Saturday, July 7, 2007

Bullfrog Battles


It was a bad day from the start. I arrived three minutes before the time, breathless from running three flights of stairs, and lacking the most important thing: my live specimen. This was our 8th dissection (we dissect a live toad every meeting, as each system is tackled), and I frantically asked my mates if any of them brought an extra specimen. The dreary lab was smelly because of the toads in plastic containers, the shelves filled with jars of preserved body parts, embryos, cats, birds, and snakes did little to brighten up the place.

“Kuya, I have one, but it’s a bullfrog,” one of my mates said. She held up the plastic bag, and peering though the translucent plastic was an ugly frog the size of a small cat.

“Prepare your materials now. You will only be given 20 minutes to finish the dissection. Move!” We all scrambled in our seats and make the preparations.

0:19:00

I put on my lab gown. Students rushed out faster than Hurricane Katrina as they went out to borrow dissecting pans and dissecting sets. Thankfully, I had my own as I’ve realized weeks ago this saved precious minutes. I placed the smelly plastic on the pan. Some students had time to wash their specimen prior to the start of the class, but with the time constraints I had no choice but grit my teeth and get to work, with the frog reeking from his excrements.

0:18:00

The frog struggled violently as I removed him from the plastic. He probably knew what would happen next, as the long pithing needle glinted menacingly in the fluorescent lights. No time to put on surgical gloves either, and I was a little worried seeing his poison glands starting to secrete the milky fluid on his back.

0:16:00

Pinning his head with my index finger, I use the pithing needle to paralyze him. His heart still has to be pumping as we expose the organs as instructed; a dead toad would be good as zero points. My hand shakes as his powerful legs kick vigorously. “Ok buddy”, I muttered under my breath, “It’s either you or me. And I’m not getting a zero for this dissection.”

I angle the needle slightly as I located the position of his atlas. I saw the grove just before his skull and I slid the needle inside. Pop! I heard the bone snap as the needle pierced his skull, I move it the opposite direction as I work on his spinal cord. I watched his limbs suddenly stretch, and finally go limp.

0:12:00

The board read:

Pith the toad completely -------------------------------------- 30 points
Expose fully the muscles of the left leg----------------------- --20 points
Expose the abdominal muscles, cut a millimeter
From the Linea Alba and expose the visceral organs------------30 points
Cut the mandibles to expose the glottis-------------------------20 points

Profuse bleeding: Minus 30 points

Something was wrong. I was cutting the skin on the abdominal area when the frog’s left leg twitched ever so slightly. It only meant one thing: I was not successful in paralyzing him. I decided against pithing him again for two reasons: 1. time constraint 2. with my fingers slick from the cocktail of poison and blood, I couldn’t hold him properly.

I continued to remove the skin and proceeded to cut his abdominal muscles, careful not to hit the artery that ran through the Linea Alba. I can say goodbye to 30 points if he bleeds profusely.

07:00 minutes left

I look around, and some of my mates were still struggling to pith their toad. Some, however, were already working on the mandibles. I must hurry.

I begin to expose the left leg by carefully cutting the skin. This will take forever, I thought. I grip the peeled skin and pulled as hard as I could. Riiip! Riip! The skin of the entire leg comes off, exposing the muscles and bones of the left leg. Time to work on the mandibles.

03:00 minutes left

I cut laterally, very carefully, but I must have accidentally hit a blood vessel because blood spurted from where I made the cut. Shit! I watched helplessly as the buccal cavity fill with blood. I stopped for a moment to wipe the sweat off my brow.

What to do now? I decided I had no time, so I’ll just continue. I cut the other side, finally able to expose the glottis. I touch the blood with my finger. It had begun to clot. I was lucky! The bleeding had stopped on its own, and I was able to remove the clotted blood. Relieved, I step back to look at my work.

00:00 Judging time

“Put your instruments down, and everybody move to the side.” The instructor started to inspect the specimens, collecting sheets of paper where he jotted down grades. A few minutes later, he gets to the pedestal and announced:

“Three of you got a perfect score. Sheryda Dumduma, Zoe Ann Villacorte, and Thad Hinunangan.”

Yes!! I grinned, clasping my dirty hands, it was a good day, after all.

16 comments:

CharLenE said...

waaaaaa.. this reminds me of our Zoology laboratory!! hmppp.. whew! we really struggled a lot that time.. Especially the assembling of the bones.. It was a real challenging experience!

Phoenix said...

@ charlene: it was a perfect introduction to Anatomy though ; ) I enjoyed those times in the lab even with the gloom of the place

Beejing said...

Wah! Congrats thad!

Phoenix said...

@ beejing: thanks buddy ; )

pepe M. said...

hhahaha!
you could be a script writer for Grey's Anatomy...seriously! :)

Phoenix said...

@ pepe m: i think i have a long way to go ; ) but words like that from people like you really keep me going. Thanks ; ) thank you talaga hehe

JOSH said...

i'll await your blow by blow detailed on d human torso (eerr mummyfied pala gamitin nyo, eerrrk)

:-0

Phoenix said...

@ josh: we don't get to work with cadavers, thank goodness!

Mark Xander said...

Kawawa naman yung mga frogs.. :(

MISTERHUBS said...

Hey Thadie, your blog has been reviewed by The Geeky Guide. Check it out! :-)

Phoenix said...

@ mark xander: I know, but as what our professor had said, its all in the name of learning. It helps students understand more about how organs and organ systems work- so we in turn, can help our patients in the future.

@ misturhubs: Thanks Mr.H! Kakatakot naman ; )

-=mink_blink=- said...

na mimiss ko tuloy school...

we were sophomore when we did that... lumobo talaga yung lungs ng palaka, wawa

Phoenix said...

@ mink blink: welcome back!! check ko blog mo. todo bakasyon ah ; )

ruff nurse-du-jour said...

oh yeah. i miss zoology too. i love my frog then, his, er, her name is russel, by the way..

and oh. she's dead. :.(

Phoenix said...

@ Ruff: Russel! Ang cute ng name, ako Mr. Frogy regardless of the actual sex of the frog. Gosh more than fifteen yata lahat ang na-dissect ko, three of those para sa bones lang nila. Medyo perfectionist yung prof namin, magkulang lang ng phallanges uulitin mo lahat

neurotic_mess said...

I was an expert in pithing toads at sir cabansag's classes. Mine never bled! But they were well paralyzed!

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