So we dissected yesterday. It was not a shocking as I thought it would be. Currently we are covering the back muscles, spinal cord, nerves, etc... Monday morning we were introduced to our cadavers prior to the first anatomy lecture. They were in blue tarpaulin bags with a zipper up the top. We unzipped our bags to inspect the cadaver itself for any scars, tattoos, missing parts (e.g. fingers). The faces are covered with a rag, they’ll be uncovered later. The body itself was pale yellow-white with gray parts too. I found that the hardest thing to look at were the hands, actually; I don’t know why. After lecture 3 of the 7 of us returned to the lab to dissect. The bodies were prone and propped on blocks to facilitate the dissection.
Our first task was to skin the back so we could probe deep into the muscles. Human skin is much tougher than I realized, it took much more force to pierce it with a scalpel than I had imagined. In life our cadaver was a hefty individual, lots of fat to pick away. Fat really blunts your scalpel blades, since you have to cut a lot of it away to reach muscle. The muscle itself of course did not look like it does in Netter’s Anatomy. It’s dark brown, kind of grayish too. The fascia that invests (covers and surrounds) the superficial and deep muscles of the back is a lot like strapping tape. It’s thin and extremely tough with whitish striations running longitudinally down it. We were able to distinguish and expose most of the muscles of the back, with the exception of much of the levator scapulae (raises the shoulder, kind of on the side and back of your neck), and some of the smaller muscles that turn the head. They overlap and aren’t clearly delineated in the body so distinguishing between the different muscles took professional assistance.
I think that studying for this class is going to mean a lot of time in the lab. The atlases are ok for getting a rough idea of what to look for and they’re invaluable in identifying stuff in the lab itself, but it’s hard to get a 3D mental image from book study alone. The most difficult thing about anatomy so far has been learning the innervation of the back muscles. The pace is really fast, I imagine that in the last two days, we’ve covered what would take a week at an undergrad school. At times the fast pace is terrifying, because I know that if I fall behind, I’ll never catch up. Since I’ve never studied innervation or anything remotely close, I have to teach myself the language in order to understand the texts and atlases. Yesterday I was in school or studying from 6am until 10 pm, with about a 90 minute dinner break. Long Day!