Well hey there gang – welcome to week 2 of The Weekly Balance! I was delighted with the feedback I got from you guys after last week’s first installment. If you haven’t seen Week 1 or the Introduction to this series yet, you can check both out here. Basically, I wanted to write more regularly on my blog and share more of my day to day inside and outside of my doctor day job with you guys! So – let’s have a look back at this week.
What went on in my doctor life…
I actually totally forgot I had another on-call day this week – thankfully I realised the day BEFORE I was due to be on-call or that would have been a less than ideal surprise! It was a really busy day during my on-call day, but thankfully I got out only a little bit late. I’m back on-call tomorrow too. I’ve had quite a few people ask me what ‘being on-call’ involves in public health, and it definitely is quite different to my hospital on-call shifts! I shared an Instagram post explaining the main differences here, which you can check out for a detailed answer.
Outside of my on-call duties, this week there was quite a bit going on, but the main thing I’ll share is that I almost submitted an article to a journal for consideration for publication. Its an article based on my Masters thesis which looked at shift work and its effect on dietary behaviours and physical activity. I say ‘almost submitted’ because there’s just a couple of loose ends to tie up – I’m planning to submit it either today or early this week. It’s the first time I’ve submitted an article to a journal before so I’m sure it’ll be a big learning curve for me – I’ll keep you guys posted, I’m sure some of you guys have your own experiences with journal publications and submissions, it’s definitely a long process! If you’re curious to learn more about shift work and lifestyle behaviours, I’ve got an Instagram highlight saved on the topic which you can take a peek at.
What went on in my non-doctor life…
This week, after joining the Galway city library last weekend, I decided to devote a few Saturday hours to starting studying again. As doctors, we have to pass a whole bucketload of exams before we are qualified, but even after qualifying from medical school, there’s still more exams waiting for us. Which exams, how many and how much preparation is required very much depends on the medical specialty (e.g. hospital medicine, surgery, general practice, obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, etc) and of course the individual person. During my two years as a senior house officer in hospital medicine I had to pass three exams in order to specialise in an area of medicine, and they get harder with each one – they’re called the ‘membership exams’ in Ireland. I passed the third of these three exams in 2017, and as a result I am a ‘member‘ of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland’ – this also meant I could apply to specialise within an area of medicine as a senior doctor. In public health medicine, as a specialist registrar (that’s the title given to senior doctor working in a given medical specialty in Ireland), I have more exams to do over the next four years of my training scheme before I can officially be a ‘specialist/consultant’ in public health medicine. The first of these exams for me is in a couple of months, and I’m definitely someone who has to put a study plan in place way in advance. Lastminute.com does not work for me or my stress management!
Outside of study, I’ve been thinking this week quite a bit about loneliness and spending time in your own company. As you all know, I moved out from Dublin to Galway six months ago, and that meant I left my immediate family and most of my close friends in Dublin. Now, I’m someone who is quite happy in their own company, and really tries to be her own best friend, but all the same, social connection and interaction is really important for our mental health. So one of my 2020 resolutions is to try and build a social network around myself in my new city. I feel quite settled living here now, so, study aside, it’s a good time to look into ways to meet new people, and nurture the connections I do have, like my work friends, housemates and family on this side of Ireland. Let me know of any ways you’ve met new people, I’d love to hear! In writing about this, I’m not saying that I’m lonely by the way – I’m not. I’m saying that it’s important to prioritise social networks and connections, old and new, throughout life. And on the flipside of that train of thought, some of my favourite things to do when I have this time to myself are; reading, writing, going somewhere for a good cup of coffee, getting outdoors for a walk, yoga classes, and yes, even taking yourself on a ‘me-date’ by going out for a meal, or to the cinema!
What I’m watching…
I’m still working my way back through the archives of Grey’s Anatomy, which I’m sure many of you love too! I’d like to point out that that show is really nothing like real life medicine or surgery, except maybe for the long working hours! I gave up watching it somewhere around Season 6 or 7, and it’s been such a lovely treat to have so many episodes to work back through – Grey’s is at Season 16 now would you believe! It starts back in a couple of weeks and I can’t wait.
What I’m reading…
This week, I finished Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney. I shared a full book review on my Instagram yesterday so pop over there to have a read if you like. I read Sally Rooney’s first book, Normal People. last year, and I really enjoyed it. I found Conversations with Friends equally ‘unput-downable‘, but I have to say, although her books a major page-turners to me, there’s something about her main characters that I cannot force myself to like. It’s a weird feeling, and lots of you following on Instagram have said you’ve found the same! I would definitely recommend giving this book a read if you haven’t, and Normal People too.
I’ve started Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez, a non-fiction book all about gender bias in research and real life around the world. It’s very good so far! I’ve ordered Pretty Unhealthy by Dr. Nikki Stamp and Three Women by Lisa Taddeo as both have been on my list for AGES, so when they arrive this week I may press pause on Invisible Women while I dive into those! As always, let me know what you’re reading in the comments below.
What I’m listening to…
I loved the interview with Malcolm Gladwell on the ‘How To Fail’ podcast by Elizabeth Day. His latest book Talking to Strangers is just excellent, and I’d highly recommend giving it a read, and tuning into the interview.
I’ve recently discovered the David McWilliams podcast, which is the podcast of Irish economist, writer and journalist David McWilliams. He’s a well-known figure in Ireland, and the podcast breaks down major real world current issues such as Brexit, globalisation, impeachment and populism into easy-to-understand podcasts. I’ve listened to quite a few episodes now and definitely learnt a LOT as a result. One to check out!
My song of the week is the new one from The Weekend – Blinding Lights. I can’t turn it off!
Brews and Eats
A tasty salad from Cafe Temple (feta goals!)
This weekend I caught up with my cousin at Cafe Temple in Galway. It’s a lovely spot to try if you’re about the city – it’s a plant-based cafe, so very handy for anyone giving Veganuary a go! I’m not doing Veganuary, but you all know I love veggies, and this spot has a tasty menu for sure.
On the topic of Veganuary and diet labels, I was asked this week ‘What diet do you follow, on the spectrum of carnivore to vegan?‘ An interesting question right? I know. I wanted to share my answer with you guys, because this is a time of year when the word ‘Diet’ is EVERYWHERE, as is always the case at the start of a new year. So here’s how I answered the question.
I don’t like diet labels, nor do I have one. Because they tend not to leave much room for flexibility. Now, don’t get me wrong, we’re all autonomous beings, and we’re entitled to make our own decisions about what we eat and if we want to label it. But no one should feel pressured to label their diet, whether it’s vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, flexitarian, omnivore – phew! There’s a lot of labels out there. What’s more helpful I think is to consider what healthy foods we can ADD to our dietary pattern to benefit us, not what to take away. There are of course environmental impacts as regards what we eat, and I’ve written a whole blog post on the concept of sustainable eating (check that out here). But again, any changes made to a pattern of eating to benefit the environment (such as eating less meat, for example, which is the most common change discussed in the media) need not be drastic or ‘all or nothing’, and if done, should always be with consideration of the nutritional benefits the food provides (e.g. protein and iron in the case of meat), and how those will be replaced. I go into a lot more detail in the blog post I’ve linked above, so do check that out. And remember – moderation, not deprivation folks. Small changes DO add up over time.
And that is a wrap! I’ll leave you guys with that gorgeous photo of the sun rising over the Salthill promenade – I took this photo on my walk this morning. The view is like taking a breath and letting it out I hope you guys enjoyed week 2 of The Weekly Balance – as always, let me know with a comment or message here or on my social media – you’ll find me @theirishbalance on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook!
Chat to you next week.
Ciara 🙂 x