Monday, January 22, 2007

Tales of the Morgue

I have had an overwhelming response about a previous Autopsy Blog that I as a treat for my loyal followers, I've decided to start a recurring post called "Tales of the Morgue". Just like those crazy TV shows, "All names and places have been changed to protect the innocent".

Quite a while ago, I had a case of an older woman who had died alone in her apartment.....who luckily, was found after a short time. (I seem to be a magnet for majorly decomposed bodies when I am on-call.......I'll break you in before I start telling of THOSE stories....) Anyways, there was some question as to whether it was suicide or accidental drug autopsy was definitely in order since the death was unattended and the cause unknown.

She was a frail appearing women.....looked like a drug-addict to me. Thin skin, lesions all over the body....bruises, nasty teeth, horrible hygiene. Pretty gross.

Before the case starts, we always do an external exam. The doctor takes pictures of how the body is presented to us and documents anything unusual or abnormal on the outside of the body. Part of the external exam is looking into the eyes, nose, mouth, etc. The doctor wants to know what color eyes they have, what shape their teeth are in.....and so on.

In this instance, nothing seemed abnormal about the eyes or nose. But, when we got to the mouth, we noticed something in there. One of the doctors reached in and pulled out this little looked like a little birth control patch......or patch someone would have for pain.

Immediately, the doctor says, "This is a pain patch. She's been chewing on a pain patch!" WHAT???? Yes...apparently, this is a new trend.......even for older women. She had had back pain and was getting a patch to use (which I have since learned is about 100 times more powerful than morphine!!!). Instead of using the normal, popular drugs that people use (like cocaine, ephedrine, heroine), others have found that chewing on pain patches can give them quite the high. This woman had been chewing on pain patches.........and it cost her life.

I'm not quite sure whether this was ruled a suicide or accidental overdose........but it still sticks out in my mind. Some people come up with some really weird things to mask what is REALLY going on....



The Peanut Gallery said...

Wow. Your job sounds really interesting. I wouldn't be able to do it though. I get the heeby jeebies around corpses.

Definitely share more of those stories though! :)

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