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Archive for October 2011

Well, that went well. Also: The Rules You Have to Follow If You Want To Dissect My Dead Body.

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There’s that little voice – can you hear it? The nasty little one going “I told you so.”

Anyway, I’d better catch you up on, oh, the last two months? I started class and had to quickly remember how to be a student and do those responsible things like study and not watch random TV shows/go on my MMORPG as soon as I get home.I took my first set of exams and passed all of them (we’re pass-fail until January), though the perfectionist in me is annoyed I only did average and not above. I promised myself I’d be more on the ball and study harder this month, yet here I am the day before our CTB (cell and tissue biology; also, physiology and histology) and biochemistry exams, feeling woefully underprepared. Ah well, this is what Mod 1 is for, they say.

Oh, and we’ve started anatomy. That particular exam’s on Friday. I don’t think I was prepared for the sheer amount of information, and at this point I’m just hoping I’ll pass.

Anatomy is a strange beast. You’ve got a bunch of fresh-faced first-years being taught by a real hodgepodge of physicians and anatomists and third- and fourth-year med student TAs, all of whom are desensitized to the whole being-around-a-dead-body thing. We’re all sort of pussyfooting around, and then the professors and TAs barge in, ripping fascia, digging around, shoving their finger through the inguinal canal and alongside the spermatic cord into the scrotum. We’re given a card with the age, sex and cause of death of our cadaver (the more politically correct term is “donor”); ours included a sentence that said “Brain donor.” We asked our professor what that meant, and he whipped the cover off our cadaver’s head to reveal the lack of stitches signifying the removal of the brain (it doesn’t preserve well via whole-body perfusion, but they always keep one intact so we can see it). On my very first day of anatomy, I saw the face of the man who gave his body for our education. Oh.

I asked several of my classmates if they would consider donating their body to science, and I both was and wasn’t surprised to receive quite a few resounding responses in the negative. I don’t know — yes, the dissection is in itself a little gruesome and might be construed by some as disrespectful, but it’s just so helpful. I can’t but be incredibly grateful for the gift these people have given us, and to know that some day, some scared-off-their-ass first-year might learn all about the nerves in the mediastinum from me? That’d be pretty cool.

Then I started really thinking about it. There’s a lot of shit that goes down in anatomy labs, very little of it pretty. Those not in medicine would probably be horrified by what is said and done. (There’s something to be said here about gallows humor, but I think I’ll save it for a time when I’ve had more first-hand experience – clinics, perhaps?) Therefore, I decided that if I were to donate my body, I would want my formalin-preserved carcass to arrive with a note. It’d go something like this:

Hello and congratulations on medical school! I remember being in your place, standing over a cadaver with a scalpel and feeling utterly helpless (I’m supposed to cut him open?). It’s frightening. It is, for the first few weeks, kind of horrifying. But I promise you’ll learn so much and it’ll stick with you forever. However, I do have some things to say about working with my body:

  • Let me apologize in advance: I won’t look like Netter’s.
  • Sorry if I stink.
  • You don’t know my name, and I’m sure you’ll want to give me one. Go ahead! Here, I’ll give you some suggestions: Gertrude, Juicy, BBQ, Lady Gaga (if you still know who she is), [insert movie character name here].
  • Do try not to make too many comments about how much fat I have. I’ll bet your Camper’s fascia isn’t anything to sneeze at, either.
  • If they try to look at/dissect the pelvic and urogenital diaphragms by doing that thing where they put my pelvis up on a block with my ass in the air, don’t let them. That just looks uncomfortable. Also, I know I’d drip on the floor and I don’t want you to slip and end up on one of these tables.
  • The first time you remove the covering on my face, you are required to ooh and aah and remark, “Wow, she was really pretty!” You are not allowed to add, “But then she got old, man, what happened.”
  • I encourage you to use random parts of my body to scare the crap out of your classmates, e.g. detaching my hand and tapping on someone’s shoulder, pretending to make my heart “beat”, etc.
  • No tutting sadly over any particular pathologies you find. “That’s so AWESOME!” is totally acceptable though.
  • I’m aware that I look kind of delicious. If you are ridiculously hungry after anatomy, it’s because my spirit is with you. Eat some pulled pork for me.
  • Parody songs having to do with anatomical terms are strongly encouraged.
  • However, if some cocky fourth-year comes over with bloody hands and wipes them on the cheesecloth covering my face, I want you to wind up, gloves covered in my internal body juices and formalin, and smack him in the face. Hard. Because that shit’s rude.

Written by calculusgirl

October 12, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized