

"Just be grateful"

What a ridiculous thing to say.

Of course I’m grateful. I’m grateful for everything, even the depression because it’s made me a much bigger, better person than I was before.

I'm grateful for having a wonderful education, for having family who love me, for never having to worry about where I'm going to get the next mouthful of food from, for having a roof over my head and clothes on my back. 

"But you can’t be grateful if you feel like that. Look at the people in Syria who are dying because of a stupid civil war, or the children in Ethiopia who can’t even get clean water, or the countless other people who don’t have what you have and for whom every day is a struggle."

I am grateful. I’m grateful for so much. And yet I’m still hurting. I’m hurting despite the grateful-ness. I can’t make it stop. I can’t control it. And you saying “just be grateful’ is making it worse because now I feel bad for feeling the way I feel, I feel bad for feeling bad, but I can’t control it, I can’t stop it, I can’t help it.

And please don't ask "why?" either. Because I can't form it into words for myself and everything I say you don't understand and you're not a good liar so I can tell when you don't even if you say you do. 

I know you're just trying to help. 

And I shouldn't get so upset about you trying to help. 

But you're just making it worse. 

But I will never tell you any of this. Because you already feel guilty for me having depression even though I've told you it's not your fault. And I'm scared any extra guilt will just eat you away even more. 

Thursday, 20 September 2012

The Importance of Being Lexie...

Earlier I tweeted this:

When I first starting blogging about four years ago I was completely anonymous. In comments people used to call me Despondent Medic (based on my first blog) or It’s Complicated (the title of this blog). At the very most I put “A” in the name box on the Blogger profile. But then one of my readers (I think it was Rosie) said that I needed a real name, an on-line persona, something concrete they could address me by. And so, Lexie Bellafonte was born. “Lexie” is one of my all-time favourite girl’s names, although I’m not sure if the Grey’s character or my love of the name came first; “Bellafonte” was the surname of the protagonist in the book I was reading at the time (The Passage by Justin Cronin, in case you were wondering).

Before Lexie I never felt like I was a completely different person on-line. I was still me, I just talked about personal stuff that I couldn’t vent about in real life. That’s why I blogged – I needed a place where I could document and talk about things that were happening that I couldn’t really talk about with my family or friends; I was anonymous so I wouldn’t offend anyone. And that’s not to say that now Lexie-me and Real-me are completely separate people. That would be crazy. But I do feel like there are a few differences between Real-me and Lexie-me.

Lexie-me is more outspoken that Real-me, although like Real-me she doesn’t like offending people with her opinions :p Lexie uses the word “hun” a lot; she lols and is capable of sarcasm. She doesn’t trip over words (obviously ‘cause, you know, typing).

And I don’t think that we are separate people. However I do feel that I’m more like Lexie now, as opposed to Me, whilst still being me (if that makes sense). What I think the issue (if you can really call it an issue) is, is that I’m not the person I was four years ago. And that’s not just because I’ve grown and, hopefully, matured; it’s because I’ve changed since the depression and it’s been change for the better.

This post sounded so much more intellectual in my head.

Over the past year or so the line between Lexie-me and Me-me has blurred. I almost started blogging under my real name (see this and this). When that fell through I made sure to put my real name at the bottom of the poems I posted to my blog and I now chat to a reader (and very good friend) on Twitter as Lexie and on Facebook as Me. Through Medicine Unboxed I’m known by both names. I follow people on Twitter on my course who know who I am in real life. I even went into the Uni branch of Waterstones today and asked if I could see the lady who manages their Twitter feed because I wanted to say ‘hi’.  
I want to be Me-me online. I want to be able to say to my friends “I have a blog”. I want to be open, honest and, most of all, proud of who I am. But…and we’re back to the Who I Am blogpost.

And now, like I tweeted, people who I know in real life who don’t know about a) my online presence and b) my “complications” are appearing as suggestions on Twitter.

Even in my head I don’t think there was a natural conclusion to this blog. I’ve been through all that with ‘Who I Am’. I suppose part of me wants those lines between on-line and reality to become blurred so I have to be me…Well, have to acknowledge that I’m Lexie as I do prefer Lexie-me to Real-me. Maybe I’m just trying to convince myself that I’m proud of who I am. I am proud of who I am. I am Lexie. Lexie is me.




Thursday, 13 September 2012

My First Hospital Placement...

I’m happy to report that my first week on my hospital placement hasn’t been that bad. Well, I say week; I mean three days. We’re back in the medschool today and Friday for lectures and anatomy. But placement has been fun. Not overly amazing, but not terrible either. A few too many lectures and hardly any patient contact but we’re still in the introductionary phase. I did, however, take blood from a fake arm and lose my first patient. Start as you mean to go on etc. And talking of starts, before anything new (the first day, the first time I met a patient) I’ve been really nervous and anxious. Thankfully I’m fine after a few minutes and I’m not nervous the next time round. I think this can be called ‘progress’.
Next week will be a lot more hands-on. We have some bedside teaching planned, they want to teach us how to give injections and I’m aiming to be in for 8am on Monday so I can practice taking bloods. At the end of next week we can our proper timetables, which I’m nerdly excited about. We’re scheduled to do on-calls at some point and despite what people say about the dire nature of ward rounds I’m oddly looking forward to them. It’ll also be good to finally meet the team I’m attached to, and as I’m on my surgery rotation hopefully I’ll get to scrub up soon.
We also have to choose a self-directed learning project on a topic we know nothing about in the next few weeks. We’re meant to stay largely in the realm of Medicine or Surgery but we were told it would be alright if we did Paeds or A&E. Consequently I’m torn between doing something Paeds related (we don’t get a Paeds rotation till 5th year and it’s a speciality I’m very interested in) or doing Orthopaedic Surgery (I know nothing about it, the medschool will be happier and there may be more opportunities to get hands on). Thoughts? I’m leaning towards Ortho but I may wait to see which team I get assigned to – pointless doing Ortho if I’m allocated to an Ortho Consultant.


Update: Assuming I'm not placed with an Ortho team I'm going to go for Orthopaedic surgery. Acutely aware that the medschool already doesn't like me (for intercalating without passing 2nd year) and I don't want to stir the hornet's nest. 

Saturday, 8 September 2012

I Don't Like It...

#nowplaying Imagine Dragons ~ It's Time

I’ve been in Birmingham in my 3rd year for a week now. A very, very long week. It feels like I’ve been back for months, but at the same time I can’t help but feel that I’ve only just come arrived.

I thought it would be weird coming into a year where I didn’t know anyone, but thankfully it hasn’t been that bad. One of my best friends who resat part of first year is now in my year, and turns out loads of people intercalated so there are plenty of familiar faces. I don’t know anyone in my hospital firm but I’ve had anatomy with most of them over the past week and as long as I stop being a nervous wreck and try to join in, making friends shouldn’t be too hard. I just keep reminding myself that it was awkward with my group at the start of first and second year but after a few weeks it all settled down and we became friends.

Anatomy has been awful. I don’t remember anything. At all. And everyone else seems to remember everything. Consequently this has left me feeling very insecure and stupid.

Actually, I haven’t been enjoying it much. Actually I’ve hated it. I don’t want to be here. I want to be back in Bristol, or anywhere else so long as it isn’t home, or Birmingham, or on a Medical course. My mood has taken a drastic plunge. I know, I know, I should just give it time, try and settle in and it’ll get better. And maybe it will get better. But right now is hard, and I’m not happy. Well, I am now. Last night was the first night I went to bed happy. That was because today was Saturday and Saturday means I don’t have to go into the Medical School.

Placements start on Monday. I am simultaneously hopeful (because it will be completely different to lectures and hopefully I’ll enjoy it) and terrified (I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING!!!!!). Also worried (I don’t know my group. What happens if they don’t like me???). Excited (I get to do procedures on real people). Petrified (I REALLY, REALLY DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO ANYTHING. I CAN’T REMEMBER ANYTHING.) Anxious (What if somebody talks to me and I mess my words up and they’re left thinking I’m stupid?).

And lastly, tired. Exhausted. Been waking up at 6:30 every morning. Now that’s not that early. I woke up at that time for high school. But last year I had 6 teaching hours a week. Getting my body back into sync with the medical world has been hard. On Tuesday night I took a sleeping pill, woke up on Wednesday morning unable to get out of bed, told myself I’d go back to sleep and didn’t wake up till 2pm. I didn’t go in, but I did miss Prosection (yay!). On Friday my alarm went off and I actually shouted ‘Nooooooooooooooooooo!’ at it.

So yeah. Mixed feelings, mixed emotions, mixed hopes, mixed everything. Just going to have to see how it goes. Alternatively I could get in my car and drive off like I did Tuesday night. I came back then. This time I’m thinking I could make it to France before anyone realised…. 

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Birmingham take 2...

I'm back. Back to medicine. Back in Birmingham. That is all. For now. 

Monday, 13 August 2012

What A Summer...

So…yeah…lots happened. I would have blogged earlier but things have been a little emotionally fraught…anyways, in case you’re interested, here is a quick summary of everything that has happened over the past few months.

Lake District

We went on holiday. We haven’t been on a proper holiday since 2001, and that was when Dad was still here. Actually, that’s not true. We went to Wales last year. That went almost as badly (perhaps worse) than this holiday. I think the problem was that we just don’t know how to relax, and our individual ideas of what counts as relaxation/a holiday are all so different. Anyway, it could have been worse. The day we got back from the Lakes in 2001 our next door neighbour had a heart attack on his driveway and died. Nobody died this time. We almost killed each other but there were no actual deaths. So…yey?


‘Twas epic. I had such a great time. We went down to Bristol the day before and I took my family round the sights. Well, one sight. This one.

My mum and brother spent the night with me in my tiny, creaky student room. Turns out the floor is harder than concrete and every time anyone rolled over it made a noise loud enough to wake a hibernating bear. Suffice to say nobody got any sleep.

The day itself was beautiful. Nice weather, even nicer people, a lovely ceremony where we cheered the roof down. 

Afterwards I had one of the strangest conversations with my course tutors where it took two of them to tell me I was the recipient of The Medical Humanities Award. Woop :D


I fasted for less than a week before I became extremely emotionally unstable. This was the first time I had fasted whilst depressed (I had missed it last year because of resits). It probably wasn’t just due to the fasting; there was a lot of stuff going on at home around that time too. I didn’t want to not fast; even though technically I was ill it didn’t stop me from feeling like a bad Muslim and consequently extremely guilty. But at the same time I didn’t not want to fast, so cue more guilt. The decision not to fast was one of the hardest I’ve made, but it’s turned out to be the right one. I need to concentrate on my health and wellbeing, especially as I’m still on medication and suspect I need a dose change.


I turned 21 :D


I have neever felt so patriotic before. A huge cheer to Danny Boyle for a beyond amazing, there-are-no-words Opening Ceremony. Kudos to the BBC for amazing coverage, to the police and armed forces for their protection, to the Gamesmakers for, well, making the games. But a huge woop to all the Team GB athletes for all their hard work. No one can deny that they gave more than their best, and they made us proud.

If you haven’t seen this yet, watch it. Watch it NOW :D

Because I haven’t been fasting I’ve been trying to get healthy. Went out on my bike every day last week and clocked up around 40 miles. Determined to lose weight before clinicals start.
So, yeah. My summer in around 700 words...Hopefully my next blog will be more interesting :P
One final thing: the Olympics over the past 2 weeks have really brought out the best of us as a nation. After the Royal wedding and the Jubilee I never thought I would be more proud to be British but this fortnight completely blew me away. I know my opinion counts for nothing but I’m so proud of how we handled ourselves as a nation, of how we cheered everyone on irrespective of nationality, even the losers, of the dignity and pride and humbleness of the athletes. As Seb Coe said, ‘When our time came, Britain, we did it right.’
Even though the Olympics are over maybe we can carry on being just as awesome.
Lexie x

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Quick update...

Hi guys.

I haven't posted in a quite a while, but I'm so grateful that I keep getting hits on the blog. Lots has happened since my last post (the semi-disastrous family holiday, graduation, Ramadan, my 21st birthday, the Olympics). But I've been ill too. I've tried blogging a few times but can't seem to get anything out. I'm still very active on Twitter though if you want to say hi there (@ComplicatedItIs). Chances are I'll blog again soon; if the past is anything to go by I'll probably have a proper post up in a few weeks now that I've blogged this!

Talk to you all soon.

Lexie x

Friday, 29 June 2012

No Pressure...

This is another poem that I submitted as part of my creative project for my Medical Humanities degree. Let me know what you think.

No Pressure

I’m beginning to realise how Atlas felt,
but instead of the world
I’m carrying the textbook of why and how,
memories of clinical skills seminars,
a box of pharmacology flashcards,
and somebody’s life.

I haven’t met them yet,
but one day I will ambush them with the algorithmic questions
of a fresh faced medical student.
They will mean something to the someone who will sit by their hospital bed and
try not to cry.

One day knowing this fact or that word –
the passage of this vessel,
the interactions of that drug –
will save their life.

For all our banter
our knees are beginning to buckle under the pressure
because it’s not just exam stress which keeps us awake.
One day we will help keep a life in this world,
but the next we may accidently take one away

and leave somebody to cry besides an empty hospital bed.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

The amazingness that was Bristol...

This academic year has been amazing. Beyond amazing. It's all felt so...right. Bristol and the iBAMH course came into my life when I needed them the most and so much has clicked into place since I moved here in October.

I'm not ready to leave. At the end of 7 years of high school or 3/5 years of university you feel like you're ready to move on. You experienced everything, seen everything and learnt enough that you feel it's time to progress onto the next stage of your life. A year isn't long enough to reach that point.

But I can't complain. I have grown so much as a person over the past 9 months. I feel more in tune with myself, I know what I want from my life. I feel like a better person. This time last year I was a wreck, trying to slog my way through resit revision when all I needed was rest and sleep. I've come so far.

And change is good. I'm going to go back to Birmingham and Medicine a different, much better person. Bristol will always have a place in my heart. I plan to move back when I'm older and live here. It's a wonderful city full of life and culture and, despite what some people thing, it's really very diverse. There's so much history here that with every step you can feel like you're experiencing someone else's life. And it has a river. I've realised that I feel very calm near water. How odd.

Thank you Bristol. Thank you for cradling me at a rough time. Thank you for helping me to grow and heal. And thank you to the people who I've spent this amazing year with, my course mates, the professors and tutors at the university and my flat mates. Thank you all for everything.

I'll be back :)


Thursday, 14 June 2012

Teetering on the precipice at the end of the best year ever...

I wanted to get achieve something today, finish something. I haven’t. I wasn’t aiming to write my end of year blog until next week. But a Twitter conversation made me realise that tonight, right now, would be the best time to write this.

Tomorrow I get my results from my resit in Birmingham. And not to sound melodramatic but this is it. My future literally depends on one number which will be emailed to me at 10:30am. If I pass I proceed to third year and can get my BA. If I fail I have to leave medicine and I won’t be able to graduate from Bristol. And I’m not sure that I have the strength the deal with that.

This past year has been amazing. Beyond amazing. I’ve indulged myself in literature and art and culture and have been privileged enough to experience it all with an amazing group of girls and a tutor who has entered my Teacher’s Hall of Fame (it’s very exclusive, there’s only 4 people in it).

And I’ve come so far on a personal level too this year. I’m not cured, and I’m not the person that I was in first year. I’m someone else, and I’m liking her far more than I’ve ever liked myself before. It sounds corny but I found myself this year – I feel happy and centred, I know what I believe in and what I stand for, I have a plan and dreams and goals. I feel at ease, with myself and with the world. I saw this on Tumblr and it sums up perfectly why I don’t want this year to end:

Quote by Azar Nafisi

I thought that I would write a whole post on the wonders of Bristol, and maybe at some point I will. But it’s hard to transfer that utterly joyous feeling that this year has given me from my insides to the page. All I can say is that it’s been amazing. Beyond amazing. Wonderful. Exciting. Astonishing. Breathtakingly brilliant. Indescribable. And I don’t want it to end but part of life is change, and change is good. I think that whatever happens tomorrow I will be a better person because of this year.

But tomorrow. Oh tomorrow.

I have a plan for what happens if I pass. I don’t have one for if I fail. And you’re probably all thinking “she’ll be fine” and “stop worrying” but I’m a worrier and I actually hate the phrase “you’ll be fine” at the moment. I’ve said this before but I don’t trust myself or my abilities anymore. If I pass I give you all permission to say “I told you so” very loudly but for now please just humour me.

I’m scared. Utterly terrified. I know everything happens for a reason, and like not getting into Cambridge, failing tomorrow may be the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I want to say I’ll apply to do English but I don’t think I’ll be able to afford it. My friends and I used to joke and say that if we failed out of medicine we’d set up a hairdressers but I don’t know a thing about hair. I haven’t got the money to travel. I haven’t got money full stop.

And I’ll have failed out of university. I barely coped with failing a module.

I don’t know. Maybe it will all be fine. I...

I’m going to go watch a film. And take a sleeping pill. And just let tomorrow come.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Glass Walls and Painted People

Not entirely sure how I feel about this one but, here you go *releases into the world*

They come as excited as children at Christmas,
Or like this gallery was a theme park
And there was no line for the dodgems.
They crowd around me.
He glances at my notes
As if it’s the mandatory placard
To which he must give the mandatory look.

When he talks I imagine
He is painting me as the picture I feel I have become,
Priceless enough that you can’t get too close.
He takes pains over my composition, meaning and the use of light.
Really he is telling them how I survived
A dark hole
That would make for a far more interesting portrait.

One of his flock looks uncomfortable enough
For me to note her composition – drained;
The use of light – fleeting.
One tremulous hand grasps her pen a little too forcefully.
I realise she is painted like me,
And the way he reduces us
Makes her feel intimidated.

They move onto the next painting or sculpture,
The next person in the next bed.
She lingers a little
And smiles at me like I am not to be interpreted.
I smile back across the great divide
Of a single bed
And the plexiglass we both know is

Sometimes there.

(C) Sarah Ahmed

Monday, 4 June 2012

Philosophical musings...

I'm currently alternating between wading through philosophy revision and drowning in it :) But I will (hopefully) be back soon (assuming that this exam doesn't result in a fatal intracranial haemorrhage, like it sometimes threatens to!)

Last night was quite funny though. I was feeling a bit loopy - it was late and I was attempting an all-nighter. And I ended up with the following philosophical argument (which has absolutely nothing to do with my module on the philosophy of science):

P1: The world does not exist. It is merely a fabrication created by an evil demon (a la Descartes)
P2: My philosophy teaching/exam is part of this fabrication
C: I don't need to revise.

I don't know what was worse, that I was *this* close to believing it or that it was a terribly formulated philosophical argument in the first place.

This was a bit like during my dissertation panic. It was really, really hot, and my very old laptop was propped up on one side by a copy of the BNF, and on the other by my copy of Shakespeare's Henry IV. And I couldn't help but think that that picture was all somehow a metaphor for my life. And then I realised that that was the deepest, most literary thing I had thought of in the last 24 hours :)

Lexie x 

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

On being clinically withdrawn from the blood donor list...

I've just read this back. It's really rather ranty, and not very well written. But I thought I might as well post it. Anything's better than revising the philosophy of science!

Before I start, if you're able to, please consider giving blood in the next few weeks. The UK has a very busy few months coming up and blood stocks are going to dwindle. As the supermarket I won't name says, "Every Little Helps". :D

I wanted to give blood as soon as I was able to. Our neighbours would go every six weeks and I thought what they were doing was amazing. I had the option to help people by giving, literally, a part of me that I didn’t need. And that’s all I wanted when I was younger, to help people.

So when I was in Lower Sixth I signed up. And I got invited to a donor session one night. And as weird as it sounds, I was oddly excited.

My mum wasn’t over the moon with my decision. Neither was my dad. They both thought it was too risky, that I wasn’t well enough, that I would suffer because of it, because I already gave enough of myself to others, not in a physical/bodily sense but I was always helping out with things at school.

I am pretty sure I told them it was my blood and so my decision. That’s what I said when I signed up to the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Register.

And I went. And I donated. And it went really, really well. I felt fine afterwards and there wasn’t much of a bruise. I drank my orange juice and ate my biscuit and felt perfectly healthy for the rest of the night.

Then the next morning I fainted in the bathroom.

I used to faint a lot in the bathroom. It would always be first thing in the morning. I put it down to getting out of bed too fast. There was one time when I was getting ready for school and fainted. After I came round I went downstairs and told my dad. “Oh,” he said, “that was the bang I heard.” Another time I fainted off the toilet and hit my shoulder on the sink and the toothbrush holder on the way down. That left a very impressive bruise. There were numerous other times when I realised I was going to faint and so sat down until it passed.

It never fazed me. It was just something that happened. I was an ill child. I always had a cold or a cough or was on antibiotics. I put it down to never going to nursery; I started reception with an immune system that had only been exposed to family members. I haven’t fainted in a few years now. I think the last time was the toilet story, and that was (I think) in my first year at uni. I’m pretty sure it’s a blood pressure thing. Mine’s normally about 110/70, although when the GP checked a few weeks ago before she prescribed me propranolol for my fluoxetine tremors it was about 100/65.

Anyway, so I fainted. I was determined to give again but the appointments they sent me were always during exam times and mum flat refused to let me go.

Then I went again in November 2010. Everything was going fine until they pricked my finger. Apparently I was anaemic.

I’ve been anaemic for as long as I can remember. My brother is the same. I’m what I like to call “transiently anaemic” – sometimes my iron levels are normal, other times they’re a little low. I’ve been advised to take iron tablets and, when I remember, I do. There’s no internal cause, nothing wrong with my diet. They tested for the thalassemia gene and the results came back borderline inconclusive, so I’m either anaemic or a carrier for one of the most evil diseases in the world. Either way, they wouldn’t take my blood.

Fine, that makes sense. My health comes first.

I went again yesterday. With all the public events that the UK is hosting this year there have been numerous adverts requesting people go give blood. Now I’ve been trying to all year but they were always fully booked. But I decided I would go yesterday and hang around until they could fit me in.

Everything went fine until the interview.

She called for a staff nurse because I had had a sigmoidoscopy (for my IBS) about four years ago. I think I had finally convinced her that my IBS and anaemia were utterly under control (I had taken an iron tablet and a generic multi-vitamin and iron tablet that morning to make sure) when she asked how the first donation went. And then she flat out refused to let me donate, despite the fact that they were going to let me the second time until the anaemia thing came up. Apparently “guidelines change”.

I may have gotten a bit annoyed. All I wanted to do was help. I have a lot of little individual things wrong with me, and some larger things, but I feel healthy. I am me, if that makes sense. None of my illnesses – with the exception of the depression – have much of an effect on me anymore; they’re just part of my life.

Either way, I have now been “clinically withdrawn” from the blood donor list, which sounds pretty indefinite. Apparently it won’t affect anything if I’m a bone marrow match. And God help anyone who stands in my way if a family member needs a blood transfusion.

I keep seeing Give Blood adverts. And even though there’s nothing I can do about it, I still feel a little guilty that I can’t help.

Edit (29/5/2012 at 3:39pm): On the advice of brokenangel I rang the NHSBT to discuss the withdrawal. They were very, very nice about it all and said they may be able to let me re-register in 5 yeas. He also said "cheerio". I haven't heard anyone say "cheerio" except in old movies before!
Lexie :D

Sunday, 27 May 2012


I keep saying on Twitter that the season finales of all my favourite American TV shows are trying to kill me with their emotional roller-coasters and emotion-bombs. And that’s true. But so far I haven’t cried. And come to think of it, I haven’t cried in a while. A few tears, yes. At shows and real life stuff. And I’ve had the shaky/rocking hyperventilating thing you get when you cry. But I haven’t had proper tears in a long, long time.

When people tell me I’m going to cry at a movie or TV show, the chances are that I won’t. Because I spend the entire movie/episode thinking ‘Is this where I’m meant to cry? Is this where I’m meant to cry?’ The Notebook is a perfect case-in point. I only watched it two years ago, in my first year of uni, after everyone I’d met was shocked that I hadn’t seen it and told me earnestly that I would cry all the way through it, especially at the end, because it was such a tear-jerker. But I didn’t. Because for the entire movie I was wondering if this was the scene that would turn on the waterworks. And, frankly, cause it’s not that emotional a movie, or that good a movie. But recently it hasn’t been *that*, whatever that is, that has stopped me from crying.

I get emotionally attached to a lot of things. Books, movies, characters from TV. Mugs, USB sticks. And I promise an in-death blog post about that after my exams (I’m avoiding watching Grey’s anatomy until then!) And I do get very emotional about things. And it hurts, right here *points to heart* My stomach does this things where it spasms and seizes up, and it feels like there’s a black hole inside me sucking everything away. And I’ve felt like that about so many things recently. TV shows – Glee, Vampire Diaries – and situations in my life – dissertation panic, not being able to help my brother, life. A year ago I would be in the foetal position soaking the pillow. But this year, or at least in the last few months...nothing. It feels like the tears are there, building up inside of me. But there’s something stopping them from coming out.

So much has worked out this year, with my depression and me personally. I’m writing again, which is something I stopped doing when I got really ill, although I haven’t tried to make any progress with anything fiction yet, just sticking to poetry. And I’m reading again, although not as much as I used to. The crying is something which has seemed to go the other way.

I know it’s stupid, getting worked up and blogging about not being able to cry. But for a girl who cries regularly, or at least used to cry regularly, this build up of emotion and tears inside of me is starting to freak me out. And it’s not like last time, when the damn was up for a reason, and I was making the effort to hold everything in. Maybe this time I’m trying too hard to let everything out.

So for now I will try and be content with the black hole of emotion inside of me when I get sad at the TV or at real life. I wonder what it will take to crack the damn this time? And I just hope it doesn’t have the same effect as last time.



Now Playing ~ Big Girls Don't Cry ~ Glee Cast Version

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Quick "hello" to all you lovelies who have amped up my views in the last few weeks...

Hi :) I'm about 36 hours from the dissertation deadline, and 9 from my personal print deadline. But I've been getting a lot of hits on the blog (lots of them from, not sure why Canada is so interested in me) and wanted to say hello to all the visitors. Don't be shy to leave a comment and let me know what you think :)

Normal service will resume soon :D


Saturday, 19 May 2012

Cardiology, again...

They're over!

I'm not sure how they went. They didn't go badly, which is great. I wouldn't say they were wonderfully amazing either. Somewhere in the middle. They kind of felt the way exams did in first year, which I suppose is a good sign. But a) I don't want to jinx it and b) I don't trust myself anymore (see previous post).

Either way it's pointless thinking about it now. I still have my dissertation to do, and then the philosophy exam. And anyway, thinking about the fact that that was my last chance and if I fail they'll kick me out and I won't be able to graduate from Bristol either is both depressing and distracting. Ahem...

I should go and at least try and get some sleep. Because yes, the insomnia still plagues me. Wow that sounded ridiculous...I don't know why I don't just delete this entire paragraph...

I will leave you with this.

Cover Photo

Somewhere in the Firth of Clyde, Summer 2008 :)


Saturday, 12 May 2012

Cardiology and a whole lot of doubt...

Listening to: Maroon 5 - Payphone

So, previously in my life I failed the second year of my medical degree. 3 modules - neuro, renal and cardio. I resat them in August and failed cardio again. Because of my mitigation (the depression) the resits were classed as first-sits and I got one more chance. They offered me the option of going back to Birmingham and attending the cardio lectures again but Bristol (bless them) decided that I could still go there and intercalate, and that's what I did. The cardio became an external resit ie no fees to Birmingham, no registration to Birmingham. I would just go in May/June and sit the exam.

Fast forward about 9 months. The cardiology resit came around. I had the SAQs (short answered questions) on Wednesday and I have the 40 min MCQ/Anatomy TrueFalse questions next Thursday (4 hour round trip for 40 mins grr).

The SAQs went...I think they went well. It was almost the same paper as last year, and there was a few bits and bobs that I didn't go over again thinking they wouldn't come up (people talk between the years!). But I think overall it was alright, if we ignore my pharmacology slip up - I KNEW phenylephrine was an alpha agonist not an antagonist but I wrote it down in the hope of some literally paradigm shifting miracle.

I think.

Here's the problem. I'm not entirely sure that medicine is the career for me but I want to go back and give 3rd year a fair shot. 2nd year was hell because I was ill. I failed those modules because I was ill. I want to go into 3rd year and make up my mind afterwards. But if I fail cardio I will be asked to leave. No more second chances. And what's more, because I won't officially have completed two years of medical education prior to my intercalation, the chances of me being allowed to graduate from Bristol are next to none. So the last three years will have been a waste and the great Lexie Bellafonte will be a failure.

I don't think I'm great. My family does. I'm the eldest cousin on my mum's side in England and they all look up to me. I think I do well not because I'm smart but because I don't have a life to distract me from revision.

Here's the real problem. Prior to the depression I was a straight A* student. I got the highest grade possible in everything (except an AS Critical Issues module but we don't talk about that :P ). I'm not boasting. That's just how it was. I would hand in an essay or come out of an exam and genuingly think that it had gone badly, and would say so, to the point when everyone started to get exasperated with me and my so-called modesty. It wasn't modesty, it was honest doubt. But every time I worried about an essay or an exam, or anything really, everyone, EVERYONE would say "You'll be fine."

You'll be fine.

That's what they said in second year. And that's what they believed. Because the great Lexie Bellafonte doesn't fail. She's had crap in her life before and no matter what she's always pulled through, always prevailed, always passed.

And despite being really ill there was a part of me that started to, wanted to, believe that everything would turn out fine.

And then I failed.

I know that the reason I failed wasn't because I was stupid. It was because I was ill. Seriously ill. And I'm better now. And I've done the work for cardio, done so much revision. I wrote on the back of almost every single page in that exam. But I'm worried. Partly because I do think I may have slipped up. And when I worry about cardio everyone says, "You'll be fine."

Problem is, I don't believe them any more.


Lexie (who needs to stop blogging and go write her dissertation)

Friday, 4 May 2012

The Hospital Theatre: A Spoken Word Poem

This is in the poetry-slam kind of vein. Never heard of a poetry-slam? Watch this AMAZING kid from America.

Sometimes I feel like an imposter
When I don the stethoscope,
Put on the metaphorical white coat,
Go out and say
“Hi. My name’s Sarah. I’m a medical student.”
It feels like I’m just kidding myself
But out there front of house
The receptionists are checking referrals the way you check tickets to a show,
And I wonder
If I’m just the next generation of performer
To go out and convince you, the punter,
That I know what I’m doing.

It’s Shakespearean at times:
All of medicine is a stage
And every doctor, nurse, physio only a player
In this drama
That I’ve had to audition for.
I’ve learnt drug names
Like dance steps
To be waltzed into memory:
Because, after all,
They call it a theatre for a reason.

But are we doctors just playing concerned?
Because we’ve been taught a script,
Been shown how not to trip
Over the awkward questions
And the odd proposition.
How to be exuberant,
To connect with the audience
So they believe that we
Know how they’re feeling
Through the medium of empathy or
We’re to gauge just how much physiology to tell you
 Depending on our private character study
Of you and your life,
Which we have reduced to pixels
On a screens before us.

And all the time I’m just screaming
That I really don’t know what I’m doing,
But internally of course
So as not to cause panic.
Those people –
The patients –
Are human,
And I hold their Faberge egg lives
In my tiny T-Rex hands
And I know that at some point
I will drop one.

And it doesn’t help that you look at me
With such admiration in your eyes.
Why do you think that I am going to be great?!
Why do you trust me
With your secrets and lies
The alternative lives
That your partner doesn’t even know about?
I am just a girl from Leigh.
I am nothing special.
I am only human too.

And there it is
The realisation
That this is meant to be a relationship of equals.
Both humans
Endowed with human error
And at times a lack of grace.
I will make mistakes
But then, so will you.
And it seems like theatre
But really it’s just life
And after all
All the world is a stage.
We are only people,
Mostly patient,
Human and identical
As far as possible.
And so I apologise in advance
For the slips
And trips,
The mistakes
And the times
I don’t quite understand.
And I realise
That you will come
With your stories
And lives,
And I will try
To treat you as humanely
As possible,
And not as a case study
Or a file on the computer screen before me.
(C) Sarah Ahmed

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

High School Memories Part 1...

It’s the first of May. Why is it the first of May? That means part 1 of my resit is in nine days, there’s an essay due in in eleven days, another resit in seventeen days, dissertation due in twenty-five days. And I’m still procrastinating.

But I do love spring, especially the weather. There’s something about April spring weather, when it’s sunny with a breeze, that reminds me of high school. If I haven’t said this before I loved high school, and I miss it terribly. But then last night I had the most appalling dream where there was some sort of major world war that had its basis in the school’s junior playground and carpark quad that resulted in people being fed, still alive and screaming, into a grinder to kill them (blame Emad, he asked :P) I can still see their faces. But anyway, most of my memories of school are good memories. Surprisingly some of them come back when I hear a particular piece of music (I was never into music at school), or when that April breeze wafts the smell of spring into my face. And I have been getting s lot of these flashbacks recently, and I thought I would share.
The Killers -- Human: Sixth Form English Lit lessons. I think this particular incident was in lower sixth. We had quite an in-depth discussion about the meaning behind the song’s lyrics, instigated by the teacher, not any of us. I always sat in the same place, on the corner, and out of the old casement windows you could see a tree in blossom. I remember once thinking ‘I need to remember how that tree looks, because I won’t be here next year to see it’

Maroon 5 -- She Will Be Loved: Coach journeys to (not from) school, especially when I was in years seven to nine. We had to wear skirts, and even with my uber-long Islam approved-ish skirt I still manage to ladder my very thick tights. They would get caught on the Velcro on my bag, or on part of the generally very dirty coach chairs. I used to read Harry Potter out load on the coach, and we would play cards and The Word Association Game. But most of the time I would just stare out of the window. My brother thought it was weird but I didn’t. I could just think. And there were those early mornings when I would be the first to leave the house and the world looked so beautiful and unsullied with a perfect layer of frost and mist and a terribly bright sun that we would drive into and left me with white spots on my vision.

Red Hot Chilli Peppers -- Scar Tissue: The first Arvon Foundation writing course that I went on. We had an evening where we had to read from our favourite book. I remember choosing Mort by Terry Pratchett and practised reading it to a few of the girls in the lounge because I was worried I wouldn’t be any good. That was the year with the thick pink cardigan that I wore ALL THE TIME. One girl read from an autobiography or something about the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and about suicide and one of her friends. Surprisingly didn’t freak me out. I remember where I was sitting, and that it was dark and homely, and I literally sank into the chair when it was my turn to read.

The Pride and Prejudice theme tune: Arvon again. The 3rd or 2nd time. There was this old piano and one of the girls would play the theme tune. You could hear it all round the house and I remember feeling like I was in a film, in one of those scenes from the movie when they drift from room to room except it wasn’t Austen it was my life. And it was perfect. Crisp weather outside, fire and friends and writing inside. Not a care in the world.

Toccata and Fugue by Bach: The Head of Music would play it on the organ in assembly. My friend played so many different instruments and was a huge music geek – I would tease her by calling it Tobacco and Fudge, because that’s what I heard when she said it. In the final assembly for the old headmistress she (the head) sat on the stage as the music teacher played the entire piece. It was over nine minutes long and people were getting bored and agitated but looking back I can remember the smile on the head’s face as she looked out at us all. We gave her a standing ovation at the end that may have lasted longer than the organ music.

Any Christmas Carol: Christmas at school and the Carol Service. Every year the Art Department put up these beautiful paper angels that had tinsel halos and hung from the rafters in the hall. It would already be going dark outside, and there may have been candles inside and even if there weren’t it felt like there were.

Viva la Vida -- Coldplay: The Gold D of E expedition that I did on the school’s boat (yes we had a boat...). We must have played the album over ten times, and I was listening to it whilst washing up in a galley so small that I could fully stretch my arms out and where the oven was on a swing. One day half of us were downstairs whilst the other half tried to sail through some really stormy weather. The boat tilted over so far that down below water covered the port windows and we were literally flying and falling over things. We videoed it but when we played it back it looked like the ship was still and we were just throwing ourselves around.

Now that I’ve started this I realise there are so, so many more. I would love to write them all out now but then this post would get really, really long and I still have about 2000 words of an essay left to write. So we’ll call this part one.


Lexie x