THE ANATOMY LAB

The Chorda Tympani is a small branch of the facial nerve that passes through the middle ear. During first year medical school, my cadaver lab instructor offered a 6-pack of beer to any student who could locate this tiny nerve intact. I found it. He reneged.

I later wanted to somehow convey the experience of cadaver lab: dissecting a human body that has been drained of blood and soaked in formaldehyde and glutaraldehyde for six months until all the various tissues congeal into an indistinguishable greenish-grey conglomeration. Naturally, I turned to Lewis Carroll for inspiration.

=================================

THE CHORDA TYMPANI

.

‘Twere basilar, and the lithy nose

Did wod and wibble on the gabe;

All mimpy were the smegma toes

And the bonetome hacks outgrave.

.

“Beware the Chorda Tympani -

In jaws that bit, it jowls now dead!

Beware the fascial planes, and skin

With care this mummied head.”

.

He took his scalpy blade in hand,

By Grant his search was lead;

Then crouched he by the stainless tank

And thought a while instead.

.

And as in oafish stead he thought

The Chorda Tymp. with sheath of grey,

Came wiggling though the pulpy lot

And dangled where it lay!

.

One, two! One two! And round and round

His blunt-end probe went slurpy-slop!

He left it bare, and called for aide

To see what he did crop.

.

“And hast thou found the Chorda Tymp?

To me you this must show

That may be it! But do you know

From whence its fibers go?”

.

‘Twere basilar, and the lithy nose

Did wod and wibble on the gabe;

All mimpy were the smegma toes

And the bonetome hacks outgrave.

.

KURT BIEHL ©1986

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