A Question of Respect - Part II

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Forward to a date, later in time....


The young medical student cleared his throat and wiped his mouth as he entered the laboratory doors. Today would be the first day of ‘gross anatomy.’ Today, he would be seeing – and touching – for the first time, actual human remains; a real human body. He had read about it; he had studied diligently and had, he thought, thoroughly prepared himself for this moment. He took a deep breath, lifted his chest as his abdominal muscles tightened, and pushed through the swinging door into the confines of the sterile, stainless steel, deathly quiet room.


He looked around, doing a 360 of the antiseptic, large, brightly lit space. There were gleaming, flat rectangular tables with gutter like receptacles which ran the length of each table. Beneath the grated surface was another level; one which was built to collect fluids. Suspended overhead were lights with large shades designed to direct the beam onto the perfect metal slab, Various smaller tables with roller feet, stood near the larger ones, each equipped with numerous instruments of various purposes. He stood, silent, in the midst of the reality of his current position and what was to follow.


Soon, the instructor, a Medical Doctor, entered the room. He greeted the young student with a broad smile, friendly demeanor and an “I’m in control” attitude. The young student reached out to shake the hand which was outstretched to meet his. An automatic response. ‘What is the lore behind the handshake? The young student wondered; ‘I believe it was originally meant to show a possible foe that you held no weapon in your hidden hands. From a long time ago, I’m sure.’ He mused.


He shook the Doctor’s waiting hand and introduced himself.


“Hello Dr. Winsley,” he offered, “I’m John Spencer. It’s good to meet you.”


As he spoke the words, more students began to enter the laboratory. Most of the arrivals appeared to be around his age. John Spencer felt a bit of relief as these people entered. For some unexplainable reason, their numbers; their presence helped to diffuse the pressure he felt as he stood, alone, in the massive lab with nothing but stainless steel and the good Dr. Winsley.


Some of his cohorts looked concerned, others looked a little put off; still, others seemed to be trying to act as if they were not affected by the starkness and reality of why they had gathered there.


The custodial staff of the teaching Hospital had placed a number of plastic stacking chairs in one corner of the spacious interior. There was a murmur in the room, inaudible comments shared back and forth between some of the students who seemed to know one another. John knew none of his classmates so, he remained silent as he looked from one person to another.


He wondered about this. He had always been a loner; always preferred to spend time apart from others, thinking about philosophical questions, musing over possibilities in life and, in general, being content with his own company. His friends, even his family members, used to tease him about his preference for isolation. They’d try to draw him out; try to turn him into a “party animal.”


“Hey, John!” he often heard from his small apartment window on the second floor; “John! We’re all going to the corner bar! Come on, man! Have a little fun!”


He had friends, for sure. Some very good, close friends. But they, like himself, were reserved; quiet and contemplative. He was never comfortable carousing and acting loud and boisterous. No, he liked to spend the little time he had outside studies, reading fiction and biographies, walking along the nearby lake shore and “contemplating his navel.”


“Hahaha!” He laughed out loud at the thought. ‘Now, looks like I’m going to be contemplating someone else’s navel…’ he considered this a little more seriously. “Not funny,’ he mused to himself; ‘not funny at all!


Dr. Winsley asked everyone to grab a chair from the stack and make themselves comfortable. After they were all seated, the room grew eerily quiet. Eyes wide, attention directed at Dr. Winsley, each student was, suddenly, very somber.

John found himself surprised and relieved by what was about to transpire. Rather than rushing into the exploration of an actual body, Dr. Winsley was taking a new and different route to instructing his students about anatomy. A rather unique approach, John realized, while he thought that it was an excellent idea and an honorable method with which to introduce impressionable and, sometimes, immature students, to the use of the human being in laboratory class.



“We are about to enter into the next phase of your Medical training,” Dr. Winsley began, “and I want to start by emphasizing the importance of deference and respect for the ‘teaching aid’ you are about to utilize. It is with utmost gravity that I instill in you how imperative it is that you handle yourself and your tools as if you were handling a living, breathing human being. Before we start our official presentation, I must insist that you regard seriously the fact that you will be learning on a once living human being who, probably, had an extensive history, loving family members, a satisfying career and who, very well may have contributed greatly to our society. I am going to give you an assignment which, I believe, will help you to view your subject with the highest esteem; as if you were spending your valuable time with a peer. To do any less than this will not be accepted in my class. I do not want to hear insulting references made towards the body before you.”

The words were like soothing music to John Spencer's ears. He had been raised to hold others, in the highest regard, no matter the state of physical or mental health he might encounter. And, for that matter, he, obviously, applied his respect for others who had passed this life. He had reservations about the probable attitudes he'd witness in his fellow cohorts; he worried that rude things might be said. For some inexplicable reason, this was extremely upsetting to John. Though he would never admit it; never give it any legitimacy; he was a gentle soul. He did not enjoy seeing others hurt.

Dr. Winsley's voice drew John out of his reverie...


"To help you achieve this level of deference and understanding, I am assigning one of two options. First, you can create a ‘story’ about your subject. Take into account the sex, age, ethnicity, physical condition and any other criteria which might help you create a personality, with a history that inspires you to see this person as a valuable member of the human race. Two, you may want to learn a little bit about the actual person who is on your table. Once, donors remained anonymous. Now, as we’ve progressed in the field on many levels; we have allowed some of our donors to be named. This is only done at the request of family members, as a way, I imagine, to lend importance to the contribution their deceased loved one has made through their gift to you. Some wish that their relative be given his or her due respect for this honorable last act on this earth.”


He paused.


As he spoke, John thought that the Dr.’s talk was almost sermon like. He liked that Dr. Winsley stressed the value of those who lent their body to science. In fact, his admiration for the Doctor increased as the introduction continued.


They had reached the sixth tier of their learning pyramid. Now, after having sat through dozens of lectures, and reading tombs of anatomy texts, viewing visual teaching tools, witnessing demonstrations and participating in discussion groups about all of the former, they were about to proceed to the actual “doing” of all they’d absorbed. The time had come.


When Dr. Winsley was finished with the introduction, he urged the students to choose which option of the two he’d recommended, and begin the formation of their “character” study.


John decided to research the name of his donor, first; to see if, indeed, a name was available. He preferred getting to “know” the actual person rather than making up a story about him or her. His choice was made.


He stood up, shook hands with the Doctor a second time, and left the laboratory. As he passed through the doors he heard, what he imagined to be, the nervous tittering and laughter of his fellow students.



End of Part II

Copyright :: All Rights Reserved
Registered :: 2012-07-31 21:28:32
Title :: A Question of Respect - Part II
Category :: Website




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Comments 38 comments

josh3418 profile image

josh3418 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

Kathy,

I had no idea when you said part two was coming out, that it was coming out so fast! LOL

Another awesome writing, thanks for sharing! I am just curious why the laughing at the end by his fellow students? Or is that a suprise? Great job Kathy!


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

hi Josh..WOW! i just published this..i love that you're "right here" with me. The idea of the students' "tittering and laughter," is supposed to indicate their 'nervousness.' In other words, they are a little uneasy and, now, they've been given a prompt to view their "tool" with due respect....the idea of making a story or, actually, growing to KNOW thier subject is a little disconcerting...so..it is a nervous reaction. Thank you so much for following (so closely!)


josh3418 profile image

josh3418 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

Kathy,

Ok, that is what I thought, but just wamnted to make sure! Thanks! And you are very welcome Kathy!


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

Josh, I thought you'd have understood...and you DID and DO. Thank you..I'm writing # 3 now...


A.A. Zavala profile image

A.A. Zavala 4 years ago from Texas

Interesting. My skin got goosebumps, as if I actually entered a lab, waiting to go throught the doors to see bodies waiting for me. I hope I don't faint during part three. I'm going to faint, aren't I?


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

haha...no. Not at all. I'm really enjoying writing this; it's going to be somewhat ethereal; bending time a bit...I think..or, maybe not. Ha.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

I think I will like this story. It is progressing well.


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

Hello avian novice. I appreciate your comment. This story "came" to me yesterday morning and took on a life of its own...I have written #3 but I think it needs a little more work. thank you!


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Is this brilliant idea of achieving respect for the donor an actual concept incorporated into medical training, Kathy? It should be. If it isn't, you would be doing a great service to teaching by submitting this series to medical schools. I can't tell you how meaningful your story is to me. It is brilliance enhanced by heart.


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

Amy, I should add a disclaimer to my descriptions of medical learning institutions because, honestly, I have no idea what they're like..I've never walked through those doors but, of course, I've seen dozens of medical series w/scenes located in ME labs, etc..And, I have no idea what the philosophy is regarding 'respect' for bodies used in gross anatomy sessions...this is fiction and i am using "artistic license." (hahahaha) All kidding aside; I hope no one from the medical profession slaps me down for depicting their chosen profession incorrectly..this is whimsy and fiction... It'll all make sense in a while (I hope) thank you, my dear friend, for being so supportive and offering, ALWAYS the most kind and empathetic comments; ..these are valued beyond words.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa

Lucky Cats, again, your style of writing is extremely vivid. Perfect! Your sentences are short and in fact like the flash-shots in a movie. The background of the story is captivating. I must also congratulate you for writing in third person using a male's perspective. I find this very difficult to do as I don't have much of a clue how men see things and how their minds operate.

May I share a few of my personal observations during the past two years. I considered sharing this via private e-mail with you, but because this is a HubPages issue, I might as well share it 'in public' -

I've found that I, and also most of my followers in HubPages, avoid reading/following the published chapters of novels. (Unless we/they are characters in the story. Lol!) I think in general people became lazy readers, by now with a maximum concentration span of about 1000 words per reading, and even this could be too much. Surely a topic for a hub. So I've made a note to myself to keep this in mind whenever I decide to write a novelette or any kind of series again.

Kathy, this looks like an interesting and engrossing novel. I look forward to the next chapter. Don't stop writing - ride the tide - and simply publish a chapter every second or third day. (This will give you enough time for editing and revising as comments will also stimulate your imagination.)

Voted up and awesome! You are born to be a writer of fiction!


Teylina profile image

Teylina 4 years ago

Good grief, Lucky gal, am I behind! Missed #1 so have to go back and hunt it through the almost 200 notices I've not gotten to!. Nope, just hunt it up on you. I love this! I "went thru" "put thru" (whatever) my 1st husband in med school, and I remember so vividly back then (decades) what a rough time it was getting through gross anatomy. He believed in reverence for those "used," whether known or not. In a large city, most at that time were unknown paupers, but he still felt as though he were almost invading a life. I've thought seriously about this subject, so will go back today to #1 and look forward to #3 ASAP! Awesome, interesting and almost beautiful in the way you've done this! You hit the nail on the head w/the nervousness. He finally came to understand that of many of his classmates, but I remember his anger when he thought, or they actually were, laughing at the body. This is a GREAT write--can't wait to see where it goes! Go, girl!


always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

This is so interesting. Wow..I was with John when he went through the swinging door into the sterile room. Will his cadaver be the old woman that was so sweet? Oh I know, I have to wait..HaHa..LOVE the story..


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Kathy, I understand that the majority are only privy to what we see on television regarding the medical community. I laughed when I realized the snail's pace in the local ER as opposed to what I saw on E.R. I have often worried about the very issue your story so beautifully addresses...the respect for those who so generously give one last time to the living. I felt foreboding as I read what I expect is right on the mark, snickering, laughing and disrespect for the fact that, as the doctor in your story emphasizes, these are real human beings with a past that included hopes, dreams and love, being lost on the young. Your compassion has brought forth an idea that merits attention and awareness. I am struck by a concept that may or may not be part of learning, but without a doubt, should be. This is your story, Kathy, and I want you to claim ownership of your brilliant, innovative concept that could change teaching everywhere...from grade schools dealing with bullies to medicine, where too often the patient is seen as less than the bill. It takes someone with a heart as big as yours, Kathy, to arrive at a perspective that focuses on value of all life.


Teylina profile image

Teylina 4 years ago

Amen, Amy.


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

Dearest Martie....I am so appreciative of your advice, I know this to be true, too....I'm re-thinking about how to handle this stream of story that is just waiting to burst. I just went to the copywrite site that you sent me...THANK YOU! (what would I do without you????)...and have copywrite protected both 'chapters.' Must get all my important things CW'd. Now, Ms. Grace Hawthorn is a figure in and of herself but, I must divulge; her memories and experiences out on the wide open planes comes (just a tad!) from my own experiences while living in that wide open environmet...but, this is just between us, ok?? LOL...Love ya' my friend.


We save cats 4 years ago

Kathy, I guess this is why they call it creative writing. You have created a world, populated with people I am growing to really care about, perhaps even come to love...You are the best. Thanks again, and keep em commin.


We save cats 4 years ago

Kathy, I guess this is why they call it creative writing. You have created a world, populated with people I am growing to really care about, perhaps even come to love...You are the best. Thanks again, and keep em commin.


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

Hi Teylina...well...I'm taking a page out of your book (ha! Pun intended!)...the Gator series. I just am compelled to tell their story...Grace and John. My older brother is an MD, and he has told me harrowing stories about the experiences during premed and med school. Well, I don't think I could do it; that's for sure. Teylina, thank you so much, my friend, for such a great visit and comment. III coming soon. Kathy


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

Hi Ruby...well, John is a kind, caring and empathetic, intelligent and introverted care giver who will be pivitol in this story. I'm in love w/John, already..LO j/k Love your comment.


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

My dear Amy...we share so much when it comes to feeling for; empathizing with living beings...I am always so amazed at your sensitive words expressed through your unique poetry...the depth you feel for the less fortunate, downtrodden, forgotten, misused and cast aside people and animals....it is such a psychic "relief" to know that such caring as you exhibit and express exists...that you, my friend..are 'out there.' A very very good friend of mine, whom I met in Kansas, Sherrell, shared much with me regarding animals. We worked together for a year, daily, rescuing cats from thelocal park (hub: Park Cat Rescue).

We were such a great team. Her daughter became very ill and had to be close to a Medical facility in Houston (for the life of me, I can't remember the name)...which necessitated Sherrell's move from SE Kansas. It was very difficult, continuing our task alone, as we were such a great team. But, Al stepped in in her place, and we successfully saved every cat abandoned there. To the point: even though she is now in Houston and we never see one another any more...I still feel that support and relief because, I know she is still helping animals wherever she is...same w/my wonderful Doll (real name) Stanley, who lives in Mississippi now. We worked together in San Rafael for In Defense of Animals...anyway; again, just knowing that she is "out there," doing what she does, is a source of strength and relief to me...and, I see you this way, Amy; because you do care and you do what you can...So, there! About the Medical profession and my idea of respect for donor bodies...I imagine this must be the MO somewhere...I will take your suggestion seriously though. Thank you my dear friend, Amy!!!


Lord De Cross profile image

Lord De Cross 4 years ago

Excuse me Lucky Cats, You ladies write your heart even when commenting. I feel like I'm in shaky waters with Purrr-E adrenaline. Voted up and shared. Hold it! I got to leave a comment right? I pictured George Clooney on his very FIRST day at E.R. "Hi! I'm George." Your writing is captivating and take us there with the characters. That behind the scenes in a Lab can only be shared by people like you and Amy. I have been missing so many great hubs and we need to catch up! Thanks for being such a wonderful writer.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

I love the mood of this story. You titled it perfectly. I am drawn in and eager to read the next installment. Creative writing is such a fulfilling endeavor, isn't it? Regards, Hyph.


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

Hi Lord de Cross...I am so glad you liked part II....I have never written from a male character perspective so, this is a challenge. But, he is almost androgenous in nature...emotionaly ... and, so, his sensitivity is showcased as, pretty soon, it will be evident how important his empathetic nature is.

I truly appreciate your great comment! Very pleased! Thank you so much!! Kathy

Hello dear Hyphenbird. Yes! An emphatic yes to your statement/question! I am having a wonderful time 'developing' this story. Kind of feel "in the zone." I just hope the open line of imagination remains so...I'm curious, too; to know where this goes. Thank you!!! Kathy


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM

Wonderful story. I enjoyed reading this. You set the scene/set very well - I could easily picture this in my mind. I liked the ending and look forward to reading the next part. You are a good fiction writer!


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

Suzettenaples, I so appreciate your kind words. I am new at trying my hand writing fiction so, your encouraging comment is very helpful and very kind. Thank you. Kathy


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

I am LOVING this story and eager to keep on reading....I am captured...lock, stock and mouse! You're just so REAL! UP++


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

fpherj48, I am so honored by your wonderful comment. Thank you!! Kathy


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Dear Kathy,

I liked the way you changed up this chapter, completely different, yet just as powerful. Your style exudes the compassion and kindness that makes this such an inspirational read for me.

Voted UP and UABI, gotta keep going now! Love, Maria


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

Mar..I think I'm having a Sally Fields moment here...lolo thank you so very much, my friend...it will all make sence in the end, as these two pivotal characters "merge" to make a difference. Love ya' Kathy


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

Kathy, even though I've read the parts out of sync, the story is profoundly gripping and touching. I'm reading all the comments with great interest and appreciation, as well. They clarify aspects I might have otherwise missed, considering my unfamiliarity with medical realities. I'm swept away. Your ease and grace telling this story which took form in your mind is incredible! I look forward to the rest of the story!


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

Hello my dear Nellieanna! I am so pleased that you like this story. I am enjoying 'writing as I go; since I've begun, I've learned several new bits of information which will alter a few of the details I had in mind for Grace. I'm thinking of # V; how I might merge these two...thank hou so much for being so wonderfully supportive. With highest regards, Kathy


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

It is a great work!


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

Thank you, Nellieanna.


kj force profile image

kj force 3 years ago from Florida

Lucky Cats...very well written, your description tends to paint a picture which in turns has me thinking perhaps you were in the healthcare industry at one time? Being reitred from the field myself, it brought back memories, so I kind of know where John's head is..as for the haphazard fellow students attitudes..trust me quite common in med school...look forward to reading the rest of the series...enjoying this immesely..


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 3 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

kj force...I volunteered in a LTCF as an ombudsman....and worked w/advocates but have never been the field as a career or discipline. But, my older brother is an MD and so I gleaned a bit from his experiences. This story came to me one day and just 'wrote itself' up to the point where my "writer's block" occured...I know I will finish it, though. I appreciate your in depth understanding of this environment.


Becca's Blog profile image

Becca's Blog 3 years ago from A Cornfied in the Midwest

Very nice piece of fiction.


Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 3 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California Author

I am so late in responding to your visit, Becca. This story has an ending; I just have not taken/had the time to finish it..but I will. Thank y ou for your visit. K

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