Blood, the Polish and a Shock to the Heart

Seems highly appropriate to write a blog article while I’m having blood siphoned out of my arm. Don’t worry I’ve not gone mental, I am festively giving blood and doing my bit for NHS Blood and Transplant. I’m a huge advocate of giving back what you can and blood is a hugely important aspect of this if you can! I understand that either people physically can’t or the idea makes them shudder, but if not then you have no excuse. Get yourself signed up and do your bit!

Sorry-not-sorry for the slightly gross photo…

It was a short week in the mortuary for me as I am not doing on call shifts yet. Therefore I had only 3 days there to catch up on the people who had been brought in from the weekend and also other work that needed doing. I saw two things this week that I wanted to talk about that I found fascinating.

We had a Polish lady who was going back to Poland for her funeral. I have seen a few cases where foreign nationals are picked up by different companies to be taken back to their country of origin however this Polish example was slightly different. My manager said to me to watch what they did because it would follow a particular set of practices which he described. He wasn’t wrong, and it was very interesting.

First they dressed her in simple black clothing which was carried out in a very respectful manner. They then moved her into her coffin (its unusual for funeral directors to bring coffins into the mortuary so it is rare to see one like this), and positioned her with her hands entwined over her stomach and a cross underneath them. A plaque was placed above her head and then they took several photos of her laying there. It was so unusual to see, and seemed so intimate that I felt privileged to be able to see this. Once the photos were taken, the plaque and cross were fixed to the lid of the coffin and the lid was screwed down.

After this occurred, I was intrigued by Polish funeral practices- I mean that’s just how I roll. So I had a quick look at Google and a range of different websites. I found it particularly interesting that it’s considered strange to try and be happy when mourning. Thinking of happy memories of loved ones and looking back with thoughts like this is just not considered the done thing. It made me think of how often we forget that there are so many different cultures out there with different ideas around what you should and shouldn’t do. Especially in our line of work we need to be mindful of this.

The other cool thing that happened today was that I was witness to an ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator) being deactivated on a patient. It’s all very clever these ICDs, they sit inside your chest and monitor your heart. They can shock you when you need it too, and let the hospital know when you have difficulties. I’ve often thought that it would be annoying to have this metal box under your skin all the time just hanging out but actually I think I’d be quite happy and feel in safe hands! The device is deactivated by placing a computer mouse like piece over the top (while still inside the patient) and then the machine reads it and the Cardiologist turns off all the functions. This machine can also tell them if the device has gone off and how the heart functioned while the patient was alive. It simply blows my mind. These are deactivated so they can be removed, because if not they could shock whoever cuts through the wire.

Well that’s all from me for now, I hope you had a brilliant Christmas like myself and have a very jolly New Years however you are celebrating (or not)!

If you are interested in any of the things I have spoken about please see he following links to start:

Polish Death & Burial Customs

Polish Commemoration of the Dead

BHF ICD page ICD page

And register to give blood here

Thank you so much for reading; if you have any questions or want to discuss anything then let me know.

MG x

2 thoughts on “Blood, the Polish and a Shock to the Heart

Add yours

  1. Thanks for writing, this was very interesting. I used to donate blood every few months but have since stopped as every time I go, my iron levels are always close to borderline low (I ended up passing out once and had to get 7 staples in my head, not fun!) So they basically shove me out the door.

    The polish funeral practice is interesting to me as well, I have always been fascinated with the different cultures and how they treat death. Makes you rethink the way you learned about it.

    The ICD is incredible. It is crazy to think how much medicine has advanced and how a once untreatable condition (or condition that is difficult to treat) is very easily controlled by technology.

    Well, thanks for writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your comment! I’m so glad you liked this blog and thanks for taking the time to let me know 🙂 that’s not so cool about your iron levels though, I have to be really careful about going anaemic when I’m sick or at other times and it’s awful!


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