I am a mother to a beautiful 2-year-old who keeps me on my toes daily. I am married to a kind-hearted man who I believe is the result of God’s decision for me- an answered prayer and tries to tame the crazy in me. I am also a family physician with a passion for patient empowerment and education about all things health. I am always learning and trying new things the current flavour being all things cross stitch- sewing and baking which my hips are regretting every day. I am also an aspiring author and currently writing some books inspired by my cheeky son. Join me in my adventures as I juggle all these balls…
Some hectic days at work, especially those filled with patients with mental health illnesses, challenging social situations and complex medical needs, can lead me to question why I do this as a career. I have already discussed other jobs I occasionally fantasize about doing on one of my older blogs ( The ultimate dream job…), but sometimes it’s about recollecting the multiple steps I took to get me where I am today.
So high school finished, and I guess I could say I had done okay. At that point, all I wanted to do was computer science as I felt computers were the future. I had just completed my IGCE examinations which included a project where I computerized my grandfather’s store inventory management and as I submitted my floppy disc for assessment, I thought that my career decision was well and truly settled. Given high school ended in early December and the results were published end of January the following year, I had a restless Christmas break fielding questions from family and friends regularly about what the next step was. To kill time and avoid the interrogation, I spent a lot of my time trying to distract myself from the questions by watching a whole lot of television.
I am a self-confessed television addict and I am happy to watch anything and everything on screen. That summer, I got myself addicted to a show called Forensic detectives on Discovery channel and with every passing day convinced myself that I should become one of the forensic pathologists. I persuaded my mother to organize an interview with a forensic pathologist locally so I could decide whether that was a career to pursue and the nice gentleman just burst my bubble. He could not understand why I would be interested in the field and basically said it was not as exciting as it was made out to be on the show I had been watching. “You are just a glorified police officer” were his exact words as I left his office dismayed.
As university approached, I figured I might as well apply to study medicine and see how I would go during my “pre-medical term”. Unfortunately, the pre-med term was basically all the sciences and mathematics and didn’t provide much in terms of taste of medicine. After 12 months of the course, however, all that changed as we were placed on a 2-week job experience placement at our local hospital where I fell in love with medicine in general. A friend and I decided to extend our placement by a whole month and by the end of it we were being treated as junior doctors. We were suturing stab wounds, managing fractures and assisting in theatre which was all amazing.
I left that placement inspired to do medicine and with that in mind worked hard through medical school and fellowship training to get to where I am today as a family physician. Choosing a speciality in medicine also threatened to cause some stress but as I wanted to be a general doctor who could still do obstetrics and eventually palliative medicine etc on the side, being a family physician was a no-brainer. So, when I hear another sad story about people, their social situations or whatever it might be they attend me to help with, I find myself very privileged to help in whatever tiny way. I hope to continue practising in this field that continues to ignite my passion regularly. I must admit that “leaving patients at work” is something I will forever grapple with but with time, and hectic days included, I can say I really do love my career.
Dedicated to my UB partner in crime Morapedi
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 2 Corinthians 9:6
Wherever I have lived, there has always been something growing in the backyard or windowsill and over the years mum has even commented that I could be a model of the “backyard garden revolution” that was apparently meant to boom in Botswana in previous years. I have had bumper crops in everything that I have sown and learnt a lot of myself as I have tendered to the garden.
The main principles for me in having a successful garden include the following: –
• Patience- you don’t plant seeds today and expect to reap a bumper crop the next day, let alone next week. It takes a lot of patience, making mistakes and hopefully learning from them to finally appreciate the product at the end of the usually very long journey.
• Faith- to put a seed underground, water it daily, provide just the right amount of fertilizer, sunshine etc, there is faith that even though it might not be apparent for weeks, there is a positive change that is occurring with each day and in time, our labour will come to bear fruit. There is a belief in that, although you cannot actually see the seed underground, something magical is occurring which will one-day break through the sand barrier and show you what it has been working on
• Protection- for each little seed to become seedling which will grow to become a plant and eventually a big tree, there will always be some obstacles that they have to be protected from. This may include weeds, animal pests etc that will need to be removed from the environment for our seedlings to flourish
• Not all seeds that are planted, grow
• Love- something that looks dead as typically most seeds look, can with the right environment and love, become something truly beautiful
I have recently harvested a bumper crop from my little vegetable patch and as I was sorting everything out, ready for freezing as there was too much to be eaten on the day, I realized that I had truly been abundantly blessed. Not only from my vegetable patch but for my life in general and for that, I ALWAYS give thanks.
As we start a new season, may we all sow into our lives generously, have the patience to tend to ourselves, know that with faith everything is possible, love ourselves and protect ourselves from all those that may be pests or weeds in our lives. In time, we will reap generously.
Thank you for those who have been there since the beginning and have stuck around the crazy me, those who have recently come to join the crew and may all our plants bear lots of fruit in the new year. And may all of us be thankful.
Much love and season’s greetings
*Excuse me as I show off some of my beautiful produce
Growing up in Gaborone, my family truly cherished Christmas and the celebrations that the festive season came with. Since primary school, Christmas celebrations tended to start from the end of September with regular rehearsals of the nativity play and everything that was part of the end of year school concert. My friend Maipelo would always have a narration part and I would have a sidekick job being King Harold, Joseph or Mary. There would be traditional dancing, singing, marimba and multiple other activities. As the final days drew closer, rehearsals would either move to Maitisong or Legae Academy Halls which came with a certain level of excitement as we ventured out of school for rehearsals. Midway through the eagerness, we would have to calm our nerves to write our final examinations for the year and with those completed, concert preparations were full swing which basically meant, going to school to spend the whole day rehearsing. The curtain raiser entertainment would eventually give way to the main event and as the concert evening concluded it would only be a few days before school was finally out.
There was a tradition of having a “resolution day”, if I may call it that, on the last day of school which basically meant if anyone had said something to you/looked at you wrong at some point earlier in the year or whatever you wanted to “resolve”, the last day of school was the day. I remember being involved in a fight in grade 2 because some girls of another class of the same grade, had said a friend of mine had balloons in her a*s. Childish looking back at it now, but it was the done thing at the time.
School would finish late November or early December and the 6-week holidays would begin. Some of my friends would leave town and travel to their hometowns but my sister and I would always remain in town. We would usually spend our days, watching television or going to the town library which had some holiday activities available. Occasionally, we would spend the afternoon playing traditional ball based play (sekonti ball, ma-roundas) with the neighbourhood kids, ensuring that we got home and showered before mum knocked off to avoid a hiding.
My father would usually start his leave mid-November to start his farming hobby. He would spend weeks sitting on the tractor, ploughing for his farm neighbours and would return bearing gifts with all the income he got. My mother would work until the last week before Christmas. Her work would usually host a children’s Christmas party and give away traditional British Christmas food which my sister and I never really enjoyed. To this day, the smell of traditional pudding, which my mother cooked for hours on Christmas Eve, still irks me.
Christmas mornings were reserved for opening presents and getting dressing in new, often matching princess-like dresses for my sister and me with usual sparkly accessories. We would attend the morning service at church and return home for lunch. As my mother’s boss would visit then, we had to remain in these clothes the whole time he was there and in our best behaviour which at the time seemed like a heavy imposition on us. As my mother’s boss was British, his version of Christmas was very different to ours and as he provided the catering, we would have a traditional British lunch with turkey, pudding and all the trimmings. This is despite it usually being hot in Africa at Christmas time.
My fondest memory of Christmas is a rare one we spent with our extended family in Mookane, a little country town where my mother grew up. All my cousins came over and I remember having the best time. We played hide and seek, lit fireworks, made our own fireworks, played till the sun went down. I think my grandmother lost her voice at the end of the visit from yelling at us and calling everyone the same name.
I do miss my childhood Christmas, more so being close to my mother and sister as we are currently spending Christmas on 3 different continents. I also miss the gospel and Christmas carols singing, the nativity plays and talking about the true meaning of Christmas. I hope that in time, my family will develop our own traditions around the holidays, which will create amazing memories for my son.
With that, I will take this time to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, whatever it means to you and however you choose to celebrate.
I know they say that you go through the terrible twos and then after that, you apparently learn to regulate your emotions. Well, I currently have a 3-year-old and I can attest that although the tantrums have eased somewhat to what they were from about 18 months of age, we still have periods where someone is clearly losing the plot. How I cope with it is to think that he is briefly possessed by an energy he cannot control and as a way of asking for help, he has to cry and throw himself on the floor. Usually, this is not anything a cuddle won’t fix. I guess it is still somewhat expected at his age though so it’s all good in a way.
Have you ever, as an adult, had a moment where you feel like you were having a tantrum? For example,
- You enter into a store to browse and potentially buy something only to have the store attendant follow you suspiciously around the store as you might not look like the “type” of customer who would buy anything, or they do the exact opposite and don’t even acknowledge your presence. You figure its best to leave the store without buying anything although there might be something you would have bought had they been more welcoming.
- You go for dinner and have to ask for every minuscule thing for your table despite everyone else having the menu/water for the table/glasses/cutlery being brought to their table without having to ask. You then leave the restaurant occasionally before the food arrives and often without leaving a service tip.
- You are a patient and present to the doctor reporting that “I need antibiotics for my sore throat” as a presenting complaint only to storm off yelling profanities when the doctor makes a clinical decision that your ailment is likely viral and they will not be prescribing any antibiotics “in case the infection goes to your chest next week” illustrated in my previous blog Things I wish patients knew…
- You are driving when another driver cuts you off and suddenly you have to make them pay for what they did by honking the horn, flipping the bird, driving erratically and yelling profanities at them.
- You are invited to a party at a certain time only to get there at the time stipulated or a few minutes later and people are still in the early stages of meal prep and the party is at least a few hours from being ready and you think it might be better just to leave. You are thus unable to enjoy any of the party as a result and spend the day on your phone or sulking.
- You come home and despite your partner being home all day and you at work the whole time, you found the house in the same state as you left it in the morning and the dreaded “what’s for dinner?” greeting you at the door. You have a shower and go straight to bed after making yourself a sandwich to see if your partner will sort something out for themselves.
- You have been leaving hints everywhere about what you would love for your birthday/mother’s day/anniversary/Xmas only for someone not to heed your advice but instead get you something you feel you have no use/need for. You smile whilst slowly dying and trying to control the emotion inside.
- You have been dating for a few years and have been talking about getting married but your partner is not proposing “at the perfect time”. You have been overseas together, spent times in secluded beaches/on top of the Eiffel tower/on the edge of the Grand Canyon or other “perfect proposal locations” where you were pretty sure he would pop the question only to leave empty-handed. You don’t want to ask him when he will propose but you sulk for a little while after every disappointment.
These are some examples that have happened to a few people around me and, I must admit, may have occurred to me at some point and make me realize that there are things called adult tantrums. It can be really hard to regulate your emotions when you are in certain situations and sometimes you end up crying/yelling/sulking in response. I have read an amazing book called Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff by Richard Carlson, (reviewed on my blog entry titled Books I have fallen in love with… ) and sometimes I can’t help but be carried away by my emotions despite knowing that whatever it is will certainly not matter in a few months let alone in a few days. I, however, thought I would pen a little something to say, it’s okay, adult tantrums happen to the best of us. The key is to acknowledge them for what they are and learn not to dwell on the negative mood for too long. Hopefully, with time, you learn to identify it early and diffuse the inner tantrum before it becomes a full-blown meltdown.
So I can officially join the mothers club “we have potty trained toddlers”… wooohooooo! Mr L has made me a proud mommy as 3 weeks of training has resulted in a confident user of the potty for both number 1s and 2s. Although there were initial teething issues as childcare always seemed to undo all our hard work on the days he was there, we are now singing the same song.
Now the problem is that, although we are now great with the potty, we are unable to use an adult toilet without the potty seat. This makes negotiating the world difficult as I am still to find a portable potty seat I might be able to fit into a small bag for those times nature calls whilst out shopping for example. Also, how do people deal with toddlers who need to pee whilst in the middle of the freeway?
Regardless we celebrate each milestone and I am happy with the progress so far.
I have recently moved into a new neighbourhood and I must acknowledge that I might have set up really high expectations of my neighbours, all of which have spectacularly failed. I thought I would write down what I thought would happen so that at least the universe can digest my crazy thoughts and maybe one of my potential neighbours might read this and do the needful. Despite not moving into a beach neighbourhood, I had this picture in my head of moving into a Home and Away-esque neighbourhood. Sadly, the reality was far from my expectations.
I imagined coming with the moving truck and parking in the driveway and having all our neighbours coming out of their houses like a mob squad to each help with unloading the truck. After quickly sorting the offloading, each family would then invite us to their place for cupcakes and tea only to then realise we couldn’t visit all of them on the one day. They would then come up with a roster as to whose house we would visit and when and we would diligently attend each of the 13 houses on our street to get to know each neighbour better finishing off with a massive “Welcome to our street” party where we would be the guests of honour. After those 2 weeks we would have quickly gone on to have a meeting as to what the street was doing for the Halloween parade and after that go into organising the annual Christmas street party. All the grandparents on the street would be happy to dote on little Mr L and allow us to have date night more regularly as we would come home to find that he was picked up from school, had had a bath and dinner and spending the night at William’s house at number 12. Occasionally we would also have a few kids over at our place to share the care duties and birthday parties, street garage sales would be massive! Okay let me stop before you report me as being a bit special…
The reality of our new street, however, is that I have waved hello to a few people and that is it… No cupcakes, parties or anything for that matter. We even bought candy for Halloween and no one knocked on our door. I will have to try to introduce myself to my neighbours eventually but for now, I am just building my courage up and still crossing fingers that some part of my wild imagination can be made a reality.
*Actual names of my neighbours may be used in this post. Unfortunately, I don’t know any of them
I have recently completed a book by Dr Pamela Wible in which she responds to suicide letters from doctors and their family members (Link is below for the free audiobook). It’s a sobering statistic to learn that on average in the USA, about 300+ of our colleagues call it quits by their own hands ANNUALLY!!!. Unfortunately, there seems to be similar statistics globally among medical students and doctors. I have read about 8 RIP statements to doctors and medical students in the past few months and saddened to hear that the powers that be respond to such findings as “we need to pick a more resilient bunch next time” which I find completely appalling.
I have as a result tried to figure out, what about medicine drives people to this extreme option in dealing with their stress. It must be the culture of medicine that does this, because I would think that we are all very similar when we start high-school compared to when we finish college. I have come to conclude its either medical education or medicine as a vocation as I will elaborate below.
- In Australia, before you are even admitted to the university to start studying medicine, there are multitudes of tests which I understand are to ensure you are indeed the cream of the crop. This is in addition to having to pass your final high school examinations with a very high score or like me also having to do 18months of “pre-medical education” before even starting the medical degree. So, most of the people who are eventually admitted to med school are typically some of the smartest of their cohort with commonly type A personality.
- As the career is basically an apprenticeship model of learning, in that typically your lecturers are also doctors, there is always a comparison between trends of the day and how things were when the lecturer themselves was going through training. “In my days we…… or do they teach you anatomy these days?” are common and sometimes very unhelpful comments from some tutors. This model of training can also leave the trainee very vulnerable to the inherent power hierarchy of their supervisor as their evaluations can make or break speciality training applications for example. There are also many different personalities to supervisors and unfortunately, some are the type that is hell-bent on destroying some peoples careers and with the stroke of a pen, are able to do just that.
- From undergraduate degree to full consultant can take up to 15years or hard work ridiculously long hours of often unpaid work, expensive training and frequent examinations which increase the pressure and stress. This protracted learning can lead people to delay life generally i.e. dating, starting a family etc which obviously with the ever-ticking “biological clock” also adds to the pressure, especially for female trainees.
- Usually, to complete medical school and speciality training, there is an expectation that you will be moving houses frequently to do the different rotations required. This comes with learning new staff protocols, meeting new supervisors, learning new systems etc. Also, the usual contract times with hospitals are 12 monthly which means, you are applying for a job annually with no real guarantee unless you know someone who might know someone. Applying for a mortgage with a 12-month contract is one of the many hurdles one might have to deal with as they navigate everything else.
Medicine as a vocation- this profession is one of the options parents of multiple backgrounds give their kids as career choices. “You can only be/marry a doctor, lawyer, engineer, accountant/banker etc”. So by the time you get to start training in the field, the pressure invariably also starts and can trend up with time. Its also a career where one mistake can cost someone their life, where asking for help or asking for time off is sometimes seen as a weakness or where admitting you need help can lead to a report to the regulatory agency.
Without writing a whole new book about doctor suicide, reading this book and watching the related content has certainly been eye-opening for me. Why read such a morbid book or evaluate such morbid statistics I hear you ask… well, when you seem to be losing colleagues like flies, it’s important to take stock. It makes you take a closer look at how things are and what got us here to hopefully reduce the risk to yourself, your colleagues, your loved ones and the next generation of doctors. At the end of the day, we often forget the fact that we are all human, doing the best with what we know to somehow help humanity in some little way. And, in doing all that, sometimes it can become too much and there is nothing wrong in asking for help. I am here to listen if anyone needs to chat…
*Kindly share the book and this blog post- it might save a life.
A friend recently got engaged and coyly asked if there was any advice I could offer her with regards to being married. I promised I would write something for her and even though I haven’t been in this institution too long, I thought I could offer my 5 cents.
As there are numerous books published on the topic, I thought I would write my top 5 married life tips.
1. Marriage is a long-term relationship- so enter it knowing that you are in it for the long run. I understand that there has been a steady increase in divorce rates worldwide, but ideally, that shouldn’t be an option as you enter your union. “In good times and bad, in sickness and in health,” implies that it won’t always be rainbows and unicorns and that it sometimes does suck *ss, but you have to always be ready to fight for your marriage if it’s worth fighting for that is.
2. Choose your marriage partner well- to do that, one must know who they are and what they want in life. This includes knowing your non-negotiables and negotiables in a relationship. If you really don’t want to deal with other people in your relationship or potentially playing second fiddle in your significant others’ life, it might be wise to reconsider marrying someone who already has children as it might mean their ex-partner will always feature in their life, and by association your life, and their children will probably always come first. Additionally, don’t choose a partner you plan to “fix” or that you plan to make your lifelong project because when you finally realise that they may never change, you might be too far invested in the relationship.
3. Communication is key- this is one of the pillars of a great relationship. As you plan your wedding day/new house/names for your children, it’s important that you actually communicate with your partner every step of the day. That means talking AND THEN listening to understand NOT to reply. Communicate when you are happy/sad/upset and all other emotions because if you only communicate when you are mad, you are not doing it right.
4. A marriage is a union of two people and together they unite their families. Genesis 2:24- For this reason, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. I understand this bible verse to mean that when you choose to unite in marriage, you choose to put each other, and your new family first and your respective families second. It can be difficult for either party to cut the apron strings, especially if your family is close-knit but essentially the aim is to have a functioning INDEPENDENT new family and not merely a subset of either party’s family with other people being consulted or being in charge of decisions they should not be privy to. Setting these boundaries and having everyone understand what they mean is paramount to having a successful marriage.
5. Love like its going out of fashion- Try and dedicate time to spend with your partner and try and show them every day that you truly are grateful to have picked them for the life journey and you want to grow old together. This can be difficult when you both work fulltime, no nanny/babysitter, or the weather doesn’t cooperate for example but it really doesn’t have to be expensive or over the top kind of stuff. Hold hands, kiss each other hello/goodbye/I miss you, go for a bike ride/walk, have an indoor picnic etc. All these are free or relatively inexpensive and the sentiment they impart is priceless. We are never informed how long we have on earth with our loved one, and having counselled widows and widowers, most regret not cherishing or celebrating what they had with their loved ones. Like belly buttons, people will always have an opinion about whatever you do in life so dance in the rain and let them talk.
There comes a time when a man must learn to sit on the potty for all urine and faecal matter transactions and I think we have long arrived at that said time with the little man. I have been trying to get this sorted for the last week after reading blogs and researching the best methods that should “potty train your son in 2 days or less”. I honestly don’t think you can go from nappies to none in 24hrs like people have been telling me “from experience” and I will take any advice on how that is done with a grain of salt. Like labour pain, I think people really do forget how things really work and when you ask, years later, they fudge the numbers for the better. So we have decided to forge ahead and do it our way.
So far, little man is content to sit on the potty and he could sit on it all day but not a drop of urine is allowed to escape the bladder. We have tried rewards, taking the iPad away/giving him the iPad, distraction techniques and yes occasionally we have what I think is an accidental wee in the potty which we obviously celebrate over enthusiastically only to get back to square one, dry as the Sahara desert. We have nudie weekends and have big boy underwear days which is supposedly meant to offer some encouragement too. My consolation is that at least now someone asks for the potty AFTER he has already done a wee in the nappy so I am hoping one day soon, he will let me know before he lets loose. I have set a target of no nappies by Christmas and hoping that it comes true, fingers crossed…
Any advice that actually works, apart from rain dancing because that I have been diligently doing daily, would be most appreciated…
These are truly some of the hardest words to say. Even my 2-year-old would rather give you a cuddle and do everything to show that he is sorry whilst vehemently refusing to say the words.
I have been listening and watching as the story of the Hollywood mogul and his predatory behaviour towards women unfolded in the news and social media. Most of these women, unfortunately, were approaching him in a professional capacity and thus felt they couldn’t really come clean about his disgusting behaviour. I also heard during the drawn-out campaign of the US elections, excerpts of Trump’s recordings about how he personally dealt with and “handled” women he found in his midst. I also recall how everyone’s beloved television dad, Mr Cosby, had similar allegations brought against him in a court of law although a few more women than those who eventually took him to court had reported on similar despicable behaviour. I then asked myself- when do boys learn these sorts of behaviours and what reinforces this to keep going? What makes them think that this is an appropriate way to interact with women? Who modelled this behaviour for them during their childhood? This thought took me back to my childhood as I will elaborate below.
I grew up in a middle-class home in a small corner of Gaborone, the capital of Botswana. I attended a private school if you could call it that, from primary right through to high school. As my friends and I reached adolescence, the topic of great interest naturally steered to dating and sex – who is with who, what they did when/how etc. I recall many Monday morning assemblies, hearing whispers from other classmates about what had gone on over the weekend whilst my nerdy self-had been home. There usually, (I hate to acknowledge it was a repetitive occurrence), was a story of how some girl was invited to a “party”, had her drink spiked or drunk too much only to woke up and find that she had been sexually assaulted by a few of the boys who happened to be at the party. This was colloquially called a “gang bang” session. From memory, there were some girls who seemed to be invited to these parties and have this sort of thing repeatedly occur to them without reporting it to the teachers let alone the police. Sometimes you would hear that some of the victims had to travel to South Africa to have some surgical termination of the resultant pregnancies as termination of pregnancy is illegal in Botswana. It just seemed like a thing that occurred, that most people heard about but never really reported or prevented. It just seemed like the Harvey Weinstein scandal, except in high school of course, where a lot of people would have known about his behaviour but chose to be quiet or were quiet due to circumstances only they understand. Now, this was one school of many and if this occurrence was extrapolated to all the schools in Gaborone/Botswana, there are a lot of people who have been hurt and much more who knew about it and kept quiet.
Well, I am here now to say I am sorry…
For my participation in the silence and the ongoing victimization of the victims, I would like to say I am sorry…
For not offering you a shoulder to cry on, I would like to say I am sorry
For not asking if you were okay, I would like to say I am sorry
Most of all, for being too young to understand how I could even try to help you, I would like to say I am sorry.
I understand that we are unable to change our past and that I was merely a child myself when this was occurring but still I say I am sorry. I recently read Lupita Nyongo’s recollection of her own experiences with Harvey Weinstein and how she regrets keeping quiet about it as maybe talking about it earlier would have prevented a few more people having to endure such behaviour. I hope that my career as a family physician, a privileged position in society, allows me to try and right my childhood wrongs and to empower women who may find themselves in such situations to report such behaviour and know that I will always have their backs. I hope that little boys and young men, through the exposure of these sadistic creatures, realise that each woman who is abused could be their mother/sister/aunt or daughter and that hopefully, this different perspective teaches them how to properly and respectfully treat women. I hope with time, we can live in a world where men don’t feel the need to sexually overpower women EVER! I also hope that women continue to speak up so that, we, in turn, make these guys VERY sorry for messing with us.