Wants to see the big picture of digestion

  1. My school used to work with cadavers, but no more. For the last year and a half, I have taken every A&P class to get into the nursing program, and as you know...I made it
    I have come a very long way in my understanding of the human body, from A&P, to microbiology, to ethics and I know there is so much more ahead of me. But something is missing. Though I have seen excellent illustrations and computer graphics of the human body, and even disected parts of pigs and sheep (terrible smell), I don't know what the inside of a human looks like, really looks like. Now yall might phreak out that I am even mentioning this, but I have found that I am especially interested in human digestion, in particular. I love to learn about all the body systems, but something about how we turn food into energy really interests me.
    I want to see an autopsy, especially one that will remove all the parts of the GI tract (the whole thing). Are there videos? Can you go to a morgue and ask to watch? I feel funny asking this, but I hope someone can advise me here, or point me in a direction, because I really want to see all I have been learning about as it is. Anybody? Too bad humans don't have x-ray vision, we hafta make do with visable light. Superman - where are you?
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  2. 17 Comments

  3. by   NICU_Nurse
    First of all, don't feel awkward asking about this!! We're NURSES. We're the wierdest, 'phreak'-iest bunch of people in existance!!! I felt the same way, and started by asking my instructor if it was possible for us to go as a group to see an autopsy, as there were a number of us interested. For me, the anatomy part was important, to be sure, but it was also so that I could understand the concept of death more fully. I have never known anyone who died, and thus have never experienced the emotions. I wanted to know how I would react to seeing a dead person- consider it a bit of an experiment. She told me that they used to do this on a voluntary basis, but too many students passed out so they stopped!! ;>) I had to wait until I'd begun working at the hospital, and then simply went down to the morgue, introduced myself to the security guard, and asked him if he could show me around. He did, and it was quickly arranged for me to be present at an autopsy. It was amazing and I will never regret doing it. You never know until you ASKASKASK. Good luck.
  4. by   pebbles
    I'm glad I'm not the only one...
    I asked and was refused. When I'm burnt out with nursing, I'm interested in going on to be a coroner. I guess my training for that will have to include cadavers. I don't think it's fair that medical students all get to disect a human, but we don't.
    Mind you, I heard also that due to a shortage of donated bodies, medical schools are resorting to computer simulations in the anatomy lab...
  5. by   stevie b
    Mario
    do you work at at hospital? If so, find the pathologist and explain to him that you are curious, or go to the nurse educator and let them know that you want to see an autopsy. I did this and was able to stand in. Very cool experience. Also,all the pictures in a book, and all the dead cats you work with in A7P dont even give you a real picture. Dont think you are weird,just wanting to expand your horizons.Good luck and let us know what happens
    P.S. you have to have a very flexible time schedule, because the autopsies arent really scheduled in a "normal" time frame .
  6. by   super nurse 2
    when i was in nursing school, it was mandatory for us to attend an autopsy. i remember it was very intersting, but that the odor was terrible. i'm sure things have improved today
  7. by   Mkue
    Had a guy in one of my classes last semester that works alongside a coroner, wow did he have some neat stories to tell. Splitting open a body was second nature to him, I don't think it's for every one but if you're interested I would go for it !

    mkue
  8. by   Paprikat
    I remember a long time ago, reading an intensive article in LIFE magazine about a thing called virtual man. He was a prisoner who donated his body to Science and he was frozen and cut into a zillion thin pieces and then computerized somehow. I think the website is www.virtualman.com or something like that. I did go on the site years ago and it was excellent...They said something like it was an excellent training tool for MD's. I just wish I would remember more about it so you can see it for yourself. Does anyone know about this?
  9. by   Paprikat
    Hey, just tried out that website and that is not it! Damn, I wish I could remeber it! Sorry!
  10. by   mario_ragucci
    Of course i want to see an autopsy, and see the GI tract laid out, and I'd like to see the inside of a stomach and the head of the small intestines, but there is something even more that interests me that I have not been able to understand or imagine.
    I learned the GI tract is a closed system. Peristalsis is a one way activity I know. But what about water? Is that an exception? How can I down a 1.5 liter bottle of water after a workout and not immediately have to sit down and go to the bathroom. Yeah - thats sounds funny, but I am serious. After you drink the water, it goes into your stomach and it must seep out from there, right? How does water enter your blood as oppposed to protein or carbs or fat? How does our body transport water to extra cellular tissue from the stomach? If I could see the stomach maybe I could get a picture of this. It keeps me up at night, and no one I ask so far has been able to describe what happens. How can I eat an apple, then drink a bunch of water, and not start burping the apple up? It blows my mind to not understand this, especially since I have a human body of my own. I drink lots of water and it just disappears. What is going on? AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA:roll Is there a specific science associated with water metabolism.
  11. by   thisnurse
    osmosis mario, osmosis.
    water is different than carbs and other substances cos we are mainly made up of water.
  12. by   Squirrel
    Mario:

    Here is a quick answer to some of your questions:

    The GI tract is not a totally closed system, it begins in the oral cavity and ends with the anus and has various sphinctor muscles which act like valves intermittantly in the tract. These "valves" keep the food from flowing backward in the tract against the flow of peristalsis. There is a sphinctor muscle at the end of the esophagus right at the entry of the stomach that prevents the stomach contents from travelling back up the esophagus (regurgitation) and into your mouth. Some foods such as chocolate, peppermint, alcohol, and fatty foods cause this sphinctor muscle to relax (making it a faulty valve) and allows the stomach contents to regurgitate back into the esophagus causing heartburn.

    After you workout, your body has lost fluid due to sweating during your workout which needs to be replaced. When you down a 1.5 liter drink after workout, you do not urinate as much as you think you should because your body needs that fluid to replace what you lost. A lot of water is absorbed directly from the stomach especially if it is empty, and what is not absorbed in the stomach travels down the small intestine and some of it is absorbed there as well. A chemical reaction called hydrolysis is needed to break down fat, carbohydrates, and protein in our diet and water is needed for this to occur. When the food enters the large intestine it is still liquid, and most of the remaining water is absorbed in the large intestine. When something causes your large intestine (which is made of muscle) to increase its peristalsis excessively, the result is diarrhea because the water did not have a chance to be absorbed properly and is expelled in the stool.

    After the water is absorbed into the cell of the intestine, it is transported out the other side and eventually into the bloodstream. Protein, fats, and carbohydates as well as vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, drugs, ect. are transported in a similar manner regarding being absorbed into the intestinal cell, passes through it and eventually into the bloodstream. Some substances can also be absorbed between the cells to make it to the bloodstream. Protein, carbs, and fat need to be broken down by hydrolysis to smaller particles called peptides/amino acids, monosaccharides, glycerol, and fatty acids in order for them to be absorbed. There are different carrier and transport mechanisms for these substances.

    I am sorry if I bored you with this explanation. It is a very short overview of a complex process. I am currently working on a Masters degree in Nutrition and am very interested in nutrition, metabolism, and biochemistry so I could not resist answering your question. I hope I did not confuse you further.
  13. by   mario_ragucci
    No Squirrel - I have spent quality time reading, and re-reading you reply. Thisnurse started me off thinking more deeply by mentioning osmosis, and I often overlook that osmosis occurs in every cell of the body. (right?) It's quite a bit to consider happening all at once.
    YOU DID NOT BORE ME!!!!!!!!! I can listen to you talk for as long as you like about this subject. I wish I had your knowledge.
    I have learned about facilitated diffusion, and is there some way the hormones associated with water retention (and expulsion) turn on when you start to drink water? Do they "kick on" by a routine, or merely by you thinking about drinking water?

    Water is seperate from facilitated diffusion, right? Water is just plain old osmosis, going from a higher to a lower concentration (gradient). This idea seems easy to grasp, but when the entire picture is animated in my mind, some of the details get hazy. Like, I held on too tightly to the idea that peristalsis is a closed system. The energy that keeps us alive and kicking flows from the GI tract at all times, so it is NOT closed at all. (duh)
    I am well aware of NaCl, and how NaCl can effect osmosis and diffusion, but the hormones, ADH and aldosterone...I know they regulate hydration too, but I want to see how, and not just remember (<) or (>) signs. What does a group of stomach cells look like when the stomach is full of water and certain hormones are present. If you know of any movies that visualize water absorption in the body, let me know. After learning about DNA, RNA, mitosis and trancription/translation I felt somewhat at a loss. I knew about it, saw still pictures of the process, but could not fully imagine what is going on with only A&P's and microbiology classes under my belt. Then I got serious and started searching for images and found
    http://www.wisc.edu/genetics/Holliday/index.html
    and it all went click, click, click in my hippocampus like you wouldn't believe. :-) I hafta go to the campus to view this, because my cluncker is way too slow to process the animations.

    Thank you for introducing phytochemicals which I learned are, technically, any chemicals produced by a plant, but this term usually refers to certain plant chemicals (such as carotenoids) that researchers believe may impart health benefits such as better protection from cancer. Now I am on to this as well.

    Thank you again, and please go off on any part of water absorption or nutrition you like because I love to listen and learn. I too can go on and on. :-)
  14. by   yipididit
    Squirrel! You are good! Even I understood that one.:chuckle

    Mario,
    Personally, my facination is with the heart! I will tell you, when I am cooking chicken, I always look for the heart. It is like the coolest new toy on the market. (I remember in high school disecting one). To make a long story short, it is not nice to assume your children will have the same amazement about a disected chicken heart that you do!

    Maybe they switched babies on me?

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