Do not feel ashamed for wanting to know if dead people poop themselves (sometimes!)
…what decomp smells like (a hot garbage bin of used feminine products and rotten fruit)
…and if bodies explode in the crematory (the arteries do a Sweeney Todd spray, that’s it).
Death care is fascinating! And curiosity is an important step to normalizing something that will one day happen to all of us.
I believe you can simultaneously respect the dead while fangirling the spectacular science of dying. So! Are you ready for some OMGross moments?
? I transported a badly decomposed fella who had died in his bathtub. He was face-down and completely maggot-eaten. Or so I thought. When we turned him over to place him in a body bag, I noticed a pristine swatch of belly skin. Picture a skeleton with a Will Ferrell tum. Evidently the maggots couldn’t reach that section of flesh.
? “You’re gonna want to stand back.” —a Medical Examiner moments before taking the rectal temperature of a corpse. You think you’ve smelled some room-clearing gas in your life BUT A DEAD PERSON’S FART IS FOREVER.
? Organs damaged by alcohol abuse have a green patina that haunts you every time you help yourself to a third glass of Aldi wine.
? We all carry around bacteria that is waiting to eat us. The moment we die, the bacteria goes to chow town. Depending on genetics, age, cause of death, etc., some people rapidly decline. The stomach is affected most often––swelling and displaying a trippy color show of greens and purples and browns. It can be beautiful in a very Van Gogh way.
? You can restore the appearance of someone’s face through their leg. This is basic circulatory stuff. But it still makes me squeal with joy that you can inject fluid up a femoral artery and turn a purple ear baby-pink. Generally when injecting up into the face, you use the right carotid artery. Sometimes that artery is blocked, so you make a detour with other arteries.
? Scar tissue is wild. Typically when we heal, our cells quietly do their thing, clotting and knitting tissue back together like magic. But when the body is more extremely injured, like during a breast cancer surgery, our system can overreact and spunk out too many healing cells which results in scar tissue. Slicing through this tissue is AN EFFORT. Every time I get sweaty removing a breast implant, I admire how much of a fight our tiny cells put up.
We marvel birth. When appropriate, we can absolutely marvel death.