Friday, September 17, 2010


My day job is as administrative assistant to several doctors affiliated with Pittsburgh's largest medical center and network of teaching hospitals (which shall herein remain nameless; I don't suppose associating them with this blog would do anything to increase my chances of a raise!) My docs are all academics, as well as superlative surgeons and practitioners, meaning they train baby-docs to become the surgeons, medical scientists and teachers of tomorrow. Medical training is basically a very lengthy, intense, elaborate, and rigorous apprenticeship, and many of these people, both masters and apprentices, are some of the most incredibly motivated, intensely high-energy, and awesomely super-intelligent beings on the planet. They are also, IMHO, all somewhat nuts, so it is quite an interesting milieu in which to work. 

One of the more interesting tasks I've handled over the years has been ordering cadaveric body parts for them to practice surgery on. Great way to spend Halloween! ("Ummm, give me dozen of those...and do you have any fresh brains....?") Yes, there are companies that specialize in supplying certified disease-free dead bodies and pieces thereof for educational purposes to the medical teaching establishment. So you might look askance at the next FedEx truck you see, you don't know what might bounce into the street during an encounter with one of Pittsburgh's infamous potholes...

"Cadaveric" is a term meaning coming from a dead body, referring to the above-mentioned goods. Now I ask you:  how many corpses are on the earth at this moment? Think of all the graveyards, all the shipwrecks, all the disasters, all the catacombs, all the research and training hospitals around the globe. I do believe the dead must out-number the living. Even allowing for decomposition--a natural process heavily compromised by the modern use of chemical preservatives.

Biology and mortality. You can't have one without the other. The more animate a being is, the faster it flares and deteriorates, releasing its components into the universal recycling pool of life-engendering matter. Science endeavors to continuously extend mortality, nowadays by combining biology with technology. But Mother Nature always wins out. One of the most brilliant and distinguished surgeons with whom I've had the privilege to work, once said, in a lecture to the incoming Residents:  "Remember, in medicine, we don't know far more than we know." Obama, Congress, Sarah Palin (aaaaggghh!!!!), are you listening?


  1. Diane you are brilliant at what you do. You make the most detailed,complicated and awesome art I've ever seen. Straight out of an ancient Victorian textbook. Marvellous!
    And what an interesting and diverse job you do. Thank you for all that info!
    June xx

  2. I love an art blog that is not afraid to talk about cadavers! Just the labels on that post are great! I'll stop in to see what other cool art you're doing. thanks!


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