I don’t know if I can cope with this.
For all the lecture we had beforehand – no hats, it’s a mark of respect, make sure you keep track of all parts of your cadaver, because they have to be returned to their families at the end of this year, fines for not bringing your lab coat or for putting your bag on the floor rather than on the hooks go to Macmillan Nursing, all of that – nothing prepares you for the actual fact of walking into that room. You’re distracted by the demonstrators talking and the queue for gloves and the sign-in sheet and all the rest of it – and then you suddenly realise that on those tables are people. People who until recently were alive.
I don’t know what they do to the cadavers to preserve them before we come in for our classes, but they look odd. Even if they looked less waxy and yellowed, it would still be a singularly strange experience, slowly taking them apart.
I don’t want to go into detail, it seems disrespectful to be talking about this and we’ve been told not to talk about what we do, not in public at least, and what is the internet if not massively public? Because if I’m loathe to talk about my friends from real life here on this blog, I surely have even less right to talk about someone who by definition has no voice or say in this.
I’m not comfortable with dissection classes at the moment. I’m learning a lot, that I do not disagree with, but I don’t feel comfortable with what we do. On a moral or on a literal level, although I can’t say why. It doesn’t repulse me – I am the least squeamish person ever, I don’t have a problem with the things we have to do in class, but I feel very, very uncomfortable about this having been actual person, with, as I believe, a soul, even if since I believe in the soul I do believe that soul is therefore Elsewhere in some way now, not resident in this body which is, after all, just a body. I mean, I suppose, that it upsets me rather than revolts me. It makes me sad for these people because, if they could have known what it would be like for their bodies to have been given to Science, would they have done it? I don’t know that I could, which is surely hypocritical in the extreme.
What I will say is, though, that I am learning a lot. And for that I am very grateful for this opportunity. There is no better way to learn anatomy, that I certainly agree with. I am grateful therefore to the people who gave their bodies for us to be able to learn this. I am grateful to the families of these people because I can’t imagine anything I’d like to happen less to someone I loved after they died.
So yes, here my honest feelings on the subject of what will be, I think, a quarter of my work this year. Or possibly an eighth – I don’t know what next semester holds in store yet.