Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Wow. This may come as no surprise to anyone, but my job has completely monopolized my life. As my mother is fond of saying: T'as plus une vie d'étudiante, hein!, which roughly translated means: "You foolish girl, you're a working woman now. You can't have your cake and eat it too."

Which, naturally, is what I've been trying to do: work during the day, and not necessarily pass out once I come home at night, exhausted. So far I've managed to discover a few nice areas in Washington D.C., but I have to admit that my mother is right; I'm going to have to compromise. I can't do as much as I used to!

I'm going to miss showering!

Just kidding.

Part of the reason I've been so exhausted is because I've been trying to make the most of where I work. I haven't mentioned this before, but I managed to score a summer internship at the National Institutes of Health. Although my job is a standard Lab Bitch position, I've been going early (and leaving late!) trying to absorb every opportunity I can. So far, I've attended a plethora of talks, I've shadowed doctors on rounds, and I've ingratiated myself (or tried to) with the nurses so they'd let me sit through procedures. Recently, I attended an autopsy.

I'm not sure how interesting anyone who isn't medically inclined would find an autopsy description, so I'll gloss over the details. I found that, basically, the entire experience was reminiscent of Body Worlds, just juicier.
The hardest part was before the morticians got started, as there was little way of ignoring the fact that the body laid out before me was a corpse, and not just some extremely graphic learning tool. I was really shocked at how roughly they handled the body, but I suppose that this is their job, after all, and that the corpses don't feel anything. Still...
The man being autopsied was a 48 year old cancer patient. He suffered from multiple myelomas, and it was fascinating to be able to see the lesions first hand, rather than just as a dark blotch on a CT scans.
The mortician did his job very efficiently (apart from when he dropped his glasses in the chest cavity!), but eventually warmed up to me and started explaining what he was doing, and why. He showed me how to remove the spinal cord, how to cut out the intestines, how to check whether or not there are tumors in the lungs (see if they float in water), how to remove the testicles (the hardest part, according to him), and even explained how bodies are embalmed in funeral homes.

It was a very interesting experience, but not necessarily one I'd get up at 5:30 again for!