Politics and Bags of Meat

Today was my first Gross Anatomy lab. When we entered the laboratory and the lab techs began to unwrap the bodies, I thought I might cry. There was something surreal about it; an odd atmosphere of anxiety and excitement. Our cadaver was an 87 year old male who’d died of congestive heart failure. Our task for the day was to dissect the muscles of his back.

We share our cadavers with other groups and the group who’d gotten first crack at ours had left him supine, abdomen open. I tried not to look at his face. We turned him over to do our initial palpations for the occipital protuberance, vertebra C7 (that’s the one you can feel sticking out of the back of your neck), the spinous processes of the spinal column, the sacrum and iliac crests. Then, we cut open his skin. I was a bit hesitant at first but by the time it was my turn to wield the scalpel, I was flaying flesh from subcutaneous fat like a pro. Scooping out orange chunks of adipose tissue, trying to separate deli-thin slices of muscle from fascia, I somehow shunted the part of my tender heart that was quietly grieving for the lives that had belonged to the bodies in our lab and focused on respecting them by making clean cuts and learning what I could. Once you’ve folded back half of the trapezius or run your finger along the iliocostalis, you’ll never forget where it is.

After changing out of my scrubs and taking some time to recalibrate, I returned to campus. A 3rd semester student started a conversation with me and I asked him for advice on how to keep afloat and do well. He mentioned a number of underground study aids – in-depth histology CDs, textbooks on pdf, etc. I asked how one could obtain these things and he let me in on a little secret – apparently at Ross, “it’s all about politics.” He said that when looking for help and support, one should look to people who “look like you”… I found something a bit fishy about that. But perhaps that is the way things actually work at Ross, and in the world at large…I’m kinda naive about these things. In any case, I smiled, thanked him for his advice and went on my way, promising to attend the BSA opening meeting. I’m not really keen on affinity groups but if it is all about connections and who you know, and if people want to help me for no reason other than shared ancestry, that’s fine with me. As long as they don’t expect me to talk a certain way, think a certain way, or adhere to a certain agenda because of it…

Explore posts in the same categories: 1st Semester, med school

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One Comment on “Politics and Bags of Meat”

  1. Gemma Says:

    Hi, Seabass and your blog!

    I’m glad you have one. I’m going to link to you, and I’m excited to be able to keep up on your adventuresome Ross updates!


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