Archive for April, 2014

A shortage of doctors on Twitter

imagesI’m a relative newcomer to Twitter. I’m impressed by the gigantic cloud of information that seems to be ever changing and ever so multifaceted. As all things technological, I admittedly landed their through the influence of my man. The only problem is, through said man, I seem to be caught up in a bubble of German media related news. This is everything from first-hand journalist reports from Sloviansk (before you even have a chance to read about it in the paper), to rankings for the top on-line German news-sites to constant in-jokes (I can tell you all about ‚hoody journalism‘).

All that, just from following a handful of journalists and media-experts. This information, although mostly interesting and often entertaining, is of little relevance to my field of work. There seems to be a number of doctors in the UK and from America on Twitter, but German doctors appear to be poorly under-represented. At the recent yearly meeting of respiratory physicians in Germany, I failed to find a hash-tag for the event and it left me wondering why the medical profession is so reluctant to have a stronger presence on social media. At dinner one evening, I sat next to a consultant physician who had given a talk that day on the role and use of social media in medicine. There were apparently a few things discussed, but the conclusion was that – for professional purposes – crowd-sourcing is unreliable, maintaining social media websites is time-consuming (and doctors are always short on time) and there is a serious danger of patients posting negative things about services and service-providers, which equals investing even more time into answering complaints etc. So why bother?

Given my  insight into the world of journalism in Germany through following a very modest number of people, I would love to have the same insight into the world of my colleagues (latest research, education opportunities, the odd holiday photo and their favourite restaurants) at the press of an app button. Preferably the German ones, as they are the ones I am likely to interact with at conferences and educational meetings and working with the same national guidelines as me. I don’t know if things are likely to change in the near future, but I am sure hoping that there won’t always be such a shortage of doctors on Twitter. And in case you are a healthcare professional and reading this…follow me @sandhyamatthes

Spring fever or fatigue?

Apparently lots of Germans suffer from a thing called ‚Frühjahrsmüdigkeit‚, or quite literally spring tiredness. Google it and major German newspapers offer tips on how to combat the dreaded  ‚Frühjahrsmüdigkeit‚ (more sport, lighter meals, power naps and cold showers apparently).  I’ve done a literature search and found two serious articles about it – all be it both in the German language and sadly both without an available abstract. I scratch my head to think what the equivalent of this complaint would be in English. How can the sweet arrival of spring be put to blame for lethargy and fatigue?  Surely ‚spring fever‚ refers to returned energy after the dark winter days, a renewed giddiness for life and the possibility of all things new and wonderful?

I don’t get it. But for those of you who suffer from this dreadful condition, I recommend a walk in the park, outdoor dining, stopping and staring at everything that is in bloom, eating an ice-cream or two and maybe buying yourself some daffodils.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – a story of race, integration and belonging

It is all too easy to notice all the things which make an immigrant instantly different: unfashionable clothing, a funny accent, distinct hairstyles, curiosities in lunch boxes. As easy as it is to see these differences, it is just as easy to take for granted all the struggles an immigrant faces – working in a job often below the level of what they were qualified for back home, the constant uncertainty of work permits and visa applications, the pressure of providing for a family back home and proving to all those back at home that you have somehow made it and all the while convincing yourself that this new life is better than the one you would have had in the home you abandoned.

Reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie makes you see and understand all of this in a thought-provoking, amusing, cringeworthy and heart-breaking manner. It tells the story of 2 childhood sweethearts from Nigeria separated by their desire to carve out a life for themselves in the West. The story takes them to America and England, with each country posing a different set of obstacles and challenges. Reading it has made me think back and reflect on my own family’s story when we arrived in England all those years ago and all that we have been through since. But it also made me think of the Portuguese gardener I opened the door to when visiting a friend in London recently, or the chit-chat with the waiter whose accent I couldn’t quite place when we had breakfast in the local high street the following morning. Whether you can find parallels in this book or not, it will force you to think again about race, about integration and about citizenship. And it will surely lend a new perspective to every interaction you have with a foreigner.

Thrive and the Third Metric


I recently finished reading Arianna Huffington’s new book ‚Thrive‘: a part philosophical and  part self-help guide to a more fulfilled life. It would be easy to roll your eyes and lay the book aside. Except that it is so personal and the stories of lessons learned somehow makes you listen.  Apart from being the very first book that I have managed to read (and completely finish reading) on an electronic device, it’s definitely a book that’s got me thinking. Much the same way that ‚Lean in‘ by Sheryl Sandberg did.

For a long time it has seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.

– Fr. Alfred D’Souza

That’s the opening quote of the first chapter. Nothing groundbreaking about it, but still I hadn’t really thought about it like that. How often I tell myself that life will get back to normal after my exam/project/ wedding planning(!) is out of the way. But that’s it. Life is about all of it.

The book presents the idea of the ‚Third Metric‘ –  defining a successful life with something more than aspiring to just making money and gaining power. After becoming a Huffington post reader over the past few months (for obvious reasons) I came to assume that the phrase ‚the Third Metric‘ has been around for years. But actually, it seems to be a concept truly Huffington and not even a year old. In her book, the concept of the Third Metric is expanded upon in the chapters well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving. All the ingredients we need for a fulfilling life.

It touches on the increasing levels of burnout in our society, the challenges faced by women at work, the pressure we are under from being constantly on-line, our constant feeling of being short of time and offers solutions for all of these thing. Obvious things  like long walks, yoga (Arianna Huffington is a big fan of yoga and mindfulness. I will use this opportunity to admit that I have up till now found time to carry out exactly one 10 minute session of my free 10 sessions from my Mindfulness app), a hobby or time spent with family and friends. And most importantly learning to prioritise these things, especially in times of stress, as these are the things which nourish us the most.  I liked this quote from the lady herself very much:

 ‚Stress is not inflicted on us by external circumstances and events, but are the result of judgements we make about what matters and what we value‘. 

The book is full of little practical tips for ways we can change our lives in small ways. From making lists of things we are grateful for to breathing exercises. I’m not sure that all of it is my thing. But I do have an unusual item on my shopping list this weekend: an alarm clock. Walking up in the morning without the horrid ringtone of my mobile phone (and checking mails and news before you know it) may just be a way to inject a little bit of wonder back into the early morning. 

A ragga remix of ‚Royals‘

The biggest problem with a pop song, is that if you listen to it too many times, you will inevitably reach a saturation point. In fact, a pop song has to be exceptionally good to stand up to the the test of radio overplay. Back in October, I mentioned a couple of tunes that I thought had a refreshing sound. One of them was ‚Royals‘ be Lorde. 6 months later, I flick away from the track when I hear the first beats of the intro.

That’s where good remixes and covers come in. Here’s a great tribute from the Jamaican dancehall reggae artist Busy Signal. Granted, I can’t really understand what he’s singing about, but I love his silky voice, the ragga makeover and the great rap in the middle of the track (at 1:25).

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