The Day They Gave Me A Scalpel

I knew the day was coming, but I did not know it was so soon or I would have got crazy excited/nervous and freaked out about it! As per any day when we are conducting post-mortems in the mortuary, we started by getting the people out of the fridges and loading them onto the struts which alongside the metal tray from the fridge effectively makes the autopsy table. This sits over part of the sink at the end and has a prop to create an angle of the tray so the water (and other fluids) can drain through a hole at the end of the tray. It’s a cool and clever set up that is slightly different in each mortuary I’ve seen but has the same results.

I don’t have a photo of the post-mortem room, so here’s a photo of my feet in my wellies. You’re welcome.

As we were undressing the people, which is quite hard especially when people wear lots of layers in winter, my colleague asked me if I’d like to do my first evisceration. I’m pretty sure I got wide-eyed and then nodded enthusiastically, something like that anyway. ‘Open them up here’ she said, pointing a line down their chest and then turned to carry on with what she was doing. Cautiously I found a scalpel from a tray of tools and asked if I could use it from my other colleague. She smiled and said that of course I could use it and away I went holding a very sharp implement and a terrified look.

Hovering over the person I was about to open, I thought about where and didn’t take long to make the first incision and pull the scalpel along their sternum. I hesitated at the end and looked up for support, there stood my colleague who urged me to continue. I knew that I had to be careful because past the sternum is the soft, squidgy bit of your abdomen that a scalpel can easily dig into and open up your bowel or stomach. I was shown that once a small hole is made under the skin and fat, you can lift this layer up with your finger so you can cut through and easily avoid the organs below.

I continued like this and was shown how to open the chest, remove the small and large bowel and the kidneys. The rest of the organs too, and then opening the skull and removal of the brain. I’ve got alright at the brain recently and can do that with minimal help I think! 9 so far, I’m still counting. Each part my colleague showed me what to do and then let me do it. There were a few points of slicing through things I shouldn’t have but I will learn from my mistakes.

So I can say I conducted my first evisceration, and it was brilliant. I’m sure that sounds like a strange way of describing it, but getting to have a go and use the tools the others use was just, simply, brilliant. I even got a round of applause from the pathologist for having done it. I completed my person by stitching the head up and then stitching them up with organs back inside after the post-mortem. I’m full of proud and having a celebratory Doom Bar tonight (if you don’t know what this is, it’s my favourite beverage and feel free to buy me one if we’re ever out!) I’ve kept this short but can certainly go into more detail of the evisceration process in future if people are interested?

I’m feeling more confident about my progress towards being qualified now and it’s a good feeling! I’m on a half day tomorrow and then off work until Tuesday. I will still be blogging over these days however as I have a lot to catch you up on now. Thank you for reading and I’m sure the above might have prompted some questions so please do ask if you have any.

MG x

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