Let me set the record straight and tell you what it’s really like to be at an autopsy and what perils await us CSI’s. We are used to being in this environment but sometimes even we can be squeamish!
CSI's are like Wombles; google it if you have never heard of these, you are clearly very young! Our job is to wander around collecting items and (sometimes actual) rubbish as exhibits! Going to all kinds of scenes, we pick things up, put them in bags, tubes, boxes, whatever keeps our 'exhibit' in pristine condition. We go to fires & collect burnt debris, cannabis cultivations and collect plants, stabbings and swab the blood. The list is literally endless, and quite a lot of the exhibits we pick up are very unpleasant!
If it's needed for the investigation and it can be moved (sometimes trickily) it's ours!
I have created especially for you a list of the 9 most unpleasant exhibits that I personally hate to pick up. They definately do not show this on CSI Miami, but I can assure you it's all true. You may never complain about your day job again once you have got to the bottom.
Enjoy........you probably won't though!
Now you wouldn’t think this was a common thing for a CSI to pick up but I’ve picked up more brain than I can, and care to remember. And it really is my least favourite exhibit to pick up! From traffic accidents, shootings to really violent assaults, I can confirm it is throughly unpleasant! So this has to go straight to the top of the list. It doesn’t look good when its fresh. You leave those bits of brain in a scene for 3 days while the ‘Illustrious Leader’ decides whether they want it or not, and it begins to look & smell very much cat sick!
There are certainly points in my career where I truly question if this is a real job or if someone is just playing a cruel joke on me. For your info the actual ‘picking up’ of it isn’t easy either. Your brain doesn’t just ‘fall out’. It's normally forced out at high speed and therefore not in one piece. And its fragile, to the point where when you decide that you are going to attempt to pick it up, its just gone to mush! Disgusting & difficult, my least favourite exhibit to pick up!
Probably quite an obvious one, because who actually enjoys being anywhere near sick in day to day life let alone death?
Recently I found myself in the middle of a road where a GBH has taken place. Blood everywhere, exhibits to collect, all run of the mill stuff so far. I have a high ‘grossville’ tolerance. You need it in this job. But there are certain things that will always make me gag. Vomit is one of them. Regardless whether you are alive or dead, don’t be sick near me, I don’t like it!
The victim had been attacked in the street, coughed up blood with whatever they had eaten and then vomited it all out. My ‘Illustrious Leader’ decided we needed this as evidence! ‘Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy’ was my first thought. Second was 'that’ll be my job then'! And thirdly I then had to work out how I was going to get this off of the tarmac road surface without flicking it I'm my face! I did not enjoy picking this exhibit up!
Let’s face it, another obvious one. You are more than a bit odd if you are alright being near this stuff. I think it's the smell that just tops it off? There are a number of occasions in my job where I’m unfortunate enough to have to encounter this terribleness to my senses! One is at death scenes.
It’s undoubtably scary if you are fighting for your life and your body will react accordingly. You will be covered in it. This makes our job of recovering the body slightly more grim than it already is. It can't be helped, and we are wearing full-on scene suits, but it's still unpleasant obviously!
However, the burglars who get the urge when they are in your home, stealing your items are another matter completely. It's very rare these days for a house not to have a toilet. So if you are feeling like you are going to be caught short, then use it? Don’t do it on the bed to be spiteful, it's just grim! And even worse than that, someone like me will probably be asked to pick it up ‘just in case’!
All these years on and I still dislike this part of my job! Its definitely one of those times that I need to ‘girl-up’ and get on with it! Especially now I’m considered a senior in 'years in the job'. New people look to me for how it should be done and I’m supposed to be inspiring! How you can be inspiring touching a dead person I'll never know! Hopefully I ooze this on the outside but I can promise you in the inside I cant wait for the perfect print to be taken. Or for my nail to not have to be the ‘tool’ that prises back the rigor morticed finger and to put the wrinkled, cold dead hand down!
I think that’s normal??? Is that normal? My ‘what is normal’ line is very blurred these days.
We go in twos to do this as you need more than one pair of hands. You have to try and prise open the hand, pull the finger out straight and then get black ink on to it. And if you’ve still got a grip and its not pinged back where it wants to go you now need to get a white sticker on the inked bit and get a clear print! Easy? No! Tricky!
Sometimes you have to wipe maggots off the hand first. Occasionally the skin in sloughing off! Unpleasant!
Well it's basically sick isn’t it? I don’t like it! You have already read point 2, but this is under very different circumstances so I'm counting it again! You see, every time there is an autopsy the stomach needs to be opened and the internal surface needs checking for abnormalities. It's normally held up by the pathologist who asks “would you like the stomach contents”. It’s a yes or a no but either way a hole is made with scissors and what was once in is now spewing out on the work top.
It smells, the contents always looks grim (and always mostly like carrot with porridge!) and its just thoroughly unpleasant!! And when its a “yes, we need that stomach contents”, one of us has to run over with a large pot, hold it underneath the bulging stomach and hope that when the incision is made that the contents goes in the pot & not all over our arm!
Not a term I had heard before doing this job. Imagine it doesn’t probably come up much unless you are an optician as it's the fluid within your eye. Why would I be worried about ‘eye juice’ as I call it? Well let me tell you! During an autopsy a really thick needle is inserted into the deceaseds eyeballs and the liquid is sucked out. Nothing further needs saying about that does it!
I now this is weird, but I don’t like live blood. If you cut yourself I’m not the one you want to be around, I can't help you. I cant even deal with my own cut finger without announcing I’m going to faint. Pathetic I know!
Dried blood I’m all good with, it's not moving, its going nowhere! However, if you are assaulted very badly and there is a pooling of blood, normally from a head wound that is cherry red, this take a little while longer to ‘dry’. However, it also looks more like 'live' blood to me, not good!
When I come across one of these pools and the “Illustrious Leader’ of the day decides they must have a swab of it, I groan inwardly. I know what I'm about to have to do. When you have a nice dry patch of blood you wet the end of one swab, wipe the area you need then wipe up the little bit of wet with a 2nd swab. Easy!
Where you have a massive pool of wet blood you only need one swab as it's still kind of wet, but not really. This is my problem. It's like red snot. You shove your swab in it, the swab will touch the film that has been created on the top of the blood and here's where it gets gross! Its kind of congealed and you will have the most enormous blood snot bogey grim slimy string hanging from your swab! Somehow have to fit back this back in the slim tube it came from. I can tell you this is thoroughly unpleasant! Definitely an exhibit I hate to pick up.
Sadly we have to go to scenes where other types of terrible offences have occurred (I wont go in to detail, I’m sure you can join the dots). Hence why we would need to collect such an item.
There is just something nasty about having to touch other peoples used contraception! I think most people would agree? Luckily we have a special kit to retrieve them with! Aren't we lucky! We use tweezer which means we don’t ‘touch-it touch-it'. Then we have to seal the open end with a special peg to keep ‘what's inside inside & what's outside out’! I’ll leave it there! Use your imagination. I'm sure you wouldn't want to pick this up either!
Now this is a personal one for me. Firstly, I've been brought up well. Bed sheets are always washed at least once a week. And secondly why would you not have at least a bed sheet, pillowcases & a duvet cover on your bed??? I thought this was the standard norm? Silly me! Other peoples standards fall very much shorter it would appear.
We are never called to nice houses with nice clean bedding and asked to seize it. Nope. Normally we pick up grey, stained, stinking, never-seen-a-washing-machine before bed linen. And there are actually people out there who don’t use any! They just sleep on the mattress with a naked duvet over them with no duvet cover or pillowcase!
This confused me the first time I saw it. What has happened? Is one in the wash? Do they not have a spare set while the other is being cleaned? Oh no! They don't think bed linen is essential! It very much is!! How could you put your head on something that is grease stained, smelly and filthy dirty??? I literally couldn’t but it seems many people are ok with this?
There is also a particular smell when you go in to one of these rooms – the great unwashed!
I do enjoy my job honestly, but writing about nice things probably wouldn’t interest you would it!
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As much as I love my job, I love food more. I have a strong stomach for the grim visions of death I see on a weekly basis. Very essential in my job I’m sure you will agree! But there are still times when the sights and smells of a particular scene get to me and I lose my appetite – tragic!! And the main event that puts me off my dinner is when I attend an autopsy.
The reality is that if you die in the warm weather or in your house with the heating on and you aren’t found for a while the result is not going to be pleasant. It’s a fact! You will swell up, turn a different colour and you will smell horrendous! The stench of a dead person is very unique and not one you will ever forget.