I came home from my family reunion to books. For seven straight days I studied with breaks for food, completed hundreds of practice questions and made review sheets. And then review sheets of my review sheets. Monday was the Path final. Most people walked into this exam knowing exactly how many they could miss to save an A. I was no exception and after the exam finished and we were allowed to check our answer, you could hear people cursing under their breath as the first fifty questions sealed their fate before they could consult the other hundred.The toasts downstairs were split evenly between “Horray!” and “Path sucks!” My roommates still had some shopping to do. You see, Kelly is in charge of the Senior Slide Show and the refreshments. They have given him entirely too much money.
After getting alcohol and pizza, the roommates meet up to practice for the Advanced Clinical Skills final. Each of us takes two tests, learns them, and performs them on each other. I pulled Peripheral Nervous System and Abdomen. The exam is cumulative but we ignore the tests premidterm.
The next morning (9:00), we put on our Sunday best and grab our little kits. Here’s how it works: every imaginable test is laid out on a table face down. You stand at the top of the lecture hall until summoned to pick randomly. You then follow your tutor into a booth with a standard patient and begin. I picked up the Venous System. Lame. Because I haven’t studied this (premidterm material), I look at the checklist to jog my memory of the Trendelenburg test and Pratt’s test. The tutor yells at me, “You can’t look at that! Now follow me.” I play dumb, drop the test back into the pile face down and follow her. “Where’s the test?” “You told me that I shouldn’t look at it!” “Go back down and grab the test.” She shakes her head at my idiocy. I walk down and pull the Abdomen Exam. Perfect. 95 A.
So I’ve finished Path and the ACS lab. I’m feeling the euphoria of “finished.” We all sit around the apartment watching the World Cup and helping Kelly finish the slideshow. It’s going to be great. We set up at 6:00 the student bar which consists of several 5 gallon jugs of Hurricanes mixed by our own Louisiana natives. With the class appropriately loosened, the slideshow begins. It’s a riot with clapping and cheering along its entire length and Kelly is the true rockstar of the hour.
The next morning, instead of sleeping off a hangover with the rest of my class, I’m in the Anatomy lab with a bone saw, cutting some man’s hat off. I can sum up the entire experience with one word.
If you’d like to read the complete description, click here. The gist is that cutting into someone’s head, while gruesome, is also thrilling. To carry out the dissections that I want (on an intact jaw) I have to cut a circle around the top of this man’s head, cut out his brain, and then cut straight down the middle of his face. After all of this, you pull the two halves apart and you’re looking straight down at the target. My arm is sore and at least once I was shocked out of the moment by the absurdity of it: left hand clutching the lip of his skull, right hand punching the hacksaw down the center of his face and rattling of in my head the spaces in our skulls that I’m destroying. All of this and smiling, I could forgive someone for stumbling into the room and smartly assessing the situation before walking out slowly. And backwards.
What I’m doing know has nothing to do with collecting data and everything to do with a pretty picture. You see, whenever you carry out interesting anatomical research, you have to do a good job collecting data, but the pissing contest of “who is the best dissector” is far more important. That’s why I’ll spend two whole days on a jaw that would take two hours to dissect the ugly way. All that time in the lab, alone, was difficult, especially with everyone else out on the beach day after day.
Especially when all of the pacemakers go off at 9:15pm every night. They’re screaming at someone to change their batteries. I whisper back to them, “It doesn’t matter.”
So I end up spending a week dissecting a few jaws and sending off a case report to the Journal of something or other. I’d love to sit around and just be nostalgic about Grenada, but my time is tied up in boxes and small errands. I do make time for a few things. I ride to Grand Anse to eat at Nick’s for the last time. After that I see Mr. Green Jeans and ask for one last banana shake. I’m not even that hungry; I just want to hear him swing the mallet. I make it up the hill to Maurice Bishop highway. I wait my turn to pass a Red Reggae bus that opens up the rest of the straightaway. And with my shirt flapping up against my back and the Hero Panther Moped squealing for a fifth gear that isn’t there I’m reaching 80km/hr and flying. Tomorrow morning I’ll be calling a bus to take me to the airport, but that’s tomorrow. Right now I’m passing the wind, the sky is blue walls with a pink ceiling, and it’s beautiful.