No but really, I did. And it was one of the most humbling experiences of my life. In all my 21 years of life, nothing could have prepared me for this moment. I’ll try my best not to tear up thinking about it, but I guess it doesn’t really matter if I do since you can’t see my face.
Today we met our cadavers (aka dead human bodies) for anatomy lab. Over the next couple months, we’ll be cutting, tearing, and digging into these bodies for the sake of our medical education. And the thought of it, at first, was incredibly exciting and anxiety-provoking. Many people don’t get the opportunity to experience the art that is the human body from the inside out—literally. But the thought of it and the reality of it were two completely different things.
Seeing the body bag unzip and uncovering the flesh of what once was a breathing, moving being full of memories, fears, and dreams immediately struck my heart. I began trying to piece together a story behind the mass of flesh, bone and blood. Knowing that this patient was once someone’s lover, provider, and friend was a lot for me to take in. Realizing that one day some time ago, he was like me; and that one day years from now, I’ll be like him rendered me..speechless, for lack of a better word. On top of that the equally disturbing smell of formaldehyde didn’t make the experience any easier, but I took a second to pray in that moment. I prayed that whoever this was, that his soul would be pleased in the way we would handle his physical remains; that we would do so with the utmost respect, modesty, and gratitude. I thanked God and this patient’s soul for the chance to learn and grow through this experience. I thanked his family for the donation to the scientific community. And I made a silent vow to never take this for granted, no matter how exhausted or stressed out I get from the sleepless nights to come. I’ve learned already that it’s so easy to get caught up in the science of it all that the human element is forgotten about. And when I feel myself slipping down this slope, I will look back on this post and remember how it felt to see, and touch, my first patient.
And so, in a nutshell, my Friday was rather emotional to say the least. (If you haven’t learned already, I’m a pretty sentimental person although I don’t show it much lol). Things like this will knock anybody back down to size, that’s for sure.
Thank you all for allowing me to share the beautiful, painful, and humbling parts of this journey I’ve just begun.
Peace and love (& souls & bodies & gratitude),
“The I.T. Factor”