Tuesday, July 21, 2009


She had thick skin, dark and burnt-looking in certain areas, brown in most of her arms.

We just met our cadaver. Ours was the biggest and fattest among them, and therefore, the hardest to dissect. I suppose all medical students have to go through the ritual of cutting up a dead body open, with the hope of gaining information from that person's muscles, nerves, and bones. After all, the cadaver is the first patient.

It was, for most of it, a surreal experience: the kind that made me wonder, “I only used to think about how dissecting a dead body would feel like, and now, I'm actually touching one.”

The things we have to do can get a bit overwhelming. There's time pressure: we have to finish everything before 5 pm. There's mental pressure: we have to know and understand what structures we're looking at. There's peer pressure: the other groups are done, and we're not yet halfway.

But I'm glad I belong to a great group. There are six of us. Ching is calm and methodical. Marvin is strong-willed and unflinching. Jegar is generous and helpful. Bagani is cautious and reserved. And Lennie is focused and relaxed.

We spent the afternoon skinning the upper half of the body. While the other groups had it tough, we had it tougher. We had to navigate our scalpels through fat tissues an inch thick while keeping the muscles beneath them intact. To skin the back, we had to turn the cadaver over—ours was humongous. The fat tissues weren't much help, either. We had to change gloves more than thrice because they were dripping wet from the oil.

I don't know how to put these in words, but if there is one event that sealed my being a medical student, it is this. Dr. Bundoc calls it “baptism by fire.” You'll never come out of the cadaver room the same man again.

In the thick of things, though, my friends and I forgot one thing. The name. We haven't given her a name yet. Is Big Bertha a good one?



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