My Experience as a Dissector
In April of this year, I had the opportunity to attend a fresh cadaver dissection with Pilates on Tour which was hosted by Balanced Body in partnership with Todd Garcia, owner and director of Laboratories of Anatomical Enlightenment, Inc. I feel compelled to share my experience as I never want to forget it and the best way to remember something is to share it, so here’s my story.
I arrived in Phoenix Arizona on Sunday April 8th 2018 and was invited to a meet and greet hosted by Balanced Body and their two guests, Elizabeth Larkam and Suzanne Scott (Ph. D. student) and a group of health and movement professionals who had registered for this workshop. We came from everywhere in the world and all shared one interest: the love of anatomy and the body. We were about to embark on the most memorable journey in anatomical discoveries of our lives.
Monday morning at 9am, we regrouped at the lab and got to meet Todd. When walking in to the laboratory, the first thing I noticed were the tables around the room. Long narrow metal tables pushed up against the walls with long blue bumpy bags on them. Our bodies. We sat down at desks, full of nervous energy and anxious for the events of the day, not knowing what was going to happen and how we were going to react. Todd spoke to us of what might happen, what we were going to share together as a group and how this may or may not ever make sense to anyone else outside of our group. He also explained how our dissection schedule was set for the week.
After 2 hours, we had the honour of meeting our bodies. Having been in a shared space with the cadavers, all 5 of them, for 2 hours…. we were calm, aware of their presence, but no longer nervous about the prospect of meeting them for the first time. Well done Todd.
We had 4 men and 1 woman. We got to choose which body we wanted to work with and hence met our team mates for the next 5 days. Day 1 consisted of dissecting the skin off the front of the body, but leaving the adipose tissue intact. Day 2 consisted of dissecting the skin and adipose tissue off the back of the body. Day 3 we started to dissect muscles, but kept them attached at their origins and insertions. Day 4, we started to detach specific muscles from their origins or insertions and started to unveil the smaller muscle groups underneath. One side of the table would reflect the muscle from lateral to medial and the other side would reflect the muscle from medial to lateral so we could see different aspects of it. We also dissected and removed the visceral organs from the body and the heart. Finally on Day 5, we dissected the brain, the spinal cord, all of the joints in the body.
What struck me the most was how natural it all seemed while in the room with my co-dissectors. We were part of an experiment larger than us to broaden our knowledge of anatomy and all of us had different questions and interests, but at all times, everyone was professional, courteous, respectful.
My biggest take-away was how neatly organized we are. Everything is compartmentalized, but also works with another part. Our bodies are beautiful harmonious factories and every part has a purpose that functions as one and with others. We are simply remarkable.
My second biggest take-away was the spinal cord, how important, yet fragile it is with its multiple protective layers. Our Master Dissector reflected the spinal cord from approximately T3 down to the the cauda equina (what looks like a horse’s tail at the bottom of the spinal cord approximately L1 or L2, these nerve roots branch out into your body through the vertebra and become nerve endings).
My final take-away is fascia and how we think and say it’s everywhere, but it’s really everywhere. There is research being done as we speak as to how fascia houses its own micro-organism and holds memory, pain, emotion…more to come on that in a later blog.
In a nut shell, let’s all take time to appreciate this house we live in. It’s a beautiful structure that we often take for granted and once you’ve seen the inside of that house, you can never unsee, unlearn or forget the phenomena of the human body.
A big thank you to the deceased who chose to donate their bodies to science for anatomical research. We took care of their temples and paid upmost respect to them each and every day.
For more information, contact Jocelyne at The Cornerstone Pilates at email@example.com