Thursday, May 24, 2007

I Hate Thursdays

"These lecturers must know how to bend time or something. I swear that the last ten minutes felt like a whole hour. Come - let's grade all them on a scale of 10 by how much they can slow time down. Dr. Yoga from Forensics would be 1, because time goes by pretty quick when he's in class. Dr. Surekha from Physiology would be a 10 - that woman can practically stop time, I tell you."

Me to Shaki, last Thursday

Every Thursday, lectures start at 8.00 am instead of at the usual, comfortable 9.00 am we enjoy on the other weekdays (Fridays don't count because the lunch period starts at 11.30 am instead of 12.30). Plus, there's a Pharmacology SDL presentation class after lunch at 2.00 pm (which I usually have to prepare for by skipping lunch because I'm just too bloody lazy to do it the night before).

Today was particularly sluggish because half the time in the lectures, I have to struggle to stay awake (I spent the other half of the time sleeping). Had a couple of bad dreams the night before. Don't wanna talk about them.

So, I when Shaki told me that SDL was canceled today, I was so overjoyed that I actually spent the whole Pharmacology lecture (which replaced the SDL) paying my full, unwavering attention to Dr. Yeshwanth Rao while he gave a long, meandering talk on immunosuppressive drugs.

But I did skip lunch anyway to grab a short nap. So when I saw this, my stomach growled audibly, beseeching me, its master, to feed it;

No, it wasn't the cow that made me hungry. Look closer;

Nope, it wasn't these two heifers either. Closer still;

There! The Pearly Gates are painted blue and red.

A while ago, Domino's expanded and opened an outlet just two minutes' walk away from my place in Acharya Compound. They must have heard that Sir 'Scarf-a-lot' Kok1 have just moved into the neighbourhood.

Why are all the powers in the cosmos aligned against my fitness and diet plan?

My resolutions crumbled like a pathetic house of cards (no surprise there) and I bought myself a personal combo; two personal pan pizzas, cheesy garlic bread and a bottle of coke. Why on God's green earth is there two personal pan pizzas in a one-person combo? I didn't dwell long on that particular philosophical question though - I simply can't think straight when I'm starving.

As soon as I stepped into Acharya Compound, guilt gripped me. I suddenly decided that two personal pizzas were simply too many. I spotted Lai Yin and I wondered if she could take one off my hand.

"Hey, Lai..."

"Hey Kok! Autopsy. Over at the mortuary now. Wanna come?" she said, cutting me short.

"I... err..." I began lamely, pointing at the big plastic full of obesity delights I was carrying.

"No time. Leave them in my house first," said Lai Yin.

I obeyed and immediately hopped into an auto with Lai Yin and Nina (haha, going to an autopsy in an auto). As required by my course, I must witness four autopsies at least in my second year in medical school. Most of my batchmates have already seen one while I've seen zilch (they couldn't wake me up on the Saturday they went). Guess, I didn't really have a choice since I was already behind schedule anyway.

The wait.

A whole crowd of people were already there when we arrived.

Only in medical school would you get to see so many happy, excited faces on people who are about to watch fresh corpses being hacked apart. I got a feeling we are all going to hell.

Warning: Potentially disturbing images ahead

Yeap, I'm only showing you the disturbing ones. I'm keeping the really grisly, visceral, insanely gory pictures for myself.

on the table
On the table.

The guy we're "doing" this afternoon was a 39 years old, 71 kg2, Indian man who was admitted into the hospital 6 days ago. Apparently, he lost control of his motorcycle, hit his head on the asphalt and didn't regain consciousness since. He died in the ICU this morning. Let's call him Joe, okay?

For those that harbour illusions that death is a solemn (and possibly even a beautiful) thing; boy, do I have news for you. Here's basically what Joe went through after he had given up the ghost3;
  1. Joe was stripped and photographed.
  2. He was cut open from his chin till the root of his penis and opened up like a sports bag.
  3. His tongue was cut from the floor of his mouth while his rectum was tied off and was severed from his anus (tied off to prevent his "last meal" from spilling out). Then, all of his innards (between the tongue and the rectum) were hoisted out and dumped at his feet like some macabre ceremonial garland, leaving behind an empty shell.
  4. Every organ (heart, liver, lungs, spleen, kidney - everything) was harvested from that 'garland', individually weighed and sliced apart like cuts of meat so the coroner(s) can see how they looked like inside.
  5. His scalp was sliced from ear to ear, flipped, and draped over his face like a ski-mask.
  6. His skull cap was removed using a saw, a hammer and a chisel.
  7. His brain was dislodged and was sliced from several different angles.
  8. After the coroner(s) were satisfied, all the bloody, minced visceral organs were stuffed back into Joe's chest and abdominal cavities. Joe's colons are now at where his heart and lungs used to be. And yeah, his diced brain was stuffed into the chest too. The coroner managed to herd everything back in by using Joe's own breastbone like a prod before finally tossing that in as well and sewing him up again. The skull cap was replaced and the scalp was sutured (but now, Joe's head is literally full of air).
  9. All this happened in front of a whole class of eager medical students who looked on with morbid fascination.
So, where was I? Oh yeah, death sucks.

Turns out what probably killed Joe was blunt force trauma to the left temporal region of his head. A straight 6cm fracture was discovered there and underneath it was a pretty mushed up temporal lobe of his brain. Both subdural and subarachnoid hemorrhages were evident.

Now listen here;

Joe's did not hit a car or a bus or a truck or anything. There were practically no other injuries elsewhere on his body. He merely fell off his bike and hit his head on the ground. Had he been wearing a helmet that day six days ago, he could have picked himself up, dusted himself off, and rode home.

No amount of gore can disturb me more than that.

The weighing machine used to weigh Joe's organs.

This was a whole different experience compared to the Anatomy dissection classes I had last year. The bodies we used in those have already been pickled for years in formaldehyde and their blood had long been drained. They looked just like - well - really, really dead people.

In an autopsy, the guy lying on the table in front looked no different than if he was just having a peaceful, quiet, afternoon nap - while we play butcher on him. Looking at Joe's face, it really wasn't that hard at all to imagine him opening his eyes, putting on a pair of pants, and walking out of the mortuary whistling the latest Bollywood ditty.

You may find my narrative callous and unfeeling (It's a fucking human being you insensitive bastard!). Trust me when I say that we would have all gone mad if we weren't so hardened up inside4. It's necessary for us to lose a bit of humanity for this job. Is it too big a price to pay? Does any of us even realise that we are paying it?

There was also another autopsy (on a suspected case of organophosphate - an insecticide - poisoning) on a 52 years old, 75 kg, Indian male. Boring case. Shan't waste your time talking about that.

I reached home at about three-quarters past five. As expected, my pizzas were already cold and the Coke was warm.

I ate both the pies. I finished the garlic bread as well.

Damn, I was famished.

And I still hate Thursdays.

P.S. If you don't like my dumbed down account, try - kye -'s slightly more technical report on the autopsies. He even covered the organophosphate poisoning guy.

Not quite human anymore,
k0k s3n w4i

1 Other nicknames include, Fat-ass (Shaki), Mr. You'll-die-of-heart-attack-at-30 (Shaki again), Free Willy (Yeap, same idiot), and You-make-me-look-thinner (ex-girlfriend).
2 Ironically, though he was bigger than me, I was the heavier one.
3 Autopsies are done in unnatural deaths. Live well, die old - capiche?
4 In fact, the Associate Professor of Forensic Medicine, one Dr. Vikram Palimar (excellent chap, by the way), was talking to the pair of coroners about some restaurant or canteen that one of them wanted to try out. Over Joe's dead body. Literally.


- Kye - said...

Haha, how come I look like I'm giving some romantic speech in that pic?

pinksterz said...

i, feeling responsible as the goddess of evil, suggest you to post more extra disturbing pictures. the pictures are just so 'normal'.

why not next time you video the whole process and put it in your blog? for less fortunate medic student like me? *cough*

and we'll see who gonna be 'yewwwwwwww, that gross! kok's so gross and inhumane to post something like this on his blog!' :P

ps:and this is for previous post, (as i am surfing on 31.2kbps. loading this comment box took ages)

is that the logo for the t shirt?

AhPau said...

more pics!!! Eee...I've never seen an autopsy before! All I ever saw was the same boring few-years-old stinky cadavers in formalin at the anatomy department. Sien~

bubbly soda said...

Actually, I think death is beautiful. The autopsy might not be, but still the intention is. Isn't it? You won't be in hell for the core of good purpose.

I have signed up to be a full organ donor. So I can imagine myself being sliced all over. Leaving the dead Melly organless, tissue-less and boneless? lol!

michellesy the inured to death said...

I'm not so chock-ful of humanity myself - three years of anatomy will do that to you.

Mind you, we did get pretty chummy with our very own cadaver.

May I present to you.....GRANNY.

We loved her, yes we did. We gave her some good ole dissection lovin' for an entire semester.

That is, until Granny had a run-in with a particularly virulent strain of fungus/ mold - I am hazy about the specifics).

Said microorganism seemed to thrive (literally) on her, despite the formaldehyde she had been steeped in for a good six months.

So it was Goodbye Granny as she was whisked away for another series of preservatives baths.

In effect poor Granny died twice. Once in truth, and once after death.

ps: I've been splashed in the face with what we called 'organ juice' when my lab partner accidentally plopped Granny's spleen back in the thoracic compartment a little too enthusiastically.

All I can say is:
1. Don't try this at home
2. Yay for goggles!

michellesy said...

ps: Yay for helmets too, definitely yay. Poor guy.

pps: Love the sneaky placement of your urls - I LUV KOK BLOG LOL!

ppps: Are the powers that be OK with students taking photos in the dissection lab? Cos my uni expelled a student who did. And took them to court.

k0k s3n w4i said...

@- kye -
Ya hor... I go tell Nina's boyfriend you're hitting on her.

The other pics will make you faint. Don't show off lar. I know you'll get queasy mia.
And the logo? Yeap.

Think it's easy enough for you to get autopsy pictures if you run a search for them in Google. Good luck!

Look at the comments of the two girls before yours. You sure we aren't eternally damned?
And you're an angel for wanting to donate your organs. I'm still thinking about it.

Our table cadaver was called George. He had been floating around in the formalin tank for years I think.
Granny's pretty fresh - 6 months.
P.S. you ought to check out the friendster accounts of some of me med school mates. plus, there was a loophole in the rules. Cameraphones are banned but naught was said about cameras. and I was in the mortuary, not in the dissection hall.

michelleg said...

that guy definitely had his middle meningeal artery torn. haha..

so sad lar, never seen a dead body in my life before! not even a cadaver.. ARGH!!!

michellesy who used to smell of formaldehyde 3 X a week said...

Ah, loopholes, the stuff of life.

I think my university's policy on cadavers and their management has not the slightest bit of wriggle room though.

Hence the anatomy honours year student landing in jail for a healthy stint of several months.

ps: Yeah, Granny does sound pretty fresh after hearing about George. We generally have our cadavers for a year before they are cremated and a thanksgiving ceremony held to give some closure to the family though.

pps: Of course you're not eternally damned. The advancement of science has always necessitated the sacrifice of the truly noble (in this case those who decided to donate their body to the cadaver program at my uni). Although I doubt Joe consented to be mangled the way he did 0_o But then mortuary vs dissection room, that is like comparing oranges to apples I suppose.

Jen said...

that was so disgustingly cool!! i'd probably go all kamikaze and start hacking away at Joe (especially since i've still got the images of "the hills have eyes 3" in my head).

i died (you gotta love them puns) laughing at #8.

you guys look like you're waiting to get into a restaurant or something. i half expected to see a glass of champagne and bread rolls by the table.

Michelle Chin said...

Oh my god. After thousand years, this thing has finally loaded!
1515 sucked to the max. =(
I hate Thursdays too. Double Physics, double chemistry, double biology!
And not to mention, double add maths too.

k0k s3n w4i said...

Wow, you have learned well. Haha. Yea, it was most probably the middle meningeal. Why dun you go to ur Dean, bully him into writing a letter for you so you can go watch an autopsy in a hospital or something?

Granny voluntarily gave her body to medicine then? Wow. All our dudes are unclaimed bodies. I think(?) they do get buried eventually but in pieces.
We are damned because we took happiness from the misery and demise of others. schadenfreude. we can study, but we shouldn't be so ecstatic about it.

We are all thankful that Jen Lecter isn't in medicine (wait, are you?).

@michelle chin
LoL... never had much problem with the comment board myself. there's always the k0k b0ks, y'know.
I liked Ad Maths and Bio when I was in secondary school. But yea, physics and chem stinks. Welcome aboard fellow Thursday Hater!

michelleg said...

actually there was once we went to UKM to look at their cadavers but UNFORTUNATELY the day i was there, they had to use the room for something else. -____-lll din get to see any.

have to know all my stuff, finals in one months time.. *faints*

sXydeViL said...

Dude, arent u NOT suppose to take pics in the mortuary???

Hor hor,(with index finger moving in a conviction manner) i go tell Dr. Yoga...


k0k s3n w4i said...

G'luck for your finals then (but I'm sure you'll ace it anyway). Post lots of pics of New Zealand when you get there - you know how I love that place.

I'm not the first - and definitely aren't going to be the last. And if you go to Yoga, you're not getting the gun shirt :p

michellesy said...

Ah, I see *frowns*

I had no idea they bodies were not voluntarily donated. It certainly puts a different spin on things.

Schadenfraude indeed....hmmm......

I could hardly imagine anyone being gripped in the throes of ecstasy while watching some poor guy's innards being un-put then put-together though 0_o