I Thought I was Done with Bodies

I thought I was done. I thought it was a one-and-done sort of deal. I was wrong.


At one point, I thought that just maybe I might be interested in Forensic Pathology. How cool would it be to get to the bottom of why someone died, so that you could help grieving families by coming to a firm answer for their loved one’s death? Maybe I had watched too much Dr. G: Medical Examiner.

While taking Gross Anatomy, those thoughts quickly dissipated. I had really looked forward to dissecting before actually having to do it, because I knew the experience would be so special, learning from the ultimate teacher. What I didn’t expect from that experience, however, was that I would be so turned off by the things that my own two hands had to do to another person, even if he or she was not living. I don’t know how many times I apologized to my donor for the things my hands were about to do. If I didn’t have the exception that came along with the title of “medical student”, the things that I was required to do in order to learn would have been considered a felony. The amount of responsibility and trust was not lost on me. When I left the Gross Anatomy lab on that final day, I thanked our donor one last time, threw away my greasy gloves, and walked out the door without looking back. I was done. I had passed that rite of passage of becoming a doctor and I was relieved that I never had to do that again. We had also had a Fresh Tissue lab, and I was so glad I never had to go into those doors ever again. I treasure the gift the donors made, but I do not want to be the one whose hands have to do those things.

However… now that we are in Pathology and Pathophysiology, one of our required assignments is to view an autopsy. As soon as I saw that written into our syllabus, my stomach turned. I understand the importance of autopsies and the answers they can give to families and the wealth of knowledge that I can learn from watching a real one in person, but I am not particularly looking forward to it. (To think I used to watch Dr. G while eating dinner…) I am glad that I am not the one performing the autopsy, but I am also looking forward to checking off that requirement and moving on. My date to check with the office is fast approaching. I am not sure how I will handle it when the time comes.


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