Did you ever hydrate the living object which is at peace all the time and knows just to help ever. No problems, no worries, no emotions and nothing. Can it be you, me or any other human-being? Surely No. Hope you guessed right. It’s a Plant/Tree.
Now don’t think, here my subject of interest is nature. But proudly about the object which is dead for some reason or by natural cause that doesn’t matter. This object is also at peace always like a tree with no problems, no worries, no emotions. Unlike tree, it teaches us rather than helping blindly.
We call it by many names- dead body, corpse, cadaver, remains and so on. So today I’m talking about a Teacher who is lying on a table in supine position with no words to talk but just to teach us.
As I asked you in the beginning about hydration of living plants. Likewise, we also hydrate the dead body to protect it from decaying process known as Embalming. The process that includes drainage of blood from vessels, fluids and gas from body cavities. Then formaldehyde based chemicals like formalin and phenol are injected into the whole body through one of the major arteries like Carotid or Femoral artery .
Rushingly gathering all the energy inside, you step inside the dissection hall, you feel seriously horrible and terrible at the very first breath where formalin molecules are dispensed all over in the air. Your olfactory receptors being very sensitive to the very new stimulus just within seconds send impulse making the neurones fire rapidly and then your nose and throat starts burning and watering, also watery eyes, nausea, cough, wheeze all come together and feel like you are drowning in your own secretions. If you are aware of adaptation of olfactory receptors, you know what I am speaking next, that your sensitivity to formalin decreases as you repetitively and routinely visit dissection hall and is no more a thing to get worried about. So you are made to sit in front of the Cadaver doing nothing but just observing so that you can get adapted and adjusted to the new environment that’s going to last for a year .
After having a glance over all the cadavers interestingly, surprisingly and with enthusiasm you rationally think for a moment forgetting you have an identity but just made of flesh, muscles and skeleton. It’s an unusual scene till now but you become so unaware how it just fades as an unusual scene as days slip and turns out to be your routine .
Someone out there “we have big dead body on table Bro!!” in the hall.
HOD: Fool, from now, if I listen that word from you or anybody in this hall. I will throw you out of the hall. You are a medico not a layman. Learn to respect, it will teach you from now.
From then we never uttered dead body but as Cadaver(technically) and with much respect. We took a pledge too !!
We see different types of cadavers in the hall. One with heavily bloated abdomen, in this it takes more than a week just to dig and remove the fat out of it . Or one eye plucked and other eye wide open with tongue coming out, giving a scary look as in the horror movie. Or one with leg amputated and only one leg left for you to dissect. Or a Lean body of old woman showing off her ribs and facial bones as if she was diagnosed with severe malnutrition disease in her past life, a small prick or cut without a force in this cadaver will end up with a long and deep tear damaging all the structures all of sudden!. Or a body of young adult with well built stature and less fat is somewhat ideal cadaver in the hall which is a rare case scenario.
The type of cadaver you get will decide your sufferings in the hall. Commenting on the friends cadaver about its type and getting teased back on my own cadaver type, all this is fun and memorable. Every one of us has experienced these sufferings, making them into good memories of dissection hall.
We are group of 25 students for a table standing at one corner of dissection hall allotted with well bloated cadaver on it.For the first, standing in front of the Cadaver not even sure about the name of the instruments but strongly sure about the scalpel , so yeah, ready with a fresh sharp scalpel to slice open the complex human body with itself containing nearly 12 organ systems, 206 bones, 650 muscles with arteries, veins, nerves supplied and 75 trillion parts called cells all neatly packed beneath the skin . That’s incredibly fantastic right? Between this your body secretes the fear hormone – adrenaline but you successfully suppress the hormone by strongly convincing yourself, hey !, come on, don’t fear, it’s not alive if by chance you make a mistake. Not a crime!.
In the beginning days, I felt sad for the cadaver when all 25 enthusiastic medicos attack cadaver with scalpel at once and rest yourself imagine the fate of stuctures at the end of the class. For some tables lecturers hardly visit to teach and we never open the Grey’s anatomy before entering the hall. There are some students in each table having read all the lines of Grey’s anatomy and answering all the questions of lectures but still can’t find the structures. Do you feel the pain and frustration of those guys?? May cadaver help them !!!
I said it is just like a tree.For a reason, when you cut any part of the cadaver to learn, it doesn’t care about you at all. It just keeps teaching you.Similarly, as when you pluck the flower of the plant or cut the branches of tree for your benefits. They just sacrifice their belongings to us without any emotions or memories to hold on. This is why we respect the trees and so we should do the same with cadaver.
Speaking truly and shamefully. One fine day, It was my turn of dissecting the cadaver and my reading friends were absent on the same day. No one to help me. Just 4 to 5 tablemates standing and watching me. I started dissecting the posterior compartment of leg. After one hour, I discovered a new nerve supplying posterior muscles of leg strangely which is not mentioned even in the Grey’s anatomy. I myself felt proud on discovering a new structure in this young age. In the same excitation, suddenly rushed to my mentor and brought her to show my discovery without even reading a book for one last time.
I : Mam, look at this nerve. It supplies to posterior muscles of leg. I have found it and it is not mentioned in books.
Mam : Ahh, Is it ? Great then,very good. (Praising me)
I : Thanks mam.
Mam : But have you read the book properly before dissecting.
I : Yeah, mam.
Mam : Ok. Read once about posterior compartment again infront of me.
I: Ok mam. It goes like this
” The plantaris is one of the superficial muscles of the posterior compartment of leg. It is composed of a thin muscle belly and a long thin tendon. And often MISTAKEN for a nerve by new medical students, thus called as Freshman’s nerve OR also Fool’s nerve”.
That’s it, I got fooled by the cadaver.
Mam : Did you discover anything which I have never seen in the cadaver in my entire career?
I : Sorry, mam.
Mam : This is the reason we tell you to read and come before dissecting the body.
I was left with no words to speak. That day I realised the impact of not reading before entering the hall.
One of my friends roaming around other tables as if he went to gain some knowledge by other cadavers but in actual he went in search of his dopamine and oxytocin source thats his love.They never meet or talk in the hall but both watch themselves in the class without letting others to know. He felt upset when she bunks the class, he felt energetic when she visits his table surprisingly, well you know the power of hormones . Like this they get rid of boredom in the class.
Coming to the Anti-boredom topics, lecturer shouting at one end of the table for disturbing the stuctures in cadaver. Me and my friends on the other end discussing about new episode of GOT(Game of Thrones) and many more web series, about cricket scores, about new smartphone in sale, about new pictures posted by seniors and confessions posted by unknown in Instagram.
All of this just to pass the time and ignore the lecture. Then the professor scolds for not getting anything right at the right site and leaves.
Our brains get super, super excited, curious and enthusiastic to know about its own ever incredible structures and functions, where still some of its things are mysterious. And so I love brain very much just as much as you love your boyfriend or girlfriend.
And that is the day for dissection of the most superior complex organ, the CPU of human being .
I really, really believe and assure that, we can ever be aware and understand the delicate, ultimate importance of the anatomy of any organ, likewise the brain until you get screwed up by your boss in the future just because a patient of yours failed to speak only because you damaged that area responsible for speech – the Broca’s area, while you were successful in removing the tumor which was located near. And not aware of these, here we are trying to open up the skull with a hammer and chisel while the whole hall getting echoed by that sound of drill or hammering. It’s like we all are working on a dam strong stone not supporting our art on it. Sometimes this energy consuming work is for boys in the group, naturally because they are well built than girls .
After all this very hard work ,here we are in side of skull, watching the most awaited organ resting on base of the skull. Getting isolated the brain completely from skull by separating it at the brain stem, now people around turn a bit cold, for everyone’s wish to hold the brain first.
Ultimately that moment, you holding approximately 1.3 kg, which is mostly made of water and grey matter looking like a ball of cauliflower and what makes you even more exciting is that ,if you know that this is that organ which is responsible for remembering this very precious moment by creating a particular synaptic connection and every time you remember this, the same synaptic connection fires again making the same memory into subconscious level.
And I always get confused when people say,’ my heart rate raises when I see her’, ‘your are in my heart’, ‘my heart beats for you’ and the ‘same breaks when she leave’. All these imaginary poetry feels bullshit when you really know the physiological functions of heart and brain. Heart is just a poor pumping organ which is unaware of what these people think and make conclusions of it. On other side of same scene, most important organ responsible for all these emotions, feelings, solutions for your problems, hormones producing dramatic changes in the body, are all by the Brain. And talking about the heartbeat raising situation, when you see something which you like the most, brain releases a endorphin(feel-good hormone), adrenaline, serotonin, all these together act on your heart to increase its pace, pupils dilate, you sweat too in anxious moments. Brain is an important organ responsible for all your daily routines, chores, and stuff like feelings, emotions etc. So nurture it with good things, protect it and feel proud of it.
And final part of that day is the photo shoot with the incredible brain, the satisfaction of holding it in the hand is unimaginable, feeling worthy of getting criticised by lectures.And next day uploading the photos in the social media just to impress and shock the non Medico friends.
These were some unheard, fun packed incidents. Blaming a friend for his typical dissecting style but bunking the class when its my turn to dissect. We gained lot of basic knowledge from a cadaver that is cardinal importance in our future medicine life.
On the serious note,
After death practically unknown people do remember and remain very thankful to the dead person in their whole life . How good is that, but how?
Yeah, it is possible and anyone could choose to be that person by donating his healthy, precious, valuable organs after death .The person prior to death who was a donor voluntarily or even had genuinely expressed his willingness to be a donor to his well wishers around, who could give the consent after him or her .It’s unexplainable how his or her organs could help people out in the world that can totally change their future life in whatever circumstances they are suffering from and I always believe it is never less than a privilege to be a donor.
Secondly but never less than an organ donor, the person who was unaware about the essence of science behind human body in his or her lifetime unless the person was aware or a doctor . But now has made himself the science which is of utmost importance ,very considerable and very useful as much as it could be even after had suffered from any known chronic pathological conditions except some. All because the person or his people chose to donate the body for medical study . The cadaver which will be dissected to it’s core and studied and at last not even a cadaver but even then it doesn’t fail to teach us and also sometimes as our friend by it’s hard, solid, beautiful skeleton and bones which gets to play, sleep and study along with us .How rational and thoughtful is that right .? So instead of graving, burying or cremating the corpse which is gonna decompose in few days after done and phisiologically it’s a waste , rather choose to be a donor may it be organs or the whole body to the field of medicine which is so important. This is also our responsibility to create awareness in the family first and also in society of the same.If not we, then who will?
Keep in touch to the about beauty of medicine and life of medicos. Share your favourite incident of dissection hall in below comment section. Stay safe.
Signing off BEING MEDICO