Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My trip to the "C" lab

Okay, I just need to get some stuff off of my chest, out of my head and away from my nose. I'm not sure how this is going to come across or sound and I may need to edit it later...but for now, here goes.

Today I accompanied 30 Monroe high students to a cadaver lab at a teaching hospital in Toledo, Ohio. As a counseling intern, I made myself available to the career counselor at the school. The group was made up of young women interested in a career in the health/medical field.
Oh man, was that a mistake or what?
To say it was horrifying doesn't quite cover it. I'm not weak-stomached and I didn't get queesy. And yet, I can't quite explain how heart-wrenching and unsettling it was to see this room full of bodies.

All of these bodies breathed in oxygen, ate, drank, pooped, loved, made love, ran, climbed, worked, sang, read, wrote, hurt, caused pain, gave birth, comforted, learned, forgot, prayed, ignored and experienced a hundred million other things.

But, in death, in physical death at least, you are nothing more than a set of organs-- sometimes prized by med students eager to disect your guts and find your orbital lobe and ductus differens. Granted, most bodies do not get 'donated to science' but instead are either buried immediately or cremated.

In no way, shape or form was I inspired by this experience. Did seeing a badly deteriorated lung want me to take up running again or did the sagging stomach make me glad I make sit-ups a regular part of my life? No, not really.

What it did say to me is that we spend so much time taking care of our bodies, our exteriors that sometimes we think that that is all that matters or all that people see. But in the end, we aren't any different than any other 'body'. We have the same parts; some bigger some smaller than others. We aren't going to be prized for having a perfect spleen at the time of death.

All of these 'bodies' left behind a memory, a story, a family, friends, traditions, beliefs and hopes. That is so much more than a 2nd year med student could ever uncover. What they do is valuable and meaningful, for sure, but it isn't what gives life meaning or value.

It felt good to get some of this off of my formaldahyde-infused clothes and into the cyber world. I hope that I have good dreams.
I hope that you do, too.

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