Thursday, September 20, 2007

At Work

Today one of the guys came into my office and asked me to take a look at some autopsy photographs and render an opinion. She was a gunshot victim and there was a constellation of injuries that nobody could quite put a name to, or get a handle on. The entry wounds and the exit wounds were pretty easy, but there was this weird bunching of avulsions and friction burns clustered on her upper chest that the prosecutor wanted explained.

I went through all the photos. I got a picture of what happened.

What seems odd, though, is how goddamn interested in it all I was. I felt frustrated not being able to grab her arm and move it up and over so the one wound would line up like I knew it wanted to with another one on her chest. I wanted to have her there in front of me so I could really figure it out. I wanted to probe the wounds and excise the tissue around them and to see the myriad tiny details that a camera will never capture unless the guy shooting is as obsessive and compulsive as I am when it comes to figuring out the mechanism of injury on the newly dead.

I was hungry for it.


After that I went into the bosses office and reminded him that if he needed anybody from the office to attend any postmortems, I was the guy.


I don't know. It maybe sounds a little bit sick and maybe it is. But I got a gift for it, I know I do. I would have been a hell of a cutter. But they never get to hit anybody or point guns at them and they don't get to drive fast in car chases. And they probably have to go to college and med school, even if they don't have to do very well there. I mean, somebody goes through all that and all they want to do is cut stiffs? I'd say they have a confidence problem.

But for me?

I could do it over and over again.


I like the science and the medical stuff, but mostly I like the figuring out what exactly the murderer did and what exactly the victim experienced and it is those things that I want to have and to know and to hold close to me. Because I should know. That is my job.

A lot of cops, it surprises me, they don't give a shit.

"She's dead, he killed her. Who cares whichever way and whatever wound, etc.?"


I get it like an itch.



Blogger james said...

that itch invades everything you do -- all that you love and hate and covet and hunger for and do -- it's not only what makes you a great cop, scott. it's the wind-up key in your heart.

5:57 AM  
Blogger Radish King said...

It's not sick at all. It's fascinating and complicated, like a puzzle in reverse. I think the work you do is gracious and elegant because your heart is so gigantic and so beautifully flawed, as all human hearts must be.


7:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WoW. What I'd really like to see you do with all evergized self is look up the thing on Coretta Scott King, figure it out from all the angles, the way she was treated after her loved one was murdered, you know, speculate on what it must have been like for her all those yrs, the eyes, ears, phone calls, acusations as to her supposid envolvement in what ever those men in black though she was involved in... you know all the time trying to raise what remained of her family life.. maybe go through the stages of grief.

could you do that for me? .. I know your not my husband in real life, but think of it as a honeydo.

cuz I wonder if in those drastic times if she ever thought of taking drastic measures to end it all.

... now that might have REAllY caused some looking into the whole thingie, You think?

2:18 PM  
Blogger LKD said...

"The entry wounds and the exit wounds were pretty easy, but there was this weird bunching of avulsions and friction burns clustered on her upper chest that the prosecutor wanted explained.

I went through all the photos. I got a picture of what happened."


what happened?

Incidentally, that you want and have to know and hold that knowledge close makes you, in my opinion, more human than human, to steal a lyric.

It's the cops that don't give a shit that scare the shit outta me.

3:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm guess that what happened was nothing. Possibly you couldn't be sure enough of your thoughts and crappy photos to really delve into it. Maybe it was an old case. Whatever. Now you know you have to go for it cuz you know you can solve things and fix things in the future. I so admire you. I would have been good at this too. Instead i'm an old grandma now.

4:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And they probably have to go to college and med school, even if they don't have to do very well there. I mean, somebody goes through all that and all they want to do is cut stiffs? I'd say they have a confidence problem."

in your experience, is this how many cops view paths and med exams and p.a.s?

5:37 AM  
Blogger tearful dishwasher said...

dottie bones-

Oh shit. I blew it, huh?

No, of course that isn't how most cops view pathologists and medical examiners and p.a.s.'s.

I sound like an asshole for saying what I did and I'm not going to go all politically correct and say that my words were taken out of contex and really meant something entirely different.

But where I was coming from is my own experience. I watch this guy who's real smart, and worked a lot harder than I ever did to get to med school and all that residency and shit, and I see him cutting on somebody who, no matter how bad he fucks it up, isn't going to get any worse or do any complaining. I imagine myself as a doc, and I'd want to be doing trauma surgery or brain surgery or some shit that makes, not a difference, but is just more life and death rather than just death.

But if I think about it a little more, I guess I'm just like the pathologist. Nothing I do is going to make any difference to the victim, either. Some family members might squawk, but I'm really just playing with a dead guy, too.


You caught me being kind of an asshole, and for that I apologize.

thanks for keeping me real.

Ps- I hope your flu goes away and you feel better soon.

PPS- I really do admire you.

1:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nooo! i was curious. to be honest, the medical examiner i worked for up in south dakota was profoundly odd, and i don't mean in the way he dressed or looked or anything outward. there was something really different about him. he and i got along, but i know a lot of people didn't like him.

and while they don't do coroner's cases at the hospital where i'm currently employed, pathologists are a different breed of people. not people-people at all, if you know what i mean.

actually, many of the doctors of every type i've met in the work environment are true jerks. the more difficult their jobs, the jerkier they seem to get. did you see that movie where alec baldwin played a surgeon and he said on a stand in court, "i am god." i laughed. some of them are confused in that way.

and i'm no doc. and i really, really admire you. i've learned a lot at this blog. so there.

11:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It's the cops that don't give a shit that scare the shit outta me."

ditto to that LKD

The one's just Sherk it off. It makes me wonder what it was they had in mind when they chose the desired path, what was the drive at that age cuz you gotta start young to make it through all those yrs of university, and so, for most I imagine it was an old man or the flash of power, money, fast cars... usually that's what those 20yr olds desire, and how to get it.)not all of them.. but most. their heads are pretty loose.

the problem I'm having not at my advanced age is wondering who's the financier that's engaged in illegal contracts with the diviants on the both sides.. I mean even if the original intent was purely innocent on that part, engaging with deviants brings in a whole other element which will have it's own agenda no doubt:
fake teacher contract and a cyclone inline with hbcommunications whos' stated that soon he'll own my whole garage -- I wonder if that is dream terminology given that his wife has a red dog and, as he's told me plays internet games in their garret next to my vegatable garden.

I'm only 33but framed, taped and packaged like a baby monitor video practicing voo-do on my smililng husband on the chase... I'm sure that's been fake toe shopped, names and faces changed so as Not to protect any innocent... maybe to be used in black mail.

unbenounced to j's son this only hurts others' and i simply placed a shrunken head mask on my door.. I know what is true; as does my family --- I Do Not engage in four-knee occasion,,, unlike the fake teacher contracts garvel who apparently teaches ballet to boys(sons?)under the scent of a glade kitchen candle and a bottle of Seagrams --- nor does MY husband sleep in a tent in the back yard.

Have you seen the movie Breach?
true story.

good day Sir.

2:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whewwwwww. I got all irritated there... but Dottie B took the first swing. And you recovered beautifully.

However, because i'm still irritated.... and because you DID mean it, just maybe not quite like that... I've gotta tell ya Scott, I'm working my ass off to not "do very well." And no matter how well I do, I still don't feel like I know it, so DAMN.

And living on ramen, and going hundreds of thousands into debt and driving a shitty little car, so that someone can vomit on me. Well DAMN! Puke on your own shit, muthafugga!

But that's okay too, I ASKED for this. I went through withdrawals missing my guys and getting in fights and driving fast and arresting AH's, but went and got another bachelor's and got my MCAT on, then spent ten grand applying and interviewing, so I'm not bitching, but DAMN.

I look at it this way... I don't know any other cops who could have done what I did, or could do what I do. And even if they COULD, I don't know any who WOULD. Which is probably wisdom on THEIR part, really. Or chicken s**t. Take your pick.

But if you do the whole fight/arrest/drive fast thing... but there's still something missing, then you gotta decide. there just had to be something more difficult out there that I was capeable of doing.

And that one probably sounds just as bad as your original... SO i guess I'll leave that right there.

It's possible to love the science of medicine, but not really have the skill or desire to deal with people lying to you about their own health or having to manufacture empathy for people who called it down on their own darn head. So those people can be pathologists, or radiologists or researchers.

Incidentally... why do you say you could "do it over and over again," but the pathologists aren't allowed the same interest or leeway? DAMN.

take care,

10:50 PM  
Blogger tearful dishwasher said...


I give, I give!

I have to say that there hasn't been three days in a row since I wrote that stupid comment that I haven't had to eat those words. Good lesson for me. Mr. Zen.

Mouth- 1
Head- 0

I KNOW there's not a lot of people, never mind cops, who could or would do what you've done. And I admire you for doing it. Not so much for the specifics of what you've chosen, although that's great, but just the fact that you would not settle. That you kept pushing against your own limits and seeing that you could always go still farther.

That's what a real warrior is.

And I'm big enough to admit when I've said something stupid. And worse, meant it when I said it.

It's funny, too, though. Cause I'd fucking cut stiffs all day long and love it.

Anyway, you're right, and thanks again for pointing it out, and in a real way, not a shitty way, etc.



5:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scott, you rock... probably at a cellular level :-)


7:25 PM  

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