Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and The Making of a Medical Examiner- a review of words worth sharing



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Working Stiff: The Making of a Medical Examiner | Pathology Expert.

Working Stiff, a book

Judy Melinek, M.D., and her husband T.J. Mitchell wrote Working Stiff: The Making of a Medical Examiner, an account of her training as a forensic pathologist, a physician specialist who investigates sudden, unexpected or violent deaths.

They lived in New York City for two years so she could study at the NYC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME). She was at the office when the Twin Towers fell on 9/11 and thus collaborated with the team of investigators who worked night and day identifying remains of the victims, a task she vividly describes in the book.

As a forensic pathologist, she understands why and how people die, and therefore also knows how people can avoid dying unexpectedly. As she writes,

“So don’t jaywalk. Wear your seat belt when you drive. Better yet, stay out of your car and get some exercise. Watch your weight. If you’re a smoker, stop right now. If your aren’t, don’t start. Guns put holes in people. Drugs are bad. You know that yellow line on the subway platform? It’s there for a reason. Staying alive, as it turns out, is mostly common sense.” 

Working Stiff moves at a quick pace, in a conversational style. When she uses medical jargon, she explains it in simple terms. She describes the cases she investigated in detail so those with weak stomachs (no pun) may want to skip this read.

Having suffered her father’s unexpected death when she was 13 years old, she was no stranger to death, and she learned more from the 262 autopsies she did during her training. As she says in this engaging memoir,

To confront death every day, to see it for yourself, you have to love the living.” 

I recommend this book.

“noble beyond her years”

Please read this updated post about Kayla-

A Shining Spirit- Kayla Mueller

I cannot think of anything else worth saying today other than to express my sadness  for and sympathy to the family of Kayla Mueller. On  the evening news last night I heard Kayla’s aunt describe her as “noble beyond her years.”

I had never heard of Kayla until a few days ago, but her story touches my heart. I have a son about the same age; and like her, his work and passions take him all over the world. I cannot imagine getting an email like the one her parents received confirming her death.

At only 26 years old, Kayla had already traveled to India, Israel, Palestine and Syria on humanitarian endeavors and in Arizona worked at a women’s shelter and with AIDS patients, according to the news reports. And in a letter she wrote to her family from captivity, she expressed regret that she was causing them pain.

I hope the memory of this beautiful young woman brings some comfort to their grieving hearts.

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