Friday, October 30, 2009

Questions of the day, Jenn edition

So here are Jenn's questions, and my answers. Keep in mind that different morticians do things differently, so my answers might not be true to what your local funeral professional does.

1. Do the bodies ever move or twitch or make noise (groans, etc.)? Yes and no. When someone dies there is no twitching or moving of the limbs and what have you. They might move a little because their muscles have completely relaxed (eyelids open, mouth opens, arms relax, etc.), but there are no other motions made by them. They can, however, make noise, usually because of air trapped in their lungs that releases, especially when we move them from their place of death onto a gurney. The air will kind of just come out, sounding like a heavy sigh. The first time that happened to me I took the guy's pulse to make sure he was dead. He was.

2. Do you really put a plug in the rectum to stop "leakage"? Yes, sometimes. The plug is actually called an A/V plug (anal/vaginal), and looks like this:

It screws into the cavity (after embalming), and first I fill it with absorbent powder (the one in the photo is a bit different than the ones I like to use, the ones I like have a larger area to put powder into). It isn't the best part of the job, but it's better than sewing the anus or vagina shut (very hard to do effectively) and WAY better than having stuff leak out of their body.

3. Do you really sew the eyes closed and/or wire the jaw closed? Kinda. With the eyes I use things called eye caps, which look like contact lenses made out of plastic, with tiny raised spots on them to "hold" the eyelid down, shown here:

The ones I use are clear, and they are placed on the eyeball before embalming.  This keeps the eyes closed during embalming, and after the embalming the tissue is hard enough that the eyelids don't open easily.  Just as an added precaution though I use a dot of glue on the eyelid to make sure that there isn't any chance the lid could open during a viewing (due to the dehydration and shrinking of the eyelid tissue, not because people try to pry eyes open all the time).

As for the mouth, the other embalmers I work with wire the jaw shut using things called injector needles, wires with a little barb on the end that embeds into the gum tissue, one on the top and one on the bottom, and intertwine those two together, closing the mouth.  I don't like the barbs though, they seem mean, even if they are easy, so I sew the jaw shut (my husband thinks it's crazy that I don't have any issues sewing a mouth shut but won't use a needle injector (the instrument used to force the barbs into the gums)).  I might have to work on a diagram to explain how I sew it, I guarantee it isn't the way you are thinking it is done.  Maybe I'll work on that this weekend, or see if I have a book with an illustration of it.

4. Do the muscles relax when you pass and you poo and pee? Yes, but most of the time that is taken care of during embalming.  Not only do a lot of the people that die have on some sort of adult diaper, but they are also on diets that consist of water and IV nutrients, so they don't have much to excrete (gross) anyway. And one of the things I do during (after) embalming is called aspirating, in which i take a trocar (a long "needle" of sorts, about two feet long) and puncture the stomach and suck out anything trapped in the organs (poo, pee, blood, bile, etc)  and drain it, and put in extra strong formaldehyde to embalm those organs well.

So, let me know what else you have...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Busy girl

I was a busy busy bee today. Tank is out of town so I have been meeting with more families than usual and have had to be the one to approve all the cremations before they leave our facility to be cremated. Jane is also out of town, but I've been to busy with other stuff to do the embalmings today so I called in a part-timer to come do them for us. Actually, I am kinda glad I didn't have to embalm today, it's been getting cooler and I am one of those people that's constantly cold anyway, so I just freeze in the prep room.

J checked on me last night and I told her that I was really hurt and sad, but that I would be here whenever she sorted all her stuff out. It was wonderful to hear the relief in her voice, I think she has been worried that I would hate her, and today she texted to let me know how much better today has been for her compared with this last week. It just might mean progress, folks.

One thing I wondered: Is there anything you want to know about my job? If not that's fine, I'll keep posting the happenings, but if there's something you wonder you can ask and if I know the answer I will tell you.

Monday, October 26, 2009

What a way to go

So, Buffy is working on death certificates for people that died over the weekend and got one with diarrhea listed as a cause of death. I was certain that the handwriting must just be difficult to read, as who has ever heard of that killing a person? Turns out that it was not the handwriting that was wrong. Diarrhea really is the cause of death. So, that's something new.

On another note: I had a bummer weekend. I saw J at church on Sunday and felt awkward. She looked great, and we talked a little. I was on my best behavior so as not to let her know how hurt and angry I am, that wouldn't be helpful for her right now. Anyway, that's it for now.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Long day

I am in quite a mood today, and need to let go of a few things that I just don't have anyone to let them go to, so you guys are stuck being my outlet.

This post will not be funeral-related.

I met a girl at church a while back.  Background about my church experience: I have always gone because it's the right thing to do.  I don't have any sort of attachment to the church other than for social reasons for the most part.  Anyway, this girl, J, was introduced to me by a church member that I know, one who has gone to my church for years and who had said I just had to meet J, as she knew we would hit it off.  Well, she was right, and J and I have become close recently.

Background on J: She's a few years younger than I am.  She started going to my church a couple of years back, and had never been a church person before.  Actually, she was kinda heavy into drugs I guess, and drinking, and dated a few (or more) women, as well as men.  She stopped with the drugs and drinking and the sexing of the ladies a short time after starting to attend my church, and has really been quite the Christian. Now, I'm not really sure about all the "relationship with God" stuff, and I don't think I'm big on denying one's sexual preference, but she knows herself better than I do, and she is very happy with the changes that have taken place.  She had a boyfriend up until about a week ago, and things were fine with him (I'll get to that part later), and she's really just generally awesome.

So, she and I had been texting and having a blast, and one night about a month ago I asked her if she wanted to come over and hang out (my hubby was out at a poker game, and my sister was over).  She said that she'd come by after she dropped her boyfriend off that evening.  Anyway, she got to my place just after my sister left, and we hung out for a couple of hours, in which time her boyfriend texted her asking her where she was.  She told him that she was at my place, and he kinda flipped (to his credit though, she hadn't told him she was coming over and then lied when he asked if she had been planning to come by before she had dropped him off for the night).  So, from his perspective I can totally see what he saw: his girl (whom he knows has an affinity for women(I think)) hanging out at another girl's house (one he has only met once, and who is super milf-y) and lying about the situation, obviously because something shady (his own word) was taking place.  So, I think he told her she wasn't to be my friend anymore.

*cue drama*

She and I were both devastated.  She was angry at herself for lying to him in the first place, and couldn't figure out why she had.  There hadn't been anything going on.  It made no sense.  She was mad at the boyfriend (as was I) for making her hurt me (and I was hurt.  Actually, I cried.  Like a baby.  Not a common thing, fyi).  She was confused (aren't you?) and tired.

About a week of not talking to each other went by and then we started chatting again.  She had told her boyfriend that it just wasn't right (or something), that she wanted to be my friend and that she was mad at him for denying her that opportunity.  I was elated.  She and I had a blast.  We got to have lunches together again, and could talk on the phone, and all the stuff that had been missing.  We've been inseparable.

Then, last week her boyfriend dumped her.  I'm still actually confused by that.  You should see her for one thing, she's absolutely adorable, and he really isn't.  Not that looks should be a basis of a good fit for a couple, but I'm just sayin'.  And the whole break-up went well, at least from my perspective, J said that it just wasn't God's will that they be together.  Very peaceful about it even (from the perspective of someone who isn't actually involved).

So, we still hung out, and chatted all the time, and it's been great.  Until yesterday.  Last night she came over and we talked for a long time on the couch.  I complained about work and stuff, and we laughed and were our normal selves, and she said that we are gonna have to cool it for a while.  She said that she wants to be more than friends, and she can't let herself go there, and all of the hanging out and knowing everything about each other and having a blast was awesome, but couldn't continue.  And instead of doing the 'I want whats best for my friend' thing I sat there and cried.  So here she is, being honest with me, and here I am crying and feeling like I have to be able to do something to fix it all, which I couldn't.  I only cried for a minute though (like it matters, right?) and she said goodbye and left.

My phone has never seemed so silent, and I feel broken and hurt and tired and alone.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Why does it bother me so much?

Manager says to me earlier this week: I wonder how many of the bodies run through here go to Hell. *chuckle*

I can't stop thinking about it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

In which I sound like a crazy person

I forgot what it was like to embalm a warm body.

We are really busy this week, there have been quite a few deaths and I’ve had bodies to get ready left and right. It seems that everyone else is busy too, and because of that Jane wasn’t able to embalm this little old lady that died. Actually, I had been one of the ones to go pick her up from her home when she died, and so when I got back to the funeral home I got started embalming. Now, you would think that getting a warm body in the funeral home would be super common, and it is definitely something that happens, but really not often. Usually people die in hospitals and are refrigerated, or in an accident and the medical examiner refrigerated them til the autopsy is done, or they die at night and are brought to the funeral home right away and refrigerated until morning when we all show up. So, this lady was sorta an exception, and I didn’t realize that I had forgotten the feeling of embalming a warm body until I felt her blood on my (gloved) hands. As I type that I think it sounds creepy, and I assure you I am not (too) creepy, I just was a bit stunned at this feeling I hadn’t felt in so long.

It feels like warm water, but a bit slipperier than water. Like soapy water I guess. And it was really amazing, the way it felt, and to feel it cool down as the embalming fluid pushed its way through her little body and back out again a while later. So, that’s it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mortuary Color Wheel

I got a cool color wheel today for the prep room.  It shows what kind of base color to use on cases that require a lot of cosmetics according to the color they were when one first applies the cosmetics.  The colors are even named with the most common types of reasons they would be that color.  Excited?  Yes, yes I am.

Friday, October 9, 2009

This week in a nutshell

So, a good friend of mine isn’t speaking to me.

Big Bird is making me want to kill a b****. All week she’s been riding my ass about any little nit-picky thing she can come up with. Then, to top it off her dad had a stroke yesterday and she had to leave to go to the hospital with her mom and so I feel bad for hating her. I even called her cell last night to see if I could bring them some dinner (she said no, but thanked me anyway), and I can’t figure out why I did that. I really am not that nice of a person.

Whatever, she’s back at work today, and my friend still isn’t speaking to me, and I’m on call this weekend, so… Here goes it I guess.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I'm having a shitty week

Check back in a coupla days...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Ten little fingers and ten little toes

I embalmed a baby today. It was a full-term stillbirth. That will always be one of the more strange aspects of my job. It doesn’t make me sad per se, but it is a very odd thing, to embalm a little baby. They are so delicate and small, and I am glad when I am the one that gets to be their embalmer. It makes me feel important and motherly.