Sunday, March 23, 2014

To the beret-wearing gentleman...

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.


lakeviewer said...

Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope you don't do too much procrastination. As you aptly noted, the yeast may fizzle out if you wait too long. However, if you stick the bowl in the refrigerator, and let it grow slowly, you will have a most delicious, fully bodied loaf of bread.

Aspiring Writer said...

Lovely post, Mervat. And good luck for your job interview.

Lisa said...

you have made me a wonderful offer and i thank you so much !!
my postal address is Po Box 213 Waratah 2298 NSW.........
please include your postal address so i can share the love !!!
lisa xx

Natalie said...

Hi Mervat, That was so interesting to me. Once a long time ago, i wanted to be a forensic scientist, and now my daughter has taken up the gauntlet.
Your post was beautifully written, thank you. :D

see you there! said...

Recently our local PBS station has been running various programs about the brain. It is so fascinating now that they can do scans and actually identify various parts of the brain that are working in different circumstances. I find it all so interesting.

Good luck with the job interview.


lakeviewer said...

Thanks for following my blog. Now, we'll run into each other quite often.

MyHijab said...

ghost stories? Come on, I know you have some...bcz I have one from those days and I shiver when I remember

lunarossa said...

Your job must be very fascinating,Mervat. And useful of course. I sometimes wonder what all my translation work is bringing to the human beings...
All the best for your future one. Ciao. A.

Mervat said...

Lakeviewer: Great pseudonym! On the procrastination front, there is not much of that I am happy to say. Thank you for the advice on getting that delicious, full bodied loaf of bread ;-). I look forward to your posts.

Aspiring Writer: Thank you so much!
I am nervous though.

Lisa: I will post these asap! Thank you for your offer too xo

Natalie: Thank you so much. It is interesting how we pass on our love of something to our children even without really meaning too. I wish her all the best with her studies.

Darla: It really is fascinating. And, new areas are being discovered all the time. My favourite study of all time is watching (with scanners) increased blood flow to areas of the brain with different thought/emotional processes. This would be a great post topic I think. Thank you re interview. Will see how it all goes.

MyHijab: This is something else I WILL post about soon.

lunarossa: I guess on a day to day basis a job is just a job until you discover something new or run into someone who changes the way you think about things. I know you must have similar experiences. As a child migrant who had to take on translating for her parents from the age of 6 until years later (as there weren't translators available), never ever underestimate your role in society.

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