I ran as fast as my legs could carry me. I was so terrified. The cadaver had risen. He was coming towards me. He gave a vicious smile and then ran after me. His hands and feet were as dark as coal. He was drained in formalin which gave a repugnant smell. He finally got a clutch of my leg as I ran. I screamed as loud as I could with my eyes closed but no one could hear me. The cadaver then gave me a tap at my back. I cried out loud and immediately opened my eyes.
A dim light shone on my face. Standing before me was a slim dark girl. I was still unconscious. She hissed and went back to her bed. Soon, I realized it was all but a dream. She had tapped my back when I was screaming shining her portable rechargeable lamp at me. She was my roommate. I heaved a sigh of relief. It was a nightmare. I was chased and hunted by a cadaver. What a nightmare! I exclaimed and closed my eyes to catch some sleep.
The previous day, I had passed through the dissection hall. I peeked into the window to catch a glimpse of what the cadavers look like but I couldn’t get an explicit view. I was so curious and frightened as well. I was really scared. I hurriedly left there and headed to my initial destination. When I got back to my hostel, I pondered about the cadaver. Certainly, that was the cause of the nightmare.
I was just in my second year in the University. I had never visited the dissection hall. I merely started offering Anatomy. I was so new to the system. I was naïve as well. In one of my Anatomy lectures, the lecturer told us to get our dissecting kits ready as we would be visiting the dissection hall the next week. I was so eager but was very scared. I felt like leaving medical school. I felt I couldn’t do it. Seeing the cadavers was one of my greatest fear not to talk of dissecting it. We were asked to study a portion of our Anatomy textbook before the practical. So, I took my book to study.
While studying, I flipped through the pages of my textbook and stumbled on a poem. It was titled ‘Thus said the cadaver’. It was really a beautiful piece of art. After reading it, I became less frightened about the cadavers. I was determined to overcome my fear. I was determined to face my fears.
The set day came for the practical. I wore my well-ironed sparkling lab coat, my surgical mask and my hand gloves. I took my dissecting kits and walked into the dissection hall. The smell emitting from there was choking. Some of my peers couldn’t stand the smell and they had to leave. The fearful ones didn’t come close to the cadavers. They were only watching from a distance. We were divided into groups and assigned to one cadaver. Our lecturer asked for a volunteer in each group to dissect the cadaver. I didn’t know when I raised up my hands. Was this really me?
I was picked as the group leader and was asked to dissect the upper extremity of the cadaver. Fear gripped me and my hands were shivering. I decided to let go of my fears. After all, the cadavers don’t bite, I thought. My hands received strength and I began dissecting. I was so surprised I could do it. It became so enjoyable. I was no longer scared or frightened. I could even touch the cadaver’s body with my hands. The fear was gone. That night after the practical, I slept like a baby. I was no longer hunted and chased by the cadaver.
My experience with the cadaver thought me a great lesson. It thought me the need of facing one’s fears. It requires you to do the thing you are scared of. If you don’t face your fears, you never will overcome it. If you are scared of reading for hours, try it even if it would be gradually. If you are scared of public speaking, try it out little by little even if it’s just around your friends. Get exposed to your fears so you can overcome it. Do the thing you fear most and the death of fear is certain.
Written By Isibor Precious, Delta State University.