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Skin Slips like Sheets of Paper

Super late in posting this. Worsham is claiming I still need my TB shot, but I already got that, though I haven't yet had my hepatitis shot... waiting on Ma for that one, since she'll do it for free.

Ma's like that. Ever since I was a little kid, whenever I needed blood tests or shots, Ma's the one who's done it. Even when I was a bit older and went in for shots, she'd always insist on being in the room when I got them. Shots I don't mind so much, but blood tests I dreaded. Nothing put me off of breakfast quicker than going to the kitchen and seeing the little capped needle, purple topped test tube, and that horrid faded yellow rubber tourniquet. And I never quite knew when those bastards would show up either. Even now, I can't see much of a pattern. Maybe when there were things going around? It stopped a lot when I moved on to High School proper.

It sounds like the storyline from a sci-fi series, but I am half convinced believe that if my mom could have had her way, she'd have left my dad, had me on her own, and had me as a convenient medical tool. Nothing too sinister- mostly just using my blood as constants in medical experiments, throat swab cultures and maybe (I'm not kidding) fitting or replacing an arm or leg with some kind of mechanical device (Ma likes machines). Richard (who is in such a glass house on this issue that it's hilay-lay) says that's depressing and gross, but I think it's really fantastic. Dad wanted kids, but I'm not sure that she did (he is constantly hinting that she wanted me aborted; like that's supposed to upset me), and with the "running off and using the kid" scenario, it's like she'd have found a use for me. I'm not saying I don't think she liked me! Just saying I wouldn't have minded. Actually wish she had. Medical stuff is the only way I can really talk to her now without feeling weird and awkward. It'd be great if we could work in the same hospital one day.

E is going on vacation for a while, so I won't be going into the Morgue until maybe mid-June. I'll do my best to remember everything I was supposed to report.

Since I'm not quite an apprentice embalmer yet, most of what I'm doing now is cleaning the dead bodies pre-embalming and answering questions about veins and arteries. Surprised at how much I'm retaining. I never was good at chemistry, but this is shockingly sticky stuff!

Sarah wanted to know what the eyes of the dead look like, and I'm having a hard time explaining. Have you ever seen a blind person's eyes? It's like that- milky gray. After a few days, the top starts to sink in, making a bowl-like shape. The bowl gets bigger the longer the person is dead.

It's kinda zen-like, washing the dead. I look at the toe tags first so I know their names and ages, then I get to thinking about what their lives must have been like. I've not yet seen a dead person under 60, and I marvel at all of the things they saw in their lifetime. They watched the world go from civil rights and the Little Rock Nine to President Barack Obama and their grand-kids looking for youtube videos of interracial gay teenagers kissing to convert to MP4s for their iPhones. Can you imagine what a headtrip that is? I wonder all the time what it'll be like when we're that age.

Right before I left, I was watching E work on a woman with skin slippage. Pretty bad skin slippage. If you can recall skinning your knee or finger to the point where you could see the pink right beneath, that's what that is. The skin on her fingers was coming off, not in a peeling way, but literally in a falling down way. It was a very stark contrast between her dark skin and the bright pink right beneath. I suppose I'll learn how I'm supposed to wash a body in that case, but this time, was told that if it's too bad, we just have to put gloves on them.

She also had jaundice. "If you put embalming fluid in a jaundice body, the whole thing turns green," E told me, "That's why you check the eyes. See the yellowing? If you don't check, you've got to put a lot of makeup on to cover it up. But look what we've got here!"

A bottle of embalming fluid especially made for jaundice cases! No wonder it's referred to as "the art of embalming". Fun fact- the general population can also thank morticians for Krazy Glue. It was invented for the profession.

The funeral home E works for is based in Brooklyn and has almost exclusively clients from Trinidad. This is going to sound awful, but I'm really looking forward to working on a white person eventually. I'm so curious! I know there's no real difference, but when you're preparing the dead, there's at least some. Eventually, all of the bodies will blur together and nothing will make much of a difference, but as of right now, it's all new and exciting.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 27th, 2011 02:44 am (UTC)
There's a classic story about washing a dead person by DE Lawrence (yes, the "Lady Chatterly's Lover chap); it's the husband of one of the washers and son of the other, and the story is chock full of something, in addition to the whole musing about the life now gone.
(Okay, THAT sucker counts as literature, if I can remember THAT much about it after... yeah, 30 years.)
May. 27th, 2011 03:19 am (UTC)
once again, this has been very fascinating and interesting to learn about your ma!
May. 27th, 2011 10:15 am (UTC)
I'm guessing 'ma' is your mum? I'm sorry that she's like that :(
(Deleted comment)
May. 30th, 2011 09:37 pm (UTC)
oh man that is so weird and cool! Thanks for sharing @_@
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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