Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The nose knows

I have something sad to report. This afternoon during anatomy the off-button on my nose failed me completely, and I have gone from anatomy buff to complete anatomy phobe (almost) in one session.

One of the anatomy demonstrators cut open the abdomen of a cadaver in front of the class, and we were in the front row. I was slightly nervous as I have never seen cadaver cut open ("scalpel-to-skin" if you will) but wasn't too worried. After all, last week went so well! As soon as he cut into the abdomen of this poor cadaver, the room filled with the most revolting smell that I have ever, ever, ever encountered in my entire life. I have smelt a lot of bad things (including burns victims), but this affected me much more.

Normally I can ignore anything that I smell but this was very special. I couldn't decide whether to breathe through my nose or my mouth. I tried wedging the safety glasses further down onto the bridge of my nose but it was to no avail. I occasionally found myself feeling quite dizzy as I was subconsiously holding my breath, so I had to take a couple of deep breaths. Thank God that this wasn't as bad as I feared it would be.

We are not allowed to chew gum or do anything that would make the smell better, which really really doesn't help. There is a theory floating around that the fellow who cut into the abdomen accidentally nicked the colon, and apparently this would explain the smell.

I feel terrible about this, as this person donated his body to science and I feel very priviledged that I have the chance to learn from his cadaver. I don't think I learnt as much as I could have if the smell hadn't distracted me so badly. If you'll excuse me, I need to take a long, soapy shower and cover myself in nicely-smelling things.

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