Thursday Born

The everyday life of a medical student (who was born on a Thursday).

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Been meaning to write this post for a while.

On December 9th, we dissected Frank for the last time. The first time I glimpsed his muslin covered head, I felt a tightness in my chest and a flip in my stomach and I hurried out of the anatomy lab. When it was time for our first Lab meeting and we actually began dissecting, we did our best to expose only what was necessary.

By our final day, we were peering into his bisected, dis-articulated head with focused detachment. Too busy learning pathways and finding nerves and trying to remember what passes through which foramen or fossa or sinus to be bothered by the fact that we were handling a severely mutilated human head. “Where are his eyes?” I remember asking at some point during the last few days. There is a strange familiarity that comes once you start to cut. My lab partner who liked to keep his hands covered? She skinned the one we dissected.  We had jumped ahead of most of the class and started skinning his face before most people had even uncovered theirs. People would stop by our table and then… stop. “Oh! You’ve started on the head…” they would say, or something to that effect, processing that it would soon be time for them to take that step too.

One of my table mates held Frank’s brain in his hand, right after we removed it. “This is Frank,” he said. “Every thought he had, every memory. This is it.” That didn’t ring true for me, even though it was true. That really was Frank. That really was what made him who he was. But we never knew who he was. We only knew him as a cadaver, so for us, his body was him in a way that doesn’t feel so when a person is alive.

So many experiences I wish I had blogged more about. The table next to us being fascinated that Frank had teeth, because theirs had none. The fact that Frank smelled fine to me but bad to other people who weren’t working on him. All Frank’s strange little anatomical variations (which ones do I have that will likely never be known?). His surgeries that have left signs yet that we know little about.

I thoroughly enjoyed Anatomy lab, though by the end it had started to be a bit of a chore. Being in lab was almost always a great time but I did not enjoy the getting dressed before and after lab (I really wish the locker rooms had showers). I realize that surgery of some sort is still a distinct possibility for me. Though I have little interest in the lifestyle, I enjoy the hands on things and I had a wonderful time dissecting, and I am incredibly thankful for my three table mates (Table 18 forever! whoo!)  who were great to work with.

The Radiology component to our class was a nice touch, but I still currently have little interest in the field.  It is strange to think that for those who do not go into a surgical specialty, those kinds of images will be their only way of looking into their patients. And with lots of the laproscopic advances, many surgeons will only have a very small view too. We are moving toward a “less barbaric” approach to medicine again.

But as students, we still get to cut and prod and pick at and saw and hammer  human bodies. And that too may change.


Written by Aba

December 29, 2009 at 9:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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