I may get in a lot of trouble for writing this. I’m a Catholic, and I teach in a Catholic school.
But before I was a teacher, I was a laboratory scientist. Some of my career was spent doing research, and I have, quite frankly, watched with speechless horror as the country has turned against science and intellectualism, and it scares me. It scares me in a primal, personal-safety-might-be-threatened sort of way.
Let me tell you a little secret you probably suspected about medicine….Most of it is icky.
We stick needles in you to withdraw fluids.
We cut you open, prod around, rearrange, add and remove parts.
If you have the misfortune of being burned and surviving, you will then understand what “debridement” is…basically, burn victims are placed in tanks of water, their wounds are scrubbed, and the loose, dead flesh is cut away while the patient screams because the process is extremely painful and the morphine doesn’t provide much relief for that kind of pain. Icky, right? Got your gag reflex with that one, didn’t I? You can admit it.
If that didn’t get your gag reflex, how about the patient with the impacted colon and you have to put on the rubber gloves and start digging stool out of their rectum until the colon is empty enough for the person to defecate on their own? Really icky, huh?
We stick cameras up your bum.
We stick cameras (different ones!) down your throat.
Some of the really icky stuff takes place in the lab. That is where tissue is analyzed and biopsied and research is done.
That is where cancerous breasts that have been removed in a mastectomy come to determine the stage and spread of cancer, and are biopsied and cross-sectioned and stained and studied. Oh…this is what first got your husband to look at you? Now we’re doing clinical tests on it he wants no part of.
The morgue is downstairs, connected by tube and elevator.
So we do the autopsies.
Sometimes, that autopsy is on a stillbirth, and sometimes it’s on a neonate that was born alive but didn’t survive.
Those are the really quiet ones.
We have in front of us a perfectly healthy full-term infant. Except it’s dead.
The pathologist and the technologist have been known to clasp hands over the body, even cross themselves or say a silent prayer before the first incision is made, especially if both have children.
I have stood at that table and searched for the elusive cause of death to give a family grieving the greatest loss imaginable an answer to the question they must have an answer to. “Why me? Why my baby? Why???”
Sometimes it’s apparent…it’s an aortic aneurysm that dissected and ruptured and there was nothing to be done,
Sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s a minor defect in the development of the kidneys that could have been fixed by fetal surgery at 30 weeks if it had been detected.
The causes of fetal demise are varied, but that doesn’t matter to the family going through the loss. To them, no one has ever hurt this bad, felt this much pain, been this mad at God…
And that is what pisses me off so bad about the latest attack video on Planned Parenthood.
The so-called pro-life activists playing “gotcha” with a doctor who thinks and speaks in clinical terms essentially wants more people like me to clasp hands with a pathologist before they start to cut on a dead baby to find out why it is in front of them instead of in the nursery.
I’m sure it won’t be the last time I have to say it, but damn I’m getting tired of saying it….When a fetus is aborted by the D & X procedure, it’s a wanted child but the pregnancy has gone wrong…horribly, horribly wrong. Sometimes the fetus has fatal or quality-of-life defects and the parents decide the humane thing is termination. There are other instances where the mother’s life, health or future fertility are at risk.
And guess what, pro-lifers? If you get the fuck out of the way and stop playing “gotcha” and setting up front groups with no other purpose than to entrap a Planned Parenthood (only 3% of their work is abortions) official discussing a topic that is inherently unpleasant on hidden camera so they can heavily edit the footage, research can happen and less wanted children will die. These people are so monomaniacally stupid it makes me want to scream.
Let’s talk about organ transplants for a second. Everyone knows someone who got a new-to-them-organ. That is really icky if you think about it…taking organs out of one dead person and putting them in several other live ones, and I bet most pro-lifers check the box on their license anyway. Well, guess what? if we harvest a heart in KC that goes to Denver and two kidneys that go to Des Moines and Wichita and corneas that go across town to KU Med and a liver that goes to someone here in town at another hospital, part of that processing includes a shipping and handling fee. I’m trained in this shit, you don’t get the butcher from Hy-Vee to process organs for shipment.
I know what the doctor was talking about is a topic that makes people uncomfortable, and makes people squirm, but the tissue and organs she talked about preserving as doomed fetuses were aborted were shipped to labs — much like, hell, EXACTLY like — the one I used to work in, those tissue samples, those intact defective organs, allow for medical advances in the fields of perinatology and neonatology, and those advances mean the pathologist and the technologist have a lot fewer opportunities to clasp hands and say a silent prayer before beginning an autopsy on a stillbirth or a dead neonate.