My Day At the Anatomy Lab

12 June 2009 at 3:20 pm (Beauty, Health & Fitness, Life, Raves) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )


As most of you already know I went to the University of Guelph yesterday to take part in a hands on tour of their Anatomy & Pathology lab. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Not just on an educational level but on an emotional level as well. I will explain in due time. There are going to be NO pictures in this post as I was not allowed to – cameras and cells weren’t permitted and that rule came down from the Coroner of Ontario and not the University itself.

I got to school around 7:40am and linked up with some classmates and we were surprised to see a wicked huge bus – bigger than a GO Bus. It was awesome. Had a bathroom in the back and everything. Anyway, we pulled out about 8:15 and got to the University just after 9am. We were greeted after about 30 mins by the Lab supervisor (I guess that was her title), Stefanie and three 3rd year students who informed us of rules and conduct and stressed the importance of respecting the families of the donors and the donors themselves and to use appropriate language and conduct. Once all of that was out of the way we went into a room where we were able to view and touch and hold a human skeleton as well as many parts of human bone. We started out pretty tame and I was amazed to be holding in my hand a human skull, a femur, a humerus. It was crazy.

We were then broken up into 3 groups and each student took a group to the various stations. We ended up with Nick, who I will say I was slightly turned on by – lol. I didn’t want to jump his bones (pun not intended). Not THAT kind of turned on. I mean, he was cute and all: tall, dark hair, light eyes but I was turned on by his intelligence. He is SUPER smart and passionate about what he does. I love the smart, nerdy type. Anyway, Nick brought us to the abdominal / gastro-intestinal and uri-genital station where I got to see two cadavers up close and personal. One donor was dissected thoroughly so you could see the posterior wall while the other was dissected not as thoroughly. There was indeed a smell of formaldehyde but nothing overpowering or anything I couldn’t handle. It wasn’t as strong as I thought it would be. I was able to, with my group, unravel and hold the small intestine. I felt the inner lining of a stomach (which is pretty small by the way!). I got to hold an esophagus and a 5-7lb liver. I also got to see an enlarged liver of a woman that died due to asphyxiation as her liver became SO enlarged it pushed up against her diaphragm and killed her. I can’t stress to you how big it was. It was bigger than my abdomen. You could actually see the striations of where her ribs were pushed so deeply into the side of her liver because of it’s size. It was amazing.

I was able to see and hold  a bladder and kidney. I was even able to hold a uterus complete with fallopian tubes and ovaries. I was able to hold a prostate, urethra and testicles. I got to touch the gluteus maximum. I HELD A  BRAIN!!!! I could not believe I was holding a person’s brain in my hands.

We then moved onto the thoracic / cardio and pulmonary station where I was able to look at a human heart. I got to hold a heart and got to view a healthy one vs a bad one. One with a pacemaker, one that was cross sectioned to where I could see the ventricles vs the atriums. I got to see the pericardium which is what covers and protects our heart. Our heart doesn’t just sit in our chest open and exposed. The pericardium covers it. I was able to look into an engorged aorta and see what one looks like after YEARS of poor diet and no exercise. There was the most AMAZING amount of plaque build up causing high cholesterol in that aorta. I immediately felt like I could no longer eat fast food just by seeing it. Mind you, of course, this was years upon years of damage and accumulation but still, it puts a lot of things into perspective when you look at how you treat your body. Nick told me that its common for nurses, more than anyone to have this condition because of their long work hours, poor diet and etc. You don’t have to be 300+lbs to have these conditions. You can be slim and petite and still have clogged arteries. Your diet really is the issue here. Nick’s favourite thing to talk about is the heart and circulatory system. He hopes to finish his 4th and final year and move onto pre-med and eventually become a cardiologist. His passion for the heart showed. I learned a lot … I, too, am fascinated with the heart.

We moved onto the lungs. This is where it brought a lot of things home for me. As you know, I lost my grandmother in 2008 to lung cancer. She was not a smoker however this is the disease that took her life.  I saw lungs that showed nicotine and tar damage but could’ve been reversed with proper care, diet and exercise. Then Nick showed us healthy lungs. He asked us how old we thought they were and most of us said, 40’s MAYBE 50’s. These were beautiful lungs, still somewhat pink, healthy and spongy (lungs arent like balloons or hard. They feel like sponges). We were way off. The woman that died with THESE lungs was in her mid 80’s. We could not believe it! He took out a pump and attatched it to the lungs and we were able to see them rise. The air was immediately distributed evenly and it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. Seriously. He then asked us about the diseased lungs with irrepareble tar and nicotine damage and we immediately guessed half the other lady’s age. Even younger. He was 35. Nick put the pump in and tried to blow up those lungs and VERY LITTLE air got through and only some parts of the lung inflated. That’s when I choked up a bit because I imagined, then, my grandmother in her last moments, struggling to breathe and get air and knowing THAT is what her lungs looked like. I gathered myself and realized her death and this education would, if anything, teach me to NEVER put another cigarette near or in my mouth. And even though she wasn’t a smoker and still contracted lung cancer, it showed me what started up smoking again will do and to take good care of myself while I can, when young.

After that we got to see an arm that still had it’s muscles and ligaments attached to where we were able to see what ligaments and muscles are important for simple movements like a bicep curl. It was awesome.

That was basically it. It took us three hours to go to all stations and discuss and learn. I learned so much. I have watched youtubes, seen pictures, even marvelled at Dr. Oz’s findings on Oprah but to be in the same room as these body parts. To actually HOLD someone’s heart in your hands is a type of hands on training you just can’t get any ol’ day of the week. I am so greatful to my school, professor, the University and Nick for educating me and allowing me to be a part of that. I want to thank all the students who provided, at times, over 150 hours to the dissections of the various body parts and organs. Your patience and preciseness is second to none. You leave that building with a new respect for your body and for life and for humanity period. These people died and left their body to science so people like myself could learn and for that I thank them and their families a million times over.

If any of you are able to ever partake in a tour like that, I implore you to do it. You will not regret it.

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