Head Games

IMG_2965The sound of a dozen buzzing bone saws beat into my head, roaring through my ears. Sound waves bounced off of tiles and ricocheted off of the metal tanks, magnifying themselves until the sound was downright painful.

“Earplugs. I need earplugs,” I muttered.

“What?” My tank mate asked, almost yelling.

“Nothing!” I yelled back. “Nothing…”

The smell of charred bone permeated the lab and all of the shiny metal surfaces, even the floor, were littered with the dust and fragments of skulls.

By this point in the game, we were not even phased. None of us. Another day in gross anatomy.

We had managed to dissect the scalp off of our cadaver and it was peeled down over what remained of his eyes and ears. I was wielding the bone saw, ready to attack the calvarium.

I wore a mask, trying not to breath in the dust.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease is carried in these tissues. They didn’t tell anyone about that. But I know. Just what I need. A prion disease. Madness. Death. That would be fun a fun way to waste $100,000.

I said a little prayer, then got to it.

Cutting through a skull is a lot like trying to cut a piece of ripe fruit in half. The cut line never seems to meet up on the other side and it is always messier than expected.

Eventually it was done.

I grabbed a pair of forceps and wedged the handle end into the cut, twisting, moving around the cranium until the top came off.

There was the brain peeking out over the top. Not a single nick on the gray matter. 


We all paused for a moment out of reverence.

The holy grail.

A few extra slices with the scalpel and I was holding a human brain in my hands.  We passed it around.

It was heavier than I expected.

This was what all of our hopes and dreams, memories and thoughts become in the end? A lump of dull, bland, lifeless mush? 

And if you are lucky, someone will cradle it in their hands and learn from it.

I decided then that someday my body would lie here. In this room or one like it somewhere else. 

I want to become immortal.


85 thoughts on “Head Games

  1. Such a beautiful and fantastic way of looking at it. I had never thought of it like that before – have a sudden urge for someone to hold my brain in their hands. (After I am dead, of course – and hopefully not for a few decades yet!)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I forgot about that lab day! It was a little freaky, that’s for sure! What’s with all the anatomy lab posts these days? I might have missed it if you mentioned it in another post. This reminds me, though, of the time I found the appendix in anatomy lab and thought about William Blake’s “The Worm.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bleh.
    I’m not cut out for this stuff. lol
    Did you ever read Michael Crichton’s Travels? He has a bit about med school in there, toward the beginning. I thought I wouldn’t be able to finish that book, but I actually love it. I recommend it to people all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So I had to know what prions were and I asked Uncle Google to tell me all about it. Oh my word! Can you imagine dying from lack of sleep??? Horrible! (I know that’s just one form of the disease, but it was horrific enough that I don’t want to read further!)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Removing the calvaria and dissecting out the brain is always one of the wow labs for our students (the other is the heart). Nice to know things are the same the world around. Getting the brain out without a nick is tough to accomplish – you did good! I always worried about prions, especially Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, so I had the students double glove and wash their hands extensively if their was a glove breach. We didn’t know prions existed when I was doing my grad program.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. First of all, I have to stop reading your posts at dinner…. second, I plan on give some of my “stuff” to donations, but I did not think about the whole body…. maybe I might rethink this.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Impressive, I’ve never dissected a human and never will, probably never could, but I’ve dissected many animals in Anatomy and Physiology in college and in high school biology, I’m really clumsy and awkward at it. But, except for the smell, it’s really interesting. I’m glad I’ve never had to dissect a cat. I’m not sure I could do it, knowing that the poor animal probably did not die of natural causes…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The only way to be immortal would be to have some anatomical anomaly, like a horseshoe kidney fused at the superior pole maybe….I remember a forearm specimen in our anatomy library with part of the skin still intact; the man’s name was tattooed on it. I thought, “That’s one way to never be forgotten!”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Speed-reading tonight (as I am waaay behind on my blog-reading), so this comment will have to stand in as my comment for multiple posts: VERY STRONG WRITING THIS WEEK, DOLORE.

    A true pleasure to read. Even the one that read like such a horror story to me (I know far too many women working far too hard to unhaunt themselves).

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I actually just read a beautiful/hilarious/heartbreaking fiction book about a boy with CJD. Going Bovine is its title, and its own reflections on life, death and immortality … let’s just say I’ll be recommending it a lot.

    Can you donate individual organs (if you’ve died in a way that permits it) and your body subsequently? I know I want to donate organs, if possible, after losing my godfather to Cystic Fibrosis. I’ve never really given thought to donating the whole.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I seem to hear a lot of doctors talk about donating their bodies – but I rarely hear about those who haven’t gone to med school wanting to do the same (unless they are in a family of doctors). I wonder if more people would do it if they knew how much it would be appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Once when I helped transport a body to the morgue, the patient’s amputated leg was standing waiting in a bucket, I guess waiting for the man to come join it. That was creepy. I guess they were running slow on their disposal.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I enjoyed this post a lot. Good for a chuckle.

    “I want immortality.”
    “Oh really, explain how.”
    “Well you know fame, popularity and attention.”
    “Does that include taking out your brains and passing them around?”
    “Wait what?”
    “Being a cadaver is cool.”

    Liked by 1 person

  14. you know, when you talked about the head bouncing and said at least he didn’t look mad, it brought back a question that I’ve had which is, if you get decapitated, would you hear your head hit the floor? I remember reading somewhere of a guard who slapped the face of someone immediately after the beheading and he saw the eyes flicker and that made me wonder about this question because I have always heard that hearing is the last sense to go. Maybe that was just an urban legend that has no legitimacy and people have called me morbid for asking such strange questions.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. speaking of medical subjects, I was wondering if you’ve heard my album 2161866618216? It has a lot of medical sound effects and I’m actually thinking about redoing the album and I was thinking, if you’re interested, I could get your thoughts on how accurate the medical sound effects are? It sounds like you’re pretty busy so you might not have the time for a project like this but I thought I’d ask. You never know.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Haha! Immortal? Don’t we all?
    You write well. The tag line was very good.
    (You suddenly reminded me – though in a very different way – of Amélie Nothomb)
    (Let me read the rest of your Texas chain-saw massacre)

    Liked by 1 person

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