My Job as A Diener
In my former life, I was a diener . What exactly is a deiner, you may wonder? It is one of the vilest degrading jobs any one could have. Actually the word deiner is German for servant , but in the context of my life, I was an attendant in the morgue. I would weigh the organs as they were removed from the body during an autopsy and do whatever else the pathologist told me to do.
Did this experience toughen me up a bit? Of course it did. I still enjoy watching shows regarding autopsies and medical traumas. In fact, my favorite shows on television are House, E.R., Grey’s Anatomy , Private Practice and other similar shows. Do I think it warped me? Perhaps. My kids think so! Luckily there were not autopsies on a daily basis where I lived, so most days I was a Medical Secretary typing up pathology reports.
I worked for several pathologists whose job it was to determine the cause of injury to the cells and tissues, the reasons a person died and study biopsies and make diagnoses of either benign or cancer. I have seen many things that typical people will never see in their lifetime except perhaps in the movies. Freshly traumatized bodies from automobile accidents, a man whose body was almost totally bruised, which turned out to be a reaction to carbon monoxide poisoning as his car stood idling along the roadside for hours, and other such maladies. The most difficult autopsy for me to assist with was of a young baby whose little body was stored in the refrigerator in the morgue awaiting autopsy. I still remember that one quite vividly.
I was always amazed how the pathologist could work for hours on a corpse and then take a lunch break in between and then get right back to work. The smells of the morgue are most nasty as the decaying human body contains all kinds of disgusting toxins.
There are different branches of pathology. Anatomic, clinical and forensic pathology. Anatomic pathology is concerned with the diagnosis of disease. When you go into a hospital and have a growth removed, it is the pathologist who determines if it is cancerous or not. Clinical pathologists deal with bodily fluids like blood, urine and feces to determine the cause of disease. Finally, forensic medicine deals with determining the cause of death of a corpse. There are other kinds of pathology, but those are the ones I was associated with.
The medical jargon was easy for me to spell, but difficult for me to pronounce and my brother, a doctor, always did a pretty good job of correcting me when I said a word wrong. My sister is also a nurse and my daughter is a registered nurse, so I guess this propensity toward medicine it is in the genes.
No wonder I am bored being a record keeper now. Luckily, I also do graphic art which I enjoy very much, but I kind of miss the trauma and excitement of the hospital scene.