Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Windows to our soul

Hey all! Far too long since I've posted anything of substance, as usual. The block is winding down, thank goodness, but along with that comes studying galore. Well, in theory. I'm trying.

(tim walker photo via lolita's)

Quite a lab the other day. The orbit. Orbit is a fancy word for eyeball and its surrounding structures (of which there are depressingly many), and I can't say that I was really looking forward to lab. We've been with our body for three months now, and I avoid the eyes. It's not that eyes in general creep me out--I've never had a problem putting in drops, or digging out a stray lash. I'd probably be fine with contacts if I needed them. But the eyes of our cadaver are another story. His lids are (were) stiff and closed, but I would occasionally lift one up a fraction of an inch to see what they were hiding. I would just glimpse a sliver of milky, sunken tissue before closing them back up and looking away. Eyes are so personal! They're not like the arm or the leg or even our abdominal organs, which are almost more like tools. Eyes are expressive, they communicate.

Doug Jones takes center stage as what has become the signature monster of Pan's Labyrinth, the one with the sight-enabled jazz hands.

The eyes always scare me the most in monster movies. It's the worst when the zombie opens its eyes suddenly, and even though you're ready for it, you still jumb because they're oozy and dead and bloody. Ugh, makes me shiver.

Anyway, the dissection focused mostly on the optic nerves and all that goodness, and let me tell you, they're bitchy. Luckily my lab mate Brad took the helm on most of those, working from behind the eye in the skull, and he did a fabulous job. He even found the ciliary ganglion, which is a tiny little structure that's wicked hard to locate (Dr. Jerrett said he'd only seen one in four years teaching gross, so he came over and shook Brad's hand). We're very proud.

My job was to work on the eye that Brad wasn't busy with, finding the muscles and structures from the front. I wasted time for a while separating teeny muscles that make us wink and squint--lots of those too. I finally got down to business and started digging, and after quite a while, I cut the optic nerve from behind and pulled eyeball.

So strange. I'd almost forgotten what I was doing while I was working, because I kind of forget what I'm dissecting and just focus on not cutting too many things that I shouldn't. Everything looks the same from so close up anyway. But now I was holding a human eyeball in my blue-gloved hand. It certainly didn't look like the one above, and it barely looked like an eyeball at all, really. It was sunken, like someone had sucked most of the juice out with a straw (although I know for a fact that there was still plenty of liquid in these bad boys--one of our classmates stopped by halfway through the lab looking a bit disshevelled. He'd gotten squirted in the face by eye juice while doing the exact thing I'd been working on all hour. Someone was looking out for me that day). The sad thing was covered with a thick, milky layer of tissue, like a huge cataract. We could just make out the iris underneath. Brown eyes.

And now our body is one eye down. It's in a ziploc with his brain, nestled on the towel between his legs. Piece by piece, we're taking him apart, and there isn't much left to do now. He's lucky though. Most of the other bodies had their pelvis bisected or their abdominal organs completely removed. He's stayed more or less intact while everyone else is almost unrecognizable as even a human body. What a strange class.

Off to try to study (or maybe just play with the kitten, take a bath, and go to bed. Whatev). Nighty night, folks.

1 comment:

J. A. Broussard said...

There was a doctor in India named Paul Brand. He ended up being one of the foremost leper doctors on earth, removing much of the stigma associated with it.

One of the frequent problems was blindness, as lepers wouldn't blink (because they never felt the need to). So, he would cut a muscle from the jaw and attach it to the eyelid, give them a piece of gum, and send them on their way. It worked.

I'm with you on the eye thing though--one of my ambulance calls was for a fight at Eureka High, and an asian kid had just about lost his eye: another kid stuck two fingers into the eye socket and started swinging him around by his eye.

Holy frieking crap--don't know which of the two I'd rather be.