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POSTED ON 03 May 2022
Meet our latest Zesti ambassador, Alexandra Elain Adams, medical student from Wales. Alexandra's #morethanmyscrubs story is something pretty special and stands as a reminder that passion, determination and spirit truly is at the heart of achieving your dreams no matter what.
Hi Zesti! My name is Alexandra Elaine Adams.
Alexandra, or ✨ Al. ✨
I was born in South Wales, UK, but spent most of my life growing up in Kent. Now I am back in the Welsh homeland, and based in Cardiff.
I am the UK’s first deafblind person training to be a Doctor. It has definitely been one of life’s biggest challenges so far, but what a journey it has also been! In many ways, the ‘name’ carries a lot of weight with it; pressure, anticipation, expectation, when it comes to role-modelling and representation. So I guess for me, it’s the uniqueness, perseverance, and my stubbornness (in a good way!), that makes me ‘tick’ with regards to identity and what I strive to stand for.
Ignorance is a big pet peeve of mine. I have experienced a lot of discrimination and workplace bullying, both in the profession and out in general society. It all comes down to the decision of others choosing to be better informed and educated about differences, or to be judgmental, and well, ignorant. Oh, and it also gets to me when I see cyclists who don’t wear safety helmets – eek, it just screams out ‘head injury!’ – but then maybe that’s just the medic in me, wanting to avoid as many ‘preventable accidents’ as possible!
I love anything to do with writing and blogging. I am currently writing a book – a memoir about being the UK’s first deafblind medical student, and how my own experiences of illness and near-death has influenced my practice as a future Doctor. I also enjoy countryside walks and hiking (I am currently doing a fundraiser for the NHS, where I am walking the entire length of Wales’ coastal path across this year), and enjoy playing the piano in my free time too. It is so therapeutic, and although I am not taught, I enjoy composing new songs depending on my mood and how my day has been! Aside these, I always love trying new hobbies (I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie) – so far I have wakeboarding, ice-climbing, floristryand abseiling on the list! If I’m not doing crazy outdoor things, then I’m often in the kitchen creating new recipes and cooking/baking.
I didn’t actually have anything. I have a number of GI diseases, gastroparesis and intestinal failure, which means I have difficulty with digestion and absorption, all of which makes me very sick, so was on TPN up until recently. But I did make a gorgeous platter of vegan sushifor the family, plus a new recipe creation of mine; Thai sweet potato boats, with tamarind and spring onion. I also made some pumpkin, cranberry and coconut oatmeal cookies!
At the moment, my ‘routine’ is looking a bit sporadic. I’ve spent much of this pandemic in hospital, bedbound as an inpatient for 17 months, so I’m only just getting back on my feet and being able to do things for myself again, quite literally. But I am excited to confirm that I am well enough to return to clinical practice, and will be back on placement in the next few weeks! So, with that in mind, my usual routine would see me getting up at around 6.30-7.00am. Coffee always comes first, no matter what day it is or if I’m running early or late. If Ihave time, I will have a bit of a stretch and do some yoga whilst catching up on the morning news. Before I leave the house, I have to refill my portable oxygen tank for the day, which takes about 10 minutes. Then, as a medical student, my hours on placement (either in clinic, on the wards, or in A&E) usually run from 9.00am-5.00pm, though sometimes we do late shifts or night shifts, and sometimes weekends. If I get some time, and have an understanding team, I might manage to pop back home for a quick rest and nap (having a chronic illness and working in healthcare means getting in the snippets of much-needed recuperation wherever I can). When I get home, I switch over from my portable oxygen tank to the home oxygen concentrator (a big fridge-size machine that has me attached to very long oxygen tubing, like a dog on a lead!). Then, if I’m having a ‘good health’ day, I’ll cook a quick, healthy dinner, before heading to the desk for an evening of studying and tidying up the day’s notes, before taking a hot shower around 9.00pm, doing my injections, meds and changing over my drainage bag, and then climbing back into bed for the night!
I am very fortunate to be able to do my Medicine course as a part-time student, due to my health conditions. This means that I don’t necessarily go into placement 5 days a week. On my rest days, I make sure I have long lie-ins and don’t do too much. These are the days for lots of self-care, so I make sure to use them to full advantage!
4th year medical student (and pending, Bank Phlebotomist!)
It’s definitely all about the patients, and their ‘people-stories’. It’s one of the big reasons I went into Medicine – because I love people, and being able to make even just the smallest difference to someone’s day makes me so happy, and it all worth it.
I always knew I wanted to work in a caring profession from an early age, but Medicine was something that I grew an interest in over time. The idea of becoming a Doctor was greatly influenced by my own personal experiences of being a patient, and my interactions with other healthcare professionals. It was also a case of getting to that point in my journey where I realised I could follow my own dreams, not necessarily the ‘advice’ of others, which often consisted of discouragement and dissuasion from teachers – I was constantly told I would never be able to be a Doctor as a disabled, deafblind person.
I wasn’t always into the sciences. Instead, I was very athletic, and was an international athlete on 2 different sports; first, the swimming team, in which I had sponsorship for the London 2012 Paralympic Games, and then I switched to being a GB ski-racer for a few years too, which was fun. Unfortunately, I had a major surgery when I was 16 which went very wrong and had a lot of complications. I ended up having 20+ stomach surgeries in 1 year, meaning I was never able to return to competitive swimming. A life-changing diagnosis and 23 admissions to the ICU a few years later also meant the end to my competitive skiing career. But it was in this time, when I was in the hospital bed, that I began to link up my passion and interests of people (the psychosocial, human element), with the anatomy and physiology, the science, of people – which brought me to the conclusion that being a Doctor could be the perfect profession for utilising both, all whilst being able to care, and apply Empathy.
Is it too cliché to say “sleep”?! I definitely ensure to catch up on lots of sleep and rest after busy periods of placement. But I also enjoy doing a lot of reflecting, through my writing and blogging, which is an important practice both in anyone’s professional and personal life. I doenjoy long bubble baths, weekend walks out in nature or by the beach, and catching up on life admin too – the whole self-care stuff really! And if I have the time, and money, I do enjoythe occasional cheeky weekend trip to London – I’m here for all the brunches and West End musicals! I also try to keep up to date with social media too – it’s so nice and encouraging tohave so many people support your journey, so I try to fill everyone in on what I’m up to whenever I can, regardless of whether it means sharing the good, or bad, days. I have donequite a few guest podcasts too, and am currently brainstorming on the idea of possibly starting my own podcast series, so that’ll take up a lot of my time for sure. Watch this space!
Yes! I have a little Cavapoo puppy called Winnie and she is the BEST! After 20 years of dreaming for a dog, Winnie finally came into mine and my family’s lives last year, at the very worst point of all our trauma, and it’s fair to say that she has been an absolute blessing and miracle. Whilst I was in hospital for 17 months my parents bought me a little dog ornament to put on my hospital bedside. Little did I know that just a few months later, this ‘ornament’ would ‘turn into’ a real puppy! My nurses were so lovely – they arranged to push my bed outside into the ‘ICU garden’ so that I could see Winnie for puppy cuddles. She was unbelievably excited (as was I), and the reunion video is the cutest! I think Winnie became the hospital’s therapy dog for the next few months – everyone used to love having Cavapoo cuddles at the hospital entrance when they were passing by to start/finish their shifts.
I would do a solo trip around the whole world! I’ve always wanted to visit Norway in the winter and experience the snowy wilderness and Northern Lights (even though I am night-blind so probably won’t see them!). Exploring Japan by rail is also something I’ve always wanted to do. I haven’t had a holiday in 5 years, so am very much overdue one – so to be honest, anywhere that has lots of sunshine, an exotic beach, and good snorkelling/diving, I’ll be there!!
I love all the Zesti colours and am really excited and grateful to be able to try two of them, Eclipse and Shadow! But, if I had to choose, I particularly like ‘Shadow’ – I think the grey metaphorically represents my blindness and visual impairment. From the outside, everything might seem just ‘black and white’, but beneath the scrubs there is so much colour, life, and ambition to it, and I’m proud to stand out in that sense! It also goes with anything and everything (grey is never boring!). I can’t wait to add my colourful pins, lanyardand name badge to add sparkle to the ‘shadow’!
If you would like to see Alexandra rocking our Power scrubs set in shade ‘Shadow’ then be sure to give her a follow on social media. Alexandra is UNSTOPPABLE. Make sure you follow her on her journey. Click on her link tree below to find her on all platforms.
Make sure you check out her incredible Ted Talk: