Thursday, July 9, 2009

My day, or, in which there are problems

The thing that really sucks about being an embalmer that also meets with families is just that, you do both. This morning I started embalming a case at 8:40 (after our weekly meeting) and knew I had a family to meet at 10:30, which normally would be fine. Here is a list of everything that went wrong with the case I embalmed:

1. He wasn’t on blocks when I got into the prep room. Now, if any of my readers are embalmers, I am about to sound like a spoiled, whiny, girly embalmer chick, which is fine. Opie, my back-of-the-house coworker, gets to work at about 6:30am and gets a lot of body prep done before I even show up, and is really good about putting the cases to be embalmed up on blocks (plastic or metal footed boards that go under the deceased at the shoulders, hips and feet to allow water to flow over their backside) and with a sheet over them so that when the embalmer arrives they can get right to work. Well, this guy (the one to be embalmed) was big, like 220 or so, and I am not big. Now, you need to know that I don’t like asking for help, especially here at work where the guys all tell me that I shouldn’t be lifting bodies since I'm a girl and girls just aren’t made to lift things, but there was no way I was going to be able to lift him while placing a block under him, so I had to get help.

2. The deceased had what we call “skin slip” on his arms. Skin slip is what it sounds like, the skin slipping and tearing, and then oozing from the place that the skin should be. This happens because the fascia under the skin decomposes enough to “let go” of the skin on top of it, and when the body is moved the skin just slips right off. Gross, yes, but at least it doesn’t smell. This guy was also a bit edematous, which aides in the skin slipping.

3. I nicked a vein. Yeah, so apparently I’m not that great at being careful. I opened the supra-clavicular (yay! embalming term!!) incision I made, and started my search for the artery, and wouldn’t you know, I broke a little vein which started to leak blood all in the incision and get in the way of my finding the artery, that little shit. So now I stick my finger (gloved, of course) in the hole and feel around for the artery (in school they always said that we should be able to find the artery with our fingers, not our eyes, probably for situations just like this), which I found, thank god. It feels like a large, wet rubber band, just in case you wondered, unless the person was really sclerotic, in which case it feels like sand inside a balloon.

4. I wasn't getting any fluid in the legs. Like none at all. So, I made incisions in each leg to find the femoral arteries. It took a while, and by the time I was done with the second leg it was time to meet with my 10:30 family which was:

5. fifteen minutes early. Easy arrangement though and I was back in the prep room at 11:30 to finish up the embalming I had left, which is not normal AT ALL, fyi. He actually ended up looking pretty good, and here are the good things that happened after all the problems:

1. I got to leave at 4:15, the time at which I had requested to leave in order to make my five o'clock:

2. HAIR APPOINTMENT!!! I haven't gone to a 'real' salon in months, it was one of the things I said I'd sacrifice in order to move to my home town and rent an apartment while still owning a house in another town that was not going to sell. I look awesome, and my hairs are like an inch long, but yet still non-manish (or at least not totally man-ish)

3. My hubby and daughter are out of town for the night, so my favorite sister (the youngest) and I went for cocktails to the spot that my boss and his girlfriend were, and we drank for free. Yay for free drinks, right?

4. I get to sleep with the windows open. It's like 78 degrees out right now and I think I'm in heaven.


David C. Garcia said...

The more I read your blog, the more I want to do your job. I am fascinated.

mattonfire said...

Skin slipping? I shuddered a little bit when I read that, but was smiling the whole time. It truly is fascinating stuff.

thecheckoutgirl said...

I'll admit it, I had to look up "edematous". glad I did.

Doll Face said...

You guys are so cute. I wonder if maybe some of this stuff is something you shouldn't learn, lol.