TONSIL STONES

This post today is a bit of a fun one and I thought interesting to write about it as it was an experience that I hadn’t had before.

Going on a wonderful trip to China this summer it was very very hot. For someone who has lived and comes from a hot African country I still couldn’t hack the weather.

The days leading to my return back to England I had a very heavy sensation at the back of my throat leading to me thinking that I was going to come down with my hundredth or maybe thousandth fight with tonsillitis.

Finally I was back in England and my throat was still feeling heavy, but no signs of tonsilitis (which I was estatic about).
I decided to get a torch and look in the mirror.

*shuddering interlude*

To my disgust and a little scared I saw a yellow like ball lodged in my left tonsil.

I didn’t know what to do so I wrote a detailed description into my google server and tonsil stone was the result.
I then watched a lot of videos of how to remove them using a cotton bud and then proceeded to research what they were.
Tonsil stones, or tonsilloliths, are hard white or yellow formations that are located on or within the tonsils.

It’s common for people with tonsil stones to not even realize they have them. Tonsil stones aren’t always easy to see and they can range from rice-sized to the size of a large grape.

Tonsil stones rarely cause larger health complications. However, sometimes they can grow into larger formations that can cause your tonsils to swell, and they often have an unpleasant odor.

There are many things that can cause tonsil stones these are:
poor dental hygiene
large tonsils
chronic sinus issues
chronic tonsillitis (inflamed tonsils)
dry mouth
bacteria
dehydration

On seeing all of these causes from various sources I came to the conclusion that my experience with tonsil stones must have been due to dehydration and having chronic tonsillitis.

There are also symptoms that you may want to be aware off when it comes to tonsil stones these are:
Bad breath
Sore throat
trouble swallowing
ear pain

There are many ways in which we can help treat tonsil stones these include:

practicing good oral hygiene , including cleaning the bacteria off the back of your tongue when you brush your teeth
stopping smoking
gargling with salt water
drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated

Now onto how to remove tonsil stones. Above I had explained how I used a cotton bud. As the tonsils are a sensitive tissue this is a very good and safe way to remove them.  Coughing can also loosen them up.
Another thing is gargelling with salt water

These being just a few things that have been seen as the most effective.

 

ABORTION

Plan B as the young ones like to call it.

But I call it murder.  I understand this might seem harsh and may spark controversy, but allow me to explain myself

I do agree that there are some situations in which some may say  abortion is necessary, however, abortion shouldn’t be the first thing that comes to mind, but should be the last resort.

Abortion is the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy, usually performed during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy.

There are main points I abide by when talking about abortion with others or sometimes with myself (yes I’m one of those ones who like to conversate with themselves) which maybe different with others. The first is faith and second is what the impacts are on the womans health i.e. physically, mentally and emotionally.

With abortion on the rise and most recently Ireland voting whether to allow abortions on the basis that it happens before 12 weeks or if after 12 weeks termination can take place if there is a risk to the womans life or of serious harm to the physical or mental health of the woman up until the 24th week of pregnancy.

Of course as a woman I believe that our bodies are our own and we can do with it as we please . However, we should be considerate about the complications that may occur if termination of pregnancy is the first resort. These are : infection of the womb, some of the pregnancy remaining in the womb, excessive bleeding, damage to the womb. These having both long term and short term effects on the body.

In addition to this there is also education which is important. The saying “knowledge is power” is one of the best sayings I have come across in my 18 years on this earth. I am part of a generation where sex is highly personified and is a common factor in young relationships.

Contraception is the biggest thing that can both prevent pregnancy and also lower the amount of terminations. In addition having detailed talks in schools about the health risks of abortion can also be very helpful and insightful for young teenagers. If I hadn’t have researched on the internet I wouldn’t have known that there were all these risks.

Teenagers aren’t steady researching these things as opposed to researching the latest trends. I know that if someone came in with a couple videos and true life stories that would more likely stay in my mind verses me having to do my own research.

In addition to this is being open about sex and reminding young teenagers/adults that it isn’t something that they should keep hidden and that they have the right to ask questions and seek help.

Many young teenagers/adults are more than likely scared to approach a nurse or sexual health clinic to ask for contraception in fear of being judged. Sexual health clinics are there to advice and help these young people and I think if they made it more clear in a way that will appeal to young teenager/ adults, they are more likely going to be responsive when it comes to seeking help and advice and not relying on their partners “pull out game”. (if you get it , you get it).

HOW RACIST PATIENTS IMPACT DOCTORS OF COLOUR

As a woman of colour I found it necessary to address this issue. I felt I needed to share my thoughts as someone who has and probably will face prejudice because of the colour of my skin.
I came across this video on my recommended on youtube and it piqued my interest because I know there are many doctors of colour practicing in our surgeries and hospitals. The title also brought me back to my work experience where I had witnessed a white male patient refuse a consultation with a coloured doctor because his doctor, white, had taken ill. Although it wasn’t explicit the reason he had refused was because the doctor was a man of colour, the way he acted and the tone of voice he used in his refusal led me to believe that was the reason why.
Although the video is based in America the matter is still universal and the emotion that the female physician had displayed was heartbreaking. To become a doctor we all study the same course for the same duration of time , some for even longer and to be rejected not on the basis that the doctor is incapable of doing the job and delivering the best treatment, but for the colour of their skin can only be described as ” painful and degrading indignities, which cumulatively contribute to moral distress and burnout” ( direct quote from The New England Journal Of Medicine) and can even lead some doctors to stop practicing.
As the next generation of medics this lays heavy on my heart because with the need for more doctors in the NHS this type of discriminatory behaviour will have an impact on the amount of students of colour applying for medical school.

Link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejL6Z1-PkmE

PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT ON SEPARATED CHILDREN

In some unfortunate cases siblings born together may be separated at birth for one reason or another or from their parents.
Some may say that the child is too young to even understand what is happening, but what if I told you that children even from birth are smarter than you think.

Take me for example I have a brother a little over a year older than me and from early ages him and I have always had a strong bond (no matter how annoying he could and can be). Even from young in certain situations where he wasn’t there I would feel almost empty and my mood and behaviour would drastically change, even though the separation was temporary, now imagine if this separation was permanent how I would be, feel, behave both internally and externally.

More recently in the news children have been separated from their parents at the Mexican border, but every single day somewhere around the world children are being separated from their siblings or parents and in this piece today I will be exploring both the short term and long term impacts that may affect the child

With this information and my mind running wild with thoughts, I wanted to, of course, try and link my interest of what’s happening around the world to something medical and see where my research could take me.

According to pediatric and child trauma experts it has been said that although these children are being well-fed and are physically safe doesn’t address the risk of long-term negative impacts on their immune systems, the development of their brains and even how their personalities form.

There are 2 types of impact regarding this issue, one being short term and the other long term.

The short term impacts scientists say that the moment of separation is guaranteed to to be traumatic and panic-inducing in both children and parents, which will trigger elevated levels of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, high heart and blood pressure, anxiety and symptoms like headaches and an upset stomach.

Jack P shonkoff, director of Harvard University Center on the Developing child, says it is incorrect to assume that some of the youngest children removed from their parents care will be too young to rememember and therefore be unharmed. However reading this I totally disagree, why?, because even now as a teenager I remember key events that have happened in my life from young when I am presented with a situation which may trigger my memory and being separated from your parents is a key event which when older something may trigger the memory.
Continuing from Shonkoff’s idea he says that “when that stress system stays activated for a period of time, it can have a wear and tear effect biologically. The younger you are the more serious the threat.” The children may stop crying and some of the initial shock will diminish he says. However, in my opinion that’s not a reason to believe that the children are no longer in distress.

Ghosh Ippen says that emotionally, some children may be pushed into a state of “traumatic bereavment”- tantrum like behaviour could be replaced with high levels of anxiety and depression.
The second type of impact being long-term impact done to children depends on the duration of separation. Shonkoff states that “forcible separation for a few hours maybe traumatic, but if the children are immediately reunited with their parents they are likely to be ok”.

A principle investigator on the Bucharest early intervention project, a long term study of 136 abandoned children and toddlers who wound up in orphanages in Romania in 2000. Nelson and his researchers have been following the children for 18 years and they say that they have observed very different patterns of brain activity in children who were placed in foster care compared to children who were placed in an institution.

“What we see in kids who have been reared in institutions, that is separation from their parents, is a dramatic reduction in the brain’s activity,” he says. ” If they’re then removed and put into good homes before thee age of two, a lot of this recovers. But if they’re older than two, then there’s no recovery. The brain continues to produce dramatically less brain activity.”

In addition children may develop long-term psychological conditions like: PTSD, anxiety and running a risk of diabetes and heart disease later on in life. There could also be behaviour impacts for example boys in particular may show “callous indifference” for the feelings of others, difficulties in memory, impulse control and more prone to bad behaviour.

Writing this post was interesting to me to see the heavy effects of what separation can have on a child. Seeing this makes me think that someone should really present these findings to people like Trump who deem it ok to separate children from a mother who has held this child for 9 months just to have the child taken away.
Long term impacts is the key thing when looking at this situation.
When asked the how this can be combated. Shonkoff says that debating types of interventions is thinking about the problem backwards (In which I totally agree). He says “The answer is, the best intervention by far is to reunite them with their parents”

Continuing he said “It’s as if children were being fed poison and we asked, “What’s the best treatment for the poison they’re getting? The logical and scientific question is not to come up with the antidote for the poison, it’s to stop poisoning them”

and with that he deserves a standing ovation.

ARTIFICIAL OVARY HELP

As a woman who loves being a woman ( Yes i’m a feminist, but not to the extent of some), being able to have a child of your own, with the same DNA as you is everything a woman could wish for.
If lucky we are all born with the right functions to make a baby, but some are unfortunate not to be or may develop problems over the course of their lives which may not allow them to birth.

With the ever moving times we live in and the amazing advancements in medicine and technology ( One of the key reasons why I want to be part of the evolutionary changes of healthcare by becoming a doctor) we have hopefully found a solution to one of many issues still trying to be tackled and that is artificial ovaries. Scientists have taken early steps towards developing an artificial ovary that could lead ti improved fertility preservation treatments.

The technique is aimed at helping women at risk of becoming fertile for example those who receive chemotherapy.
Danish scientists removed parts of the ovary and altered them so they could potentially be transplanted later when women want to conceive.

Treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy can often damage the ovaries and leave a woman infertile. One way women can have a chance of conceiving is with an ovarian tissue transplant , where all or part of the ovary is removed and frozen before it is damages so that it can be used later.

However with these new developments there are risks. For example for women with cancer there is a risk that the ovarian tissue may contain cancerous cells, which may then lead to the illness returning when the transplant takes place.

Although the risk is seen as very low, it may mean that women with certain cancers such as: leukemia and cancers surrounding the womb area may not have the transplant offered to them. However to remove this risk, scientists from the Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark, took ovarian follicles and ovarian tissue from patients due to have cancer treatment.

They then removed the cancerous cells from the ovarian tissue, leaving behind a “scaffold” made up of proteins and collagen.
They were then able to grow the ovarian follicles on this engineered scaffold made up of proteins and collagen. This artificial ovary was then transplanted into mice, where it was able to support the survival and growth of the ovarian cells.

Doctors have said this technique can have advantages over other fertility techniques. Stuart Lavery a consultant gynecologist at Hammersmith Hospital, said the ovarian tissue transplants potentially contained thousands of eggs that would enable women to get pregnant naturally as opposed to IVF where an egg is fertilised in a lab before being injected into the womb.
However, with all new findings it will still take at least 3 to 4 years, plus needing it to be tested on humans.

Another inspiration to me that I can be part of the developing world of medicine and able to be part of things that wont just benefit my generation, but the generation to come.

NURSE ACCUSED OF KILLING 8 BABIES

Jaw to the floor

“Melissa could you close your mouth”

“Yes mum” with a single tear drop falling down my cheek

8 innocent children with a whole life ahead of them.
8 innocent children who subconsciously put their trust and lives in the hands of a so called professional only to have their lives taken away.

8 innocent children who are being mourned by their parents who also put their trust and childs lives in the hands of a so called professional only to have it taken away.
Although not a lot of information about this case has been published it definitely touched me as this nurse named Lucy Letby ( or more fitting “thou shalt not be named” -we thank J.K. Rowling for this one) has been accused of killing 8 babies under her care and attempting to kill another 6.

According to people around her this woman was “awkward, quite geeky but seemed like a kind hearted person”, with another calling her an “amazing person”. This woman also took part in a fundraising campaign to build a new neo-natural unit at the hospital she worked at. All these amazing comments makes me think how can a woman be responsible for so many deaths.
This case got me wondering about the trust in which people have in health care professionals and how some, like the one above, easily take it for granted.

Although this case is of a higher scale it has me thinking about all the responsibilities in which I will face when I begin practicing on a smaller level such as: patient- doctor confidentiality, making sure my patient is fully aware of the risks of a medication or procedure I may refer them to just to name a few . The main focus of this piece of writing is trust and it should be in the back of health care professionals minds and definitely my mind and those in university studying to become a doctor that trust is a key value in medicine and any other related profession.

It’s hard for some to come to the realization that something so tragic like this case can come about in a developed country with a well established health care service that has been running for more than 50 years, but we need to think of why this happened and the psychological motives. She should be fully accounted for her actions, but to move on from this we need to think of how we can make sure things like this can’t happen again and that’s one thing that I will try and do more research into and if you have any suggestions please leave them down below. As this isn’t just to combat this case but to improve everyone’s safety and welfare in the present and the future.

PSYCHEDELICS AND MENTAL HEALTH

One reading the title may think, yes I know a lot about mental health, it’s a common topic which is talked about yet hidden away in the minds of us human beings as some, may see mental health as a weakness or may feel that it is something that many look down upon when really according to the mental health foundation 4-10% of people living in the United kingdom will suffer from mental health issues in their lifetime the most common being depression and anxiety.

As a teenager who has experienced mental health issues through one situation or another whether it be anxiety or depression , it got me thinking with suicide being at 5,668 (2016 figures) if there is a way in which we can finally eradicate mental health once and for all ( being the optimist that I am).

With drugs such as anti-depressants, Benzodiazepines (which help to treat agitation, insomnia) and non-medical treatments such as help from a psychiatrist got me thinking about if these are sustainable. For example antidepressants may not help at all and may have the mind tricked that they do work and can therefore lead to things such as being addicted to the antidepressant as you may feel like they do work when in reality they don’t and also they can have negative side effects and ongoing costs for the patient and the NHS (this being one example of many).

So in a search to find any other alternatives I came across a news article about psychedelics. Psychedelic drugs are more likely to be associated with countercultures of the 1960s than those who work in the lab: but who says two worlds can’t mix especially when it’s about saving the human race from one more thing that can lead to death.

Increasingly, scientists are looking at whether these mind-altering drugs – which also include mescaline and DMT among others – might also have the potential to be mind-healing.
A number of small studies have found psychedelics to show promise in treating mental health disorders like depression, addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder, often where other treatments have failed.

Now UK researchers are about to take part in the first major trials into whether one of these hallucinogenic drugs could be more effective than a leading antidepressant in the treatment of depression.

Researchers at Imperial College London are to compare the magic mushroom compound psilocybin with a leading SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) antidepressant, escitalopram, in a large trial expected to take at least two years.
“[Psychedelics] have a revolutionary potential, and that’s not an exaggeration,” says Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, who will lead the study.

But it is not the first time scientists have been excited about these mind-altering substances.
More than 50 years ago the idea of psychedelics came to the forefront of the medicinal world but was halted.

However, with everything comes the good and the bad . Starting with the negatives some can argue that making psychedelics legal can blur the boundary between medicine and just plane taking it for granted (likened to how argue patients take antibiotics for granted). A further point is that UN convention on the drugs in 1971 effectively ended scientific research, because it led member states to make them illegal and classify them as Schedule 1 drugs – those deemed to have no medicinal benefit.
Counter arguing this is that there are some beliefs that they will have benefits. For example in 2009, Dr Carhart-Harris became the first UK scientist in more than 40 years to research psychedelics, beginning a series of studies using scanners to see how psilocybin affects the brain.

Among other findings, a study from his team last year found that psilocybin ( a type of psychedelic drug) can reset the brains of people with untreatable depression

The paper, published in the journal of scientific reports, showed psilocybin affected two areas of the brain: The amygdala, which is heavily involved in how we process emotions such as fear and anxiety, and the default-mode network – a collaboration of different brain regions.

How psilocybin affects the brain is not yet fully understood, but Dr Carhart-Harris believes it effectively “heats up” the mind from its rigidity, enabling people to overcome ingrained, self-destructive patterns of thinking.

In conclusion the use of psychedelics with continuation of them being safely trialed and tested showing that they do work when it comes to treating mental health, can become a new evolution of drugs, although taking a long time for them to be implemented. In addition to this one needs to understand that they may not be everyone’s first choice and non-medical treatments and anti-depressant drugs may still be a fan fave, as Dr Carhart-Harris says “Some people won’t want to go to the depths of their soul or face demons or traumas they’ve experienced, or dark aspects of the human condition that are there in all of us,” but overall it’s about giving people options and the hope that they can live their lives and not feel constricted or controlled. As I said above I am quite an optimist and maybe “eradicate” wasn’t the best verb to use , but with time, advancements in technology and medicine, mental may not sooner but later be a thing of the past.

ASTHMA

Ugh , asthma my ever most present enemy.

A slight cough, turns into a gentle wheeze, manifesting into mere mm of my airways giving up.
I choose today to write a post about asthma because I want to make this blog as personal but as informative as possible and to give an insight to the many reasons and influences to why I want to study medicine.

For as long as I remember asthma has been my “best friend” to put it in nicer terms. I remember my first episode at my aunties house. Early in the day on a summers afternoon my aunt had taken my brother and I to the park and I was aware I had hay fever so I had already taken my cetrizine (antihistimine) but this day was different. I was feeling short of breath, felt like I was choking, coughing uncontrollably and hearing little noises in my throat. It wasn’t until I fell to the ground my aunt ran and asked me what the matter was to which I responded I couldn’t breath. One thing I love about my aunt is that she doesn’t hesitate to call emergency services when she knows something regarding health is out of her control.
“She’s having an asthma attack”
“An asthma attack?, but she’s not an asthmatic, she has hayfever though but she took her medication earlier today”
This conversation happening while I have an oxygen mask round my face.
“Please see your doctor tomorow”
“Yes, sir”
The next day being a Monday my mum took me to the doctors in which he confirmed I had asthma. I really wasn’t phased by the diagnosis as I didn’t really understand anything, but he prescribed me a lot of medication (well more medication than I’ve ever needed prior to this diagnosis). These medications being Symbicort, Bricanyl, Salbutamol and Singular tablets all having different functions.

I thought ok I have a responsibility to keep my health in check, and also be an advocate for asthma. It wasn’t till year 10 sports day a girl maybe 2 years below me was in the corner near the sports building crying. I had asked her what was the matter and she had said that she felt light headed and out of breath. I could hear her wheezing and from there recognized the syptoms and concluded she was an asthma sufferer. Of course I had to ask her, I wasn’t qualified (but in my mind I was). She said yes and had said she forgot her medication at home and she didn’t want to tell a teacher because she knew they would contact her parents and she would be in trouble ( that was a big deja vu moment).
Luckily I had my astma medication hidden in my PE socks. I had a volumatic in my locker so we walked to the locker where I helped her administer the drug. I encouraged her to go tell the first aid people which we did with me detailing everything.
That was the first day I felt like I had a big responsibility regarding someones life. Who knows what would have happened if I didn’t walk round that corner.

Although I wasn’t set in stone around that time that it was medicine I wanted to go into , I knew that I wanted a role where I had a major responsibility and that it was the fact that peoples lives were in my hands was the motivating factor to why I wanted to work.

When I said this to my teacher in year 11 she said “medicine is the right pathway, go do some research”…… part 2 coming next.

Now i’m just going to tell you a bit about asthma it is a common disease but there’s no harm in reiterating some key points.
Asthma is a condition in where a person’s airways become inflamed, narrow and swell, and produce extra mucus which makes it difficult to breath. There are many symptoms which can help one to know whether they may have asthma these being : coughing, especially during the night and exercise, wheezing or losing your breath easily, tightness in the chest , trouble sleeping and fatigue and weakness especially during weakness. Of course it is better to see a health care professional as these symptoms can be likened to other diseases such as bronchitis and emphysema.

As medicine is evolving new medications are being developed and studies being carried out. I will be talking about some of them.
One being scientists have found a protein , HMGB1 that is related to asthma.The study showed that people who have moderate to severe asthma experience inflammation from the overproduction of mucus from this protein. The HMGB1 protein is released in the lung passages, and the bronchioles constrict making it hard to breathe. Now researchers have found this protein and how it functions within the respiratory systems, pharmaceutical companies can now work with scientists to develop new prescriptions for asthma sufferers .

A second development is that it has also come to light that the root  cause of asthma is environmental triggers, like allergens, cigarette smoke, or certain perfumes. This has already been known for many years, however, was not proven until a couple of years ago. In this study, researchers found that the calcium-sensing receptor (CasR) causes allergy induced asthma triggering airway inflammation, twitching in the breathing passages, as well as causing them to become narrow, thus making it hard to breathe. Scientists are still researching different medications to help with this reaction in the lungs, but think a drug known as calcilytics can help reverse this reaction in the respiratory system. This would help millions of sufferers live more comfortable lives.