Today I certified my first patient. It was a bit of a strange experience. For a start the patient had been dead 3 days. Although a fair few patients die on my geriatrics firm, they all seem to die out of hours so I've never been around when someone passed away. This meant as I went with the doctor to check whether or not a patient we needed to fill out a cremation form for had a pacemaker or not, the doctor let me run through diagnosing death.
To be quite honest I felt like a bit of a prat. I knew he was dead, the doctor knew he was dead, the mortician knew he was dead. He'd been in a fridge for 2 days! You'll be relieved to know there was neither a pulse or a heart beat.
Afterwards I got into a conversation about dead people. It's strange how as doctors (or even medical students) we get used to dead people. It's also strange that no matter how used you are to dead people, there's always the odd situation where handling it is that much different. Sometimes it's if you knew a patient well, other times it's when surrounded by the patient's family and sometimes you just can't put your finger on it.
Surprisingly the mortician wasn't as much of a weirdo as I'd imagined him to be. Someone who locks himself in a room with dead people all day lends themselves to getting a reputation. I'd almost imagined him to be some kind of social outcast who couldn't string a sentence together. He was a very nice man. If it wasn't for all the dead people in the fridges I'd be happy to go back and visit.