We Light Your Scrotum On Fire: 6 Realities Of The Morgue
When the insurance company asks you for proof that your grandmother passed away, they want something more than a severed ear and your assurances that Gregor The Butcher always gets the job done. They'll need a death certificate, which is issued by a coroner's office, and which sometimes requires an autopsy to make sure nana isn't faking it this time. We've always assumed that it was a boring, straightforward procedure, until we spoke to a source, who interned with a medical examiner and discovered that your typical autopsy is one of the most horrifying things in the history of ever, especially the part where ...
Your Organs Are Yanked Out In One Giant Piece
All autopsies kick off with the classic Y-incision you might've seen in TV and movies, starting from each shoulder to the sternum, then down the midline to the pelvic area to expose your ribcage. Once you're opened up like Buffalo Bill's duffel bag, we use a bone saw to cut through the chest plate and into your gooey center.
As a side note, because of limited space, after we cut away the front half of your ribcage, it might just end up wherever happens to be most convenient, like on your face or genitalia, where it will rest like a nightmarish bone bikini.
Anyway, at this point we're ready to remove your insides. Every medical examiner learns multiple evisceration techniques, and they choose one that suits them best -- sort of like a nightmarish signature. The most horrific is the "block" yank: You start by cutting away tissue around the organs without separating them from each other. This unfortunately still leaves them anchored to the back and spine by a tight net of connective tissue that you can't reach from the front.
Since all organs are connected by various flesh tubes and the like, all you have to do to remove the hub of organs is to grab the top of it with both hands just below the tongue, plant your feet, and then yank the entire thing with all your might. If you're really good, you'll be able to empty out the body from tongue to anus in one fluid motion, sort of like that tablecloth-yank trick, as performed by Pinhead.
Your Scrotum Gets Turned Into A Flamethrower
In case of a severe infection, your entire body might become inflamed and go into sepsis. If you die from that, you will undergo rapid decomposition resulting in large amounts of methane, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen building up inside your ballooning corpse. These fumes not only smell worse than Death after a pick-up basketball game, they might also ignite during the autopsy, and therefore have to be removed. That's when the junk-piercing needle comes in.
A medical examiner will occasionally decide to burn off the gasses accumulated in your body by stabbing you in the coin purse with a large-gauge autopsy needle and lighting the vapors escaping through it. In short, the doc might turn your balls into a tiny flamethrower, and then light his cigarette off of it.
Just kidding. There's no smoking allowed in the morgue. But that's probably the only thing stopping somebody from trying it.
You Moan And Turn Green Like A Zombie
Sometimes, the corpses moan.
But enough about my sexual prowess.
Hahaha ... no, seriously, the corpses really do moan, and it's one of the most terrifying things I've ever witnessed. This only happens when we turn the bodies over, and I know that the sounds they make are just air escaping through their voice boxes and open mouths. Still, the first time I heard it, I nearly crapped my pants.
And that's not even mentioning the actual undead.
Which is everybody, technically. Because of the bacterial cells in our bodies (which outnumber the human cells by a factor of 10 to 1), we never truly "die." Even after we kick the bucket, there are still around 100 trillion microbes living inside of us. These bacteria are the ones that begin the process of decomposition in the human body. With decay comes a greenish color that spreads from your bacteria-dense stomach area, almost as if your corpse was going moldy.
Soon your skin starts to bloat because of gases released from the bacteria eating away at you, which can lead to huge blisters appearing on your body. If these blisters break or pop, they release a foul liquid substance called "decomp fluid," which is the rotten soup your body starts cooking when it's all done livin'. We don't usually get bodies in such a bad state, but there were certainly times when my old workplace resembled the set of a George Romero movie.
Your Skull Becomes A Jigsaw Puzzle
To get to the brain, a cut is made across the top of the scalp from ear to ear, which is then peeled down to reveal the skull, like a horrifically literal blood orange. We then use a bone saw to cut the skull open around the circumference, making sure to leave notches like a jigsaw puzzle. Finally, a metal prying tool called a skull breaker/hammer is forced into the notched neurocranium to pop your top like a fleshy bottle of Snapple.
If someone's been dead too long, their brain will turn into a noxious, creamy, pale-gray pudding. And since the weight of every organ must be recorded as best as possible, any late-stage brain-ectomy requires us to place a bowl under the skull as we open it to catch the putrid batch of melted zombie ice cream that pours out.
Then, once the brain is extracted and we've ripped out your meninges with a pair of pliers, we put the top of the skull back on, which fits perfectly thanks to the jigsaw-like notches we left earlier with the bone saw. All that's left now is to clearly label and differentiate the brain bowl from Dr. Winger's oatmeal bowl. This step is super important (to Dr. Winger).
Your Skin Gets Turned Into A Pair Of Gloves
Not long after decomposition begins, human skin starts decaying until it has roughly the structural integrity of a wet napkin. This usually leads to "degloving." That's when the epidermis of the hand separates from the body and slips off like a loose glove -- fingernails, rings, and all.
Then, on very rare occasions, the medical examiner takes your newly formed "hand-me-downs" and puts them over his own hands like a pair of gloves.
Because the medical examiner is a deeply disturbed individual.
No, it's because, with sufficiently decomposed skin, it is insanely difficult to fingerprint a person. Putting on a pair of humittens actually makes the process easier and helps us to identify a John Doe corpse faster. Don't worry, though. When we accidentally slip the skin off your legs and make "skin stockings," we don't wear them like a pair of socks. Unless Clyde is on duty. That guy just ain't right.
Your Organs Sit In A Bag Inside Of You
Now we get to the big one: the careful examination of those organs from earlier -- the ones that the medical examiner yanked out of the patient with all the finesse of Patrick Swayze in Road House. This is actually the most important part of the autopsy, and it requires delicate and advanced tools ... namely, an old cutting board, a kitchen knife, a pair of scissors from Staples, and a shitty six-inch plastic ruler.
Each organ gets dissected and inspected for a possible factor of death like blockages in the heart or cirrhosis in the liver. Tongues get sliced open, lungs are cut, stomachs are drained -- it's all pretty disgusting, but inspecting the intestines was always my least favorite part. In order to get a good look in there, your bowels have to get "run," which is what happens when the doc uses his scissors to glide through all 25 feet of your small and large intestines, casually brushing aside any feces into the sink.
So, essentially, the medical examiner takes your last shit for you.
When the examiner dissects your heart, one of the first things they do is take it in their hands and rinse it out under tap water, gently squeezing the coagulated cardiac goop out of it. If nothing of note is found on the outside, the examiner starts cutting it into onion rings, looking for signs of previous heart attacks and taking tissue samples when needed. Those samples, which are collected from every organ, are then preserved in two jars, one for documentation, one for the medical examiner's personal collection.
Everything else is thrown into what is known as a "gut bag" (surprisingly, that's a bag for guts). After that we suck out any remaining blood, place the gut bag inside you, put your bones back in place, and zip up the body bag. You are now ready to go to your final resting place, trussed up like a frozen turkey.
Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a Cracked columnist, interviewer, and editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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For more insider perspectives, check out 5 Horrific Things You Learn Preserving Brains For A Living and 5 Awful Realities Of Transporting Human Corpses For A Job.
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