On my first visit to the gross anatomy lab in 2004, after recovering from the initial shock of what I was looking at, I was hooked.
I entered the lab with an extreme excitement to see the muscles and bones I had been studying and trying to memorize. However, those were not the structures that ultimately seduced me into spending hundreds of hours and numerous dissection intensives in the lab over the years to come.
That first day I was introduced to the greater omentum, which is basically a blanket of fat cells that lay over top of your digestive organs. Its blood and lymphatic vessels make it a great contributor to your immune system and it has been known to isolate and limit infection by wrapping around the areas of concern like a blanket. It was the greater omentum (which I had never heard of) that started this journey of inquiry… I wanted to understand how our internal structures worked silently with intelligence far beyond any intellect to keep us in good health.
I was recently asked how these repeated visits to the lab inform my work as an RMT. To my surprise, the answer has not come easily. It’s akin to explaining what it is exactly that made you fall for that one special person; It’s more about who that person inspires you to be.
My experience in the lab inspires me to be better at what I do. With a great reverence for the donors (who had to do more than tick off a box on their driver’s license to be sure we could learn from them), in the lab we owe all of our learning to them.
The short answer I suppose would be that in the lab, I learn what everything looks and feels like in 3D. I learn that the more I question, the less I am confined to the certainty of what a body is and isn’t capable of. I learn that my only certainty is not being finished with the learning yet!
My next lab visit will be in June of this year… I’ll keep you posted on the answer to that initial question.