Thursday, July 20

Tidying frenzy down the drain (and some gory med stuff)

SOLD. Today, it seems we sold our house. This is good because of all the bridging finance blah blah blah (I don't pay attention to these money matters!) although it did go for less than intended by a fair bit. But it was a cash offer and its now whereas it could take months for something else to come along. The family who bought it were really keen but just couldn't go up another inch - so I think we're all happy about it. Mostly!!! Its still kinda wierd, but I think it will feel like that until the day I go - and probably after that when 'home' is to another house. But still, its exciting. A new phase of life in a new house, with a slightly different arrangement of people - and room for extras! And there's no argument that it will be convenient to live near town for clinical school stuff, and just to be close to things - docks, aquatics centre, domain, town, not far to north hobart, salamanca or anywhere really. Even back to Kingston to visit won't be far not that I'll have a house there.. but other people I know will still live there. And I'll still go to Margate Church so I can still be part of down there in some ways!

So... now we have a 90 day settlement on the house during which there is a lot of packing up to do. But its not as daunting as when we thought it was 30 days.. it was looking bad!

Today's other news is that I've done my first few hours of cadaver dissection. I won't say much on here anyway because somepeople might prefer not to read it. But because I can, I'll make a few comments - so if you're squeamish don't read the next part of this post :)

Cadaver dissection details further down... if you're game!

Our cadaver on table C is an elderly male chap. It seems that Tassie doesn't have enough cadavers of its own so it imports some from South Australia. This is all well and good, although SA needed some heads to use for surgical training. As a consequence, 4 of the cadavers our class is using have their head and necks removed. I wasn't game to look under the rags covering that area yesterday, but I peaked today. I could see the bones and trachea and oesophagus, neck... arms... all there! (windpipe, food tube etc.. gosh - i've almost forgotten their colloquial names!!). The Tasmanian bodies only have 1/4 of their heads as the 3rd years already dissected those!

Meanwhile, today we began with the lower limb - in particular the thigh. We slit the skin and began to separate it along the 'fascia' - junction between skin + fat and the covering of the muscle. It was kinda amazing and kinda gross and smelly, and exciting all at once. The gross bits were mostly when you got collections of liquid - just water fermaldehyde and ethanol or something but it collected in the skin and dripped out! Also some collections of fat were really yellow and some were orange and they were kinda gross. But mostly he's quite a slim chap. The hands and feet are particularly yellow. We noticed some little holes in his feet - apparently feet are hard to embalm, so they must have injected the embalming liquid into the sole of his feet plus into each toe!! By the end of our afternoon work we had removed the skin in 2 strips from the upwards facing parts between the hip and just below the knee, exposing the muscles and parts of bone in the knee. Interesting!!

On the emotional side... I want to remember that he was a person who lived, and had family and interests and aspirations, but at the same time chose to donate his body for the education of others (ME!). Whilst it is confronting, it was not as bad as I thought to see him lying there. Its a body, but it looks like plasticene or something - not like someone who could be sleeping or just died. The embalming process causes it to take on about 30k of fluid which I guess changes the look of the body as well as causing it to be much yellower. And then today when it was time to cut I tried not to think about anything else apart from the section I was looking at. Working gently, the scalpel smoothly cut through skin. We started pulling back the skin with some hesitation - unused to our dissection tools and the tissues themselves. After a short amount of time I was relatively happy peeling back the layers to find the muscles attached to the knee. We found some nerves and blood vessels too. I don't think we cut through too many things that we weren't supposed to!

It is an amazing thing to let your body be cut up and studied. I'm not sure if I would be brave enough. But perhaps when one day I decide my organs are no longer worth donating, my body could be useful instead...