Birmingham Women’s Hospital

What a difference a week makes! I have gone from feeling overly anxious about the upcoming month to now feeling entirely positive. Although I am aware that as much as it can change in that direction it can always change back again, I definitely prefer this new excitement. It does feel odd, however, that it has come a week before heading back to Hartlepool for my first anatomy exam but the brain works in weird and wonderful ways doesn’t it? Not sure how yet, we’ll be covering that next week in Anatomy & Physiology part 2. Revision has been going well this time around, I think it has anyway. I have this horrible feeling like I’m learning all the wrong things again or like my assignment doesn’t make any sense. The usual anxiety about it all. I’ve also been having horrid anxiety dreams where I’m just constantly late for everything, apparently my biggest worry so if I turn up stupidly early for something you now know why.

Cheeky day off today to revise and chill out with the cats (food included to prove I am still on my healthy eating kick!)

Monday night this week I drove to the Midlands in preparation for a day at the Women’s Hospital mortuary with the team there to understand perinatal and paediatric post mortems. While you might think it odd, and even some APTs feel uncomfortable with this kind of work, I felt like I wanted to see it for myself and largely see how it would make me feel. All in all I found out that, while their work is very different from a scale and time perspective, it actually really is very similar in many other ways. I had met the Manager previously through the AAPT and found that she spoke so passionately and warmly about her work I really did want to find out more. I am also on my training course with their current lovely trainee who very kindly let me stay over for the night.

Dark blue scrubs and white clogs made a real change, I think I prefer them. I also think I should aim to try every colour out at some point.

The day began by watching the analysis and dissection of some placentas. I never knew really anything about a placenta other than what it basically was, but the senior APT showed me the different surfaces and parts while explaining the functions it has. I never knew that a large amount of issues with babies can only be found in the placenta because of the large number of functions it has. The pathologists arrived after a couple of hours of starting work and then they began the work for the day. I won’t go into too much detail regarding the post mortem examinations as I am aware this could be incredibly upsetting for some people but I will remark on the few things. The main aspect I have taken away is just simply the difference in scale as mentioned above. Being able to move your patient (with great care of course) as opposed to moving around your patient is mind boggling if you have been used to one way the whole time. With these delicate cases the pathologist also does the entire eviseration while the APTs take the notes, weights, organise the histology and later on do the reconstructions which look immaculate. Mentioning histology, there’s lots. Each case has many samples of tissue for analysis, another impact again of simply the scale of things. Tell tale signs of any issues are likely to be teeny tiny and only visible via a microscope. The sample of tissue taken themselves are tiny too, sometimes barely visible to the eye  sized pieces that have to be placed on tissue to prevent them falling through the holes in the cassette.

It’s the same with adult cases but histology looks at tissues samples smaller than your fingertip to look for microscopic signs. The cassettes are filled with wax and then thin shavings are taken into slides.

I took so many notes of the processes and terms I heard that day that were unfamiliar, I honestly felt like I could have spent so  much more than a day there and still been scribbling down notes. I am so grateful to have been given this oppurtunity to see these things, I cannot thank the team, their manager or the lovely trainee enough! They provided me with a certificate to prove I had spent the day there and plenty of reading material in sharing their forms and policies with me. I adore learning oppurtunities like this and absorb it all like a sponge.

I am often mocked for my love of certificates, medals and all things signifying achievement.

Looking ahead, as mentioend above next week is my penultimate exam for my training course where I’ll be spending another couple of days in the North. Next week is also the Upminster Death Cafe on Tuesday 17th at the Sweet Rose Cakery from 7-9pm. As always, if you have any questions about anything or would like to get in touch please feel free to do so. I promise nothing, but more regular blog posting should commence from now on!

MG x

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