Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bodies Revealed

My son had been asking to go see the "Bodies Revealed" exhibit at the local museum. His Biology class had gone one evening but he chose to play soccer instead. Loving to give my kids every educational opportunity available - ones they want and ones they don't - I heartily agreed to take him on the next available day. Today was one of those funky days off school where the Juniors have to go but not the Sophomores. This actually worked out quite well because the girls had school so we would have a nice mother and son outing.
As we entered the exhibit I was immediately confronted with the human body, raw and skinned just like a slaughtered goat hung out for display in a third world market. I stood there staring with my mouth on the floor. Human men (yes it was grotesquely obvious that they were men) posed not only missing their clothes, but their skin as well. I kept looking into their eyes thinking "These are real people who used to be walking on the street. Now they are here on display with thousands of people examining them." Then my eyes would be torn away from their face to their belly button and I would wonder "Why is the skin still on their belly button? Don't they know how to dissect that as well?" Mentally my mind was trying to comprehend the "real, live person" thing with "scientific specimen" thing. We wandered around, my son totally enthralled with all he was seeing. He kept filling me in on how all our body's systems work. Where the nerves stem from and how they connect with the brain.
We walked from room to room with all their eyes following me. Then we came to the room with the pregnant woman whose stomach was dissected to reveal her unborn baby. My soul cried out "How did this woman die? Isn't there a law that a pregnant woman and her baby must be honorably buried?"
Finally we came to a room that had pieces and parts rather than the whole. I could manage this as I leaned in closer to see examples of healthy organs and organs with cancer. Healthy lungs and the lungs of a smoker. Now things were starting to get interesting. I looked at a healthy brain, then saw the plaque of the next brain. "Brain with Alzheimer's". The brain was shrunken and shriveled. The color was grey and dead-looking rather than creamy and healthy. I thought about my Grandma in the nursing home for several years, blank with Alzheimer's. I fear getting this disease when I am older and even have moments when I panic thinking the disease is beginning to take hold of me now. As I looked at the diseased brain I could literally feel my own brain beginning to separate from my skull as it was shrinking. My spirits were sinking but a ray of hope began to push it's way into my thoughts. I have heard that learning a foreign language helps one exercise their brain thus, stunting the effects of Alzheimer's. Now I know I am safe because I am learning Spanish. I study it several times a week. Although I still can barely remember how to say "hi", at least I know that this problem is solved. My family won't have to deal with me going into la la land.
An hour had passed and we were finally exiting the exhibit. I feel quiet disturbed at all I have witnessed. There is a reason why my husband is the doctor and I am not.

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