Sex, Drugs, and Public Health

August 9, 2012

Med School Culture Shock IV

Filed under: Uncategorized — cbmosher @ 4:38 am

IV. Histology

Oh boy, Oh boy, Oh boy. I get to use my microscope!

We all flowed into Histology lab, wooden boxes swinging from our arms. Fumble, fidget, plug it in, twirl the knobs, bounce excitedly on our stools.

“It’s a Bausch & Lomb 742,” boasted Dolin, in response to someone’s question, but loudly enough for the whole lab. He buffed his already shining new bifocal microscope, exuding both pride in his possession and cockiness that it, alone, would snag him an “A” like some magical biopsy tool. Somehow, he managed to secrete all this enthusiasm from a face permanently fixed in a scowl. No one had seen a smile from him since day one in the auditorium.

“You vill brick your fingers and zee blut you vill smear on zee slide,” the Histology prof directed. “Zhen find zee corpuscles of all zees different types,” he pointed to the board. Erythrocytes, basophils, neutrophils, platelets, macrophages, blasts.

Wow. I hope I find all of them. Well, not the blasts. That would be weird. Diagnose your own leukemia. That would be a bummer.

So I swabbed my left index finger with the traditional alcohol, held it up before me, picked up the sharp little lancet in my right hand, took deadly aim, and jabbed.

I missed.

My index finger jerked back, away from the arrow-like lancet. I snickered at myself. Well, it’s just an issue of will power.

I planted my left elbow firmly on the counter, index finger pointing ceiling-ward. Its vulnerable, fleshy pad exposed to my focused pupils and to the poised lancet. I firmed the muscles in my left arm to hold it there and, before my left hand could suspect what I was doing, lunged with my right.

Missed again.

Boy, my left hand is fast. Maybe if I…

A hairy paw grabbed my left wrist, and pushed my hand down flat onto the counter.

“Now you vill get your blut. You see, zehr is no vhere for your fing-her to go.”


While my eyes were buried in the microscope, sorting through my drop of ten thousand or so red blood cells, looking frantically for a white one – ANY white one, just one white one, I heard my roommate’s voice.

“Forgot to tell you. This was in the mailbox this morning.”

I pulled my eyes out of the microscope sockets to find him holding a white envelope. The return address was my Draft Board. I almost puked on my microscope.

“Open it.”

“Naw,” I shook my head. “Think I’ll hide it behind the right kidney of my cadaver.”


“Cause we’re only gonna remove the left one. Don’t have to dissect them both. We’re gonna leave the right one in.”

“No, I mean…”

“I KNOW what you mean!” I said way too loudly.

I waited for everyone’s eyes to fall gradually back into their eyepieces again, then I mumbled, “If they’re yanking me out of Med School, I don’t want to know.”

“Open it. Not reading it won’t change what it says.”

“Blah-blah-blah… deferred until Medical training completed… blah, blah, blah.”

“That’s great,” my roommate smiled. “One less worry.”

“Yeah. Now all I have to worry about is Physiology, Anatomy, Physiology, Histology, Physiology, Bio-chemistry – ”

“Are ve vorking or are ve chitty-chatty?” the professor boomed pretty much toward us.

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