No Body’s Perfect

The clocks have changed, the trick or treating is over and now we steadily move forward into Winter. I’ve noticed the work start to ramp up as we get busier which, yes, does mean more people are dying. I wrote a lot of posts about our busy time last year so I’ll try to make time for some other interesting things this year.

My final exam is looming too at the end of this month which means revision is my main plan for the next four weeks as I try to cram the information into my head. Then I have to produce a portfolio of evidence for the next few months taking me into the new year. No rest for the wicked.

The flash cards are back for one final time (for now), focusing on the Nervous, Endocrine, Exocrine, Alimentary & Musculoskeletal systems.

What I wanted to focus on for now is the fact that through learning anatomy in the way I have, I have ended up staring at thousands of diagrams, models and videos explaining the things I need to learn. Clunky plastic anatomy models which all show or demonstrate different aspects of the human body. Solid and dry, they are a far cry from the examples in the post mortem room.

For example, when you see a diagram or model of pancreas it often looks like the left and the middle images. In reality I find the pancreas crazy hard to locate let alone see. As you can see in the photo on the right, everything there is largely the same colour and hard to distinguish between.

All three images are demonstrating the head of the pancreas nestled into the duodenum. Left to Right- diagram, 3D model and photo.

What anatomy tutorials and models do is simplify and generalise from a lot of people. It seems obvious but when you look at that model of that brain it’s hard to imagine that yours might be slightly paler, a bit bigger, maybe a tad longer. The other aspect I find amusing is that we produce these solid 3D models when nothing in reality is even remotely solid. When Sam Webster (check out his YouTube channel here) is explaining anatomy using hard plastic models and removing pieces one by one it’s a far cry from the reality of evisceration. Clearly it’s easier, and a lot less messy to demonstrate, but I do wonder if one day this will change with technology.

This contrast in anatomical study and reality has only emphasised to me the huge differences in people and that everyone is unique. Pathologies (illnesses and diseases) have obviously had their impact on the examples that I see but this highlights aspects of the anatomy I wouldn’t normally be as aware of. For example, someone who has a large thyroid gland (or even a goitre, both due to a hyperthyroidism) will remind me of the location of the thyroid and to think of the affect this has had. In most patients I often don’t notice the thyroid because it’s small and doesn’t stand out.

Part of my flash cards thyroid notes, and a diagram demonstrating the normal size of a thyroid in black against an enlarged thyroid due to hyperthyroidism (where the thyroid is overactive).

No body is perfect, but really we all are in our own way. That’s the cheesiest thing I’ve written in a while, I can only apologise. What I’m trying to say is no one, or at least very very few people, look like those anatomical models. Think about the layers of fat we generally have, you never see a rounded belly on the abdomen of a plastic models. Learning anatomy is brilliant because you learn how things are designed to look or function and then in practice you learn that rarely anything is that ‘textbook’.

That’s all from me for today, if you need me I’ll be watching YouTube videos. My new favourite series is called Crash Course which explains a lot of science but they have a whole set of videos on anatomy. And brilliantly a similar sense of humour to me!

MG x

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