I am working on a couple of long posts and during my research, I bumped into a couple of old friends:
A dissection kit. I and the rest of the kids in class had one like that in high school. You see, it was a mandatory piece of school equipment that we needed to purchase. I had mine stolen by parties unknown and thanks to my father’s business, we knew people in hospitals who directed us to this other kit:
It is called a Necropsy kit and it was of much better quality that the stolen dissection one. I gave mine to my godson when he entered high school and the idiot lost it.
And some of you may be wondering why would a kid would do with such dangerous instruments in school, instruments that in this day and age would prompt the mobilization of the local SWAT team, the Navy SEALs and MSNBC Remote Coverage?
We dissected bunnies for Biology class. Soft fuzzy bunnies were rendered unconscious via ether, sliced open and the internal organs watched functioning under Morpheus’ influence. Then they were given an overdose of ether until they passed out and organs were removed for further close-up study. This was done under the supervision of the teacher who never touched the animals or the tools or the chemicals: we did all ourselves. No gloves, no face masks, no goggles, just a white lab coat and mostly to avoid the inevitable blood splatter from reaching out school clothes and our mothers raise holy hell. I think there was a first aid kit with band aids somewhere in the Biology lab, but memory is not so clear.
I do need to make a correction: The teacher did touch our rabbit. He was showing us the different anatomical parts and using one of the big straight needled as pointer. Remember that the bunny was still alive, lungs collecting oxygen and heart pumping “…these are the lungs, this is the heart and this is the aorta.” Famous words that would remain in my memory still after 44 years because the teacher punctured the aorta and a jet of warm blood hit him right in the eyes. We did the mature thing and laughed our asses out while the teacher tried to wipe his eyes clean and the “anesthesiologist” was trying to avoid being sprayed with blood also. It is amazing how strong the blood flows though that artery! That jet reached at least four feet vertically.
The teacher regained composure and covered the bunny’s open chest with several layers of gauze. Then he directed our “anesthesiologist” to leave the ether on the bunny till it died in its sleep, ordered us to clean the blood from the table and went to wash his face. As we complied with his instructions, from another table we heard a loud thump, turned around and saw the body slither off to the ground. We initially figured a kid passed out at the sight of bunny organs in display, but it ended up being that the “anesthesiologist” for that table forgot to close the bottle of ether and inhaled the fumes till he passed out. Next thing we know, we are introduced to something we had only seen in the movies: Ammonia capsules! Dear God on Heaven they stink and so we did what any reasonable young teen would do: When the teacher was not looking, we stole a bunch of them for later misuse. (Note: People may throw up if you shove a broken ampoule of ammonia under their noses while having lunch. Do not ask how I know.)
The class continued. We removed organs, studied them under magnifying glass, took samples with a micrometer (Home made, that was part of the assignment. I aced it.) and studied those under a microscope and learned the hard way that you do not compromise the intestines of a rabbit because the insides stink worse than the ammonia. Most importantly, we learned. Nobody got stabbed or punctured by anybody. I don’t even remember if anybody had a self-inflicted wound of any kind, I know I did not and I was a total klutz with sharps back then. We washed our instruments in alcohols, dried them up with paper towels, put them back in the cases and the case went into our bags. Nobody thought about pulling them out during recess or another class. They went home with us and relegated to a corner of our rooms till they were required to be used again.
Now imagine having 20 kids loose inside a lab with a live rabbit, ether and very sharp instruments on this day and age. No, I can’t either. The kerfuffle would make national news and congressional hearings demanded, PETA would be camped outside the Principal’s office and Bloomberg would create Moms Demand Action For Scalpel Safety group.