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Here's a rather disorganised entry about my third week in Oxford, written on a train to Edinburgh :)

This week I had the privilege of observing a TAVI! And no, I did not attempt to type "N'Avi" from Avatar. In cardiology, TAVI stands for "Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation". Basically, everyone has valves in their heart to prevent blood from flowing the wrong way. Sometimes, these valves get gunky and don't work properly. One method to fix this is to open someone's chest, put them on a bypass machine, open the heart and put in a new valve. This is a huge, fiddly and risky operation. So for some people, there's an alternative method where they stick a tube up the artery of the leg/neck, or through the chest, and deploy a valve in the heart through it. That's what a TAVI is! Compared to open heart surgery, which I've seen in Sydney, this is much faster (takes about an hour all up). 

I've also watched a pacemaker operation become complicated by abnormal anatomy. And an ASD repair which went hairy when the device embolised to the aorta, causing a dissection and requiring a "fishing trip". I guess it's important to watch and learn what to do when things don't go exactly as planned. I.e. stay calm, ask another person's opinion, etc. Because all those events could have had an adverse outcome, but because they were well-handled, everyone was ok. 

On Tuesday and Wednesday I somehow ended up in audit meetings which was so painful that even with the English accents, my ears still came close to bleeding. Monday and Thursday I also spent lots of time in outpatients, which I really liked and will probably do more of next week. Especially the one on Monday with Dr F, who loves his history and taught me about William Witherings, Nikolai Korotkoff and Monckeberg. I still haven't really impressed anyone apart from Dr A, who runs a cardiomyopathy clinic (because I'd decided to read about it the night before) but hopefully I haven't disappointed them too much. I've not spent that much time on the wards because this is what I always do back home...though I've felt some impressive reactive arthritis, heard a pericardial friction rub, and seen a guy in ARF who probably won't recover :(

My extracurriculars have included visiting some more colleges: Magdalen, All Souls, Christ Church, and of course Green Templeton, which I've been made an "honorary member" of in order that I can attend their dinners and whatnot. I just have to climb St Mary's, but I'm going to wait til DS and JS get here to do that with them. 

But yeah, GTC! The highlight of being a member is that I have access to the Radcliffe Observatory which is a tower with several levels. On the bottom is the dining hall, on the next level is a lounge where movie nights, drinks and post-dinner coffee/chocolates are held, and I haven't been up the top yet. It really feels like I'm hanging out in Ravenclaw tower! Well, except when I look at GTC's logo which is a green snake. Hmmmmm. Oh well...also, their "formal" Thursday and Wednesday dinners are kind of intense. They ring a gong to get you into the hall, they say grace in Latin, people wear their academic robes, and the food is pretty good. There was this chocmint cheesecake that I wanted to last forever. On Friday night I also went to a "bob" themed "mathletes and athletes" which I wished I'd brought my cheerleader uniform to. Well, having said that, given that a random guy came up to me, tapped me on the shoulder and said, "excuse me, but I have to kiss someone before I leave," (seriously? Is that even a pickup line?) even when I was wearing a tshirt and trackpants, maybe it's a good idea I didn't go as a Cheerio. But yeah, I've never run so fast in my life as I did from that dude, or pushed anyone away with such force. And even though it wasn't midnight yet, I decided to leave. Plus I think I'd managed to put about 5 standard drinks into myself thanks to the themed cocktails so that was probably a good thing. 

We've also had buckets of snow. On Friday I disappeared from hospital before 1pm to play in the snow. I started by checking out Christ Church meadow, built a snowman and saw a deer! I then met up with AB (from Quidditch) and his friend in Uni Parks to feed the ducks. I found they were quite aggressive creatures...AB reckons it's because the seagulls are teaching them things. So we threw snowballs at the seagulls, then at each other. Also, AB nearly threw me in the frozen lake which I was not amused at. But he did offer to share his bread with me earlier so I suppose he was allowed one prank. Before we left, we turned an icy, dangerous bridge into an awesome slippery dip. By this time, it was 4pm and getting dark, so I decided to head back to my flat to have a quick nap, and record a video for the Hogwarts Choir. I'm not totally happy because the lighting in my room is terrible so I will be trying again later next week...

Next week is going to be amazing! The 6th years finally finish their finals, which means PARTY! Also I'm going to a Burns Night black tie dinner at college (for which I have bought a long dress...) And of course, my friends from Sydney are coming to visit! I'm sooooo glad because I really miss everyone, and to get some news from home would be really lovely (yeah, I know I'm constantly on Facebook, but it's just not the same).

February 2013

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