On a somewhat more embarrassing note... Tales from the Anatomy Class
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Mon, 14 Oct 96 11:54:05 -0700
Subject: On a somewhat more embarrassing note... Tales from the Anatomy Class
Forwarded-by: Keith Bostic <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Story from a brother of a friend who is the only non-medical student
enrolled in his anatomy course.
It is a very different Budda that remains on the table. In the days since
my last message we have finished the back and the leg. All the skin has
been removed except a band covering the belly and another on the head.
The skin that has been removed is quite an impressive pile. Budda was
not a small woman, and there is no doubt that the amount of fat that she
carried around was a major contributor to her well developed leg muscles.
At the end of every dissection all the skin is draped back over the body
to keep it moist. Things have become so dissarticulated that it is quite
a lot of work to put the skin back in the proper place so mostly we just
drop it where it will fit. This disturbs Pat. She whipped the cover off
on Monday to discover that the right breast was now covering the buttock.
It took her aback and I am not sure that she will be able to deal with
the skin pile again.
We had two visitors yesterday. Brooke is a friend of Pat's who is headed
to med school. Christa is a molecular biologist, and friend of Tomasz,
interested in learning a bit more about anatomy. It was a great lecture
to attend. Farish was at his animated height, demonstrating the
mechanisms of gait. He attaches long poles to his hips and prances
around, reads from Moby Dick, dons a peg leg and more. It was great.
Pat was worried about how these visitors would take the first sight of
our now well dissected woman. She arrived at the lab at 9am and started
rearranging. She made a large pile of the skin and put it aside under a
cloth. Since we were working on the back of the thigh Pat felt that
rolling the body over would be a good thing. All alone in the lab she
tried to roll Budda. It took 40 minutes. It seems that she felt that
the rib cage ought to be put back in place as well. It took a diligent
search through the bits bucket to discern that it was not there. She
finally turned it up between two of the larger hunks of skin. She was
thoroughly willied out by the time she came down for lunch.
As it turned out Brooke was totally fascinated by the whole affair.
Christa had to leave after an MIT engineer dropped by to hack off the tip
of a finger for MRI comparisons to live tissue. It all had something to
do with robot design, but it was a bit too much for Christa.
It turns out that the foot is about the hardest thing that we have had to
dissect. There are two different sorts of muscles in the feet and hands.
There is a set of muscles which is in the lower leg that control movements
via long tendons. These tendons are covered in fibrous sheaths that pass
into the foot around those bony ankle protruberences. There is another
set of muscles that are actually on the foot. These have very tiny
tendons and are hard to separate. In between these layers of puppet
strings, fibrous sheaths and muscle there are the usual complicating
factors of vasculature and nerve supply. It took a full three hours to
get from the sole of the foot to the underlying bones.
On a somewhat more embarrassing note, we had our first fat fight. When
dissecting the upper leg there are many large tough structures that need
pulling on to get them loose. As Budda is particularly fat the end result
of this pulling is usually a spray of fluid and tiny fat pieces. This is
normally not an issue, but for some reason we were in a hurry and the
pulling was a little too enthusiastic. This led to several inadvertent
flights of fat onto innocent bystanders. As we were all equally well
armed (legged?) this degenerated into subtle tosses of fat with the end
of scalpel. From there is was a short but ugly trip to a small piece of
neurovascular bundle being throw hard enough to hit Tomasz in the face.
Since he was the big flinger in the first place he was not too outraged,
but it did put an end to our exuberance.
Department of Biology
Amherst, MA 01003
© 1996 Peter Langston