We are surrounded by media representations of forensic science. Books, film, and tv all attest to the genius of our pathologists. Our top tv programmes seem to be about heroic pathologist and forensic scientists cracking case after case whilst still remaining sexy, surrounded by kit out of science fiction, and the unerring ability to be omnipotent and posses the talent to change physics to allow tests that take weeks to be one in minutes.
All with an unlimited budget and staff.
Time and agian these programmes inform us that they make the dead speak and discover what happened.
Alas reality is not like that.
Physics, budgets, and time make reality much more compromised and frustrating.
Sometimes the dead remian mute.
I had a young cousin. He was educated, handsome, and unbelievably fit. He was a personal trainer at one of the country's largest and most expensive health establishments. He was healthy and well loved without a care in the world.
And he died in his early twenties.
His death shocked all. He was ridiculously healthy without any problems. I suppose everyone thought it was undiagnosed heart problems, or brain embolism. The autopsy proved it wasn't. That left the dark thought that it was due to drugs. He was fit and strong but drugs are everywhere and he was young and hip. No drugs were found in his system.
And so the pathologists kept his body and did test after test. They moved from the obvious to the esoteric. They spent months testing. Even when they allowed the family to lay him to rest they kept testing. The months it went on. Then six, then a year, then more.
Every test and every expert they could think of and find examined the case.
My cousin remained silent.
All the real life expertise, which has been immense and brilliant, have failed to find out why this fit young man died. They've done their best but have told his next of kin that they've no idea why he died. He was fit and strong and undrugged. If he wasn't dead he'd be a perfect example of what a healthy human should be.
Reality is not like the fiction. The best experts, the best equipment, sometimes prove unequal to the task of finding why people die. All the science and all the cold, crisp, white coats sometimes prove unequal to the task.
Sometimes the dead don't talk.
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