Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A gleeful farewell to the land of pink and purple blobs

Join me today in gathering on this festive occasion to say a definitive goodbye to histology, the dark and murky realm of pink and purple blobs. Studying histology was like being adrift in a stormy ocean in a tiny rubber lifeboat with barely a day's supply of food. After staring at epithelia and glandular stroma for a couple hours, everything blends in and pretty soon, it's like being on a bad acid trip, or so I am told.

Here are some things that I was made aware of in the last few months:

1. Depending on the level of the section, it can be difficult to distinguish between an oral cavity and an anus. They both have stratified squamous epithelium. It is virtually impossible (at least for me) to distinguish between anal tissue and normal skin because they both look almost identical on a slide preparation.

2. Macrophages get the coolest names throughout the body. The flip side is their multiple names create considerable confusion. It takes some effort to remember that Hofbauer cells, Kupffer cells, Microglia and Osteoclasts are essentially referring to the same type of cell.

3. Nomenclature is shitty and lazy. There are a thousand different things named after this guy Langerhans - Langerhans cell, pancreatic islets of Langerhans. Dude, next time try to be not such a gunner. There are multiple different cells with completely different functions and location named 'chief cells'. I guess clarity in naming was not a chief priority for anatomists and histologists.

And finally...

4. If you stare at it hard enough, you will see it. True for any cell on any slide preparation.

To be fair, the subject matter is dry and it is not our teacher's fault. To his credit he was very helpful and held critical reviews before each exam to virtually spoon-feed us information we got tested on. But I will definitely not be missing this class. I lost enough hair trying to decipher the difference between basal lamina and basement membrane to care any more.

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