Monday, February 14, 2005

Dead or Alive? part II

A handy reminder that your days are numbered: Deathclock

For instructions on how NOT to kill yourself with a shotgun, look here.

A couple of anecdotes that you may or may not find amusing:

When a doctor is on call, he is from time to time required to go to the ward to determine death. A med school buddy of mine was doing just this in the middle of the night, when the patient suddenly sat up and demanded to know what the hell was going on. The good doctor had walked into the wrong room. It's also a good idea to double check that you've got the right patient file when you write down the time of death. There's nothing quite as embarrassing as discharging an officially dead person who's feeling just fine.

You may encounter surprising technical difficulties: Another classmate from med school was on call in a rural hospital, and was paged to go down to the morgue to determine death and to do a cursory forensic examination. They'd already placed the corpse in the refrigeration unit. You know the type, with the end-opening drawers. Well, he pulled out the container, which was located at shoulder-height, and, as it happened, the body was that of a very obese woman, and what do you know, the body rolled off the tray and fell on the floor. As an intern, he was too embarrassed to call for help, so he spent a good part of the night wrestling the ample cadaver back onto the tray.

My own morgue-at-night story is rather less amusing (it would be, wouldn't it). I was on call, years ago, in a small hospital up north. It was September. I remember that, because it was moose hunting season, and that's integral to this story. Word came that a woman had been shot. She went straight downstairs (that's where the morgue was), D.O.A., or should I say S.T.H.O.A. (Shot To Hell On Arrival). I unzipped the black body bag and, oddly enough, the smell of strawberry yogurt was the first thing I noticed. Pretty soon after that I noticed that there was a gaping hole in the woman's chest. There was a yogurty substance splattered all over, amidst the blood. She had a neat hole in the back. The next thing I noticed was that she was one of our nurses. According to her husband (whom I saw right afterwards), he'd been cleaning his rifle when suddenly it discharged and the round hit his wife who'd been baking in the kitchen. No mention of yogurt. I didn't buy his story. He said he was a skilled marksman (so it seemed) and had killed four moose that day (and one wife, I didn't add). He had alcohol in his blood. The police took him for questioning, and he was later tried for manslaughter. He walked.

This case will stay with me for the rest of my life, because I like to eat yogurt. Smell is a powerful reminder.

1 comment:

radclyffe said...

hey stuart
i couldnt believe it when i saw the link to the "Death Clockl"..
i had the link to it on my initial web page back in the late '90's!
you are the only other person to have ever mentioned it--

glad u liked my artistic blog-- i really wanted to do more but heck its a template and at least i got it to look a little different from everyone elses!

side note- we had a homeless guy come in ER with an ax in his head-- he left AMA even though the docs did everything to talk him out of leaving- it was very bizzare for sure--
never heard anything else about him-- nothing in papers that anyone died with an axe in their head so our guess was that he went back to homeless camp and someone just pulled it out -- go figure huh?
hope things arent too bad these next few days for ya.. not a full moon anyway!