Last night I finished my book: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach. How to describe this book? It’s funny, induces squirming and is super interesting. I learned a ton.
I did not know that cadavers are used in auto safety testing. I did not know embalming is very temporary. I did not know a whole lot of gruesome details about early medical procedures (used to illustrate how doctors learned about medicine without cadavers in the olden days) and I could have remained happily ignorant on that. There’s a bit about studies of guillotine victims and whether they have any consciousness after the big separation. I’ve always wondered this: do you die instantly or do you feel your head bounce around in the basket?
There’s a chapter on cannablism which includes a hilarious scene of the author visiting China to track down a story of a crematorium worker who allegedly whacked off a bit of flesh here and there and gave it to his brother who made it into dumplings at a popular restaurant around town. Can you imagine you and your translator getting a meeting with the director of that funeral home to ask about this story?
Before I read the book I was not excited about the idea of donating my body to science. Just the idea of people poking around my saggy dead boobs and shriveled privates and making jokes made it unappealing. Both the author here and the author of The Undertaking (Book #18) point out that once you die, what happens to your body is irrelevant to you so no point in getting worked up about it. Also, there is some good work to be done, like research to help develop protective gear for people who work around land mines. My cadaver could do that.
And then there’s plastination — my cadaver could be made into a big rubber model that would last for 10,000 years!
Actually my favorite is the compost. Freeze dry, shatter and throw me in the garden. After a long healthy and happy life. That would be my first choice.