The D.R.

by Eleanor Frost

The D.R.

Nothing can prepare you for the sights and smells of the D.R.
It wasn't how I'd ever imagined it could be by far.

People lying lifeless under a blanket of death.
People who were kind enough to leave themselves as a bequest.

Ironic that in order to learn how to save lives,
One has to study death by dissection with knives.

A claw like hand reaches from under the sheet.
Their final grasp of life until they finally admit defeat.

Overgrown nails with chipped varnish bring the body to life.
Somebody's mother, daughter, sister, aunty, niece or wife.

Oversized hearts and discoloured lungs show how a person may have died.
Evidence of past lifestyles and their effect on our insides.

The D.R. is where we train for our future careers.
The Dissecting Room is where we face our greatest fear.

Eleanor Frost



I started to write the poem by writing down words and phrases that came into my mind as I considered how I felt when I first went into the Dissection Room and saw a dead body. I vividly tried to capture thoughts and feelings that had remained in my memory from months ago. I then compiled my thoughts and feelings into rhyming couplets to help with the flow of the poem. The title of the poem is supposed to be a play on words as its looks like 'The Doctor' but really stands for 'The Dissection Room' which the reader can discover as they are reading the poem or when they reach the last line of the poem. I think that most people do fear death and that it can be a taboo subject which is why many people find the idea of studying cadavers quite disturbing. As medical students and future doctors it is vital to not trivialize the fact that we are studying human beings and somebody's loved one and thus to have complete respect for the cadaver.

I think that the process of thinking through my feelings on this matter was in itself valuable; as I in fact came to realise both the strength of those feelings, and that I had not been properly addressing them. As such, I found the first stages of exploring my ideas quite emotional. However I then truly enjoyed finding phrases and language to express, and lay down my feelings. I have been able to conclude from this exercise that perhaps my greatest fear is, and should be, to lose that initial emotional reaction, by becoming unaffected by such unusual sights and situations.

Whole Person Care