Tag Archives: motivation

RE.NE.GADE!

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Beginning of the semester. I had my ‘natural Ghanaian’ hair. Obviously there is NATURAL hair, then there is mine. Relative to the weaves, my hair is natural, though it is relaxed.

Fifth year has been interesting so far. In my seventh week now, it feels like I only just started medical school.  As expected, at the beginning of the academic year, everyone was looking their very best. Guys all clean-shaven and looking delicious. The ladies, got to say, my classmates, they kill it every day.  Gorgeous braids and weaves from almost every country on the planet. (Lord knows I’ve never heard of some of these countries)  Everyone really was looking good. I certainly was. I just decided to go with a different kind of look. #Renegadestyle. I started my semester not with braids or a weave but rocking my natural ‘Ghanaian’ hair.

Reason? Well, in second year, I noticed the cyclical hair changes of my colleagues. Without fail, the cycle kept recurring semester after semester. Thing is, hair styles have a ‘life-span’. In some four to six weeks from the time t, that weave is old. It’s just gotta go! Everyone wants a new look. As if on cue, the weaves come off and for a week or two everyone rocks their ‘Ghanaian’ or ‘Nigerian’ hair, then, the cycle repeats.

Really? Hair? You are probably thinking, this girl has a lot of time. Cyclical hair changes? Who pays attention to that? Okay, let me get to it. Thing is, I have always considered myself a bit of a renegade/ rebel/non-conformist. I always chart my own course. The whole follower thing, doesn’t really work for me. So, for something as trivial as, what to do with my hair? Well, I put some thought into it. I certainly do not want anything anyone else has. No thank-you.  I mean, if most people will have a weave at this time, that certainly is my cue to do the exact opposite.

ImageBeing a renegade gets me in quite a bit of trouble with authority from time to time. You can certainly figure out why. As they say, trouble is the spice of life. Oh wait, no one says that. They should. Conforming is boring! I like different, I am different, I do different!  What is that they say about if something ain’t broken…The genesis. How did it happen? How does a person become non-conformist? I have come to the conclusion that for me, being told too often that I could not or should not do one thing or another led to this outlook. I guess I was on a mission to prove everyone wrong, and again, ‘if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it’.

Case in point, my love for sports.  In basic school I almost made it for the track and field team but someone brought up sickle cell and I was out. In high school I really wanted to try out for the basketball team. Again sickle cell and I was out. Thus after high school, I played basketball with the guys, I got different friends to train me. There was jogging too. Just because I was prevented from engaging in sporting activities, I decided that is what I want to do with my free time. Don’t tell me I can’t do something. That only upsets me and inspires me to get it done! Just an aside, persons living with sickle cell are perfectly capable of participating in sports/ exercising.  Within reasonable limits of their health of course.

Being the renegade that I am, there really is no way I am going to live the ‘expected’ sickle cell  life. People expect a sickly person who just can’t do much. First, a little reorientation.  Persons living with sickle cell can live healthy lives, I cannot emphasize this enough. Second, I am too much of a hyperactive person to do the sick thing. No, I’ll pass. I got sports, church,family, friends, social activities and lastly school. I don’t have time to be sick. “ain’t nobody got time for that!” Of course I have been blessed in so many ways, my health certainly is my biggest blessing. I really am a walking testimony, it is worse for others but there is a lot of will power at play here.

There is the thing with medical school. After high school, when it came time to decide about university, my mom did a bit of asking around. A few well meaning people advised that I not pursue medicine because the stress might just exacerbate my condition. She really had my best interest at heart. It certainly has been difficult, but guess what, I’m still hear. I guess I’ll be singing Chris Brown’s-Look at me now, in a couple of years.  Just because it is expected that medical school is going to be unbearable for me, I decided I am “gonna kick ass”.  If I wasn’t this much of a  renegade, I would have probably accepted that advice five years ago and given up on my passion.

Then there is sickle life. People generally do not speak openly about their health, certainly not Ghanaians, but really, why should they? Persons living with sickle cell, generally keep it secret. I think it has something to do with the fact that y’all expect us to break into several pieces right in front you, or worse still, just up and die. Don’t know what it is? I always wondered why in school kids with asthma did not mind telling everyone but those with sickle cell hid it like it was contagious or something.

So, I tell everyone I have sickle cell disease. It seems to have a bit of the non-conformist element going on in there, but that certainly was not the reason. Maybe it helped, because it is in my nature to be different. Whatever it is, I said it, you all know. I pretty much stuck a person living with sickle cell sticker on my face. No, I am not going to die tomorrow. Please don’t act like I am.  I am just passionate about this cause and don’t mind putting myself out there. I just want to reach as many young people as possible, change misconceptions about sickle cell disease and ultimately assist you make an informed life choice.

Please join me. Be different, stand out. We can’t all be full on renegade, but we can all stand up for the cause. Please get tested. Know your haemoglobin genotype and that of your partner. Make an informed life choice.

#Renegadethings #nonconformist #saidit!

Regards,

Sefakor-Enam.

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WHAT IS YOUR EXCUSE?

The Miss World 2013 finals were recently held in Indonesia. As you might be aware, Miss Ghana 2012, Carranzar Naa Okailey Shooter was the second runner up, and in effect, Miss World Africa 2013. Congratulations to Miss Shooter (OK, I thought I had the coolest surname, but this one definitely kills it.)

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Miss World Africa 2013. This picture is not mine (obviously). Dark skinned girls rock!
Photo credits: Carranzar Shooter, http://www.facebook.com/ Miss universe & missology

Miss Shooter is actually a medical student, a colleague of mine. Don’t ask me how she combined medical school with, arguably, the biggest beauty pageant in the world, I really have no idea. This post is about young people making great strides in their lives. Young people, coloring outside the lines, thinking outside the box, living outside the rules and making a difference, in their own small way.

Miss Word Africa 2013, is back to the mundane existence of a medical student. She has however done great and deserves commendation. (Side note, I think dark-skinned girls absolutely rock. I am unapologetically biased.)  Behind the scene battles, struggles of combining medical education with pageantry at the local level, not to mention, international, escapes everyone. It really does not matter now. She persevered through it all and has the crowns to show for it. I wish her the very best in her endeavors and hope she excels in the various projects she has taken on board.

Still in the realms of pageantry, Miss Earth Ghana 2012, is also a colleague of mine. Again, how she did it, beats me. What is important, she did. I have had it with people using medical education (education in general,their youth etc) as an excuse for mediocre living. If you set out to do something, you can! If you are only passionate about medicine, fine by me. Make a difference even while in school, educate someone about the stuff you spend 18 hours studying and stop using it as an excuse to while away time.

Another colleague, also recently started a beauty and grooming page on face book. She actually has good skin and has been said to dabble in the modeling industry, so I am quite optimistic she will do a great job. She gives very insightful tips about keeping your skin healthy. I recently saw some information on her page about breast self examination. I think we can all apply what we learn to impact lives, however insignificant they may seem.

In the area of clothing, T shirt design came up last year. The line is college style. I liked one shirt that said ‘I FIND THIS HUMERUS’ (get it?)  but I especially loved another one that said ‘CHICKS IN MEDICINE.’ It had little chicks (actual baby fowls/ chicken(s) ) with stethoscopes round their necks. Now, that I would totally rock.

Dekage clothing is another one I am very excited about, African print inspired clothes. Designed by a colleague of mine, they are the kind of shirts I will buy for a friend as a gift. He has a highly selective target market, like most things in life, it is not for everyone. No matter what you set out to do, you can’t please everyone. Some people will just not ‘get’ it. Don’t lose sleep over them, just keep at it.

Spirituality/Christianity, boasts the largest number of people making great strides. There are a good number of preachers in my class. One of them is actually published, two books and counting. They make time to lead various religious groups, preach etc. Why? Because that is what they are passionate about. We all make time for what is important to us. What are you passionate about?

Of course, Sickle Life. Blog, Facebook and twitter pages (and much more, in the future).  Education and information about sickle cell disease to help people make informed life choices. This is what I stand for. We are just a few people, all under 25 years, and still in school. We stand for different things, are passionate about them and find the time to make them happen.

Outside medical school, a friend of mine, currently engaged in his national service, started a group. Mindsets networks. He seeks to change the mindset of the youth in several areas. He does this through the various divisions of MsN such as health, education and family. In its first year of existence, it already has a very strong membership, about 700, on facebook alone. They really do give the best quotes, thought provoking stuff. They are making an impact on the youth by realigning our thought process.

This young lady, Elsie, a pharmacy student. I absolutely love her work. Her posts are always so insightful. She could pretty much start up, with anything and end up on one attribute of God or another. She starts up talking about hydralzine or azithromycine and next thing you know she is drawing correlations between the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of the drug and the grace of God or his favor. It really is mind-blowing. She has somehow managed to put some of my pharmacology lessons in perspective and at the same time, make me more grateful for who God is and his many blessings in my life. All this, through her writing. What talent are you refusing to explore? You could actually impact lives.

N’ayelle designs. African print fabric accessories. This, from a Bachelor of Science in Administration graduate. She started this business while in university. Anytime you see me rocking a clutch with a leather/African print mix, that’s a n’ayelle. African print shoes, broaches anything, it is always n’ayelle. Again, another passionate young person who started a business while in school from the little she had. She made it happen!

All I am saying is this; we all have reasons why we cannot. It is time to think up why you can and how you are going to make it happen. Do not let schooling limit your education. Do not let your program of study prevent you from achieving what you want to become. If you are truly passionate about something, you will make it happen, irrespective of the challenges you face, because you will use those as stepping stones to greater heights. So, WHAT IS YOUR EXCUSE?

I have a genetic condition that puts me at a disadvantage sometimes. Well, I turned that into an opportunity and I am trying to apply what I am being taught in medical school as well as from experiences living with this disease to help others to live as healthy as possible. I am also trying to change perceptions about this condition and ultimately, help you make an informed life choice.

BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD.

Regards,

Sefakor-Enam.

YOUR SICKLE CELL THINGS!!!

Excuse you! What? No really? WHAT! MY SICKLE CELL THINGS? Breathe girl! Where do I start from? Tabula rasa!

Hmm! Burying your head in the sand. Do ostriches really do that? Like for real, you have a problem, or more accurately a challenge and you pretend it doesn’t exist. Or even worse, pretend to solve it by full on picking the challenge and dumping it somewhere else? Or as they say, sweep it under a carpet? Really? People do that? Why? I can’t get it. There is this simple thing called, taking the bull by its horns and dealing with whatever issues you have like an adult.

I am not one to indulge in cowardice. Certainly not one to avoid a problem. I like to tackle it head on.  So, now, my sickle cell things. Really? Sorry! Will that be the passion that has driven me to beat absurd odds to make it to medical school? Or drive that motivated me to want to be a haematologist, so I can specifically manage others living with this disease?

My sickle cell things! Is that my interest in telling others about sickle cell disease? My interest in trying to prevent the spread of a disease so easily preventable yet an absurd number of children are still born with it annually? My interest in sharing my medical knowledge about sickle cell disease and how to stay healthy with it? Or simply the fact that I am letting others know that all people with sickle cell are not sickly, we can be healthy, and achieve great heights, as evidenced by myself and others doing a lot of great things and not allowing this disease to weigh us down?

My sickle cell things, is that the fact that as a young person, I have decided to stand for something and not just sit around watching movies all day or partying? Or use medical school as an excuse to do nothing but study all day, but rather take on a social project?  Are those my sickle cell things?

Would that be the fact that you are ok with doctors preventing me from doing everything I consider  fun because of AVN. Preventing me from a million things since childhood because I have sickle cell disease?  But when I give myself a break from other stuff you say I am making excuses? Do I need to school you in anatomy and physiology and plain old common sense? Jeez!

It is always said of critics, that mostly, they do not read the stuff they criticize. Case in point. The very suggestions you make, are the exact things I am already doing.

Now, here are some of my sickle cell things for you. No child deserves to be born with sickle cell because their parents were too scared to do what is right. Or too busy focusing on emotions or finances.  Say, for all those who have safe sex, here is a suggestion, find yourself someone who is HIV positive and have unprotected sex with them. No, u wont? It is too risky? Go, get an electrophoresis to know the risk here, hell no! MY SICKLE CELL THINGS!!! There is lot more where this came from. Misplaced priorities! We might as well not save or invest for our future. Why? It is the future! Tomorrow will worry about itself. When the future comes, the money will appear. AGAIN. Misplaced priorities!

GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF THE SAND AND SMELL YOUR OWN BS. Oh I’m pissed. Sorry folks. Consider this an open letter to whom it may concern.

I‘M OUT!!!

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