Awards, Aromas & Anger

It would appear the busy times at the mortuary are yet to come to an end for a while. We had the busiest night on Wednesday which was a bit sad for a moment when I realised these people died on Valentines Day night! We prepared today for a busy weekend, it does make my week go insanely fast but we barely have time to do all the things we need to do at work.

My Manager this week was focussed on our booking in process. This is how initially check to see if the person may need either initial care or monitoring ongoing and to take all the information needed to record them. We check their name and other details provided on their wristband with our paperwork, we measure them and then ensure they are clean. We worked on getting this process as streamlined as possible and so it meant we could spend maximum time with each person. I think it’s working well and each day we make little tweaks to improve it, definitely a work in progress.

I’m proud to say that the Mortuary team won Team of the Week at the hospital trust this week! We had some executive staff come down this morning and award us with a fruit basket. We were nominated for our work in improving the end of life care in regards to the mortuary. In addition to the prize the team won last year, I think it’s great that the efforts are being recognised in such a way and celebrated like this. I ate so much fruit I felt quite sick though, a final banana was enough to bring on nausea at about 3pm!

Today we also had a post-mortem on a person who had been deceased for some time when they were found. I thought that maybe I could hack the smell better than I thought. I went into the room to see my colleague and the smell was too much. I didn’t gag, of which I’m proud, but it made me cough and I had this very deep urge to leave the room incredibly fast even though I’d only poked my head around the door. In the afternoon, we had to move this person to the freezer as they would only worsen in the fridge. The smell through two body bags is tolerable, if I’m honest ever since they had come in there had been a smell in the mortuary even from them being in the fridge. I thought I’d imagined it but then others commented too! I can only describe decomposition odour like very sweet vinegar and rotting food. It’s pungent and it lingers. You think you can smell it on you for ages afterwards even if others can’t, like the memory of it hangs about in your nostrils. There have only been a few occasions when I’ve stood on the bus and longed for a shower, I’m afraid today was one of those days. I’m not foolish enough to think I can avoid these cases going forward, I want to be able to do them! The only way to do that is to persevere when it’s happening and hope I can overcome the urge to get away from the smell.

Finally, I’d like to mention something that happened today. I had my first contact with someone who was very much less then pleasant, thankfully it was on the phone. It stayed with me a lot longer than it should have, but through that I could acknowledge some things. Firstly, people react to bereavement in different ways, and this can be aggression or anger amongst all the other emotions. Secondly, the trick is to not be intimidated by it but to stand your ground reasonably and try to help them in what manner you can. Thirdly, I can’t let people acting like this get to me because they weren’t the first to behave that way and they won’t be the last. All I can do is have compassion and be as kind as I can muster, take each day as it comes and move on rather than let it upset me.

Quite a deep thoughtful post this week, next week coming up I have some exciting adventures in the pipeline that I will post about and I’m hoping to get back to learning more in the post-Mortem room. Have a great weekend everyone and thank you for reading!

MG x

2 thoughts on “Awards, Aromas & Anger

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    1. Hi! Nothing naive about that question at all, in fact I should probably do a post about what happens to people in the mortuary, from start to finish! By booking in I mean checking they are who the paperwork says they are (by checking their wristbands seeing as we can’t ask them), measuring them for coffin size and actual height, checking for implants such as pacemakers and then entering them into the system/ledger for record. Then they are assigned an unique number too so we can refer to them easier. We do check condition and note if anything will need care or monitoring but this is an ongoing process so they will be checked again during their stay if it’s a longish period (say over 2 weeks). Thanks for asking! Xxx

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