A memory from M1:
It’s here, it’s finally time, my unofficial induction, my right of passage in medical school: gross anatomy. Yes! I’m excited! Am I excited? No, I don’t think I am. I think I’m nervous. Not just nervous, worried, plum terrified. Have I mentioned I have a deep-seated fear of corpses, a full-fledged necrophobia, originating from seeing my grandfather in his open casket when I was 13. I almost fainted then; my cousin had to escort me to my seat. So that’s it then, I’m going to faint, yup, I’m going to faint in front of all these people I’ve known for only a month.
I’m in the cadaver lab, how did I get here? This is all happening so fast. It’s really cold in here, and what’s that smell? I’ll just stand against this wall and no one will notice the blood rushing out of my face and my knees buckling. Do you realize you’re standing in a room with over 30 corpses!? Oh no, they’re pulling down the cold, metal doors that encapsulate each body. They’re covered in white sheets, whose idea was this? I’m standing in a room with over 30 ghosts! Pull yourself together man! You can do this, you have to do this. But you don’t have to help dissect today, you don’t have to touch anything today, or tomorrow, or the next day, that’s okay.
You’re almost done now, you made it. You soldiered through the weeks of the sights, the smells, the sounds, the juices that are gross anatomy. You even came in after hours and dissected the foot a little bit. Then you found some courage the day your team was down to just three members and you were forced to get your hands dirty for the sake of time management. I’m a big girl now! I lived courageously through all the horrid things they make you do in this lab. I was there and kept my breakfast down when they pulled out the spine, broke the ribs, halved the pelvis to flat out remove a lower limb, and removed the top half of the skull to pull out the brain. There was even a moment when I was awed and not thoroughly disgusted at my cadaver. His intestines were so brightly colored and beautiful we respectfully dubbed him the Netter body as it reminded us of the gorgeous, albeit inhumanly perfect, anatomical drawings of the infamous Dr. Frank Netter.
Today, I’m happy, today I’m helping to dissect and one of my favorite instructors is coming over. This instructor always leaves us with some ancient Chinese or Native American proverb. He’s gesturing wildly as he lays his wisdom before us and knocks the dissecting table. The damp rags wrapped around our cadaver’s head come loose and in slow, horribly slow motion the skull cap falls to the floor. I watch with wide, wild eyes as the inevitable occurs. The brain tumbles free from the poorly reconstructed chamber of the elevated head, hits the table, bounces morbidly into the air and free falls to the floor. It hits with a squishy thud and, as if to purposely prolong this horrid trauma, bounces air born once more to hit the floor with another, more terrible, squishier thud. It lolls around for what seems minutes and finally comes to a stop. There’s a pause. “I need a breather!” I announce to my team and hurriedly, clumsily pull the dissecting scissors from my fingers, thrust them at the dissecting table, and as quickly as possible fast walk to the hallway.
Okay, you’re okay, just walk around, walk it off, walk it off. Get a sip of water, that’s good, that helps, walk it off, walk it off. Woman, are those tears in your eyes? Are you crying? There’s no crying in baseball! Sit down, get back up again, walk it off. You’re fine. You’re okay. Let me tell you something. The world ain’t always sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. Thanks Rocky.