Tuesday, September 18, 2012

You Are Stronger Than You Think

I'm talking about cadavers today. Soooo... if you get a little icked out by dead bodies, this might not be the best post for you.

My first cadaver lab was over nine years ago. Some people get broken in with one or two bodies. Me, I had a roomful of bodies, all of them over a week old. I had to walk through the lab area to get to the locker room, and, just as I stepped into the lab, the techs were rolling them out of body bags and on to the tables. I saw faces and open blank eyes. And I moved as fast as I could (without running) to get out of there.

As soon as I reached the women's locker room, I curled up on a bench and started rocking back and forth, saying, "I can't do this." And after a few minutes of having a mini breakdown and pity party, I reminded myself that I chose this career and, if I couldn't suck it up, I had to get out.

I sucked it up. As a newbie, I had the pleasure of having to remove all of the implants that the training surgeon had put in during his demonstration. And when the cadaver I was working on that day lost her arm because, well, a week of being studied meant the body couldn't handle being manipulated, I just kept going without blinking.

I took a really, really long shower afterwards.

It's been almost ten years of labs and visiting tissue banks. I've seen things that bench-rocking me would never have wanted to see. I've learned so much, and I hope that some of my work that came from these educational (and validation) labs has made a difference in people's lives. I've also learned that I can handle a lot more than younger me thought I could. I had really underestimated myself.

Oh, hai, night blooming waterlily! So pretty and unexpected!

This is one of my stories of unexpected strength. Do any of you want to share yours? I'd love to read them!


  1. The summer before my freshman year in college I came upon a motorcycle accident before the first responders. I got out and helped even though there was an arm laying in the road in front of my car. I did my best to help, I drove home and then I fell apart and I learned that you can count on me in an emergency. I can count on me in an emergency.

    But that's how we roll, right?

    1. That's incredible. Even though I'm trained as a first responder for our office, I can't even imagine what that must have been like!

      We have so much capacity to do amazing and surprising things.