A cadaver gets under her skin
A cadaver gets under her skin

We enter the gross anatomy lab at 8 a.m. and spend the next two-and-a-half hours palpating bodies, cutting through skin and subcutaneous fat, probing muscle layers and searching for nerves and blood vessels. Before our first day, our anatomy professor spoke briefly about the special — and privileged — experience that lay ahead. "You will remember where you were standing," she said. "You will remember the first cut." That cut was not our first interaction with the cadavers. Nor was it the most memorable. We were supposed to start with the back — a relatively impersonal region with thick, well-defined muscles. But after we unzipped our body bag, we...