Sunday, October 15, 2006

Top 10 list: Things you don't want to hear in the cadaver lab

Our group got a little carried away with our lab the other day, in a good way. Tasked to find the part where the thoracic duct drains into the bloodstream, as well as perhaps the vagus nerve and its branch the recurrent laryngeal nerve, instead of being one of the first groups done - our usual reputation - we chose to be thorough.
It was worth it, too. We learned so much. We impressed even the lab instructors. And we were really into it. So into it, in fact, that at the end of it, my lab partner told me he might have been a little too close to resting his chin on an exposed surface of the cadaver while peering in at the details of the mediastinum. So close, in fact, that the #2 on the list below was actually said to me. (I wish I could give him the coveted #1 spot...but you'll probably agree that the premier location has been rightfully assigned.)

And so, amidst this outstanding level of learning which will undoubtedly make us better clinicians due to our increased level of knowledge thanks to our body donor, was born the idea for the latest Top 10 list, Things You Don't Want to Hear in the Cadaver Lab. I encourage you to not read on should you be sensitive or assume that humour in the cadaver lab is unconditionally synonymous of a lack of respect. That being said, the list lies below, complete with colour commentary.

10. "Um, you got me in the eye with that splatter."
Actually heard.

9. "Um, you got me in the mouth with that splatter."
Actually heard. Not by me, fortunately. But it's a horror story that still looms from last year's class. Maybe I'll tell it in its entirety sometime.

8. "It happens."
The anatomy prof's actual response to a student uttering number 10 to him, said while he kept chiseling at the vertebrae without so much as looking up.

7. "Hey! That looks like pulled pork!"

Actually heard. I haven't eaten pulled pork...or spare ribs...since.

6. "OUCH"

Bad enough if it's a student saying this. The person who suggested this as an addition to this list, though, was thinking, 'what if the cadaver...' - - - nevermind. That being said, one person in my group did get the cadaver's hand caught in their lab coat last time...it was somewhat eerie how the cadaver apparently 'grabbed' her, with enough force to undo a button on her lab coat...

5. "Let me just tug a bit on this spermatic cord."

Actually heard. Fortunately, the prof was not referring to a body part other than the spermatic cord.

4. "This might make you a bit squeamish..."
Actually heard. The prof was right. Whenever the scalpel meanders over to the inguinal area, brace yourself.

3. While putting a foot into the body cavity: "I'm going to jump right in, swim down the aorta, and take a look. No, it's okay - I saw this on the Magic Schoolbus once."

This one didn't happen. Fortunately.

2. "Do I have a piece of pleura in my teeth?"
Actually heard.

1. "Grandma?!"
...upon removal of the bags on the cadaver's heads. I wouldn't wish this upon anyone.