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I'm a Funeral Services graduate embarking on a new career. I graduated high school in 1981, served honorably in the United States Navy from 1982-1986, been married since 1986, and have one son. I've relocated to a new state and have begun working in my chosen profession of Funeral Services, and I've never been happier.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Hollywood Cracks Me Up

Have you ever watched a movie or tv show, and the central theme revolves around something you are intimately familiar with? This happened to me the other night. We were watching "Bones" on TNT. For those not familiar with the show, an FBI agent and a doctor who specializes in skeletal remains team up to solve crimes. In this particular episode, they were at the funeral of a colleague. He had dropped dead shortly after having lunch. The paramedics and the coroner ruled that is was a congenital heart defect that killed him. The viewing was at the home of the deceased. This is unusual, but not unheard of. When the time came for all the visitors to pay their final respects, the doctor approached the casket. Spotting a flower that had been placed on his chest, and since fallen to one side, she went to retrieve the flower and return it to his chest. The flower was between the chest of the deceased and the far wall of the casket, and the doctor feels that his ribs have been broken. She immediately determines he was murdered, based solely on the feel of his ribs. So while all the visitors are in the other room eulegizing the dead man, the doctor and her FBI buddy steal the corpse and take it back to their lab. It was determined that the man had been poisoned, as well as stabbed numerous times with a trocar, which is a hollow tube used for suctioning fluids. It turns out the poison did not immediately kill the man, but rather sent him into a coma. The poison in question is called tetrodotoxin, which is used in voodoo rituals for simulating death in a person. It lowers metabolic activity; heartbeat, respiration, etc. The paramedics and medical examiner both thought the man dead. While embalming, the funeral director supposedly hit a nerve, causing the body to sit up on the table. In a panic, the funeral director grabs his trocar and repeatedly stabs the man. His defense? "When you watch a lot of zombie movies...it was late, I was alone...I got scared."

Anyway, the doctor and her buddies steal the body, take it back to their lab, perform an autopsy (the previous medical examiner had only performed a visual examination, not a post-mortem), get the labwork on the blood, suture the body back up, redress it, take it back to the home, sneak it back into the casket, all in a just a couple of hours. When the dead man had his heart attack or whatever, he fell to the ground, which resulted in the broken ribs. The poison did eventually kill him, somewhere between the coroner's and the funeral home.

There are so many things wrong with this scenario. Number one, you can pluck all the nerves in a dead body that you want to, and none of them will result in the body sitting up from a supine position. Number two, I'm pretty sure the autopsy they performed was illegal, as they were not medical examiners, and they did not have permission from the widow. Number three, you cannot perform an autopsy, get all of your lab results back, sew up the body, redress it, drive it back to the house, and recasket it all in just a couple of hours.

2 Comments:

Blogger Sank said...

It's Hollywood, not real, altough as a big fan of the show I do have to point out, Dr Brenan is an ME.

Even better is CSI, especially CSI Miami. If that lab in Miami is accurate in anyway? They're paying WAAAY to much in taxes.

I do think about these days as I've been watching 6 Feet Under on DVD. Wondering how accurate that is.

9:22 AM  
Blogger Granimore said...

I didn't know she was an ME. But then, I've only recently seen the show for the first time. My coworkers always joke about how perfectly serene the faces of the deceased appear on the CSI autopsy table. I've never seen Six Feet Under, so I can't help you there.

4:28 PM  

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