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I held a human heart

Thursday: June 26, 2014

Yesterday was our last lecture class for the IHCPP program. One of the components was a show and tell of various organs. As they were being unboxed and passed around, I was analyzing my feelings about how it would feel to hold them in my hands.

A heart. A brain. Kidney. Pancreas and spleen. And another heart that was cut in half so we could see its interior.

A few students also gave presentations. We had a great time learning to juggle (C gave a presentation on how his experience in Clown School will impact his role as a doctor). I cannot really comment on the other ones, as I must abide to the confidentiality laws.

Now that the lecture series is over, I thought I could take a moment to write my thoughts. First, I feel utterly out of place. Almost everyone has a medical background and certainly a medical interest. These words being tossed around are not completely foreign to them. I can’t even put together things with root words I know because they are just that far out of my vocabulary. It has been quite a while since the last time I felt I couldn’t bring anything at all to the table. A nice kick of humility is good every now and then, eh?

Now, to counter that, I feel great about my osteo knowledge. Even knowing I haven’t had much practice for almost two years now, I can still side and name things readily enough. The irony is that in this crash course of gross anatomy, it seems that more attention is given to the bones than the soft tissues to bring everyone (else) up to speed. Of course, that is more likely only because there is so much to learn, almost all of it 100% new to me that I can’t keep up, and then when we get to the bones, I have a moment to relax so it feels uneven.

Third, I really am approaching this experience through such a different context than probably anyone else in the class. As mentioned, I have no medical background and it is a challenge, but what I mean goes beyond that. In discussions, the type of questions I want to raise are vastly different than the type being asked and although I know (and feel that) I am completely welcome to ask them, they seem much too irrelevant for the rest of the class. No one other than me wants to know how to apply all this to fragmented skeletons in the archaeological record, not when there are living people suffering through diseases that they can help.

Lastly, I am grateful my first summer class did not carry. Dr. T. assigns homework after each lecture, and let me tell you, they can be quite the doozy! I haven’t been that crazed over finding answers in who knows how long. I was looking up words used in the question just to understand what was being asked. I had my notes and handouts from class, Gray’s Anatomy, Human Osteology, The Human Anatomy Coloring Book, and Anatomy and Physiology out on the table, in addition to things on Wikipedia and the greater internet. It was intense! But I am loving the challenge. It is really pushing me, and I just know the pay off will be immeasurable.

Our first patients arrive in two weeks, followed by our rides in ambulances to the local hospital to get them imaged with xrays, CTs, and MRIs. Then we will begin the prosection and hold a memorial to honor them. I’ll write about my experience again when it is over.

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