The Autopsy Adventure

So what am I up to in med school? I just gave an exam on Friday (it was kinda ‘meh’) for the module we just finished called Medico-Legal Autopsy. It only lasted three weeks, but as you may have noticed, I haven’t exactly been posting fresh content- most of the posts from these past 3 weeks have been reviews or old posts that I cleaned up and posted.

The reason for this is that even though MLA sounds really easy (it’s just forensics. No pathology, no pharmacology, nothing), but it was still really exhausting because we went on autopsy visits every other day.

What does medico-legal autopsy even mean? Well, it’s just a fancy name for “post-mortem examination”. Essentially, its the procedure that you see happening in crime/murder movies where the dead body of the victim is laid out on a table with bright white lights and the doctor/detective first examines the outside for signs of injuries, before cutting the body open to see what other clues they can pick up. It’s all to find out how exactly the person died, especially if it’s a medico-legal case (meaning, the examination is important in order to present a case in court or to dispense justice).
So as you can see, we were pretty excited to go see a real autopsy! Not every hospital is allowed to conduct them- only government hospitals can because only the relevant authorities can give permission for autopsies to be conducted and obviously, those authorities would be the government, the law, the police- all those people. Since the hospital associated with my college is a private hospital, there are no autopsies conducted there. In fact, the hospital doesn’t even take in road traffic accidents or gun shot injuries because those are all cases that need to be reported to the police and be taken over by the government.

The first autopsy visit was scheduled on a Friday. In case you don’t know, Friday is a special day for Muslims since we have the Jummah prayer (it’s kind of like a Sunday for Christians?). Jummah replaces Zuhr (the noon prayer), so the time period for Jummah is generally 1-2pm. Most people want to get off from school before Jummah so they can dress nice and have the general spirit of Jummah. So imagine our dismay on finding out that the autopsy visit is scheduled for 12:30 pm and that we’d get back around 3 pm.

Nevertheless, everyone bundled into the coaster and we set off for the District Headquarter (DHQ) Hospital. It’s situated in Rawalpindi, which is right next to Islamabad (in fact, the two cities are often called “the twin cities”) and the drive takes about 30 minutes? There’s a lot of traffic though and since summer has started, it’s pretty warm!

We got off the coaster once we were in the vicinity of the hospital and our teachers lead us into the Mortuary, which is basically this small building with only one room, designed like a mini-auditorium. There are stepped seats with desks and the bottom, ground level has the autopsy table with bright white lights hovering over it, freezing units behind it, two wash sinks and a couple of tables with tools. The walls are painted white, but the paint is flaking off. The windows are open and there are lots of exhaust fans and sunlight entering the place. This is the autopsy room.

Once we’re settled down, it turns out that just last night, an autopsy had been conducted and that there weren’t any bodies scheduled for autopsy that we could see as well. Bummer >_>. Our teachers decided to show us some stuff instead, like the autopsy register, the autopsy equipment (the saws and scissors and stuff) and the freezing unit. It’s basically like a walk in closet with lots of shelves, big enough to put bodies in, but it’s super dark, not very cold (there weren’t any bodes so they’d turned the unit off), and the door has a latch on it so it’s not hard to imagine getting locked inside….

After that, it was time for Jummah so all the guys left to pray in a masjid and the girls were told to stay in the mortuary and not to wander off without an escort. We spent about 40 minutes just sitting there. And talking. I had a pretty meaningful conversation about art and art mediums (mostly oil paints and oil pastels and acrylics) and then I’m terrible at watercolors so I didn’t say much about that xD but after a while even that got pretty boring until the guys were back.

inside the refrigerator unit
tools of the trade D:

The teachers decided to give us a quick tour of the emergency department. Since it was a Friday, it was relatively a stress-free environment at that moment. There were one or two operations happening in the Minor Operating Theater (let me tell you, it’s just a big room with the hanging lights, there’s about four beds and little operations are happening, like stitching up wounds, cleaning bullet holes, ligating arteries if there’s excessive bleeding during a fracture etc). We weren’t really allowed to go inside the theater but every random person was just walking in and out and seeing what was happening.

There was a dialysis unit too and then a few ward rooms, filled with patients. And then we went home. I was so tired, honestly. I had a really hard time studying at home, I had a hard time writing blogposts, I had a hard time doing anything because I would be so tired. I would just come home and lie down for a while before eating and then going to sleep from about 4:30-6 pm and even then I didn’t feel energized enough to study.

I guess that explains why I feel so “meh” about the exam I gave! Anyway, this is just what happened on the first day. The other days were spent completely in the emergency department where we would pick up individual cases as a group and discuss them with each other. Those were pretty interesting, although that too got boring after the first two times (because seriously, most people in the emergency department showed up after road traffic accidents and majority of them had concussions or fractures. Not a great variety of things to see, It made me skip the last day entirely…)

Anyway! That’s what happened during my autopsy visits and is also the reason why I’ve been so MIA around blogging and twitter. I still feel pretty tired, but hopefully I’ll be back in writing action in the next few weeks. Have a nice day!

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8 thoughts on “The Autopsy Adventure

  1. I wish you were taking your courses seriously but then they probably don't allow you to mansplain all over them (or maybe you don't have the guts to do it over there). 'Tis ok, sweetie, happens to the most cowardly of us. 😉

  2. how dare you…….sweetie !!!…sweetie!!! sweetie !!!!……sarcasm is a feeling. Not everyone can feel it. And medical sciences are unaware of feelings.
    By the way i am one of the few individuals in this country who achieved his professional goals in young age (say mashallah). And i am still studying for the sake of achieving professional perfection. Sometimes self appreciation is necessary. White coat wearers cannot understand that since you have 5 fix years and 2 fix years of house job to do…. so…..the difference is in mindset.

    your most humble and obedient servant

  3. tbh if you were a professionally accomplished person you wouldn't have time to comment obnoxious stuff over here. so like. mashaAllah for the persistent mansplaining, meri jaan.

  4. Toba toba.(meri jaan.!!!!).take it back immediately …….some of the things become addiction so its like addiction but you are right,……….Multi tasking is something that you are probably unaware of….you need to cut the habit of using tbh. It sounds inappropriate…..does it mean that you are only honest in your statement when you use tbh……….to be honest, usage of tbh is excessive.

  5. TBH you guys should take a break.

    Ali I'm not even going to lie, most of the things you wrote sound very problematic (what kind of achievement is that, being the youngest in the country who completed their professional goals? I remember gloating about being a grade ahead of my friends, but that was when I was like, seven years old. No one cares about how old you were when you graduate, they're only interested in how many years of experience you have- that is what's truly valuable. And I still don't understand what it is that "white coat wearers" can't appreciate. Hard work? Studies? Stress? Achievements? Graduating asap???), but alright, if that's how you like entertaining yourself on the internet, I guess that's fair enough.

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