e-book Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner

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Not for the faint of heart While I was on my 'people who work with dead-bodies' kick Stiff , Good Mourning , I stumbled upon this gem. This book wasn't as research-heavy as Stiff nor was it as focused as Good Mourning but I certainly enjoyed listening it. This one was able to give a fascinating medical examiner's perspective on the deceased. As described in the title, this book covers the bodies Judy Melinek tacked throughout her residency in a New York morgue. She starts with the natural causes Not for the faint of heart While I was on my 'people who work with dead-bodies' kick Stiff , Good Mourning , I stumbled upon this gem.

She starts with the natural causes, meanders through a few murders and a couple of heart-wrenching cases. All the while she keeps an upbeat tone. Gallows humor , if you will.

Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner

But, about halfway through the book, all trace of that lightness disappears. With no one else to turn to, she and the rest of the morgue team has the nearly unimaginable task of processing the twin towers bodies. She was completely overwhelmed and distraught and yet manages to hold her own despite the mountains of bodies in freezers for her to categorize and identify.

I felt overwhelmed just reading this. This is certainly a riveting read - though you may want to read it on an empty stomach if you are squeamish. Blog Instagram Twitter View all 18 comments. Jan 24, j e w e l s rated it it was amazing Shelves: books-bejeweled. It's chock full of interesting deaths and fascinating details on the science of the human body. I was gripped from the first page as Dr. Melinek begins her journey of training to be a medical examiner in New York City, She obviously found time who knows how?!?! Little did she realize she was about to play a crucial part as one of the investigators in America's greatest human tragedy.

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She relates this horrific experience with humbleness and gratitude for the first responders. It is a sobering, deeply touching account for the reader.


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Mostly, the author relays the various stupid things humans do to themselves and each other that cause death. She has strong opinions against suicide her own father hung himself when she was 13 and I found her candor on the subject profound and endearing. She never comes across as preachy.

Working Stiff Two Years 262 Bodies and the Making of a Medical Examiner

If you have the stomach for forensic science, I think you will love this book as much as I did. Truly one of the most compelling books I've read in awhile! View all 26 comments. Apr 27, Matt rated it really liked it Shelves: audiobook. These types of medical situations are anomalies, according to Dr. Judy Melinek, MD and TJ Mitchell, citing that the vast majority of medical cases are not worthy of a script on prime time television. After leaving her surgical residency, Melinek leapt at the chance to enrol in one focussed on pathology, with significant interest in the forensic arm of the field.

This led to a two-year fellowship in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in New York, where Melinek was able to see some of her most exciting and interesting cases, described throughout the book. While many think of a medical examiner as being one who deals in homicides, Melinek explains that there are many types of life-ending situations that ended up before her. Some were quite serious, including the man who leapt five storeys to his death and fractured numerous bones, while others were overly comical, like the man who died from complications with his metal penile implant.

Not only does the job require an examination of the body to determine the matter of death, but can be quite contentious if the family disagrees or the matter makes its way to court.

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Melinek explains that her job can be quite stressful, especially as the body is not always forthcoming with evidence of what has happened and witnesses can inject their own bias surrounding the events leading to the end of life. Melinek may have a humours side, but her work also subjects her to numerous cases of horrible death or suffering, not the least of which was the fallout of the September 11, disaster, where she and her team alongside many others were tasked with identifying remains and trying to bring closure for many.

Full of oddities that many readers will likely feel must be real—as this stuff could never be made up—the book will education as well as entertain the curious reader. Perfect for those who have an affinity for all things medical and enjoy some of the funnier predicaments in which people can find themselves at the point of death.

A lighter read for those who want to absorb rather than construct strong opinions.

Customer Reviews

The authors do a masterful job of explaining the medical nuances of the work and injecting a less than intensely serious aspect, which can sometimes help to make the vignettes more alluring. At no time should the reader feel that the profession is anything but serious, though there are so many interesting files that must cross the desk of a medical examiner that they are forced to find some of the lighter sides to get through the day. I can only suspect that many of the names and some facts have been fudged, as the authors freely offer names and situations to help the reader feel as though they are in the middle of the situation at hand.

Told in a straightforward manner with some medical jargon which is fully explained , the reader is given a decent dose of the profession without drowning in the minutiae. This not only allows the reader to have a better handle on the topic, but see it from multiple perspectives.

As I am a big fan of forensic medicine, this book was right up my alley and served as a wonderful way to sit back and relax after some high-intensity reading of late. Kudos, Dr.

Working Stiff: Two Years, Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner | Johnson County Library

Melinek and Mr. Mitchell, for this wonderful piece, that served the purpose I needed. I will keep my eyes open for anything else you may write, though will steer clear of any medical journals, even though some of the findings would surely be eye-opening. View all 17 comments. A long time ago, I had to attend an autopsy for my work, concerning a case of a fatal accident. I wasn't glad with it, because the only time I saw a dead person up until then, was some 15 years earlier, when I was twelve. It was my nephew, of the same age, who had died in the bathroom after he fell while bathing and broke his neck.

I still remember it clearly because we my dad and I had to wait in the hospital for about an hour and I was really nervous by the time we could visit him. I ran awa A long time ago, I had to attend an autopsy for my work, concerning a case of a fatal accident. I ran away in panic from the morgue in the hospital, horrified by the view of my dead nephew. They hadn't succeeded in closing his eyes properly, so one eye was closed and the other eye was still open.

And it seemed like he was looking at me with this one, lifeless eye. So I left the room, shocked with this view.

Book Review: “Working Stiff” – Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner

When I got in the corridor, there was a man whose half face and neck where covered with a horrible birthmark. At that particular moment, it scared the hell out of me. So that was my first experience with a dead person, and that really gave me a scare. I ended up sending a colleague from the office to attend the autopsy, because at the last moment I was too anxious to go myself. The only dead persons I saw later in my life were my parents, after they deceased in the hospital.

I came across more cases where unnatural death was involved for my work, but reading about those deaths, and even looking at photographs, however horrific, didn't scare me very much because I was able to objectify all this gruesome stuff and omit the worst details ; Although I'm scared to death about death, I'm also attracted to it. After all, we all have to die.

It's not a happy thought, for none of us, but we all hope we will die quietly, without pain and anxiety, in our own bed, while we're sleeping. Or just drop dead somewhere and die instantly, in a flash. Get it over and done with quickly. But that's not always the case. As a matter of fact, dying can be very traumatic. And probably few people know this better than a Medical Examiner.

cleavemininam.ga Hospital pathologists perform autopsies only on patients who have died of natural causes. A Medical Examiner investigates traumatic deaths, but also natural deaths when they are sudden or unexpected, and they perform autopsies in order to identify the cause of death medical reason and the manner of death, which can be natural, an accident, a homicide, a suicide, an overdose, a therapeutic complication, a medical negligence or of "undetermined etiology" this translates as "fuck-if-I-know".


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She didn't start off wanting to be a forensic pathologist. She wanted to be a surgeon and heal people. But she quitted her surgery residency because she wasn't happy with the highly demanding training. She ended up loving her work as a pathologist, as she's happy to learn something new about the human body every day. But she also loves the non-medical aspects of the job ; the counseling of families, collaborating with detectives, testifying in court. She loves her task of performing the last and most thorough physical exam a person will ever have and figuring out what went wrong in the body.

This love for her work shines through on every page of this book. Her book is a dead honest testimony of her work. Each body tells a story, she says, and she shares these stories with us, readers. These stories are engagingly told and are sometimes really witty, for instance the case of the "cable guy" view spoiler [This guy had been smoking crystal meth and took his two dogs on a walk. When he returned, he found he had locked himself out of his ninth-floor apartment.