The life and times of Walker

Walker's blog for recording his life and such. Please come and confab with me.

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Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia

I grew up in suburban Melbourne, I went to school and did all the usual stuff, did pretty well and got into a University. I enjoy soccer a lot and hope to spend the next years of my life traveling. I'm also a Arts and Science student and I'm majoring in Microbiology and Anthropology. I'm going to med school next year and hopefully will go onto to work in the Public Health/Development field somewhere in East Africa. I believe strongly in the power of people to change society and plan to live my life in such a way that the people around me are changed.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

My new blog location for my Tanzania trip

Monday, July 19, 2010

Letter to my local member

Dear Anthony,

I am a young and new member of your electorate - I moved here at the beginning of the year to begin studying medicine at the University of Sydney.

I write to you because I am disappointed with how the Government has chosen to treat asylum seekers. While small in number, the discussion - from both Liberal and now from Labor - has presented this group as a threat and as illegal. They are neither. I think this dishonesty reflects badly on you - as a member and as a party - and I think that this electorate realises when it is being lied to, even if other electorates do not. We - and I - will not vote for a Government that lacks any moral courage on such an issue.

Upon inspecting the candidates in the electorate I cannot help but notice that the Greens candidate Sam Byrne has a strong history of supporting the welcoming of refugees to our country; he also is taking a strong stance on Climate Change (another issue the current government has shown moral weakness on). As it currently stands I intend for vote him. However, I am emailing you because I am a believer in many of the values the Labour Party has historically stood for, but I see these as being absent in the current direction of the Labor Party. Basically I want you to convince me that you can do better.

I hope you will relay this sentiment of one young voter to those in your party, I know that I will certainly be relaying it to those in your electorate.

Kind Regards,

Steve Walker

Monday, March 08, 2010

Med. so far

Med so far has been a mixture of lectures, practicals, and a day in the hospital. I'll tell you a little bit about each of these three things -- just so you get an idea of what my week is like.

Lectures have covered in a wide range of basic science subjects -- Anatomy, Physiology, Histology, Immunology, Infectious Diseases, Pathology, Genetic Medicine, Pop. Medicine, Pharmacology, and Biochemistry (did I miss any?!). Which are sort of hitting me at every angle. I've joint a study group to help deal with this and that's going fairly well -- we have about 6 of us and between us all have a decent range of experience in most of the subjects listed above. Although the study session that went for 7 hours last week was a little too intense (we covered most of the weeks lecture content), and hopefully next week will be a little better contained.

Practicals have also been fun. At the moment they are just for two subjects: histology and anatomy. Anatomy pracs are particularly fun and I've gone from knowing nothing about anatomy (well I did know where the jugular was -- but that's about it!), to knowing a little (but oh my what a lot more to learn!). In anatomy we get to work with prosections (pre-cut up bodies that reveal the interesting bits) and it's fascinating to see how much humans are just little machines with compartments all doing little reactions -- it's incredible to see, and is already changing how I see people on the street. Histology has been less fun, but still good. Histology is more just looking at slides of different thin layers of the body (such as skin layers, oesphagus, or intestines). I have to say I am glad I didn't stay in Microbio, I get a bit sick of microscopy after a while.

Clinical days are probably the most rewarding and most challenging of the week. While we don't have anything but the most basic medical skills the learning is very hands on; we take patient histories, and do basic physical examinations. Today I took a history of a young (under 30) Egyptian man who had kidney stones. He had had them before and so knew a lot more about it than I did, so that was good that one of us knew what was going on. Really it is a bit of humbling experience being in the hospital -- you constantly (feel like you?) know less than the doctors, nurses, and patients. Nonetheless it is a brilliant way to learn and at the end of the day even though all you have done is listened to people you have done something worthwhile (as often the patients really appreciate someone just listening and caring about them -- the ED is very busy and no one has much time to stop and chat).

Oh and just tacking this one the end, if you are interested in the current state of Australia's treatment of refugees please check out this great lecture on the Rudd govt policy (warning: it is heartrending).

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Victoria Park

Lovers make each other happy in the park,
Buses zoom past driven into the dark,
Bars and pubs they shout and yell,
Still birds and bats compose their symphony,
As the University stands above so ominously.

The humid air drowns the city in its heat,
Pedestrians move homeward bound in slow retreat,
The commercial center has come to rest,
Victoria's values are now just a lark,
Lovers make each other happy in the park.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My apartment

Monday, February 08, 2010

First Day

So the first day went pretty well. It was basically a series of talks that revolved around the opportunities the course would open up for us both during this year, during the rest of the course and into our careers. It start at 8am and ran through till 6.30pm. So it was a fairly long day.

One thing that was surprising was the level of educational resources we get as med students--it's far beyond anything I experienced as an undergraduate. The online materials are full videos and have chapters that you can easily flip through, there's a lot more availability of staff, and a lot more thinking put into each unit and how it adds toward the teaching of good clinical/medical skills.

Another thing that surprised me is how involved we are expected to be from the beginning. Tomorrow will be in the clinical school, and while we will have no patient contact, there will be patient contact from next week. I spoke to a 2nd year about this and he was saying how from the very beginning we are getting in there and doing actual medical tasks like giving stitches and so on (with the supervision of the medical staff at the hospital). I find this idea a bit scary to be honest. But really it shouldn't be long till I'm right into it. It seems like great fun and quite the learning curve!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Photos of the Campus

Here are some more photos. It started to rain so I was interrupted and had to cut the photography short. Nonetheless, I think I got some good photos.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Photos of St Pauls

Sorry some of the pictures ended up a bit dark and hard to see, I also made them quite grainy by messing with my camera. I'll have another go of it sometime and do a better job. Nonetheless, here they are:

Large window on the main dining hall--it's about 3 meters by 5 meters.

Sandstone in sunlight.

View looking inwards from the front gate of the college.

St Paul's oval (which has been where the Edinburgh Military Tatoo has been practicing for last couple of days).

The driveway into the college.

The Warden's house from the driveway.

The Warden's house from side on.

Where the undergrads relax--we have a fancier one apparently, but I am still waiting on the key to that :-).

A shot out one of the hallway windows.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Desensitisation to blood donation...

So today I donated blood. I've done that twice now, and like last time I felt ill as the blood rushed from my head and I became dizzy and nauseatious. Because this has happened last time, I had made a plan to deal with this situation before medicine started. So leading up to this latest donation I have been doing a 8 week long densentisation to needles--basically watching a lot of needles going into arms on youtube videos. It even ended with a mock run through of what happens on the day.

All that effort, and yet, unfortunately today the reaction was the same, if not a little worse than last time. This was somewhat distressing as I have been worrying about whether this bad reaction was just the tip of the iceberg, and that underneath it all lay a large fear of blood, needles, etc. However, I have reason to believe this is not the case. As my day wasn't all bad news. When at dinner tonight one of the 4th year med students asked about my day I mentioned how I'd given blood. He immediately told me he couldn't and went on to explain "it made him faint", not because of some phobia but merely because of the change in blood pressure due to fluid loss.

This has put me a bit more at ease about the whole predictament--something in retrospect I seem to have become more stressed about than necessary.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Move to Sydney

So I just arrived in Sydney yesterday and after spending the night at my sisters have moved in at St Paul's College at Usyd. The drive up was pretty long and tiring but we did stop halfway and visit my two nieces (Lilly and Bindi) and my sister and her husband. That was very nice.

The college is the oldest in Australia and has a original component and a part built over the late 50's and 60's. I am currently staying in a room in this newer section, and its a bit dingy. However, that's just because there is the Edinburough military tattoo here at the moment (practicing on the oval as I write). Once there gone, I get upgraded to a 4 (small) roomed apartment also in this newer section. I am bit sad I am not in the original part of the college, but from what I can see the apartment I have is bigger than anything there. So I haven't done too badly.

So far I have met just one of the permenant residents of St Paul's. Matt, a post-graduate law student, and the sub-warden. His quite friendly and has explained to me the layout and general workings of the college. It seems that as a grad student I get a few more perks, such as very plush and fancy senior students common room, an elevated table at the dining hall, and the aforementioned rooms. All this, and the fact that my scholarship here makes it a cheaper option have tipped the balance toward me staying in college rather than elsewhere--I doubt I would have enjoyed staying here as an undergraduate.

Also I must say I am pleased not to be in the boat of a lot of the other med students I know who are struggling to find accomodation in a tight rental market that is biased against students (and well also those without a rental history).

Once I have unpacked a little more I shall post some photos.