Friday, October 23, 2009

Died of a Heavy Heart

On Wednesday we took the heart out of our cadaver. He died at the ripe old age of 92 due to congestive heart failure, so his heart was about twice the size of a normal heart. It was quite heavy for a heart. He also had a triple bypass surgery, as he had "fake" arteries going all around his heart. That said, he looked REALLY good for a 92-year-old; we thought he was in his late-70s or early-80s.

For some reason there's something oddly symbolic about taking out a heart. It's almost like, "NOW we're doctors." We passed the heart around our table, taking turns holding it and examining the valves, the aorta, the superior and inferior vena cava, the pulmonary arteries and veins, etc. As one of my lab-mates said, "It's not every day that you get to hold a human heart." The lab table across from us had a heart that looked like a snail, because they took out the aorta higher up whereas we removed it right where it met the heart. I must admit, it was kind of cute . . . for a heart.

Today we dissected further into the heart. The left ventricle (that pumps blood to the body via the aorta) was massive. It had hypertrophied (got bigger) to the point where there wasn't much of a cavity for blood to go - that space had become mostly cardiac muscle. But we could still see all the structures inside the heart really clearly, so that was cool.

Then a few of us at a time were called into the inner lab by the oldest anatomy professor there. Once the 8 or so of us had assembled, he ordered me to take off my top scrub and shirt. O_O How embarrassing. Then he had me sit with my back turned to everyone so he could demonstrate an exam on my back (basically he man-handled me, lol). I'm really ticklish so that wasn't very fun. Then he turned me around and had everyone take turns listening to the 4 heart sounds (it's a consensus, my heart's just fine and healthy). Still, that was embarrassing and just a bit creepy as I was being touched (ungloved) by the oldest professor there. I still think he's older than our cadaver - at least, he looks older. Oh well, all for the pursuit of medicine I guess . . .

Tomorrow I have to drive to Chicago to pick up a friend who's visiting. That's not going to be fun because it's been raining in this part of the Midwest for about a week. Also, with construction, traffic, and the fact that I've never driven in downtown Chicago, I'm quite a bit anxious. Hopefully I'll miss rush hour and the rain keeps the people at bay, lol.

---TANGENT---
If you read Landyn's blog at Stuck In The Middle, he's having a really rough time right now. Working practically full-time and being a full-time student is really taking its toll on him (as it would on anyone). He's being a real trooper and it's amazing that he's held up as well as he has thus far.

But he's at his limits. Anyone would be overwhelmed in his situation. So at the very least go visit his blog and give him a comforting comment and an e-hug. If anyone has any ideas how we as the blogosphere community can help him, please let everyone know.

Thanks all.
---END TANGENT---

6 comments:

goleftatthefork said...

I am **SOOOOOO** loving these little medical school interludes! So well written and poignant - thanks! amazing! now about this small pain that I have.....

Mike said...

Goleft took my comment. I was going to say these med school posts are very well written and almost like we're there, but eeeeeee taking out a heart....... ohh... hmm...

Como fue Chicago?

tracy said...

i've been visiting Landyn and wish like anything there were some way i could help him....i wish i had his addy, we don't have much money, but at least maybe i could sent him a gift card for food or something...do you think that would help? Please, anyone, ideas? What i'd really like to do is bring him home, ha, but i know that's impossible...

Hi Aek, loving your descriptions of Anatomy....wish i were there!!! :*(

Dave83201 said...

Great post! Even down with the flu I enjoyed it.

Aek said...

goleftatthefork: Thanks! Now about that pain . . . where is it, how long have you had it, how badly does it hurt, does anything make it better/worse, are you doing anything about it?

Mike: Thanks! The heart wasn't too bad, it was really cool actually. Chicago was fun, I'll post about that soon. :-)

tracy: I know! Poor Landyn. I don't know how I can help him from so far away other than be a friend and email him from time to time. :-(

Dave83201: Thanks! But I hope you're resting and getting better!! The flu is not fun to have (obviously).

. said...

Hey Aek, I second the writer who says he enjoys how you write and what you write about. I wish I had your talent to write so well. YOu should back this up and read it 5 to 10 years later. I bet you will have a lot of memories to fall back on. I hope you are doing well and happy!! Have a great weekend!!