I started this post with something as trivial as me wanting to inform you that I am in the process of applying for a new job and that I am quite nervous etc, etc. I then thought about what picture to post and in searching for an image for this post on my imminent job interview, I came across this one...
Upon seeing this image (of the central nervous system (CNS) which includes the brain and extension of the brain, the spinal cord and all its extending nerves) thoughts immediately took me to the corridors of my university's School of Anatomy and my anatomy practicals there. One interesting fact I remember learning about the CNS was that the brain has its grey tissue (or grey matter) on the outside with the yellow central fibres on the inside, but the spinal cord is the reverse. If you were to slice the cord transversly (right across) what you will see is a butterfly-like shape, made of the grey tissue with the light yellow colour surrounding it. Just perfect. The last 10 or 15 centimetres is called the cauda equina or horse tail, as that is exactly what it looks like.
One day, whilst putting on my white lab coat, before entering the cool, aluminium lined anatomy lab, I was approached by an elderly gentleman wearing a woollen houndstooth beret. He asked me to direct him to the place where he could sign up to 'give his body to research' . I was completely taken aback. Bringing my thoughts back to his smiling, wrinkly face I walked with him to the school's office where he was greeted with a cup of tea and a wad of papers to fill in. He thanked me with a nod of his head as I walked away.
These days, I still remember the smell of the cholorform, my eyes stinging from its fumes , the leathery touch of human tissue long since detached from its soulful owner but labelled to be reunited and eventually buried with the rest of the body. Out of respect to its owner I have posted this image, in all its perfect beauty. Thank you to this person who so kindly and so generously gave their body to be studied by students and teachers. And, thank you to so many others like this human being for their unselfish and considerate act. Most of all, thank you to the beret-wearing gentleman, as in my mind you are the face of all those years I studied anatomy and my love of research.