Home | Posts RSS | Comments RSS | Login

Mar 1, 2008

Holy Autopsy, Batman

This morning, I observed two autopsies. It was among the most amazing, gruesome, exhausting, and interesting things I have ever done. I won't go into much detail out of respect for the patients (and also because I haven't found sufficient words quite yet), but I will say that I am incredibly impressed at what forensic pathologists do and also that I have crossed it off of my list of things that I could or would ever do with my life.

First of all, we met there at 7:30. In the morning. And it was an hour away. This is not a great way to lure me into the world of pathology, as I do not appreciate getting up at 5:45am. Also, those folks are... well... they're just a little off. They have to be, I think. No totally normal and well-adjusted person could see and do what they see and do every day and be able to cope with it. For example, at one point we were moving the two patients from the Cold Storage room into the Autopsy Room and THE DOOR CLOSED. Suddenly we were LOCKED IN A MEAT FREEZER WITH DEAD PEOPLE. I had an internal meltdown, and initiated yoga breathing to keep myself from allowing the meltdown to become visible to everyone. The pathologist calmly says, "Whoops! Wouldn't want to get locked in here! It's cold!" and walks out whistling. I almost passed out.

Or when there was some suspicion about the cause of death of one of the patients. The pathologist and her tech were always respectful of the patient, but there were endless jokes about the spouse and how much insurance money was riding on their diagnosis of cause of death.

Some people are just a little different. And thank goodness for it, too. If anyone like me ever had to do that job, the psych department would have the cushy corner offices and have wards full of us, tearing at our hair and making inappropriate comments about people's wives.

(If you're really interested in this particular topic, or are in the medical profession and are really dreading this particular experience, email me and I can tell you more. I just kinda think that's enough for the wider audience.)

4 Readers rock!:

marymartha said...

Um, ok, I am one of the weird people who want to know more. I at one point wanted to become a forensic pathologist, but I couldn't get past the bugs...
(BTW my best friend growing up was the the undertaker's daughter, that could explain a lot!!!)

Katie! said...

I wrote you an email - let me know if you don't get it!

Alykat said...

I would think it was cool... as long as I heard about it, and didn't get locked in the freezer with the body! Eak!

The Shrink said...

I've no problem being at post mortems but, as you say, the mortuary staff there are always a little odd. All those I've met have been more grounded than most folk, seeing harsh reality, but have a bizarre sense of humour to cope with it.

It's the stench of them that I couldn't endure, day in day out, that sticks cloyingly to everything, clothes included.