I've uploaded the audio from a video interview I did a few months back, with a retired medical illustrator I met through the AMI member’s forum named Florence Kabir Hauser. She's had a unique path through the industry and an amazing story to tell.
Florence's generosity knows no bounds! She was kind enough to share some notes with me she had found from her cadaver dissection experiences back in the 70s:
January 19, 1976
Two weeks into dissection several home truths have become apparent. Things never turn out as you anticipate them. This is not an expression of disappointment by any means, just a fact. I had given a lot of thought to my project and expected one of the first hurdles to be the initial incision. To me the skin was an awesome organ, its texture, color, function and completeness. The body had been enclosed in the skin in life and then in death and it seemed like the last insurance of identity. In actual fact, I was only too glad to dispense with the skin and break that identity so the work could proceed. The first real find was the Greater Occipital nerve. I almost mistook nerves for tendons and later salved my wounded pride to learn that aponeurosis, or tendinous tissue, was first mistaken as nerve fiber. With the first incision I found the Greater Occipital nerve branches emerging from below the skull. Both were neatly encircled by perfect apertures in the muscle, obviously tailored just for them. How exciting it was to find them marking their paths just where they were supposed to be. From then on it was a great race. One thing led to another and suddenly I realized I had to stop and do a drawing of the work area before all the placements were lost. Anatomists must have a temperament akin to the Dancer or Musician. The most beautiful gestures or passages are produced only to be destroyed by further development of the work. I am not used to this style, preferring to push and shove my material into a form that is permanent.
January 28, 1976
As I suspected, the dissection of the head and neck becomes more and more intricate as one goes along. The slowing of progress has had one good effect I didn’t count on.
I now take more time on the art work. As a result, this requires more detail and precise drawing. I have come to admire my model’s structure more fully as the deeper layers are removed. It really hurt to break the jaw. Somehow the teeth and facial expression reveal more personality than I had planned on encountering. However, deeper in lies the perfect packaging of the brain. Now there is something to be really scared of!
Florence fully illustrated the book "The Art of Surgical Technique" by Dr. Milton Edgerton and took all photographs as well. You can find a copy on Amazon: