There are certain things that I think will stay with me for the rest of my life, today was one of those events. As with every Friday it was time for anatomy, and after the rush to get through my booklet to at least sound like I knew what I was talking about me and Dr.Belfast headed to the DR (Dissecting room) for our first ever actual dissection - we had previously only been looking at prosections.
We were the first ones to arrive, and the previous anatomy group had just left, we lab coated up and thought we’d head to the resource room - on the other side of the DR to the cloakroom, the familiar smell of formaldehyde hit us (I associate it with a Friday now - don’t know if that’s a good thing!?) and we stepped through the door, the technicians were there and BOOM, there were the cadavers, on the slabs.
FUCK, wow. There’s like 8 bodies, just sat there, women, men, all of them so willing to give up everything about themselves to us naive medical students. They were lying, mouths slightly ajar, held off the table by a stand, so dead, yet so real. They looked human, unlike prosections - some of them were large, some of them small, me and Dr.Belfast walked through to the resource room, I think we tried to pretend we were going in there to brush up on the scapulla, really we were trying to get out of that room.
I’m glad she was there, I was pretty shook up - something about seeing the whole body, as opposed to just parts made it seem so real. These were people who had families, lived, laughed, fell ill and passed - and now I was going to cut into them.
We regained our composure and then headed back into the DR where our anatomy group and demonstrator were waiting. We were introduced to our cadaver. I like our cadaver (I hope that doesn’t sound weird) he is a 77 year old male who died of metastatic gastric carcinoma (a cancer of the stomach that spread), he’s thin, probably because of his illness, but seems - I can’t really put it in words - like , he’s dead, yet he’s alive, I don’t really know, I can’t see him as just a tool - he is a he not an it.
Anyway, we started stripping away the skin of the arm to look at the muscles underneath, and the angle I was standing at watching our demonstrator made it look like he was in pain, it was just surreal. Then it came to my turn, after Dr. Belfast had her turn. I cut my square being careful to not go too deep and damage the muscle and started stripping it back, cutting away the connective tissue as I did so, my anatomy demonstrator said: “Bit of a natural!” - my ego couldn’t really take it.
Some of the group were apprehensive to pull on the skin hard - which would have made it easier for them and then the demonstrator said exactly what I needed to hear:
“It’s okay, you can’t hurt him now”.
That made it okay, and so much easier.
Just watched “Donated to Science” - its about cadaver donation to teach medical students - BBC Four. All my courses have cadaver dissection, and seeing this has made me nervous but amazed. I cannot understand what it is to dissect someone yet, but this is a great insight. Thank you to all the people who donate their bodies to medicine.