Saturday, October 31, 2015

Siriraj Medical Museum - Halloween 2015

The post today is definitely not for the faint of heart nor for people who might have their bosses standing right behind them while they are perusing my blog instead of working.  The pictures that I feature will be both intense and somewhat disturbing.  I feel that I need to put that as a warning first due to the fact that I do not believe in scaring people for fun or insulting people who might take offense with seeing morbid photos.  

I am sitting here on Halloween night after spending a day with my friend wandering around Bangkok, trying to figure out how to write this post.  As it is quite normal for us to find ourselves in random places and situations, today started out quite normal and then took a sharp turn towards the surreal.  I am quite certain that there is a reason that the museum seems to be a bit off the beaten path, but does not seem to hurting for visitors.  

I started writing this blog post with the hope of explaining one of the more surreal museums that I have experienced.  I ate some food, poured a glass of wine, and now am going to attempt to write about elephantiasis, birth defects, and corpses leaking their excess fluids and fats into drip pans.


I am going to put that picture of puppies right there because you might need it later.  Hope it helps

After walking up an unassuming staircase, We found ourselves on the second floor of a very unassuming building.  A quick foreign pricing of 200 baht paid to the very nice person with passable English got us admission and a stern warning against using cameras.  As I spent last weekend getting yelled at by a security guard, I decided to not push it two weeks in a row and have just decided that Google images will provide my pictures for this blog post.  

After the stern warning, we walked in and were face to many small faces.  The medical museum has many different sames of tissues, bone structures, organs, and varying arrays of other anatomical displays.  All of these items are suspended in a gel of some kind. They also have many young children who passed and were donated to science so that people could study the medical deformities that caused them to prematurely die. 

Please note that while they are on display, I can honestly say that it is by no means done in a distasteful way.  The interesting thing is that many even have toys that have been left by museum patrons in front of their shelf.  


The other displays feature some extremely difficult to understand (for myself at least) birth defects and anomalies.  


This room shocked us quite a bit to say the least.  It was not that it was a bad thing to see, it was just not something that we were expecting.  Even though I had seen pictures of the inside of the museum before we entered, I don't think that I was prepared to see the sheer scope and magnitude of the collection of bodies and organs on display.  

They had exhibits on just about everything that you could think of, hearts with different issues, lungs with cancer, intestines of people who had been poisoned, livers of people who had been shot or run over, etc.  

There were also testicles that were the size of basketballs or bigger.  Literally, basketballs.  



If there was a way for someone to die, they probably had the trauma to the organ on display in the museum.


I felt like it was about time to add a kitten to the post.  Trust me, you will continue to need this for a while.

After this display, we moved over to the forensic pathology display, which featured criminals, different victims, and a special display on the massive tsunami that hit Thailand.  

I thought the tsunami exhibit did a great job of explaining how they identified different victims of the tsunami and had a great display of the triage process and what various wounds looked like.  


I also know that most people in a tsunami do not die of drowning but of blunt force trauma.  I did not know this until today... Guess that is a plus...

The forensic display was intense to say the least.  I had honestly thought that the different birth defects display would be the room that stuck with me the rest of the day, but I can honestly say it was not the case.  

Walking down the main entry into the forensic display allows you to see different skulls and short explanations of the wounds that were caused to them.  


As this is a region that has known a share of violence in the last few decades, there were accidents featured ranging from car crashes to murders to more war-related injuries.  Each small display would have a picture from the autopsy, a description of what happened, and then any human remains that were important to the case. 

There were many images ranging from suicides by laceration to grenade attacks.  


Time for another puppy I think


Now the exhibit that I had heard the most about was the one featuring the full bodies, two of criminals and one that was just naturally mummified.  I am not going to try and explain what the criminals did, but suffice it to say that one was a cannibal and the other was not-so-good either

While I had become accustomed to the different bodies on display, the thing that got me on this set of displays was the drip-pans.  


The pans at the feet of those displays were either filled with paper towels or a greasy grey substance that looked a lot like the fat that collects on soups and stews after it cools down.

Yes, I just ruined soup for you.

Here is another kitten.


See, I gave you four kittens, try to forgive me.

Now those pans seemed to be cleaned quite a bit, which meant that the bodies were continually leaking their fats and fluids.  

Most of the doors were also just held in place with tape.  Yes the bodies were secured inside of the glasses cases, but without the scotch tape and wire, they would have just fallen out on the floor.  

Just wow.

I also must admit that I did learn a lot during this trip to the museum about human anatomy.  While I have seen trauma before, most of the time it was in the capacity as someone who was trying to not let the person die.  I have had little or no chance to actually take time and peer into what a body looks like on the inside.  I realize that museums like this are not for the squeamish among us, but they sure are great learning opportunities.  


Let's just end this post with two frolicking puppies.


From Bangkok, Thailand to wherever you are reading this from, Happy Halloween everyone.