The Becca Papers

I’ve known and adored Becca since the late 1990’s. She’s one of the warmest people I know, and one of the hardest-working, among many other excellent qualities. And John, her husband, is one of the most alive people I’ve ever met.

But Becca has one serious, nearly unforgivable, flaw. It is this:

She’s probably smarter than I am.

Which, unfortunately, means that she’s definitely smarter than you are.

I know… I know…. This is tough to deal with. We’re all used to always being able to convince ourselves that we’re the smartest person in the room. It took me three or four years to cope. Eventually, you’ll be okay about it, too, as I am. It’s not really her fault, and she tries to slow down for the rest of us, but you can tell that it’s sometimes a strain for her.

She’s in her second year of med school at UTMB, and is doing quite well, thank you very much. Because it’s a foregone conclusion, we already call her Doctor Becca, though she hates that .

She’s given me permission to post a couple of pages from her journal, on the subject of cadavers. I find some of the advanced medical terms used by her and her colleagues to be a bit over my head, but I’m going to look the words up soon. The good thing is that it gives me even more faith in the professionalism and deep stores of arcane knowledge possessed by our doctors.

I’ve placed it below the cut because of the extreme graphic nature of her descriptions.

And now, without further ado, the Becca Papers –



This reminds me of the types of conversations you hear a lot in anatomy lab as people are all bent over their cadavers late at night, doing some extra studying after hours, and the exam creeps ever nearer…..

1st student: “Hey, come here, look at this.”

2nd student: “Whoa! That’s weird.”

1st student: “Hmmmm.. Yeah…. what the hell is it?”

2nd student: “I have no idea. How the fuck should I know? Is it the wheelamagig?”

[insert lots of flipping of greasy pages]

“No….. I think this over here is the wheelamagig. Or maybe it’s the wheelamagig profundus… or brevis? I don’t know, I get all those confused… and they all look alike in here all buried in the fat and stuff.”

“Is this even on your hit list?”

“I don’t know. I thought it was…. yeah, here it is. The wheelamagig. But I don’t think that’s what this is.”

“Well, maybe it’s the corpuscular flatchumadoober.”

[both students start probing all over the place]

1st student: “Maybe…. but I thought that was supposed to be bigger or bulgier or something. You know, puffier?”

2nd student: “Crap, I can’t tell. It’s all smooshed together. Pull it apart more, see where it comes from.”

1st student: “It’s coming out from this hole over here.”

[more frantic probing]

[aside: plucks at finger of glove… ‘Goddammit… the finger of this useless glove ripped…. Now I’m going to have ‘stinky finger’. And it’s my right hand. I’m tired of eating with my left hand. I get sticky pants.’]

2nd student: “I didn’t think there was supposed to be a hole over there.”

1st student: “Well, we have a hole.”

“We don’t have a hole.”

“We do… and so do they. [points to neighbor’s tank] Theirs is huge. I mean, really really big. Suzy could ram her whole finger through it.”

[shrilly….] “Should she be doing that?”

“Oh, it’s fine. Uhm, I think. It was a really big hole…..”

“Are you sure you didn’t make the hole yourself when you removed the portal hoodlertuki?”

“I don’t even think we took the portal what-ever-you-said out. Uh- were we supposed to?”

“I think that was yesterday. Ours is out. It wasn’t easy to get it out- I think maybe we cut the doohicky vessel too short and now our thingamagig has retracted back into the thingy and we can’t reach it.”

“I don’t think we even had a thingy. Maybe hers was removed. Maybe she had Metastatic Thingy Cancer.”

“Can you even live without a thingy? I mean, wouldn’t your glockenspiel stop making yertzes if you lost yours?”

“I don’t know. Lemme ask Mr. Giggles over here.” [to other labmate] “Fellow Labmate, can you live without a thingy? Was that in a case scenario or something? Did Dr. Schmite say something about living without thingies? Do you know if you can?”

“Oh yeah, like the thing that if it bleeds, you die in 2 hours, and if something else is bleeding, you have, like 2 weeks until you die? Or is that the thing where you have to check for…. um…. it must be in my scribes somewhere….”

[to yet another labmate] “Hey!… can you live without a thingy?”

“Ummmmm….. Is the thingy on the test?”

And panic ensues as Thingy Confusion spreads like a zombie virus throughout the late night holdouts.


5 thoughts on “The Becca Papers

  1. I was in a cadaver lab once, but I was there for college/career day. The Med students let me shake hands with their cadaver. I was very impressed with their smartness and professionalism. (They told me that THEIR cadaver was an old guy who had probably died of a heart attack.)

    I wish I’d read this first, I could have asked them about the thingy.

  2. They told us that ours had died of ‘atherosclerotic disease’ which I took to mean ‘McDonald-itis’. When we got him open, we realized that (although a good guess) it was actually an exploded gallbladder. Very messy. Very green.
    Big problem – distinguishing between the many, many thingies.

  3. Becca’s gonna be a great doctor. We’ve already had that chat about the Vicodin prescriptions…

    She’ll probably be pretty useful when it comes time to hook the head up to the Firewire port, too. By then, she’ll probably know which thingy to connect to the whatsit.

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