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To start reading from the beginning, go to May 11, 2008.

Entering Alaska, we flew to Fairbanks to stay for a
day. Donny was attending school in the Doctorate program so he showed
me around campus. My father had gone to school here as well so I was
grateful for the chance to explore his Alma Mater.

Because he was in the doctorate program, Donny naturally had to dissect the human
body. He took me to one of his lab rooms. Around the lab, on tables were
a number of cadavers where students had cut apart various portions of
the anatomy. He showed me “his body” — the thin torso and emaciated
looking arms and legs of an old woman face up on a steel slab. She was
wrapped in clear plastic bag. I wondered where the school found bodies
to work on. He told me some where donated to science while others were
unclaimed persons. Persons. Unclaimed bodies would have been a
less disturbing picture. A person dying alone and eventually
found somewhere rattled my sensitive sensitivities. An unclaimed body,
however, that somebody stumbled upon and gave to the school for higher
learning seemed less . . . human or like somebody’s lonely loved one.

In another adjacent lab, body parts where dissected.
An ankle-d foot was anchored to a table, sole facing the examiner’s
chair. Elsewhere other isolated body parts where cut, sliced and
layered. This was my first exposure to cadavers and cadaverous parts but
I was not bothered by it. We didn’t spend much time in the rooms and I
would have liked to have examined more, learning more of what the human
body, and I, was made of.

It’s funny how we are impressed by something in such a way that we will never forget where we first heard
of it, learned of it, and will always have a picture
of the first time of it, when it is mentioned. Before
my trip to Alaska and a tour of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks body
dissection lab; I had never heard of hemorrhoids. When Donny flipped
his cadaver over like a piece of 2X4, placing her face down, he showed
me her sizable cluster of piles. Through the plastic he poked and pulled
at them as if he were a boy poking and examining a dead bug on the
ground. I too was curious but one couldn’t help but think how
extraordinarily uncomfortable and painful it must have been for her.
Death had to have been a welcome relief.

That night I slept in a spare dorm room. The next day we would make the final miles to my
home for the next several summer, fall and winter months.

(to be continued) copyright Tamara Ann Burgh, all rights reserved

Flying somewhere over interior Alaska

Flying somewhere over interior Alaska

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