Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Body rap

First day of anatomy lab today. First we got our bone sets - half of a body, plus the skull. I was forced to admit that I don't know the names of most of the bones during checkin, but I got some help, and I don't think I'm likely to forget them after this summer. I dropped the skullcap on a dissecting table, and one of the TAs said, "if you had to drop one, that would be the best." The bone was undamaged.

After the bones, we had a quick ceremony to honor the deceased, then wrapped the bodies. First the TAs showed us how. They just unzipped the body bag that it came in, and here was this naked guy, his hands and ankles tied with coarse rope. They lifted the body, whipped out the old bag, and brought in the new one. They didn't give any indication that the body was fragile, or something that could be broken - they moved it around as you would a living body, yet when I tried to splay the fingers on our dead woman, they were stiff.

To keep the bodies from decomposing, we wrap them in a rags (actually cut bits of sheets) that are dipped in phenol. Phenol doesn't smell as bad as formaldehyde, but it still gives you that smell of death. I've taken up swimming in hopes that the chlorine will either react away or cover the phenol. Phenol, by the way, is a local anesthetic that also causes irritation - i.e. it deadens the skin, then messes it up.

After class I went back to the lab and got out my bones - we have reading this week on anatomy of the upper extremety (what normal human beings might refer to as 'the arm'). I figured it would be helpful to have the physical bones in front of me while the textbook talked about them. I was amazed at how the bones articulated... by this I mean, I was surprised at how closely they fit together. Somehow, I had it in my mind that the joints would be large, fluidy things, and thus the marriage between two bones would be more a function of connective tissue, rather than physical connection. This is not the case.

I feel like I should be diving into the more researchy stuff, or getting into some kind of social thing, but I keep telling myself I don't know how busy I will be...

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