Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Medical Examiner


If you’re a fan of CSI type TV shows you would have liked the lecture I went to this week titled, Tales of a Medical Examiner. It was given by a guy who has literally done thousands of autopsies for the county. By law they have to be done whenever a death is unexpected, suspicious, accidental, violent, or no attending physician was present. He views forensic medicine as a way of seeing past the tragedy and focusing on giving answers to families and the community and he went into that branch of medicine, he jokingly said, because they don’t have emergencies in the morgue. We must have a bunch of morbid people down at the senior hall because 165 signed up to see this presentation. The room doesn’t hold that many and it’s rare that we have a waiting list for our Life Appreciation Lecture Series. 

He did a question and answer session before bringing on the slide show. Ohmygod! There was nothing remotely shown like you’d see on TV. The first case he talked about was of a guy who’d called the local funeral director and told him to come to his house with a body bag because he was going to kill himself. The funeral director called the police who had a long stand-off with the guy who was waving a gun around, finally it ended with the guy having two bullets in his head. It’s impossible to put two bullets in your own head if the first one goes through brain matter and the forensic examiner had to make sure the bullets were from his own gun and not from the police’s. Imagine a 12 foot wide movie screen filled with close-up pictures of his bloody head. Imagine pictures of his skull cap cut off so they could retrieve the bullets. One bullet went through his chin upward and out his forehead, missing his brain. I couldn’t even tell it was a face for the longest time until I finally located his ear. The next bullet went from the top of his head downward. No one lost their stomach contents viewing those gruesome slides but the mood of the room sure changed as he walked us through the powder burns, suet, various colors of blood and the shapes of entry and exist wounds. If anyone thinking of offing themselves with a gun could see those slides they’d change their mind.

The second case he showed us slides of was a woman, also with a gun shot in the head, but her mouth was duck taped shut. They treated it like a homicide, ran a rape kit, and looked for signs of a struggle---the whole ball of wax. Finding none, it was a true mystery until her diary was discovered where they learned she taped her own mouth shut because she planned on taking a bunch of pills and didn’t want to vomit them back up. The gun was her back up plan. The medical examiner, a guy almost retirement age, said it still amazes him the things people do to themselves and others. Another interesting fact he told was that only 20% of suicides come with notes of explanation.  

The third case he talked about was of a woman, found in a bath tub full of water. He said no adult drowns in a bath tub unless something else is going on---drugs, murder, health issues or suicide. It’s never an accident unless it’s a small child who can’t push themselves above the water line. He showed us the autopsy slides of her heart, proving she had a disease that made her heart rhythm beat erratically, long enough for her to slide down in the water and drown. And the moral of that story is never take a bath naked again unless you want to end up with a dozen people coming and going in a potential crime scene. Her bloated naked body was quite a shocking sight. 

But the case that was the most shocking in more ways than one was of a 21 year old guy who was high on fentanyl patches. He thought he girlfriend was a zombie and he was going around a neighborhood, punching windows out with his fists, and begging people to get a gun and shoot him. He took a dive off the top of a balcony head first on the cement parking lot below. We got “treated” to a dozen slides of his entire body including three slides of various views of his penis and balls. Up close, full screen. And in case you’re wondering why it’s because they were covered in pinky fingernail sized fentanyl patches. The speaker said people hooked on fentanyl patches get very creative in ways to get the most kick out of their patches. They’ll even soak them in water to get the last drop of drugs out of them, then they’ll draw the water into a syringe and shoot themselves up with it. Fentanyl overdoses drive people to do crazy, crazy things and we’re in the middle of a fentanyl overdose epidemic because it’s coming in cheap from China and it's cut into heroin.  

I’ve been to other crime solving type lectures and one that walked us through the steps of how bodies are embalmed. I’m not squeamish but I can honestly say I couldn’t be a forensic pathologist nor would I want to be married to one. “Guess what I did at work today, honey,” is not something I’d like to hear over a dinner table. But what the heck, a free lecture is a free lecture and I rarely turn down an afternoon to learn something new. ©

29 comments:

  1. Well, I learnt from your post, from the comfort of my home....most interesting. I'd definitely have put my hand up for that free lecture. Thanks for the review. ~ Libby

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    1. The CSI type TV shows have made this topic popular. I've seen a few of them but I can take them or leave them. It was sure an interesting lecture. As medical examiners go, I like the one in "Garage Sale Mysteries" series better than in the CSI shows.

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  2. Not me! Your description was certainly informative but I never would have voluntarily looked at those pictures. They would have stayed with me for too long.
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. I did not expect to see such graphic photos. I think the presentation was the same one as he'd give to students going into the field. The photo of the lady in the bathtub did stay with me all day, I guess, because it could happen to any of us who live alone.

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  3. Being squeamish about blood and death, I'd have taken a pass on that, especially once I learned it was accompanied by visuals. Whomever sponsors all these programs you have available to you certainly gets a variety.

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    1. We get these lectures for free because our senior hall director finds sponsors who pay the speaker fees for us in exchange for a table in the room where they can hand out information or whatever and they get an ad in our newsletter than goes out to over 2,000 seniors. We get good quality speakers, often authors and college professors. In addition to the Life Appreciation Series we have less attended lectures that have a fee attached that are more health related. I rarely go to those. We get a 24 page newsletter every two months full of stuff to do.

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  4. Wow, I totally enjoyed your blog today. Of course, I'm a person who likes to read about things like this and I would of enjoyed that lecture with you. My wife always says to me that she would like to watch a person embalmed. I'm not sure about that but I wanted to see the photos of President Kennedy after when he was shot. I love both NCIS shows and old show CSI. See ya my friend.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. Our senior hall goes on a tour and lecture called "Behind the Scenes" at a funeral hall. Every year 50 people sign up for it. You don't get to watch a person get embalmed but you get to see the room they do it in and are walked through all the steps they take, the science they have to use. I came away with a better understanding on why it costs so much. A couple of years ago we had a lecture about Kennedy's 'magic bullet' given by a guy from the police department and he concluded that bullets really can ricochet that way.

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  5. Only 20% of suicides leave notes? Really? I can't imagine leaving without an explanation, but suicide is such an impulsive act, maybe they've lost the mood by the time they finish their note. By impulsive, I mean in that very moment. I'm sure people who do commit suicide think about it before hand, explore ways in which to do it, etc., but when it gets down to it, you have to really commit in that moment.

    I never know what you will learn about next. It's never boring, that's for sure.

    Are you getting my posts in bloglovin' or by email? Some people are having a problem. I hate this private thing.

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    1. Many of us were shocked about the lack of suicide notes. I'm guessing people who do it don't think anyone will care and/or they want to punish people by not leaving a note. I know a guy who killed himself and he wrote letters to each of his three kids and his wife. I just assumed most people do.

      I've been just using my blog roll to access your blog but I see that isn't going to work out because your latest post didn't update in my list. I'll sign up to get it by email.

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  6. I find this "morbid" stuff interesting, but really can't watch it on TV anymore. Fred and I used to watch every CSI and police show on TV. After he died, I can't watch them anymore. Which is weird because he wasn't murdered or suicide. BTW--Fentanyl is my preferred drug for colonoscopies, tooth extractions, any kind of "putting me to sleep" thing. I feel great when I wake up. LOL

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    1. I think it's the science of solving mysteries that intrigues a lot a people who like those kinds of shows.

      To the best of my knowledge I've never had fentanyl and don't want it. The doctor who did my knee replacements and shoulder surgery said I have a very high tolerance for pain. He's always impressed. My sister-in-law struggled with prescription drug addiction and I saw what it did to her and her family, never want that to happen to me.

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  7. One year, I was on the grand jury and was treated to some of those awful pictures from murder cases. Not something I'd care to do again.

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    1. I would hate to be on a jury like that. You couldn't walk away or turn off the TV and you'd owe it to the system to pay attention.

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  8. I'm not sure I could do that graphic of a lecture. When it's on TV, I know it is pretend blood and brains. Have you read any of Patricia Cornwell's books? The main character is a medical examiner. The first few were very well done ... start in order so you can watch the characters grow and evolve!

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    1. I didn't expect it to be the graphic but it probably wouldn't have stopped me from going it I did. I did some starring at the floor at the first look.

      Never read her before but I've heard she's a good writer. I'm not sure what kind of books I like to read anymore. I'm skipping all over the place.

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  9. This is something up my husbands alley. I could never look at the photos but I find the stories very interesting. You sure do some cool things Ms. Jean.

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    1. It up a lot of people's alleys. Must be crowded up there. LOL

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  10. Jean :

    you are amazing & I admire the fact that you will go attend these kind of lecture series. I don't think I will be ever interested in crime shows. I do believe what we watch & read has big impact on our life, s I like to read & watch selectively.oh in recent months one of the very famous indian actress died by drowning in bath tub in Dubai, &initially story was she suffered heart attack & drowned in tub later it changed that she was drunk & drowned who knows.

    Asha

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    1. The authorities know which story is true. The blood test would know reveal her alcohol level. I guess it's a common way to drown.

      I don't watch or read the horror genre for the reasons you mentioned. I don't want to fill up my brain with that stuff. But I will go to any lecture that works with my calendar and part of the time I don't even know what the topic will be...because I trust the director to line up interesting speakers. Only once in five years have I thought a lecture wasted my time.

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  11. I don't know if you have an Instagram account but if you do you might want to follow mrs_angemi. She is a pathology assistant and she posts some very graphic and interesting pictures!

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    1. I like to learn a little about a lot of things but it's really not my cup of tea. Someone else reading this might like to follow her, so on their behalf I thank you for posting about Mrs. Angemi.

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  12. Pretty sure I'd have volunteered for the lecture and possibly regretted it. We are so use to the sanitized versions on TV. It really is interesting though.

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    1. Boy, you hit the nail on the head regarding us being so used to the sanitized versions of the SCI work we see on TV. I think we were all shocked from the very first slide. I didn't regret going and I respect the people willing to do that kind of work BUT like I said up above, it's not my cup of tea to seek out again.

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  13. Have you watched Dr. G?
    Dr. G was a chief medical examiner. The show ended in 2012.
    Dr. G. Was down earth. I like her. Didn’t see any penis or balls though.

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    1. No, I have not. But being it was on the Discovery Channel I'm sure it was well done.

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  14. OMYGOOSH! Slides of all this?!? I find it morbidly fascinating...as do a lot of folks given the size of your crowd and the popularity of all those CSI shows. So, I too went to an Osher Institute Lecture by a forensic pathologist. No slides though...just body bags and stories; the most unusual was of a man who'd had sex with a horse and died from it.....I can supply gross and sordid details upon request.

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    1. I would love to know the gross and sordid details of how that man died and if the horse was okay. Email me or post a common that I promise NOT to publish.

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  15. If more people that write articles really concerned themselves with writing great content like you, more readers would be interested in their writings. Thank you for caring about your content.

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