I don’t even know where to start with this week! It’s been another busy one. The mortuary is only getting busier now, there’s still quiet-ish days where we can catch up on things but generally I can see the busy time creeping in.
Mortuaries are known to be busy in Winter, with the last couple of months and first few being the busiest. This is down to illnesses like flu, respiratory problems and other diseases being more prevalent at this time. It’s also because those are the coldest months and a cold snap can see a peak in deaths. Also, as much as I love Christmas completely and utterly, it can be one of the busiest times for a number of sad reasons.
This week also saw me witness something I thought would have really upset me, but it didn’t half as much as I thought. I’m not saying I’m made of stone, I do have a heart somewhere and I do get upset. I guess, as I always told myself, I accept that by working in this environment I will see things like that. I won’t go into detail but it was a tragic thing. I came home that night, briefly sat and thought about it for a while and surprised myself.
As the title suggests, there was a little cycling incident this week that tore me from my good mood that day! There is a junction on my ride home that if I time correctly I can not only get up to about 20mph (it is at the bottom of a hill I will mention) but I also sail through the traffic lights much to many a driver’s annoyance. I enjoyed that part a lot, until I was doing just that this week (and probably part pretending to Valkyrie from Thor: Ragnarok because I’d seen it the night before) when I heard a loud HISSSSS. I stupidly looked down and then realised my tyre was completely flat, the ride had become very bumpy and I was about to fall off. Fantastic. Plus, I was only halfway home and it was dark.
However, mood lifted back up high that evening when I found out my team had won an award and prize from the hospital trust for all their work. This is brilliant, and it’s wonderful for a hospital to recognise the hard work of a team like ours. We have a trophy on a shelf in the office now that makes me smile. Unfortunately I couldn’t go to the ceremony because of being new to the trust when they were nominated; but I’m still so proud of my team and manager for what they have done and what I continue to help with going forward. Well done to everyone I work with for their hard work!
The week ended on Friday with an interesting day. Two post mortems took place in the High Risk Isolation room and I was asked to write the notes for (which I think I’m well known for loving doing now…). One individual was a ‘decomp’ – someone who is in a state of decomposition due to being deceased for a period of time, and the other had been embalmed already – where the fluids of the body are replaced with chemicals for the purpose of preservation.
When I was asked, I was a bit concerned about the smell. As discussed previously, the smells associated to these kinds of post-mortems can be, well, pungent I think is a good word. One of my colleagues had said about shallow breathing earlier this week, and I realised that I already do this around particularly stinky situations so in I went with a pen and a will to get through it.
It really didn’t smell as bad as I thought. Probably because I was at the side of the room and not up close with he patients; but still I think these things are better than your imagination tells you! I completed the notes and realised that the pathologist no longer spells words out for me anymore or talks slowly to allow me time to catch up. Not a problem, I have a knack now of scribbling it all down quickly and legibly. Slight concern when I’m asked to write something like ‘ischemic heart disease’ and my brain second guesses my spelling. I bet she laughs at my attempts sometimes!
Next week will be the beginning of week 8 of my time there. It’s gone insanely fast but I’m still so glad I made this move. As always, any questions please ask. I’m considering doing a Reddit AMA for those who know what that is, so watch this space. Thank you for reading and have a great weekend!
Such a nice blog and great to see an insight in to such an amazing industry. What different protective kit do you have to wear for a high risk or decomp than a normal postmortem?
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you Emma! What a great question too! So we would normally wear wellington boots, a gown, apron, gloves (these are layered and two pairs often worn), sleeve protectors, goggles and a surgical cap that covers the head. When a high risk case like the decomp (or any infectious illness, or a patient already embalmed) occurs, in addition to these being completed in isolation in the high risk room, the technologist also wears a respirator which covers the face and is worn around your middle. Hope this answers your question!
Oh and I should also say that full suits are available for the really high risk cases, I’ve just not seen those in action as of yet!