|Source. (Not our school's lab.)|
Last semester (as a new M1) I noticed the M2's rotating between tanks, helping groups find the phrenic nerve or the thoracic duct. The gunner in me thought gee, that would be cool, but my overwhelmingly negative feelings about anatomy lab made me never want to set a non-required foot in the place.
As I read the offer I had occasion to complete my thoughts about anatomy lab. Why did I have such a rough time in anatomy? One word...
rev · er · ence /ˈ rev(ə) rəns/
|Noun:||Deep respect for.|
|Verb:||Regard or treat with deep respect.|
n. respect - veneration - esteem - obeisance - regard
v. revere - venerate - respect - honour - honor - esteem
There was a great lack of reverence on two counts: first, the procedures performed on the bodies were often completely debasing and second, and the casual attitude taken by my peers was inappropriate.
I am deeply infused with a reverence for the body--not only the living body and its beauties and powers, but also the body of the departed, which is the body awaiting resurrection. Because we are body and soul and are not complete without both parts, the body is dignified with the future eternity it will share with the soul. Such a body is not to be treated like the body of another organism or like inorganic matter! It is to be respected and even treasured.
One sign of Catholics' eschatological view of the body is what we do with relics! We touch them, kiss them, honor them, love them. I have kissed the relic(s) of St. Thomas at least twenty times at TAC--probably more, since I did before almost every exam at the regular blessings at the end of the semester. I kissed the gloves of St. Gianna Molla at a CMA conference; I kissed the reliquary of a (relatively) obscure Norbertine saint when I spent a few days in Tehachapi. And recently I kissed a relic of St. Francis of Assisi.
Why do we venerate relics? These are the bodies of our brethren! Let us greet them cordially until we can embrace them in heaven.
Back to anatomy: these twenty bodies belong to my brethren, deserving as much respect as would my body. What unnecessary indignities we subjected them to! Not only cuts, but careless remarks and uncouth language.
Why didn't everyone react like I did? I propose that there was probably more of this feeling than showed. If I, who am steeped in reverence, tried not to show it, certainly some who had smaller urges also suppressed them.
I also propose that there is a general coarsening of the body in our day. This, of course, is no news to Catholics who know the names of popes Pius VI and John Paul II. The devaluing of our bodies is most proclaimed in the arenas of contraception, abortion, marriage, etc. I would like to add an arena which, while not overlooked, is less popular: horror video games. Studying after hours in the lab one day, I exchanged a few remarks with a male peer. Breaking my facade, I asked him how he could stand this. He shrugged. "I guess it doesn't faze me" (I am paraphrasing) "I play a lot of video games." What kind of doctor will this man become? Will he pay the bodies of his patients due reverence? In the past centuries, people may have seen a lot of death and decay, but in our time these sights are common in entertainment. The result: cheapening of the body, medical students thinking about cadavers like dead cats and doing lab with more thought to their own time than the dignity of the remains of another.
|An archbishop blessed an anatomy lab.|
So maybe I'll take up the teaching offer; maybe I can make a difference.