A new day presents new skills and new challenges. The comfort level of being in the lab continues to develop and the coordination of the individual teams with the larger group is moving smoothly. We are now responsible for getting the Cadavers out of the coolers and putting them away at the end of the day. Now that we are beginning to peel back the layers and move deeper the body will have a limited time in its untreated state as decomposition begins to occur. The odors are getting stronger and essential oils in our masks keep it manageable for now.
With each layer of body tissue we pass through we cultivate a new level of understanding. The scalpel is used more like a paint brush to help uncover the mysteries rather than cutting. I am reminded again and again about the importance of maintaining the beginners mind. Many students are rushing to diagnose or confirm suspicions so that they "know" that they are "right". Of course it is our human nature to want to understand and feel that we have the answers. Todd , one of our educators and leader of the lab, routinely makes students put their books away and take in what they are actually seeing rather than trying to get it to conform to what they already think they know. It is in this place of curiosity that the most amazing discoveries are made. It is here in the place of complete observation that I feel most like a child again learning how to walk and talk in this new endeavor.
When you look at photos in a book or study anatomy in any other setting everything is separated and clearly drawn out. In text books it is completely obvious what you are looking at and you see each piece as its isolated unit. We are taught often what the individual myofascial unit (muscle) does and move on to the next. It is clear that the bodies on the tables have not read the text books nor do they care about neatly arranged ideas. Every cadaver before us is completely unique. The layers of Muscle and fascia, nerves, veins and organs are completely intertwined. Often it is extremely difficult to see where one piece ends and the other begins. You have to question everything. Is that a new change in fiber direction indicating a transition from the internal oblique to the external oblique or is a hemostat being pulled to tightly as you as feathering back a layer. Are we taking the time to see what this precious terrain presents to us or are we desperately trying to get it to conform to what we believe to be the norm.
Today we began prone (face down) We place support under the form much like you would for a massage or a yoga class so the back lines up with out a torque on the neck. Or goal for the day was to remove the epidermis, dermis and hypodermis of the back body (the skin and the fat) as well as to retract (be able to peel back) the layers of the abdominals beginning with the external obliques, moving down to the internal obliques, transitioning to the transverse abdominis and then removing the sheath of the rectus abdominis while preparing to open up the abdominal cavity to flip the abdominals over and view the posterior aspect of the rectus abdominis. The take away from all of the groups is that the abdominal obliques are much more delicate and thinner than any of us would have expected. This will certainly be taken into account the next time I am leading a movement class with core work. My thoughts on the core are still forming in my head due to this experience so you will not get a ramble from me about that at this time.
It is so clear how viewing muscles in isolation helps us learn the parts, but does us a great disservice when it comes to understanding the interdependent nature of the whole. The tiniest pull on one section affects a whole chain across the body. You can witness how a pull on a hip flexor on one side of the body could shift movement up into the neck on the opposite side of the body. We often treat the source of pain and may be missing the greater cause if we do not step back and look at the bigger picture of the human form rather than chasing after the symptoms.
The professionalism of everyone has been amazing. You do not know when moments will jump up at you or trigger sensitivity. I checked in with my table mate as she stepped back for a moment. Jenn felt she couldn't work on the hands because it felt too personal for her so we switched areas to allow her to come back to her clinical mind. I felt a moment well in me upon removal of the scalp. I closed my eyes for a moment and reminded myself that is is a cadaver, simply a body and no longer a person At the same time I feel a deep love for the form before me or rather for the soul that once inhabited this space. I feel more connected to everything around me recognizing that as a larger body of society we are all like individual muscles and organs and when one of us is not functioning it fully affects the entire body.
I love you all.