Stinks & Cysts

Another busy four day week went by, I have suddenly realised that due to the Easter weekend there’s two more four-day weeks coming up! By April I won’t remember what a five day week feels like. I’ve had a busy weekend too, I met up with a lot of people who have mentioned the blog and that they actually read it. It’s overwhelming how people are interested and I’m really happy that something I love writing is also read by so many!

Post-mortems happened every day in the last week apart from Wednesday when we had no Pathologists able to come down. I’ve come a long way with my scalpel now and I think I can do most of the basic aspects of evisceration. I’m struggling to get my head around exactly how to remove the intestines but I’m close to getting it right, and I came so close to removing the tongue all by myself on Thursday!

Friday we had two ‘decomps’ to post-mortem so the smell in the mortuary wasn’t exactly the freshest. I helped with the setting up and the clean up, I also stitched one of them back up. There’s a funny thing about the decomposition smell, it lingers. Like any smell, you get used to it to some extent. I’ve found that the isolation room where they are taken to for post-mortem is very stinky, and in there I automatically adopt a kind of shallow breathing technique that works really well. The smell doesn’t make me feel ill as such, but I certainly wouldn’t want to be taking it great lung-fulls of it at a time. Outside of that, the fridge they are in becomes quite fragrant so you can spray it with nice smelling cleaning products, or just avoid opening that fridge as much as possible. The smell does hang around though outside the isolation room but in a much milder way. That’s then funny when the hospital porters or funeral directors enter the room and immediately scrunch their noses up. By that point I’ve got accustomed to the milder smell and don’t notice it!

The brain count is currently at 11, not as high as I’d like but one of the people I worked on this week had a possible stroke so the pathologist wanted a more experienced APT to remove their brain. That’s fair enough, last thing I would want to do is make their job harder by handing them a brain I’d mushed in the process of removing. I did have one kidney this week that I’d noticed had a rather large cyst attached to it. Cysts like that are well known for bursting and shooting liquid out, so I very carefully removed that one with my face as far away as possible while still being able to see what I was doing. Even though we wear lots of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) it’s still not pleasant to be covered in body fluids.

After a conversation I had with someone yesterday, I’m thinking about including a little more detail in some of my posts but I will flag up if they are really gory or disgusting. I would recommend that if anything so far has made you queasy you don’t read those ones. Is there anything that anyone would like explained a little more or anything anyone is curious about that I could answer? Random bus thought of the week was ‘I know what happens after you die…. just not the bit you will have any idea is going on’. So if you do have any burning questions about anything at all please do get in touch. If you don’t like to comment, please either tweet me @gemmanorbs or email me gemmanorburn@icloud.com and I will try to answer them. If I get enough I can do a little Q&A post.

That’s all for this week I think, next week we’re back up at Barts Pathology Museum for the final event in Funeral March– it’s a comedy event that looks fun so get a ticket if you fancy coming along. A four day weekend adds extra pressures to the mortuary so I will talk about those next week. Thank you all so much for reading, it honestly means a lot to me.

MG x

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