Journal Entry: Thu Apr 5, 2012, 8:43 PM
I visited my old college earlier this week to catch up with some instructors, and I managed to walk in on my anatomy teacher talking about a trip to a university cadaver lab. He was handing out directions and times, and when he spun around and saw me, he goes, "You need to come!"
So, I totally went.
Going in, I didn't know entirely what to expect. I was both nervous and excited, given that I'm very much a nerd and I love almost anything dealing with science, whether it's anatomy, astrophysics, astronomy, biology, evolution, etc., the list goes on. I read up on all that stuff, all the time. I've just never been privy to view a dissected corpse in person, so I couldn't pass up the opportunity to learn.
It was a very sobering experience to say the least. We were shown groups of muscles, the bones, and organs of a older man who died of pneumonia, and a woman who died from lung cancer, both who donated their bodies to science. It was strange to see the inner workings of a human body, and how fragile it all seems. It's just a collection of soft tissues, supported by hard structures, controlled by a bunch of fatty tissue called a brain.
It was also weird to think that the collection of tissue and 'meat' on the table were people, like any of us standing around and observing. It could have be any one of us, and inside we're all pretty much the same. What makes us different on any real level is what's going on in our brains, which made it even more weird when I got to hold one.
In my hands was the remains of everything that person once was. All their dreams, experiences, the feelings for everyone they ever loved or lost, the record of everything they ever did was in the palm of my hands. Of course it's not really in there anymore, but on a fundamental level, I held that person's entire worldly experience between ten little latex fingers.
There's a lot more I could say about the experience, but it's definitely something you have to see yourself to really understand. I can understand a lot of people being grossed out, but I was totally fascinated.
If you ever get the opportunity to witness such a thing, I would definitely recommend it. It really does change your perspective on life as well as our individual places in the world. For an inquisitive mind, it's pure gold, and I really respect the people who are willing to donate their bodies to further human knowledge. Simply amazing.